The news has been full today with images of police raids on homes in Guildford in Sydney and the arrest of one Omarjan Azari. This comes just days after Tony Abbott announced that Australia would be joining the US-led anti ISIS campaign in Iraq.
It needs to be said that I am a cynical person when it comes to this government. I do not believe that they have the best interests of the Australian people at heart. My instinct tells me that this is very much a politically motivated move by the government to get the Australian people on-side, much like John Howard did with the supposed threat of the boat people, post 9-11, sparking the Pacific Solution in 2002. Boat people did not represent a threat then, as they don’t now. Howard needed the people to think that there was a threat and that he was doing something about it to get re-elected. It worked.
The 2014 budget has been an awful blow to the Australian public. One promise after another has been broken by this government, affecting every day Australians on the ground, whilst big business continues to flourish. The move to join the war in Iraq was indeed a blow, costing Australian tax payers a lot of money – money that we are being denied in our own country. People were not happy. People were justifiably questioning why all this money was being spent on the war, when our most vulnerable were being cast aside, left to fend for themselves. The already flailing government fell even further in the polls.
Something was needed to bring the threat to our shores, to make it more real, and the decision to back the US more justifiable.
This, of course, sounds like a conspiracy theory and rightly so.
Because it isn’t without precedent.
In 2001, an Australian citizen, Mamdouh Habib, was illegally arrested in Islamabad for defending two German tourists who were being accused of terrorism on a tourist bus by Pakistani policemen. He was tortured then sent to Guantanamo where he was further tortured for three years. He was released without charge in 2005 and since then has had his allegations of the Australian government being aware of his torture verified. His illegal arrest was made at a time when John Howard sought to increase the anti-terror laws giving the ASIO even more powers against Australian liberties and to show the US that Australia would do what it can to help the US military effort. Habib was the perfect vehicle by which to do that. Australia, at the time, was not under direct threat, yet a perceived threat needed to be created.
And then there is the case of Izhar Ul-Haque. In November 2003, approximately 25 ASIO officers and a few policemen arrested 21 year old Ul-Haque, took him to a park and interrogated him for hours and hours. They then moved him to his parents house and interrogated him again, whilst the 30 or so officers searched his house. He was charged with training with a Pakistan-based terror group. In 2007, the case was thrown out of court with a scathing attack on the ASIO by the judge for the irregularities with which they conducted their investigation and subsequent arrest. There was no evidence to substantiate the allegations. There simply was no case. It was all politically motivated as John Howard was again seeking to hand down even more anti-terrorism, anti-freedom laws. Interestingly, this is what was reported on the Green Left website at the time:
During the pre-trial hearing on October 24, Kemuel Lam Paktsun, a senior counter-terrorism officer with the AFP, testified that police were directed to charge “as many suspects as possible” with terrorism offences following the enactment in 2003 of the new anti-terrorism laws.
“At the time, we were directed, we were informed, to lay as many charges under the new terrorist legislation against as many suspects as possible because we wanted to use the new legislation. So regardless of the assistance that Mr Ul-Haque could give, he was going to be prosecuted, charged, because we wanted to test the legislation and lay new charges, in our eagerness to use the legislation”, Lam Paktsun said.
And now today, just days after the announcement of further amendments being made to the anti-terrorism/anti-freedom laws, including Australia entering Iraq, another raid has taken place and another arrest has been made.
Tony Abbott has come out saying that this isn’t conjecture, that a phone call was intercepted with specific instructions for Azari to take a member of the public and behead them. This is pretty terrifying stuff. The mass media coverage makes it feel like an attack is imminent. People I know on Facebook have even been saying that they want to move countries (where to I am not sure).
My question is this:
Is the threat of terror that Azari allegedly poses more of a threat, say, than to the half a million women who are beaten and abused each year by men in this country. Is it more of a threat than those that are killed by these men. Because you do know that domestic violence is the leading cause of death in women below the age of 45?
Is the threat he poses more of a threat than the nearly 300 murders (that’s nearly one a day) that are committed each year?
How about the 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys who will be sexually abused before the age of 18?
How about the 100 plus cases of Catholic sexual abuses brought against Catholic priests, and how about those that will never get to court and continue as we speak?
Does he represent more of a threat than these, I wonder.
I have to ask, where is the imminent threat? Why make such a massive deal out of it? Why terrify the Australian people in such a fashion? Because when you think about it, we have more threat to us with our own people, than we do with fanatics who have some cocked up ideology they think they are fighting for.
The reality is that with all those raids that they did last night, they made one arrest of one man who was allegedly given orders to behead someone. Allegedly.
What we saw today was a well orchestrated media circus. And we sucked it in. We are terrified, petrified that our way of life is at risk, that we are going to be overrun by a race of people who will behead us and remove our liberties.
At the Nuremberg Trials, Herman Goering, one of Hitler’s henchmen, was asked how so many Germans went along with the Nazis. He famously said:
Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy.
All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.
It works in any country.
What we are witnessing today is mass hysteria. A very well orchestrated PR job to terrify the Australian public to gain even further political power. Every news item I watched where experts were trotted out, each one was asked what the threat was to Australia and not one of them gave a “We are under imminent threat” reply. They simply side stepped the question by saying that we need to be vigilant.
Should we be watching vigilantly what is going on with the rest of the world and manage our own security? Of course we should.
Should we be terrifying the Australian public, leading them to believe that there is more of a threat than there actually is – of course not.
We have more chance of being eaten by a shark than the kind of threat the media plastered all over the news today. Funny how we never see domestic violence in the news.
All I am suggesting is that people maintain perspective, that people look at the past and not fall for the same rhetoric time and again. All I ask is that some common sense be applied. Because what we saw today is going to incite more violence than it should. It will cause people in our own country to turn on each other. And that scares the crap out of me.
I leave you with this TED talk by Hans and Ola Rosling, whose work proves that things are rarely as bad as they seem.
Until next time,