Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bring Hicks Home!

David Hicks is an Australian citizen who has been held at Guantanamo base for five years by the US imperialists.

Hicks was captured by Northern Alliance soldiers in Afghanistan and handed over to the US imperialists.

Hicks was born in a working class satellite suburb just to the north of Adelaide. The suburb was created for the US multinational General Motors and named (to our everlasting national shame) Elizabeth, after the then youthful British monarch.

Hicks had something of a "troubled" youth, as did many of his peers out at Elizabeth.
He left school early, passed through several labouring jobs and several relationships, rode horses at rodeos, became a horse-breaker, has a child by an indigenous woman whose whereabouts are unknown, got a job in a Japanese stable as a horse trainer, converted to Islam, ate rotting chicken to prepare his body for a life of deprivation as a fighter overseas for the fascist wing of Islam, fought for a short while with the Kosovo Liberation Front, trained with the Taliban, and maybe with Al-Quaeda, and is now in solitary confinement in a concentration camp whose location is a flagrant denial of the territorial integrity of socialist Cuba.

Given that he espouses values and lives by beliefs that the average Australian, living somewhere within John Howard’s "mainstream Australia", would find repugnant, it is amazing to see the unfolding of a mass campaign to bring David Hicks home.

The iconic Australian sentiment of the "fair go" is the unifying factor in this campaign. I’ve just watched Ray Martin’s Sunday national TV show, which has added to the clamour for Hick’s release for precisely that reason – he may be a "terrorist", but he’s one of us and he’s not been given a fair go.

Once again the calmly heroic visage of Hick’s US-appointed defence lawyer, Major Michael Mori, was there, telling us Aussies that the US simply wouldn’t allow any of their citizens to be charged before the revamped military commissions because they didn’t protect the rights to which US citizens were entitled. Nor, he said, would the British.

So why was Hicks physically and emotionally rotting in his cell? (Ray Martin had used the services of an identikit artist in Melbourne to draw a haunting picture of Hicks, left, which, according to his Adelaide lawyer, resembled the man he had seen a few weeks ago.)

Self-made millionaire Dick Smith, as iconic an Aussie as you can get for a capitalist, had no doubts. "He’s in Guantanamo because he’s a working class kid from a working class suburb. If he was a politician’s son or from some well-off family, he would have been released from there long ago," he told Martin. Putting some money where his mouth was, Smith then kicked in $60,000 to Hicks’ defence campaign.

From the very first day of his incarceration, Hicks has been something of an oddity at Guantanamo: a white, Anglo-Saxon from one of "our" countries turned Muslim and allegedly an Al-Quaeda trained terrorist.

As a counter to the charge that the US might be persecuting Arabs in its "war on terror", Hicks is worth his weight in gold for US propaganda purposes.

And "How high?" Howard, and "Do nothing" Downer (Australian Prime Monster and Monster for Foreign Affairs respectively) have offered up his scalp to the Empire which has their total loyalty.

They have conceded that Hicks has broken no Australian law, and would have to be set free if brought home. So they endorse the military commissions later ruled to be illegal by the US Supreme Court, and place him at the mercy of the revamped commissions that are described as "in some ways worse than the original" by Mori. They are happy for him to be charged under retrospective legislation, for coerced testimony to be used, for his legal team to be denied access to evidence, and all for the sake of having what former Liberal Party Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser described last week as "a guaranteed verdict of guilty".

At first this sat well with the Australian public, but it’s now wearing very thin.

No one has done more (with the exception, perhaps of Mori), to bring about this change than Hicks’ father, Terry. The grizzled features of this humble, but resolute worker, are a constant reminder of the ordinariness of David Hicks, of the "family next door" that produced an alleged "terrorist". Terry has had himself put in a Guantanamo-like cage on the streets of New York, and has had a film made of his efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan to discover the truth of his son’s circumstances prior to his capture.

Terry has so much sympathy and support that he has been suggested as Australian Father of the Year on several occasions, for doing the right thing by his son, for sticking by him no matter what.

His simple loyalty to a member of his family stands in stark and very public contrast to the Australian Government’s perceived betrayal of one of its citizens.

After five years in Guantanamo, charges have now been tabled against Hicks. Perhaps more worrying than the shortcomings of the revamped military commissions already identified, given the length and circumstances of his imprisonment, is that there is no requirement for Hicks to be of sound enough mind to be able to deal with all the pressures of contesting a case in what is still little more than a kangaroo court.

The US imperialists have refused to allow an independent psychological assessment of Hicks. Howard and Co. cravenly assert that he’s been well-looked after. His lawyer, who recently spent three hours with him, says he has a hollow, sunken look. In a brief statement, Hicks himself says that he is not well.

Hicks may or may not have fought for the clerical fascists of the Taliban. Murderous rabble that they are, they were the legitimate Government of Afghanistan when Hicks is alleged to have entered their service. Had Bush and Co not invaded Afghanistan in support of the Northern Alliance, Hicks would not have become a potential "enemy combatant" of the United States.

The cause of a "fair go" for Hicks is a just one.

The US imperialists and their lickspittle Australian accomplices will not give him a fair trial or a fair go.

Get him out of the concentration camp and bring him home!

No comments: