sexta-feira, janeiro 19, 2007

Cruelty and xenophobia stir and shame the lucky country

The social regression and flag-waving promoted by Australia's neocon prime minister may come unstuck in Guantánamo

John Pilger
Friday January 19, 2007
The Guardian

The Australian writer Donald Horne meant the title of his celebrated book, The Lucky Country, as irony. "Australia is a lucky country run by second-rate people who share its luck," he lamented in 1964, describing much of the Australian elite as unfailingly unoriginal, race-obsessed and in thrall to imperial power and its wars.

From Britain's opium adventures to America's current travesty in Iraq, Australians have been sent to fight faraway people with whom they have no quarrel and who offer no threat of invasion. Growing up, I was assured this was a "sacred tradition".

But then another Australia was "discovered". The only war dead whom Australians had never mourned were found right under their noses: those of a remarkable indigenous people who had owned and cared for this ancient land for thousands of years, then fought and died in its defence when the British invaded. In a land littered with cenotaphs, not one honoured them.

For many whites, the awakening was rude; for others it was thrilling. In the 70s, thanks largely to the brief, brave and subverted Labor government of Gough Whitlam, the universities opened their studies to these heresies and their gates to a society Mark Twain once identified as "almost entirely populated by the lower orders". A secret history revealed that, long before the rest of the western world, Australian working people had fought for and won a minimum wage, an eight-hour working day, pensions, child benefits and the vote for women.

And now there was an astonishing ethnic diversity, and it had happened as if by default: there simply were not enough Britons and "blue-eyed Balts" who wanted to come.

Australia is not often news, cricket and bushfires aside. That is a pity, because the regression of this social democracy into a state of fabricated fear and xenophobia is an object lesson for all societies claiming to be free. In power for more than a decade, the Liberal prime minister, John Howard, comes from the outer reaches of Australia's "neocons". In 1988 he announced that a future government led by him would pursue a "One Australia Policy", a forerunner to Pauline Hanson's infamous One Nation party, whose targets were black Australians and migrants. Howard's targets have been similar. One of his first acts as prime minister was to cut $A400m from the Aboriginal affairs budget. "Political correctness," he said, "has gone too far."

Today, black Australians still have one of the lowest life expectancies in the world, and their health is the worst in the world. An entirely preventable disease, trachoma - beaten in many poor countries - still blinds many because of appalling living conditions. The impoverishment of black communities, which I have seen change little over the years, was described in 2006 by Save the Children as "some of the worst we have seen in our work all around the world". Instead of a political respect in the form of a national lands rights law, a war of legal attrition has been waged against the Aborigines; and the epidemics and black suicides continue.

Howard rejoices in his promotion of "Australian values" - a very Australian sycophancy to the sugared "values" of foreign power. The darling of a group of white supremacists who buzz around the Murdoch-dominated press and radio talk-back hosts, the prime minister has used acolytes to attack the "black armband view of history", as if the mass killing and resistance of indigenous Australians did not happen. The fine historian Henry Reynolds, author of The Other Side of the Frontier, has been thoroughly smeared, along with other revisionists. In 2005 Andrew Jaspan, a Briton newly appointed editor of the Melbourne Age, was subjected to a vicious neocon campaign that accused him of "reducing" the Age to "another Guardian".

Flag-waving and an unctuous hand-on-heart jingoism, about which sceptical Australians once felt a healthy ambivalence, are now standard features at sporting and other public events. These serve to prepare Australians for renewed militarism and war, as ordained by the Bush administration, and to cover attacks on Australia's Muslim community. Speak out and you may break a 2005 law of sedition meant to intimidate with the threat of imprisonment for up to seven years. Once described in the media as Bush's "deputy sheriff", Howard did not demur when Bush, on hearing this, promoted him to "sheriff for south-east Asia".

Like a mini-Blair, he has sent troops and federal police to the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. In newly independent East Timor, where Australian governments colluded with Indonesia's 23-year bloody occupation, "regime change" was effectively executed last year with the resignation of the prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, who had the temerity to oppose Canberra's one-sided exploitation of his country's oil and gas resources.

However, it is one man, David Hicks, a spectacular loser in the new Australia, who now threatens Howard's "lucky" facade. Hicks was found among the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 and sold as bounty to the Americans by CIA-backed warlords. He has spent more than five years in Guantánamo Bay, including eight months in a cell with no sunlight. He has been tortured, and never charged with any crime. Howard and his attorney-general, Philip Ruddock, have refused even to request Hicks's repatriation, as is his constitutional right, because there are no Australian laws under which Hicks can be charged. Their cruelty is breathtaking.

A tenacious campaign by his father, Terry, has ignited a kind of public shame that is growing. This has happened before in Australia, such as the march of a million people across Sydney Harbour Bridge demanding justice for black Australians, and the courageous direct action by young people who forced the closure of notorious outback detention camps for illegal refugees, with their isolation cells, capsicum spray and beatings. Asylum seekers caught in their leaking boats by the ever-vigilant Australian Defence Force are now incarcerated behind electric fences on tiny Christmas Island more than 1,000 miles from the lucky country.

Howard faces no real opposition from the compliant Labor party. The trade unions, facing a rollback of Australia's proud record of workers' rights and up to 43% youth unemployment, have stirred, and filled the streets. But perhaps something wider and deeper is coming from a nation whose most enduring and melancholy self-image is that of disobedient larrikins. During the recent Ashes series, Ian Chappell, one of Australia's most admired cricket captains, walked out of the commentary box when Howard walked in. After seeing for himself conditions in a refugee prison, Chappell said: "These are human beings and you can't just treat them like that ... in cricketing parlance it was like cheating. They were being cheated out of a fair go."

2 comentários:

Anónimo disse...

Crueldade e xenofobia agitam e envergonham o país da sorte
A regressão social e o agitar de bandeira promovido pelo primeiro-ministro neo-conservador da Austrália podem descolar em Guantánamo

John Pilger
Sexta-feira Janeiro 19, 2007
The Guardian

O escritor Australiano Donald Horne deu por ironia o título do seu famoso, O País da Sorte. "A Austrália é o país da sorte dirigido por gente de segunda categoria que partilha a sua sorte," lamentou em 1964, descrevendo muita da elite Australiana como não sendo original para sempre, obcecada pela raça e escrava do poder imperial e das suas guerras.

Desde as aventuras pelo ópio da Grã-Bretanha até ao travestismo actual da América no Iraque, os Australianos têm sido enviados para lutar povos de locais longínquos com quem nunca tiveram qualquer zanga e que nunca representaram qualquer ameaça de invasão. Ao crescer, garantiram-me que era uma " tradição sagrada".

Mas depois foi “descoberta” uma outra Austrália. O único morto de guerra que os Australianos nunca choraram estava precisamente debaixo dos seus narizes: o do notável povo indígena que tinha tido a propriedade e que tinha tratado esta terra antiga durante milhares de anos, e depois lutou e morreu na sua defesa quando os Britânicos a invadiram. Numa terra cheia de memoriais, nenhum deles os lembra.

Para muitos brancos, o acordar foi rude; para outros foi chocante. Nos anos 70s, graças largamente ao breve, bravo e contestado governo Trabalhista de Gough Whitlam, as universidades abriram os seus estudos a essas heresias e os seus portões a uma sociedade Mark Twain uma vez identificada como "quase totalmente povoada pelas ordens inferiores ". Uma história secreta revelou que, muito antes do resto do mundo ocidental, os trabalhadores Australianos tinham lutado e conquistado por salários mínimos, as oito horas de trabalho, pensões, benefícios para as crianças e o voto para as mulheres.

E agora há uma surpreendente diversidade étnica, e isso aconteceu como por defeito: simplesmente não houve britânicos suficientes e "bálticos de olho-azul " que quiseram vir.

A Austrália não é notícia muitas vezes, aparte o cricket e os incêndios florestais. É uma pena, porque a regressão desta social democracia para um Estado de medo fabricado e de xenofobia é um caso de estudo para todas as sociedades que querem ser livres. No poder há mais de uma década, o primeiro-ministro Liberal, John Howard, vem dos alcances exteriores dos “neoconservadores” da Austrália. Em 1988 anunciou que um futuro governo liderado por ele perseguiria “Uma Política da Austrália”, um precursor do partido Uma Nação da infame Pauline Hanson, cujos alvos foram Australianos negros e migrantes. Os alvos de Howard têm sido similares. Um dos seus primeiros actos como primeiro-ministro foi cortar $A400m do orçamento dos assuntos dos Aborígines. "O politicamente correcto," disse, "foi longe demais."

Hoje, os negros Australianos têm ainda uma das mais baixas esperanças de vida no mundo, e as suas (condições de) saúde são as piores no mundo. Uma doença (que se pode) totalmente prever, o tracoma - derrotada em muitos países pobres - ainda cega muitos por causa das suas horrorosas condições de vida. O empobrecimento das comunidades negras, que pouco tenho visto mudar ao longo dos anos, foi descrita em 2006 pela Save the Children como "algumas das piores que temos visto no nosso trabalho através de todo o mundo ". Em vez do respeito político na forma de uma lei nacional dos direitos da terra, lançou-se uma guerra de atrito legal contra os Aborígines; e as epidemias e os suicídios dos negros continuam.

Howard rejubila na sua promoção de "valores Australianos " - uma cocofonia muito Australiana dos adocicados valores dos poderes estrangeiros. O xuxu de um grupo de supremacistas brancos que borboleteiam na imprensa dominada por Murdoch e nas programas de conversas de rádio, o primeiro-ministro usou acólitos para atacar a "visão da história das bandas de ajuda dos negros", como se não tivesse acontecido o assassínio em massa e a resistência dos indígenas Australianos. O grande historiador Henry Reynolds, autor de O Outro Lado da Fronteira, foi perfeitamente difamado, ao lado doutros revisionistas. Em 2005 Andrew Jaspan, um Britânico acabado de ser nomeado editor do Age de Melbourne, foi sujeito a uma campanha viciosa dos neoconservadores que o acusaram de "reduzir" o Age a "um outro Guardian".

O agitar da bandeira e um hipócrita nacionalismo exacerbado de mão-no-coração, acerca do qual os Australianos cépticos tempos atrás sentiam uma ambivalência saudável, são agora comportamentos padrão em eventos desportivos e noutros eventos públicos. Servem para preparar os Australianos para a renovação do militarismo e da guerra, conforme ordenado pela administração Bush e para esconder ataques à comunidade muçulmana da Austrália. Fala e podes infringir uma lei de sedição de 2005 feita para intimidar com a ameaça de prisão até sete anos. Uma vez descrito nos media como o “vice-sheriff” de Bush, Howard não objectou quando Bush, sabendo disso, o promoveu a "sheriff para o Sudeste da Ásia ".

Como um mini-Blair, enviou tropas e polícias federais para as Ilhas Salomão, Tonga, Papua Nova Guiné e Timor-Leste. No novo independente Timor-Leste, onde o governo Australiano colaborou com os 23 anos de ocupação sangrenta da Indonésia, a "mudança de regime " foi efectivamente executada no ano passado com a resignação do primeiro-ministro, Mari Alkatiri, que teve a ousadia de se opor à exploração unilateral de Canberra dos recursos do petróleo e do gás do seu país.

Contudo, é um homem, David Hicks, um perdedor espectacular na nova Austrália, quem agora ameaça a face "sortuda" de Howard. Hicks foi encontrado entre os Taliban no Afeganistão em 2001 e vendido como prémio aos Americanos pelos senhores da guerra apoiados pela CIA. Passou mais de cinco anos na Baía de Guantánamo, incluindo oito meses numa cela sem luz solar. Foi torturado, e nunca foi acusado de qualquer crime. Howard e o seu Procurador-Geral, Philip Ruddock, recusaram mesmo pedir a repatriação de Hicks, como é seu direito constitucional, visto que não há leis Australianas sob as quais Hicks pode ser acusado. A crueldade deles é de tirar a respiração.

Uma campanha persistente feita pelo seu pai, Terry, desencadeou uma espécie de vergonha pública que está a crescer. Isto já aconteceu antes na Austrália, como quando da marcha de um milhão de pessoas através da Ponte do Porto de Sydney exigindo justiça para os negros Australianos, e a corajosa acção directa dos jovens que forçaram o encerramento do conhecido campo de detenção em áreas distantes para refugiados ilegais, com as suas celas de isolamento, spray de pimenta e tareias. Os que procuram asilo apanhados nos seus barcos a meter água pela sempre-vigilante Força de Defesa Australiana são agora encarcerados atrás de vedações eléctricas na pequeníssima Ilha de Natal a mais de 1,000 milhas do país da sorte.

Howard não enfrenta nenhuma oposição real do partido trabalhista complacente. Os sindicatos, enfrentando um recuo da história orgulhosa dos direitos dos trabalhadores da Austrália e com cerca de 43% de desemprego juvenil, mexeram-se e encheram as ruas. Mas talvez algo de mais alargado e profundo está a vir de uma nação cuja auto-imagem mais duradoura e melancólica é a de caçadores de coelhos desobedientes. Durante a recente série das Ashes, Ian Chappell, um dos capitães de cricket mais admirados da Austrália, abandonou a caixa de comentários quando Howard entrou. Depois de ter visto com os próprios olhos as condições numa prisão de refugiados, Chappell disse: "Estes são seres humanos e simplesmente não podem ser tratados assim ... no paleio do cricket era como fazer batota. Estão a roubar-lhes uma oportunidade justa."

Basilio Araujo disse...

To my Dear John Pilger,

A great writer is always a great writer. He/she always can see things through. You don't only write things from other worlds like your previous writings about East Timor, but now you turn your mirror to yourself and see your countrymen's plight.

In 1998, when I attended Darwin Expo, and met the Aborigines at the first time in my whole life, I was faced with people I described as even less educated than "monkeys". A group of us were having dinner at Morato's Restaurant, and suddenly appeared a barefoot dark man who went directly to our dishes. I did not say any word. He did not ask for any permission. He extended his hand directly to our dishes and grabbed our food with his two hands and put into his mouth directly. I was shocked because when we wanted to react to protect our meals, the owner said, don't do any thing. Then, of course we all returned to Primavera Apartment with no words. I, then had a very bad impression about the way white Australians treated the Black (indeed the original) Australians. Then when I read the news that the State of Victoria only opened its doors to Aborigines in late 1990-s. I even became shocked.

This shock then drove me to raise the question with H.E. Alexander Downer when he visited East Timor in 1999. A question which drove him mad at me for approximately 30 minutes in a meeting which was supposed to be only 10 minutes. I just appealed him by saying: "Since Australia is now supporting East Timor independence, then I would like to appeal to Your Excellency (Alexander Downer) and to the Australian Government, to grant autonomy for the Aborigines if they demand, or grant them independence if they do demand so". H.E. Alexander Downer was really mad at me by saying that, the Aborigines wanted to stay with Australia for good reasons. I then asked his H.E. Alexander Downer: "Isn't it on the contrary, the Australians who are supposed to stay with the Aborigines for good reasons?". H.E. Alexander Downer felt insulted, and left the meeting room in Dili, madly.

Now back to our amigo John Pilger, I really appreciate this peace of writing. I rarely read Australian news papers, since I was fed up with Australian patrons - the British media when I was studying in Manchester from 1995-1997. But this John Pilger's writing is worth reading. Why should Australia spend millions of dollars to send troops to kill innocent Iraqis, while leaving Aborigines back home with no human empowerment. Why should Howard joins with Bush and Tony Blair to voice for Human Rights values, while back home we still create concentrations camps for Aborigines.

It is time for Australia to wake up. It is time for Australia to lift its hands off Papua New Guinea and let them govern their sovereign country. Supporting other people's country does not necessarily mean by helping with physical presence. Being present in the Solom islands, the Pacific Countries, and in East Timor and Papua New Guinea, does not necessarily mean by interfering deeply into those countries government affairs and management. Let those countries grow as independent countries. Let them solve their problems as a country-nation. Don't fool those countries by giving 2 billion dollar assistance, but stealing 200 billion from other one's oil and gas resources in the broad daylight (The Timor Gap case) or by stealing cooper and gold from those people in the case of Papua New Guinea.

If in 1998, I (was working with the East Timor Investment Coordinating Board - representing East Timor Government) could negotiate with BHP Petroleum with its CEO known as Peter Cockroft (he was expelled with a status of persona non grata by the Indonesian Government in 1999 after meeting Xanana in Cipinang) to place a base camp in Suai, why now it is turned down and taken all back to Darwin?. Questions need to be posed for this issue, or Peter Cockroft (known as pak Joko) needs to called back and asked the question, what did he promise to Xanana in 1999.

The East Timorese people need to learn the dark history of Australia's way of treating the Aborigines and Papua New Guineans, before it is too late to regret when all the East Timorese will be led to a concentration camp, and the East Timor government will be flooded by native Australians like what is happening in Papua New Guinea.

Proficiat to you John Pilger.


Basilio Dias Araujo

(Former head of Promotion of East Timor Investment Coordinating Board during Indonesian Regime, last known notoriously as the pro-integration Spokesperson in 1999 defending East Timor as an autonomous region of Indonesia to gain a bigger bargaining negotiating power facing the issue of Timor Gap in order to avoid East Timor of becoming a tiny powerless country with less bargaining power and which might end up as a protectorate of Australia if it is mismanaged or dragged into mismanagement by intent by Australia/USA in order to control the Timor Gap as what America is doing in Iraq in order to control and steal the Iraqi oil out of the reach of the control of the Iraqians).


Todas as traduções de inglês para português (e também de francês para português) são feitas pela Margarida, que conhecemos recentemente, mas que desde sempre nos ajuda.

Obrigado pela solidariedade, Margarida!

Mensagem inicial - 16 de Maio de 2006

"Apesar de frágil, Timor-Leste é uma jovem democracia em que acreditamos. É o país que escolhemos para viver e trabalhar. Desde dia 28 de Abril muito se tem dito sobre a situação em Timor-Leste. Boatos, rumores, alertas, declarações de países estrangeiros, inocentes ou não, têm servido para transmitir um clima de conflito e insegurança que não corresponde ao que vivemos. Vamos tentar transmitir o que se passa aqui. Não o que ouvimos dizer... "

Malai Azul. Lives in East Timor/Dili, speaks Portuguese and English.
This is my blogchalk: Timor, Timor-Leste, East Timor, Dili, Portuguese, English, Malai Azul, politica, situação, Xanana, Ramos-Horta, Alkatiri, Conflito, Crise, ISF, GNR, UNPOL, UNMIT, ONU, UN.