We can’t let the anti-terror laws silence us

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The so-called anti-terror laws are not about protecting people; they’re a recipe for State-sponsored terror. These laws are designed to silence and punish political opponents.

Since the 1970s in Australia, terrorism has been the main pretext for increasing the capacity for repression. It provides an opportune climate to announce draconian measures planned years beforehand. The Hilton Bombing in 1978 is a good example. A bomb went off at a CHOGM conference. The Prime Minister then announced a whole range of counter-terror measures. Many of them undermined fundamental tenets of democracy, such as prohibiting the military from using repressive force against citizens. Because of the heightened feeling of national crisis, people accepted it. Since then, it’s become obvious that many of the measures had already been put in place prior to the bombing.

Today, we have paramilitary squads set up within the police forces. The military, police and ASIO are sharing intelligence, and this will increase. The military is getting more involved in ‘internal security.’ For example, there are already contingency plans for the military to set up detention centres. They’d rely on the police, which have vast amounts of intelligence on political activists.

There’s a dilemma of credibility when talking about these laws. If you say they’re as bad as the apartheid laws of South Africa or Malaysia’s Internal Security Act, people can’t believe it. But if this legislative framework is put in place, the punitive consequences of being politically active will increase dramatically. The next generation of activists will be detained.

If the terror laws are passed, resistance against them must not end. Solidarity is most important. When a group becomes the victim, we have to defend them, knowing that we could be next. We can’t let people disappear, and we can’t let these laws silence us. We have to speak out.”

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