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John Passant

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March 2015
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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
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My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
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Me on Razor Sharp this morning
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Executions in Indonesia

For a whole range of reasons this is a difficult piece to write. As I sit here typing, Indonesia has transferred convicted Australian drug runners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to Nusa Kambangan Island in preparation for their execution there. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said they will not be executed this week but that it will be soon.

The death penalty is an abomination. It is the claim of the state to have absolute control over all aspects of life, including ending that life. Some countries apply the death penalty after due process (often) to what the State views as heinous criminal activity. Murder, rape, drug smuggling are often reasons for being executed.

Capitalism is a blood soaked system.  Marx remarked about its early establishment that it is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire. Certainly the dispossession of Aboriginal people and the Frontier Wars killed up to 120,000 indigenous Australians up to 1920. That genocide continues today and we hear nothing from our politicians about that death sentence.

The imperialist states often rain death down on innocents for geopolitical reasons. The 1.5 million civilians who have died as a result of the invasion of Iraq received no trial but were sentenced to death by George W Bush’s decision and that of rulers of hanger-on nations like Australia to invade.  Many of those Australian politicians now expressing concern about the impending execution of Chan and Sukumaran cheered on the invasion of Iraq and the murder of over one million people there.

This is the same caring sensitive Government and Opposition that locks up asylum seekers , people who have committed no crime, in concentration camps on Manus Island and Nauru and in Australia. In doing that we use the same argument President Widodo offers for the executions – it will deter the activity.  It won’t. Long term the war on refugees will be as successful as the war on drugs or the war on terror.

Let’s not forget it was the Australian Federal Police who tipped of the Indonesians to the drug smuggling operation when all of the Bali Nine, including  Chan and Sukumaran, could have been arrested on arrival in Australia. The AFP were and presumably are hoping the death penalty in Indonesia sends a signal to young Australians not to smuggle drugs.  The AFP will have the blood of Chan and Sukumaran on  their hands but we will keep funding these criminals in the ‘war’  on drugs and on terror.

Every two weeks a building workers is killed on the job in Australia. Every week a women is murdered by the hand of her partner or former partner.  Where are those opposed to the death penalty when it comes to those whom work or a male family member has killed? Where are they when another Aborigine is murdered in custody?

These are systemic issues whose investigation if it were done seriously would undermine the family, one of the touchstones of cheap child care and socialisation of labour for capital, and the profits of the building bosses. It isn’t going to happen.

Instead we have a royal commission into unions as an attempt to hamstring building unions and others and to  give more power to the Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate. If either of these are successful it will see the number of building workers who die or are seriously injured on site increase, as happened when John Howard introduced the Australian Building and Construction Commission in 2005 to police the industry’s unions.

The Indonesian state has a brutal history, whether it be the Suharto coup and the killing of over 1 million Chinese Indonesians, then on to East Timor where they killed 200,000 or the genocide in West Papua with 500,000 murdered.

The genocide in West Papua continues today and yet Abbott, Bishop, Shorten and Plibersek remain mute.

One reason for their silence is that any attempt by the criminals who lead Australia to point out the genocide in West Papua for example would produce an all too accurate response. Australia is built on the genocide of the Aboriginal peoples, a genocide that continues today. Another is that death row Australians are important to Abbott and Bishop, to Shorten and Plibersek, at least for crude political purposes, while non-Australians (except the rich) count for nothing. There are for example another seven non-Indonesians to be executed for drug crimes around the same time as Chan and Sukumaran.  We hear nothing about them.

One problem in raising this issue is that it can feed into anti-Indonesian sentiment and racism.  The Indonesian ruling class and their politicians are no more barbaric than Australia’s ruling class and politicians are or can be.  Capitalism itself is barbaric.

We produce enough to feed everyone adequately; yet over 800 million people are undernourished and 3.1 million children die each year from a lack of food. That is a crime.

I doubt anything now will save Chan and Sukumaran. The lesson I draw from their impending execution and from the violence that is a daily part of the capitalist system is that we need to overthrow capitalism to abolish the death penalty in all its forms.








Comment from Jacks
Time March 6, 2015 at 9:26 am

Nice words John

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm

I’m sick of the Australian government wasting time and money on this issue. If it was a matter of the unemployed and disabled dying on the streets, they would simply step over the corpses.

I don’t support the death penalty, but I am well and truly over the huge amount of compassion being shown towards drug mules who wouldn’t have cared if millions of Australians died from drug abuse.

For some weeks, I have not believed these 2 men would be executed. If they are, I think they will be the last.

A few days ago, I was speaking with a man who is Ex-AFP. He says they should have been shot on the spot, once caught with the drugs. This would have saved a lot of government expenditure and time, the criminals’ families going broke paying lawyers, and an excellent lesson being learned by other prospective lawbreakers.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 6, 2015 at 3:05 pm

John, I agree with your comments regarding domestic violence and workplace accidents.

However the issue of drug mules is not worth creating an international incident or embargo over.

Comment from Ross
Time March 6, 2015 at 5:34 pm HSBC has been busted for laundering drug money many times but prosecution will destabilise their financial system.

See US Soldiers guarding poppy crops. Afghanistan now produces 90% of the world’s heroin. In 2001 there was heroin shortage because the Taliban stopped most of the production.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 7, 2015 at 9:04 am

Unfortunately Australia also has a certain number of Mr Bigs of the drug trade. These are white collar criminals of whom the Australian government is well aware. The man I mentioned who is Ex-AFP seemed very frustrated at the inaction of government where the big boys are concerned.

There is a chain of hairdressing salons at which I will NEVER get my hair done for excellent reasons, the least of which is the extremely outrageous prices they charge.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 11, 2015 at 9:53 am

On this morning’s ABC news, there seemed to be a focus on the idea that the best way to get rid of illegal drugs is to legalise them and have the government supply both drugs and needles to addicts to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Then, when the addicts are ready, move them on to methodone programs. I ‘m sure I have previously seen a TV program which showed that methodone just becomes the new heroin (at the taxpayers’ expense!)