Thursday, June 23, 2005

Senator Andrew Bartlett on Downer and 'Communist Tyranny': "The attempt by a senior Chinese Consular official to seek asylum has rightly attracted a lot of interest in Australia (you can read some statements made by the Australian Democrats by clicking here, here and here.) But I found it particularly absurd that Alexander Downer had a column in The Australian this week attacking the Labor Party of the 1950s for being 'too accommodating to communist tyranny' just days after his officials turned away a senior Chinese Consular official seeking asylum from the Chinese communist government. The wilful blindness of the current Australian Government over the last decade in ignoring and appeasing the tyranny of the Chinese government has been just as hypocritical, mealy-mouthed and complicit as the left-wing deniers of communist atrocities of the 50s and 60s.

"For Alexander Downer, the Foreign Minister who has presided over nearly ten years of appeasement of human rights abuses by Chinese dictatorships (not to mention other countries with an appalling human rights record like Burma), to try to lecture about alleged isolationism and appeasement by John Curtin – a Prime Minister who worried and worked himself right into his grave out of his concern for Australians during wartime – is simply breath-taking."

Amnesty International state that in China "Torture and ill-treatment continued to be reported in a wide variety of state institutions despite the introduction of several new regulations aimed at curbing the practice. Common methods included kicking, beating, electric shocks, suspension by the arms, shackling in painful positions, and sleep and food deprivation. Political interference in the rule of law, restricted access to the outside world for detainees, and a failure to establish effective mechanisms for complaint and investigation continued to be key factors allowing the practice to flourish.

"The authorities officially announced an intention to reform “Re-education through Labour”, a system of administrative detention used to detain hundreds of thousands of people for up to four years without charge or trial. However, the exact nature and scope of reform remained unclear.

"People accused of political or criminal offences continued to be denied due process. Detainees’ access to lawyers and family members continued to be severely restricted and trials fell far short of international fair trial standards. Those charged with offences related to “state secrets” or “terrorism” had their legal rights restricted and were tried in camera."

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