Only Westerner left among Guantanamo Bay's prisoners
Only then, after 2? years locked away, was Hicks charged with anything. The date was June 2004.
So-called Afghan Northern Alliance militia "detained" Hicks near Kandahar, Afghanistan, on December 9, 2001, and sold him to their American allies. For three weeks, or thereabouts, Hicks was held aboard a US aircraft carrier, then flown, in January 2002, to the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay and incarcerated in its purpose-built Camp Delta.
Delta is a military prison only for other countries' nationals, not for Americans. The American military built and runs Camp Delta and its sister Camp Echo under authority of special presidential decree, but neither holds American citizens. The 500 men imprisoned there, none of whom has been tried, are all citizens of other countries, all seized in Afghanistan and the Middle East in the "war on terror" since New York's twin towers came down, with more than 2800 dead, in September 2001.
David Hicks, apparently, is now the only Westerner left among Guantanamo Bay's prisoners. This year, after George Bush decreed a special US military commission - a system the Americans have not used since World War II - would try any of the alleged terrorists, eight countries insisted their nationals at Guantanamo Bay be sent home.
Washington agreed. It repatriated 76 "detainees" to "the custody" of their home governments in Britain, France, Spain, Sweden, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Afghanistan, according to published reports. Many were freed on their return. Hicks, the sole "white man" remaining, was left behind to rot.
John Howard's Government has abandoned him to the American military commission system to do with as it will. A month ago, Hicks's remarkable US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori - one of five Americans in Hicks's legal team - told the Herald's Washington correspondent, Michael Gawenda: "He didn't complain the first time we met [in December 2003, after Hicks had been at Camp Delta two years]. He just wanted to know why the Australian Government didn't want him home.
"I couldn't understand how Australia could abandon its own citizen this way. Britain didn't. Neither did any other European country. We don't do that. As an American, there is an expectation that citizenship means something. No American was sent to Guantanamo Bay. No American will be tried by military commission."
Not only the Howard Government has washed its hands of Hicks. Kim Beazley's Labor Opposition has been just as miserably spineless in seeking to avoid any political taint from supporting Hicks.
Four months ago, on August 10 in the Senate, the Greens' Bob Brown stood and proposed: "That the Senate calls on the Government of the United States of America to immediately return Australian citizen Mr David Hicks to Australia." There was no debate. And the result? Fifty-three votes to eight, with Labor joining the Coalition to vote the proposal down. Fifteen senators, mostly Labor, did not vote.
The eight, in a Senate of 76, with the courage to vote yes: the Greens' Brown (Tasmania), Kerry Nettle (NSW), Rachel Siewert (Western Australia) and Christine Milne (Tasmania); and the Democrats' Lyn Allison (Victoria), Andrew Bartlett (Queensland), Andrew Murray (Western Australia) and Natasha Stott Despoja (South Australia).
Among Labor's "no" votes: the Left's George Campbell (NSW) and Kim Carr (Victoria); the Right's Robert Ray (Victoria), Michael Forshaw (NSW) and Joe Ludwig (Queensland); and seven women - Patricia Crossin (Northern Territory), Penny Wong and Linda Kirk (South Australia), Kate Lundy (ACT), Jan McLucas and Claire Moore (Queensland) and Ursula Stephens (NSW).
Nobody should be surprised, of course. It was a bound party vote, not one of individual choice, but a number of Labor senators declined to record a vote rather than line up with the Government to spit in Hicks's eye.
Fifteen months ago, Hicks's lawyers filed a second petition on his behalf in Washington, suing for a writ of habeas corpus. The US legal system is still considering it. The petition says, in part: "There is no basis for Hicks's detention. At no time did Hicks engage in any criminal or terrorist conduct. Nor did he kill, injure, fire upon, or direct fire upon, any US or Coalition forces, or the Northern Alliance forces initially responsible for his seizure. Nor did he attempt any such conduct. He did not at any time commit any criminal violations, or any violations of the law of war. Nor did he ever enter into any agreement with anyone to do so.
"Accordingly, Hicks brings his action seeking a writ of habeas corpus to secure his release from unlawful detention. Lacking any lawful basis for Hicks's continued detention, [the US] now seek to justify Hicks's detention by subjecting him to 'trial' by military commission on purported war crime charges of [Washington's] own creation and definition, never before recognised under international law, and using a procedure that also has been made up out of whole cloth. Because [the Government's] war crimes charges are indisputably invalid and the commission's process and procedures unlawful, Hicks seeks habeas relief with respect to his unlawful detention and trial."
Not everyone in Australia is, like the Howard Government and the Beazley Labor Party, blind and deaf to Hicks's plea for just treatment and the political frenzy Howard and his ministers, with Labor's acquiescence, have whipped up with yet another round of counterterrorism laws.
There has been no more consistent and clearer voice challenging the Government than that of the Liberals' own Malcolm Fraser, now utterly estranged from the frightening mob that run this country. Fraser wrote in The Age, in his home town of Melbourne, on October 10: "We're the only democratic nation, I'm advised, to legislate for the detention of people whom the authorities do not suspect of any wrongdoing or even wrong thought.
"In Australia, any of us can be detained merely because authorities believe we might know something that we don't even know we know. The authorities do not have to believe we are guilty of any crime, or are planning any crime, or have consorted with any suspicious persons. How could such a law be drafted by the Government and supported by the Labor Opposition?"
Simple. Because it's the Beazley Labor Opposition.
Of Washington's Guantanamo Bay prison, Fraser wrote: "US authorities and others have time and again denigrated those in Guantanamo Bay. We have been told they are the worst of the worst, that they are terrible people, that they do not deserve the normal protection of the law. People who make such comments clearly do not understand or believe in the rule of law. They have taken such views because they believe those in Guantanamo Bay and others are not 'people' like ourselves.
"In a different day and a different time, but within the memory of many, we have heard those words before."
What we haven't heard since Washington shut David Hicks away from the world four years ago, along with 500 others, none of whom has been tried, is anyone from Howard's own Government publicly questioning his behaviour.
That is, not until Sydney's Danna Vale, the former Howard junior minister the Prime Minister relegated to the back bench after the last election, surprised her colleagues a month ago by going public in support of Hicks being brought home. Vale told ABC Radio's Elizabeth Jackson on November 12: "This fellow does not seem to be able to access any justice at all. I'm concerned he will die there [in Guantanamo Bay] ?
"And if he does die there, what have I done, as an MP, to speak up for his case? He has already done four years, and four years in the most inhumane conditions."
Vale acknowledged she'd gone to Howard and asked him to intervene with Bush. "He is the only person in Australia who could ask Mr Bush to send David Hicks home," Vale told Jackson, "and that's what I asked him. He refused. I just feel this was an opportunity that we could reasonably argue with the Americans, 'Look, we did agree you could deal with him as long as it was quick and fair.' Regrettably, that can't be delivered now; [we should] bring him home, we'll deal with him ourselves."
At least Danna Vale tried.
Few others in politics do, apart from the Greens' Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle from time to time, the Democrats' Lynn Allison and Natasha Stott Despoja, and some of the Labor women, notably Labor's Nicola Roxon, from Melbourne.
Hicks's is a story that makes sporadic news here and there, or attracts attention when a program such as ABC television's Four Corners gets hold of it, as it did, brilliantly, six weeks ago. But it just as quickly sinks again.
Vale's intervention made the headlines for a weekend, then was gone. She hasn't been heard since, and neither have any of her Coalition colleagues come out of hiding to support her. Hicks, meanwhile, goes on rotting in Guantanamo Bay. The US legal system grinds on. Another year stretches ahead. Our shameless Government deserves to be burned.
Hicks may get UK passport
By Verity Edwards December 13, 2005
THE British High Court is expected to order tonight that Australian terror suspect David Hicks be granted British citizenship, a move that could pave the way for his release from detention in Guantanamo Bay. The Australian Government has been told the court decision will go in Hicks's favour. And Hicks's Adelaide lawyer David McLeod said he too was confident his client would be given his ticket to leave the US facility in Cuba when the High Court order comes down at 8.30pm (AEDT). "We're quietly confident that the judge will order that he be granted British citizenship," Mr McLeod said.
Australian government sources were said to be surprised by the court's likely ruling after it initially appeared Hicks's application for citizenship had little chance of success. The US Government has detained Hicks in Cuba since he was captured with Taliban forces in Afghanistan four years ago. He has been charged with attempted murder, conspiracy and aiding the enemy. Hicks, 30, was due to be the first of nine detainees to face the US military commissions last month before a US District Court judge granted an 11th-hour stay in the proceedings.
His trial is due to be held late next year. In September, Hicks revealed that his mother, Susan King, was British. His lawyers immediately applied for British citizenship, hoping Hicks could be repatriated from Guantanamo Bay. The British Government has repatriated its citizens because it believes the military commission process does not meet international standards.
The British Home Office rejected Hicks's application in mid-November because he had performed "an act prejudicial to the interests of the United Kingdom in attending training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan". The High Court has reviewed the decision and will give its decision today.
Mr McLeod said an order granting Hicks citizenship would hopefully see the British Government seek to extradite Hicks and try him in its own court system. "What we'll be doing is probably prevailing on the US Government to honour their agreement with the UK Government and release him to the UK and not to subject him to the military commissions," he said. "The UK Government has repatriated its other citizens and we hope they honour that."
Hicks's father Terry, who will be helping at football training while the decision is handed down tonight, said it was too early to be hopeful. "You can never be hopeful because things change rather drastically," Mr Hicks said. "Legally, (the British Government) has got to give it to him but then they've got the power to revoke it.
"We're hoping they'll let him be (a citizen) long enough to get him out of Guantanamo Bay."
Mr Hicks said he believed John Howard would be embarrassed if his son were released to the British. He said the Prime Minister should be sticking up for his own citizens, regardless of what they had done. Law Council of Australia president John North said Hicks should not have had to rely on another country's government for help. "Yet this is what Mr Hicks has been forced to do. It is a sad indictment of our leaders."
Here i am forwarding an article by Alan Ramsey sent by Vacy Vlazna. I would once more encourage everyone to write to backbenchers of both the ALP and the Liberal parties as at present i do not see any other way of approaching David Hicks´ case.
it is a shame to see that the Labor party has done nothing to press for the 'repatriation' of David. On occasions they take up issues regarding the unfairness of the military tribunal process, however, this is not enough. David has started his 5th year of imprisonment, abuse and torture. It is time WE ALL demand David´s repatriation and freedom.
From Cuba Marlene Justice for Hicks & Habib
From: "Vacy Vlazna"
To: "Marlene Obeid"
Christmas in Guantanamo
After four long years, David Hicks - and scores of others - have been confined in steel cages in Guantanamo Bay, without trial or charge. Here in Australia, draconian anti-terror laws abolish some of our most cherished freedoms, and give ASIO and the Australian Federal Police carte blanche to treat the Islamic community like criminals.