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Against Terrorism, Against War Melbourne Protests for Peace


Terror in Paradise


The mass murder of nearly two hundred people, going about their business in a tourist resort, many of them Australians, is a calculated political act. In the disbelief, anger, revulsion and utter powerlessness felt by those caught up in the events and those who witness the drama on the mass media, it's easy to dismiss the bombings as an act of evil carried out by deranged individuals and groups who are part of a world wide network of evil.

Terrorism has been and continues to be an integral component of the political process. Mass murder on a scale that dwarfs the deaths in Bali, has been and continues to be carried out by Nation States for political, religious, ideological and nationalist reasons. The twentieth century was littered with examples of political and national leaders who had absolute State power, use that power to impose their will on the people they ruled, through the use of terror. Terror is a tactic used by the State and by groups who want to seize State power and use that power to further their religious, ideological or nationalist objectives.

The carnage caused by the bombings in Bali, although a relatively new experience for the Australian people, is unfortunately a fact of life for Indonesians. The Indonesian people weathered one of the significant genocide's of the 20th Century in 1965, and for the next thirty years had to live under a brutal military dictatorship, supported by successive Australian and United States governments. Since Suharto was forced to step down in 1995, the Indonesian archipelago has been destabilised by remnants of the old dictatorship, who want to make the country ungovernable, so they can seize power with minimal public opposition. Muslim fundamentalist organisations have been the vehicle they have been used to torment trouble in Indonesia. Since the economic meltdown in Indonesia in 1997 and the imposition of International Monetary Fund and World Bank conditions on continued loans, the economic burden has fallen on tens of millions of Indonesians, who eke out a hand to mouth existence.

The message propagated by Muslim fundamentalists among the poor and the dispossessed has borne fruit and with the financial backing of some of Suharto's old supporters and remnants of the Indonesian armed forces, they have been able to create a climate where destabilisation through terror, achieves results. It would be a mistake to view the deaths in Bali as something that could have been avoided if intelligence agencies had more information, or the Indonesian government had taken a stronger stand against certain groups. The war on terror cannot be won by military and paramilitary means. It can only be won by eradicating the conditions that breed the hopelessness and despair that creates the moral, intellectual and physical conditions that make terrorism a viable political option.

What at first may seem to be an impossible task has much more chance of succeeding than the ridiculous concept of a military war on terrorism. A war which can never be successful and which never ends. A war which creates the conditions which encourage and nurtures the growth of terror as a political philosophy, that is pursued by those who claim to be acting against terrorism and those who have embraced terrorism as a political weapon.

Government exploiting terrorism to push through Police State legislation

The deaths of nearly two hundred people, many of them Australian, as a consequence of the bombing outrage in Bali, is being used as a bargaining chip by a government that knew its ASIO bill would be rejected when debated in the Senate. Barely 24 hours after the massacre, the Howard regime has re-opened negotiations with the opposition, to pass the more contentious elements of the ASIO bill. If, as a consequence of the hysteria surrounding this outrage, this bill is passed, ASIO will be given unprecedented powers to detain, interrogate and imprison people without charges being laid, because they may inadvertently have information which ASIO believes may help them carry out their investigations.

The brutal bombing in Bali is being exploited by a government, that in the rush to protect parliamentary democracy, wants to remove those few common law rights Australians enjoy, that allow them to freely associate and protest without the threat of arbitrary detention, interrogation and imprisonment. The threat posed to Australians by the ASIO bill is far worse than any terrorist threat or outrage.

The broad coalition of groups that convinced the Labor Party to block the legislation in the Senate, needs to re-apply pressure to the Labor Party to ensure that it does not back track on its word and pass the ASIO bill. Removing what few freedoms people enjoy in this country to protect our rapidly diminishing rights and freedoms, plays into the hands at the very people who committed this massacre. Those people who pursue a terrorist agenda, do so with two main aims in mind, they want to destabilise society by generating a climate of fear and they want the State to take away those rights and freedoms which set us apart from more authoritarian governments and social movements.

To succumb to the hysteria, calling for more police powers during the aftermath of a terrorist outrage, is to give those people who believe they can implement their political agenda through terror, a significant victory.

Comment by Dr Joe Toscano
Anarchist Age Weekly Review
Number 520, 14th October 20th October, 2002


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