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Mick Wallace World's worst Humanitarian Disaster is taking place in #Yemen - But only #Saudi + #UAE are interested - And they're… https://t.co/p4pwSEMrES

Dáil Diary no 35 - 8 May 2015

Mainstream Media Stays Silent - As Government use 'Terrorism' to undermine Civil Liberties...

It’s unlikely to come as a surprise to anyone that the mainstream media have refused to report any opposition whatsoever, to the Government’s Criminal Justice Terrorist Offences Amendment Bill 2014, passing through the house at the moment. Hardly earth-shattering news to anyone.

It is ironic that at a time when Ireland and Europe are looking to increase surveillance in the name of the so called fight against terrorism, the US Court of Appeals, only yesterday, ruled that the bulk collection of telephone metadata is unlawful, first revealed to the US public by NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 – a landmark decision that clears the way for a full challenge against the American National Security Agency. The Irish Government is now looking to introduce legislation that is more designed to challenge civil liberties than to seriously challenge terrorist action around the globe – after all, most Independent analysis agree that the US Military bear more responsibility than anyone else for acts of terrorism, and yet, we allow that same Military Machine pass through Irish territory unchecked and unhindered. So much for , Frances Fitzgerald, ‘failed’ to turn up for. I miss Alan Shatter… 

"In January, in the wake of the Paris attacks, the Taoiseach stated in the House that: "The comprehensive international approach that is needed should tackle the underlying causes, prevent radicalisation, share information more effectively, deter and disrupt terrorist travel and bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice." Before we continue a conversation about terrorism, we need to consider the definition of "terrorist activity" as set out in the principal Act. A terrorist activity is defined as an offence that is committed with the intention of:
(i) seriously intimidating a population,

(ii) unduly compelling a government or an international organisation to perform or abstain from performing an act, or

(iii) seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a state or an international organisation;
In March, a report authored by the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concluded that in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone, the US-led war on terror has directly and indirectly killed, at the most conservative estimate, a possible 1.3 million people since 2001. They note that the total number of deaths in the three countries is probably in excess of 2 million.

  The US and its coalition of the willing have led a war that is killing people at a rate that is encroaching on some of the greatest horrors of the 20th century, and they show no signs of slowing down the carnage. This Government refuses to see this action and its complicity in it for what it is - terrorism, plain and simple. We are participants in the largest terrorist organisation on earth. Ireland, by allowing munitions, military aircraft and almost 2.5 million troops through Shannon, is complicit in this mass slaughter of so many innocent people. We have supported a regime that seriously intimidates populations by flying drones over their heads and that bombs their villages, infrastructure, schools, hospitals, farms, roads, weddings and lives to dust. We support and instigate the radicalisation of those who survive the carnage, those who can no longer tolerate their humiliation, pain, anger and sorrow.

  The Taoiseach says we have to deter and disrupt terrorist travel and yet the army that is responsible for the deaths of so many people and the destruction and destabilisation of vast swathes of the Middle East, travels freely and unchecked though our borders. The Minister of State refers to bringing the perpetrators of terrorism to justice. However, when we name the US President for what he is, which is a war criminal, the Government does not want to know. The man is ordering the execution, without trial, of thousands of people, including hundreds of children, and yet he faces no consequences nor censure.

  In theory, the wording of the Bill is sound and sections of it could possibly be supported if the intentions of its authors were not dripping with hypocrisy. The crimes of Islamic State are horrific and it should be brought to justice but the same goes for the terrorist activities of Assad, Putin, Netanyahu, the US Administration and its allies. The same goes for Irish Government personnel who have facilitated the murder of innocent civilians by allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a forward military base for the US war machine.

  The Saudis are as fond of beheading people as ISIS, while pouring money and arms into terrorist organisations. The Irish Government does not seem to have any problem with them. This week, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has been condemned by Human Rights Watch for dropping banned cluster bombs manufactured and supplied by the US on civilian areas in Yemen. Ireland signed and ratified this treaty in December 2008. We are widely considered to have been a driving force in the advancement of the treaty and we are held up as an example of international best practice in our implementation of the treaty. Only two weeks ago, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade reaffirmed his commitment to the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Arms Trade Treaty.

He went on to state: "The commitment of Ireland to the promotion and protection of human rights is a foreign policy priority for the Government." This stance is perplexing in light of the fact that the Government has repeatedly refused to bring up human rights concerns with Saudi or US officials when it has had the opportunity. This situation simply serves to underscore the poverty of the Government's foundation when it speaks about human rights. What Administration could be taken seriously when its members pat themselves on the back for having legislation that protects human rights, such as the cluster bomb munitions treaty or the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, while the National Pensions Reserve Fund has investments in a number of companies that manufacture nuclear weapons, including Boeing, Honeywell International, Jacobs Engineering, Larsen & Toubro, Rolls-Royce, Safran, Thales, Rockwell Collins, Airbus, Fluor, Leidos, ThyssenKrupp and Babcock and Wilcox, to which AIB provided a four-year revolving credit package valued at $700 million in 2010? I wish the bank had been as good to me.

  The Taoiseach once berated Bertie Ahern for not raising the issue of India's refusal to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty on a trade mission. Now, the State invests in an Indian company that manufactures weapons, Larsen & Toubro. The official line, to use the words of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, seems to be that trade missions are not the place to raise human rights issues effectively.

  I fear that apart from highlighting the dishonesty, duplicity and double standards of this Government, the Bill and the principal Act may be used to restrict and clamp down on civil rights, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of movement - similar legislation has been used in this way elsewhere - while simultaneously embedding institutionalised racism into our criminal justice system.

  The inclusion of a series of new terrorist offences and the qualification that they need not necessarily be committed to be crimes is bewildering in its broad scope. For example, the proposed section 4A defines the public provocation to commit a terrorist offence as "the intentional distribution, or otherwise making available, by whatever means of communication by a person of a message to the public, with the intent of encouraging, directly or indirectly, the commission by a person of a terrorist activity". If this meant that every time the Taoiseach or a Minister was held to account for trying to justify American warmongering, then I might consider it. Sadly, however, this law will only be used to undermine the free speech of those whom it is politically expedient to criminalise. By holding a monopoly on the definition of the word "terrorism" to the effect that terrorism is only something people other than us undertake, the Bill is built upon a false, unjust and hypocritical premise.

The great Nigerian-American novelist, Teju Cole, wrote in the wake of the Paris attacks:
A tone of genuine puzzlement always seems to accompany terrorist attacks in the centers of Western power. Why have they visited violent horror on our peaceful societies? Why do they kill when we don't?
This puzzlement is the product of a situation where the West, particularly the USA, "has consolidated its traditional monopoly on extreme violence". Accordingly, when the US and their Allies "commit torture or war crimes, no matter how illegal or depraved, there is little expectation of a full accounting or of the prosecution of the parties responsible". Some weeks ago Gary Younge of The Guardian framed the situation perfectly, stating that the West "promotes itself as the upholder of principles it does not keep, and a morality it does not practise".

  At the crux is the fact that we are discussing the extension of terrorism laws handed down from the planners of the great fortress that is Europe. We close our borders, monitor our citizens, police our waters and build walls to keep out the threat of violence.

  At least six children under the age of ten were among a reported 25 people killed in Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes in the Yemeni capital Sana'a early one morning a month ago. What protections did these children have from our trade partner, Saudi Arabia? Where are their border controls, defence systems and anti-terrorism legislation? What recourse do the remaining family members of the 14 demolished houses have to attain justice against the powerful US-supported Saudi Arabia? What structures are in place to prevent the surviving members of the family from being killed and maimed by the US-made cluster bombs that now scatter their countryside? What incentive is there not to become one of our feared terrorists? We need to tackle the root problem that this Bill is trying to address, not simply the symptom.

  Last night, the Minister said there was no doubt that this was significant and timely legislation, particularly in view of the deplorable terrorism witnessed in Europe and beyond in recent times. We agree that terrorist acts are terrible, but as long as we continue to ignore the fact that the US military machine has created more damage in this area than anyone else and that we are complicit by allowing the US Military machine to continue to use Shannon Airport, then how in God's name can we say anything about human rights? What can we possibly say in defence of people who suffer at the hands of terrorism when we stay silent and remain complicit? It is too bad. Are we going to ignore the reality forever? When is an Irish Government going to stand up, behave like a neutral country and call a spade a spade? Let us call the truth for what it is."

Mick Wallace.


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