The Guardian 1 June, 2005

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Letters to the Editor

Open letter to Indonesian president

I am writing to you concerning the two West Papuan men, Philep Karma and Yusak Pakage who have just received jail terms of 15 and 10 years respectively, for so-called "treason against the state".

However, the reality is that the men simply organised a meeting where the Morning Star flag was raised as a peaceful symbolic act of protest at the injustices faced by the West Papuan people, the human rights abuses and the exploitation of the rich natural resources of the province.

These extremely harsh sentences for such a peaceful act, are seen by the rest of the world as the act of a totalitarian regime and not that of a democratic country. Such harsh penalties merely serve to prove to the West Papuan People that there is no justice for them under Indonesian law.

Footage of the clash between protesters and police outside the Jayapura District Court at the trial on May 10, which showed images of police brutality against protesters, was shown on our news networks here in Australia.

We also note the build up of troops in the territory and believe this build up will only lead to more tension and instability in the region.

We urge you:

  • to use your good offices to have these men released as a sign of good faith towards the West Papuan People;

  • to control the military and police in the province and to remove all non-organic troops; and

  • to dialogue with the West Papuan leadership, to work towards creating a zone of peace in West Papua and to work towards peacefully solving the many issues of concern in the territory.

    Joe Collins
    Secretary, Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

    Industrial reform changes.

    My family, friends, workmates and I are very concerned with the announcement by John Howard of his industrial relations agenda which, I believe, is unfair, anti-worker and will damage Australian society and its future. Millions of Australian workers are set to lose their access to award conditions, protection from unfair dismissal and an effective safety net of minimum wages.

    The changes announced are an assault on the rights and living standards of Australian workers and will benefit business at the expense of working families.

    Workers would be forced onto individual contracts, the award safety net will be replaced with only four minimum conditions, over 3.6 million workers will have no remedy against unfair dismissal and it will be very difficult for unions to provide assistance to workers.

    Most Australians know this is biased and unfair and don’t want it.

    Darrel Albino
    Rosewater, SA

    Conspicuous consumption

    Is it just me or do those "lifestyle" and fashion articles in the glossy magazines that drop out of the weekend broadsheets annoy other people, too? They clearly set out to appeal to the hyper-consuming winners in Howard’s Australia. Appearing as they do in what are tough times for more and more people, there is something troubling about this hedonistic distortion of reality.

    In the most recent Weekend Australian Magazine there was an article in the "Style" section called Trench Warfare. "With so many versions in the field, you’ll be spoilt for choice when bagging your winter coat."

    The "Tish" is moderately priced at $129 and the "Tigerlily" is still plausible at $249.95. However, prices go ballistic from there and reach $1050 for the "Lisa Ho" and $1060 for the "Toni Maticevski".

    I always associate the trench coat with the down and out in our rather callous society, a warm garment bought from an op shop by homeless men forced to spend long cold days outdoors. I wonder if people in the magazine’s target readership make the same sad association.

    Brian Kirshaw
    Drummoyne, NSW

    Coalition Conscience

    Congratulations to the Liberal and National Party members who are speaking out for refugees and asylum seekers.

    Abuses of powerless people occur when they are isolated from any help and placed in the care of a "prison type" system.

    It would be bad enough if this was the treatment we dealt out to enemies, but to do this to innocent men, women and children, who have fled oppression is exquisite cruelty.

    This cruelty needs to end, and there needs to be a full enquiry into our treatment of these people who have come looking for safety.

    Dr G Smith
    Laurieton, NSW

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