The Guardian 16 February, 2005

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There's torture and there's torture

A couple of weeks ago Sydneysiders were distressed and appalled by the cruel torture of a kitten by three teenagers. It was awful to watch on the camera and the RSPCA was getting hundreds of requests to look after the hurt kitten and give it a good home.

The teenagers allegedly responsible for this act of cruelty will be facing court and if found guilty get punishment for what they'd done. The kitten is progressing well and will be adopted by the policewoman who helped save it.

Now last week I had a shock when I found out hidden away in the back pages of one of the daily papers that Australian soldiers are being tortured as part of their training in case the enemy catches them.

There were no front-page headlines and the reporting was so pedestrian and routine. Nothing out of the ordinary. Get prepared. Join the army and be tortured. How disgusting that is!

I'm sure that with modern drugs you don't have to torture anybody. Aren't you supposed to give them a pill or a shot and they'll tell you all? It's more likely that the torture techniques are being used to break down the spirit of the young people and turn them into killers who would follow the orders without questioning them.

And another thing. I think the body responsible for misleading advertising should investigate the recruitment ads for the military. In all the ads you are left with an impression that the reason to join the army or the navy is to learn computers, be a good cook, have a great time with your mates in other words, learn a trade, get a good qualification, earn good money.

Where does it say that you'll be tortured first and then, when turned into a killing machine you'll proceed to torture others. I wonder why veterans' organisations are not up in arms against these techniques.

The government is a disgrace. And I have nothing but contempt for Mr Beazley who said that he had no problem with torture techniques in the military.

Many people couldn't understand how anybody could torture a small kitten and called for the severest punishment for the perpetrators. Why is everybody silent about the torture of human beings? What do you call those responsible for that?

Jean Hopkins
Brisbane, Qld

Beyond belief

I have always found it difficult to believe that the people of an advanced, civilised, educated and sophisticated nation like Germany with its history of great cultural achievements and enlightened traditions could have become so debased by Nazism as to endorse and applaud the invasion of sovereign nations which posed no threat to them; to accept the destruction of the material infrastructure of the invaded countries and the deaths of their people; to stand silent as their own sons were sent to their deaths in exercises of aggression; to be party to the demonisation of people who looked, dressed, spoke or worshipped differently; to tolerate racist based attacks on minority groups; to close their eyes to the incarceration of innocent people in camps and to pretend that they did not know; to ignore clear evidence of torture and to willingly accept and even excuse deliberate lies which were told to them in order to win their acceptance of evil, inhuman deeds.

I now find it easier to believe.

Bob Brown
Corlette, NSW

Justice for all

If Cornelia Rau was treated with such contempt by Vanstone's mercenaries, how are the refugees without blond hair and blue eyes treated? Torturing Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks and taking nail clippers from plane travellers? All guilty until proven innocent? Or are we simply afraid of offending Bush's greedy neo-conservatives. The idea of free speech, equality and a fair go is not crime, it used to be the mark of democracy. It is time for an inquiry into Australian justice per se.

Yvonne Francis
Nuclear Disarmament Party
Queanbeyan, ACT

How relaxed are you?

How bitterly ironic that John Howard is crowing about having the APEC summit here in 2007, calling it "the most significant international meeting to have been hosted by Australia". (He must have forgotten about the 2000 Olympic Games.)

There will be 6000 delegates from 21 nations attending the event in Sydney. And the word "event" is apt as the tourist industry and Premier Bob Carr see it as a $20 million profit making venture.

"It's the brand legacy for Sydney from the event that really counts", said the managing director of the Tourism and Transport Forum. "It's about showing off Australia in its true light open, friendly, modern and relaxed."

Hence the irony. Open? We have people men, women and children being held under absolute secrecy in prison camps called refugee detention centres. Friendly? The Howard government has threatened countries in the region with a pre-emptive strike how friendly is that?

Modern? Yes, if you mean corporations going bankrupt and throwing workers on the scrapheap, then we certainly are up there with the best of them.

Relaxed? Howard has spent tens of millions of dollars on a fear and loathing campaign to frighten the hell out of everyone how relaxed are you!?

Marcus Browning
Sydney, NSW

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