i said separation of power, homer!

  1. 4,788 Posts.
    No doubt as most h/cers are anti ABC they would have missed the speech by the winner of the Sydney Peace Prize, Dr Hanan Ashrawi. There were some attempts by the jewish community to prevent the prize and/or speech however democracy prevailed. The following is a transcript of part of the row, from the military no less.

    PM - Sydney Peace Prize row

    Reporter: Nick Grimm

    MARK COLVIN: Who'd have thought that the awarding of a peace prize could create so much hostility and in so many places? The row over plans to award the Sydney Peace Prize to the Palestinian activist, Hanan Ashrawi, has now widened to the Australian military.

    A senior Australian army officer in Iraq wrote to the New South Wales Premier, Bob Carr, pleading with him not to proceed with the award. It was supposed to be a private letter, but it was leaked to the media, and it's raised questions about the military's relationship to politics, and about whether the Colonel was right in linking Iraq to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Nick Grimm compiled this report.

    MIKE KELLY: And people have to realise that if they're arguing against this legislation, they're arguing in favour of the maintenance of this archaic status quo.

    NICK GRIMM: That's the voice of military lawyer, Colonel Mike Kelly, three years ago when he was a plain old lieutenant colonel in charge of the Australian Defence Forces Military Law Centre.

    In those days, he was well known to the Canberra press gallery, as he helped to argue the merits of the Federal Government's controversial Defence Legislation Amendment Bill. At the time, it was being opposed by the Opposition parties because it opened the way for the military to be sent in against striking workers, or, it was argued, for troops to open fire on civilian protestors.

    MIKE KELLY: We're in fact attempting to fix that problem.

    NICK GRIMM: Now, Colonel Kelly is back in the news, apparently most unwillingly. He's currently serving in Baghdad as a senior adviser to Coalition forces. A highly regarded expert in military law, until now Mike Kelly has been noted for his writings on the legal aspects of peacekeeping operations.

    But it was a letter he sent to New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, urging him to reconsider plans to award the Sydney Peace Prize this week, to the Palestinian activist Dr Hanan Ashrawi, that has brought the Colonel back into the spotlight.

    Sections of that letter leaked to the media are as follows:

    EXCERPT OF LETTER: It is precisely these kinds of legitimising actions that have encouraged the terrorism that I and my colleagues in the Coalition forces are engaged in fighting.

    I am well aware, having studied and been involved in the counter-terrorist effort over 16 years that people like Hanan Ashwari are paraded before the Western media as a voice of reason, while out of the corner of their mouths establishing the basis for the slaughter of the innocents in a cynical, calculated, malevolent method of operating that completely dupes naïve Westerners.

    You have to have spent time in this part of the world to appreciate what I am saying, but I would suggest that you credit my opinion as based on bitter experience. It would be hard to explain to a soldier here who has just lost both legs in a terrorist attack, why an Australian State Premier, supposedly an ally in this war, has been in effect, comforting the enemy.

    NICK GRIMM: According to the Australian Defence Force, Mike Kelly is not interested in speaking to the media, and he's said to be angry that what was sent as a "private letter" has been leaked.

    Today meanwhile, Bob Carr attacked the officer who he's dismissed as "clanking around in colonel's regalia".

    BOB CARR: Since he very kindly sent it to the media and it was publicised in The Australian on Saturday, I have confirmed that it's been received in the office. But it is very, very wrong for someone wearing the uniform of his country, serving all Australians to find time to shoot off an intervention in Australian politics.

    NICK GRIMM: The Defence Force says Colonel Kelly's views are his own and not those of the Department. A Spokesman told PM his letter does not contravene any defence instructions to its personnel and that no action will be taken against him.

    Certainly, it's not matter for a court martial, but whether it was wise, is open for judgment.

    NEIL JAMES: Well, the position of the Australian Defence Association is that we're somewhat surprised to see something like this appear in the media.

    NICK GRIMM: Neil James is from the Australian Defence Association.

    NEIL JAMES: I think the fact the letter's become public is obviously somewhat of an embarrassment. The other way of looking at the question is, is there would appear to be a somewhat tenuous connection between the peace prize being awarded to Dr Ashwari and the ensuing controversy, and Coalition operations in Iraq.

    NICK GRIMM: So, Neil James in the light of that, are you surprised this letter was written in the first place?

    NEIL JAMES: I'm somewhat surprised that an officer of Colonel Kelly's experience wrote a letter like this.

    NICK GRIMM: But the views expressed in Colonel Kelly's letter aren't so far off the mark, according to Justice Marcus Einfeld, who has also publicly criticised the choice of Hanan Ashrawi.

    MARCUS EINFELD: The problem with Dr Ashwari is that she hides under an ostensibly peace agenda, with eloquence and considerable intellect, a proposal or series of proposals that far from creating peace would in fact create war.

    NICK GRIMM: Let's get it straight though, you're not actually arguing that the prize shouldn't go to a Palestinian, per se?

    MARCUS EINFELD: Absolutely not. I know I've worked with and know well a significant number of Palestinians who have made and are still making major efforts to bring about peace and an end to the senseless killing that is taking place on both sides.

    NICK GRIMM: But Bob Carr says Dr Ashwari's efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict will make her a worthy recipient of the Sydney Peace Prize when he awards it to her in the New South Wales Parliament, on Thursday.

    MARK COLVIN: Nick Grimm reporting.

    © 2003 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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