Australian civil rights activists protest terror suspects’ internment

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Omar Merhi, brother of one of the accused addresses the protestors

About 100 people protested the detention and treatment of 13 men accused of terrorism offences and held at the Barwon maximum security prison, in the state of Victoria, Australia.

The Crowd

The Barwon Prison is seen in the background

The protestors bussed and drove 56km from Melbourne out to the Barwon maximum security prison to voice their disapproval of the treatment of the 13 men accused of terror offences who are currently being held in the Acacia Unit of the prison. Some of the accused have been held in solitary confinement for 6 months up to and during their trial.

The group Civil Rights Defence organised the event with family members of the accused and news reporters as a peaceful protest. A small group of about 15 police officers awaited the arrival of the group. The police said that their main concern was the health and safety of everyone as the protest was being held next to a busy road. Officers only approached when the Country Fire Authority was summoned by a passerby to put out an open camp fire, as there was fire restriction in effect in the area. The fire fighters were met with laughter and sarcastic applause. Enclosed fires and barbeques were considered acceptable.

CFA put out an open camp fire

The men being held are Nacer Benbirka, Shane Gregory Kent, Aiman Joud, Fadl Sayadi, Hany Taha, Amer Haddara Izzydeen Atik, Abdullah Meri, Shoue Hammoud, Bassem Raad, Ezzit Raad, Ahmed Raad and Majed Raad.

In a statement read at the protest, one of the accused and his wife (Eman Abdou and Shane Kent) said they were upset at the Australian media for participating in lying to the Australian public and the government for the way they have treated the accused.

“I believe the conditions out at the Barwon Prison Acacua Unit are oppressive and inhumane. Furthermore I am upset at the Australian media for participating in lying to the Australian public. These men have a right to a fair trial, and everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” the statement read.

Omar Merhi, brother of one of the accused, spoke at the gathering

The statement also went on say that the limited legal visits were often shortened and that the best treated accused are in solitary confinement for 18 hours a day while some are in solitary confinement consistently. Omar Mehri, the brother of one of the accused spoke at the day’s event and talked about verbal harassment and hate mail he and his family have received. He also talked of his brother being amazed to see grass after 5 months.

Speakers at the event said the current laws used to prosecute murderers and other criminals should be used to prosecute terrorist suspects and had the same sentiments as Eman Abdou and Shane Kent. They said the laws were unjust and the treatment of the accused was cruel and unusual, constituting torture under the terms of the UN charter.

Omar Merhi, brother of one of the detained said in a statement “My brother and the other arrested men are confused and want to know why they are in Australia’s highest security unit for simply practising their religion.”

External links

Civil Rights Defence

Related news

  • “Arrests made in Australia after ‘anti-terror’ raids” — Wikinews, November 8, 2005
  • “Nationwide rallies against anti-terror laws held in Australia” — Wikinews, November 5, 2005
  • “Anti-terror amendments to be rushed through Australian parliament because of new ‘potential threats'” — Wikinews, November 2, 2005
  • “Sydney residents protest anti-terror laws” — Wikinews, November 2, 2005


Wikipedia has more about this subject:
Australian Anti-Terrorism Act 2005


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