The Australian Way
By Ghali Hassan
22 July, 2007
Can you imagine what would happen
if Dr Haneef is a white Anglo-Australian detained in India, accused
of trafficking in narcotic drugs? Actually, you don’t have to
imagine. The entire Indian justice system will be on trial in Australia,
accused of corruption and injustice. In Australia, a Guantanamo Bay
justice applied to Dr Haneef even with the presumption of innocence.
Dr Mohammed Haneef, the 27-year-old
Indian-born Muslims doctor working in the Gold Coast, was arrested by
Australian Federal Police (AFP) on 02 July 2007 at Brisbane Airport
on his way to visit his young family in India.
Using the draconian anti-Muslims
“terrorism laws”, the AFP detained and interrogated Dr Haneef
for 12 days without charge and without access to legal advice. He was
accused of “providing resources to terrorists”. As pressure
mounted by Dr Haneef’s legal team for his release, Dr Haneef was
charged with “recklessly” giving his pre-paid SIM card to
his second cousin last year. Dr Haneef’s cousin was allegedly
involved in the recent failed attacks in Britain. The SIM card was not
used in the attack and was seized by police eight hours after Haneef's
cousin Sabeel Ahmed was arrested in Liverpool. Ahmed was charged only
with withholding information which would remove Haneef's alleged link
to the Glasgow attack.
However, when Dr Haneef was
due to be released on bail by the Queensland Court, the Federal Immigration
Minister, Kevin Andrews intervened and cancelled Dr. Haneef visa in
order to keep him in detention, which goes against the bail order. By
taking this extraordinary action, the Howard’s Government is denying
Dr Haneef the presumption of innocence.
Any person charged with an
offence is innocent until proven guilty by a just and impartial court
of law. Association alone doesn’t make a person guilty. By keeping
Dr Haneef in custody, “this is a serious misuse of power for an
ulterior purpose and an illegitimate interference with the process of
criminal justice”, wrote Julian Burnside, QC and President of
A police check in India also
found no evidence to associate Dr Haneef with any crimes. In fact, Dr
Haneef was found to be of a good character and a good employment history.
Dr Haneef was the subject of media disinformation led by the fascist
Murdoch Press as part of a campaign of anti-Muslims hatred and Islamophobia.
It is worth noting that the
AFP provides no evidence to support the allegations against Dr Haneef.
The Government revealed no information regarding its decision to cancel
Dr Haneef’s visa. Dr Haneef’s barrister Stephen Kiem said
that the Government is using and abusing the “terrorism laws”
by withholding information. “The record with regard to secret
information is that it’s convenient to the commonwealth”,
said Mr Kiem.
The decision of the Immigration
Minister to revoke Dr Haneef’s visa was politically motivated
and designed to boost the Howard’s Government popularity a head
of the upcoming elections. Dr Haneef’s lawyer Peter Russo rightly
accused the Government of using Dr Haneef as a pawn to create fear in
the community. The Howard’s Government is very skilled in the
art of manipulation of the public and use of racism and scaremongering
to win elections. Meanwhile, as a result of Australia’s well-documented
victimisation of Muslims and police harassment of Muslim Australians,
members of the Muslim community here are living in fear.
Finally, India which claims
to be the largest “democracy” in the world, and an emerging
“superpower” should do the right thing and recall the Indian
High Commissioner in Canberra as a protest against the injustice and
inhumane treatment of Dr Haneef by the Australian Government. The Howard’s
Government must learn that Muslims also have rights.
There is no conclusive evidence
to justify Dr Haneef’ detention. His continued detention is the
greatest injustice, and undermines his right to the presumption of innocence.
This form of injustice is only adding to Australia’s already tarnish
reputation as an anti-Muslims penal colony.
Ghali Hassan is an independent writer living in Australia.
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