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In the latest initiative of its 18-month campaign to bring David Hicks home, political lobby and policy advocacy group GetUp! will be sending Bennelong residents postcards. More precisely, Postcards From Guantanamo.

Voters in the Prime Minister’s electorate will receive information packs in the mail.

“They’ll have an introduction and explanation from GetUp!, but then,” explained spokesperson, Lilian McCombs, “it will have a personal note from another Australian urging them to join Voices For Justice and help take action. It’s a bit like ‘pen pals’, but using 21st century technology.” At the time of writing, GetUp has 169,000 potential pen pals nationally to introduce to the PM’s electorate.


Each Bennelong resident will receive a different personal message – any one of tens of thousands that GetUp! supporters have submitted through getup.org.au. If they support the idea that five years without charge, hearsay evidence and torture are unacceptable for an Australian citizen, Howard’s voters can fill in and send him a simple postcard.


“The idea is that when the Prime Minister’s office starts receiving thousands of postcards from people asking him to bring David Hicks home, then he’ll know they’re from [Bennelong] voters.”


By cosmic coincidence, on February 17 – one day after GetUp announced the new campaign – a Newspoll declared that under new electoral boundaries and levels of support, Howard would have lost his seat were an election to be held.


There’s a chance that would lead to an Abbott & Costello government, just as there’s a chance Bennelong voters don’t want Hicks brought home. However, independent polling commissioned by GetUp! late last year returned some surprising figures.


When asked, simply, whether David Hicks should be brought home, “100 per cent of people who identified as One Nation voters said yes, over 90 per cent of people identifying themselves as Family First voters said yes, and nearly 70 per cent of Coalition voters said yes.”


It may seem drastic to lobby so hard on a federal issue in one politician’s seat, but the campaign has not arrived at this point by choice. GetUp! tried twice to deliver a 50,000 signature petition to Alexander Downer, and twice they were refused. They then invited public donations for billboards near airports in Canberra and capital cities, as well as carbon neutral message billboards – occasionally parked outside government offices. Cheeky audacity tempered by judgment, as McCombs says.


Hicks’ father, Terry, has recently done the voice over for a GetUp! television ad featuring a photo of David as a boy. Peter Costello derided it, saying, “I didn’t know David Hicks is a nine-year-old boy with freckles.”


Recently in Sydney, Dick Cheney rejected claims his administration could interfere with the judicial process facing Hicks. But they only created the process last year after the highest court in America threw out a similar system as illegal.


Hicks’ military lawyer Major Michael Mori, christened ‘Atticus’ by Mike Carlton – after the righteous lawyer in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird – has been a frequent visitor to Australia. He has consistently warned that the new process defies military convention, is unfair and will guarantee years of further legal wrangling, containment and uncertainty for Hicks in Guantanamo.


“Everyone with a law degree has told John Howard that, except it would appear, Phillip Ruddock. Every territory and state attorney general has said the Guantanamo Bay military commissions aren’t fair. The Australian Law Council has said they contravene Australian Law. International law experts have said it. It’s clear – there’s no ambiguity here,” says McCombs.


Hence, the new campaign. What might her postcard to John Howard say?

“Enough’s enough. You haven’t listened to any rational or reasonable argument. You’ve had more than five years. If politics is all you care about and being ahead in the polls is all that matters to you, then fine, we’ll make it political. We’re the voters in your own marginal seat and we want you to bring David Hicks home.”


Written by typingisnotactivism

February 25, 2007 at 12:15 am

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