Iraq War Critic Deported to US
CANBERRA, Sep 15, 2005 (IPS) – The Australian government deported, Thursday, Scott Parkin, a soft-spoken peace and environmental activist, of the Texas-based Houston Global Awareness Collective, for participation in non-violence and civil disobedience workshops in this country.
In a debate in the Australian Senate, Greens Senator Bob Brown, described the adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the subsequent decision to deport Parkin, while refusing to provide any reasons either to him or his lawyers, as ”outrageous”.
”What has the government to hide here? It is the government that is hiding and being covert and being dangerous. Not Mr Parkin, it is the Howard government that is the dangerous entity here,” he said.
Parkin, who completed a master’s degree in history on the Vietnam War, is an outspoken critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. On Saturday, Parkin was arrested en route to a workshop in Melbourne where he was to speak on non-violent activism against the Iraq war.
Late August, he spoke at a street theatre protest outside the Sydney office of ‘KBR’ , a subsidiary of the contracting company, Halliburton, which has been awarded substantial deals by the U.S. government in Iraq. ”Halliburton and its subsidiary KBR are essentially the poster children of war-profiteering,” he said.
In a statement, written in prison on Wednesday, Parkin said that ”the only information that I have received is that I have been assessed as ‘a direct or indirect risk to Australian national security’.”
In the Senate on Wednesday, Minister for Justice Senator Chris Ellison stated that while ASIO did not oppose Parkin’s entry into the country six weeks ago, its ”understanding of his intentions has changed while he has been in Australia.”
Ellison went on to tell the Senate that ASIO ”is responsible, of course, for protecting the community from security threats and all forms of politically-motivated violence, including violent protest activity.”
In his written statement issued from prison, Parkin rejected the inference that he has supported or encouraged violent protest. ”I am strongly opposed to any violence and do not believe that violence delivers any political gain, and in fact, detracts from positive political engagement,” he said.
An Australian friend of Parkin’s, Iain Murray, dismisses the Australian government’s claims. ”Scott is diametrically opposed to violent protest,” he told IPS. ”He is passionate about history, he is passionate about social change