Peace activist Scott Parkin was arrested without cause and deported from Australia nearly 10 months ago. The only reason given by the Australian Government for Parkin’s removal was an ‘adverse security assessment’ by ASIO, of which the Government will provide no detail, on national security grounds.
No negative assessment could have existed prior to Parkin coming to Australia as he was granted a visitor’s visa, which requires a background check. However, ASIO is on record as stating that Parkin was not violent while in Australia. ASIO also denies claiming Parkin advocated violent protest in the form of suggesting ‘throwing marbles under police horses’ hooves,’ a claim leaked to The Australian.
Parkin’s activities in Australia are well documented. According to the Friends of Scott Parkin website:
Scott signed up for the Willing Workers On Organic Farms program, working for room and board on several organic farms. And while travelling down the east coast of Australia, Scott shared his experiences as a peace activist, speaking at the Brisbane and Sydney Social Forums and teaming up with local nonviolence trainers to organise workshops on peaceful protest techniques, or “nonviolent direct action”.
He also participated in a protest in Sydney during the Forbes Global CEO conference, organising a piece of street theatre outside the Australian headquarters of Kellog Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton. Halliburton is the giant oil services company with the bulk of the contracts to rebuild Iraq, and was the focus of Scott’s anti-war activism in Houston.
Assuming satirical guise as “The Coalition of the Billing”, Scott and his friends dressed in business suits, held banners reading “More Blood for Oil” and chanted “Four more wars!” to passers-by.
Since his forcible return to the USA, Parkin has found that he was a target of ‘TALON,’ a Pentagon surveillance program which focused on anti-war groups within the USA. Such practices appear to be a repeat of the FBI’s illegal COINTELPRO actions against anti-Vietnam war protesters in the 1970s. TALON records released via Freedom of Information requests contain a notation of Parkin participating in a non-violent ‘street-theatre’ action against Halliburton. Parkin and a protest group wore pig-snout masks and handed out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to Halliburton employees, to highlight the excesses of the no-bid Defense Department contracts being awarded to ‘Hallibacon.’ US Vice President Dick Cheney was a full employee of Halliburton before taking office and remains financially connected to the company.
Via barrister Julian Burnside QC, Parkin filed a case in Melbourne in December 2005 which seeks to quash the adverse security assessment issued by ASIO and reveal its true nature. The insult of deportation was complicated by the injury of the Australian Government issuing Parkin a bill for $11,700 for the cost of security agents to escort him by air to Los Angeles. Opening statements have been made in the case, in which Burnside filed a motion of discovery, which seeks to force ASIO to disclose the specific information used to remove Parkin from Australia.
The Parkin suit has become a class action, involving two asylum seekers imprisoned on Nauru for approaching 5 years These asylum seekers have been denied entry to Australia, also on the basis of secret adverse security assessments by ASIO. These secret negative assessments mean that no other country will accept the detainees, leaving them in a permanent Catch-22.
Unquestionable secret evidence and arbitrary, politically motivated arrests are not characters of a free and democratic society. Absent a Bill of Rights in Australia and with draconian terror laws which allow the Government to act without accountability, any visitor can be detained and deported without just cause- perhaps, as NSW Liberal Party leader Peter Debnam suggests, “for anything.”
If Scott Parkin had indeed been a provable threat to national security, he would have been remanded, awaiting trial for terrorism or rioting offences, not deported and freed in his homeland. The official refusal to explain the true nature of Parkin’s alleged offence is all but an admission by the Howard Government that this action was wholly indefensible.
The Australian Government alone must not be allowed to be judge, jury and executioner.
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