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Byron Shire
September 28, 2021

Seeing Australia’s real shame

Latest News

New COVID-19 cases in Byron and Kyogle

Two new cases of COVID-19 have been identified on the North Coast of NSW casting doubt over Byron Shire coming out of lockdown at midnight.

Other News

NSW ‘Crisis Cabinet’ failed in crisis

As the Northern Rivers goes back into lockdown once again as a result of people coming to the area from Sydney it has been revealed that the ‘Crisis Cabinet’ failed to meet during key crisis points.

Woman charged over alleged Public Health Order Breaches – Tweed/Byron

A woman has been charged over multiple alleged breaches of the Public Health Orders in the Tweed and Byron shires.

Community gardeners get busy in Suffolk

Suffolk Park Community Gardens was breifly out of lockdown last week, and the gardeners couldn’t wait to get back in the garden.

Lismore coming out of lockdown

At midnight tonight (Wednesday 22 September) lockdown will be lifted for the Lismore local government area (LGA).

Covid 19 virus fragments in Ballina Shire and Grafton sewage

The Northern NSW Local Health District says fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 were detected in samples taken from the North and South Grafton sewage treatment plants on 24 September.

Getting annoyed with NSW Farmers naming ‘rights’

The Annoying Vegan has become more annoyed today with what they see as the NSW Farmers getting on their high horse about the use of the words ‘meat’ and ‘milk’.

Last week Fairfax Media linked my 1999 pro-East Timor Parliament House graffiti, for which I paid $16,350 in criminal damages, to the Abbott government’s new anti-terror laws which, if made retrospective, could result in the loss of Australian citizenship for my children and me. (‘Citizenship could be stripped for wide range of offences under terror laws’, Sydney Morning Herald, June 25.)

To its great credit, The Echo published many letters and articles in support of the struggle for an independent East Timor against the tide of political opinion which was firmly on the side of Indonesia. In 1999 I joined 400 District Electoral Officer volunteers as part of UNAMET and was posted to Makadiki, Viqueque province. Outside the Catholic church Father Joseph translated our assurance that the UN would remain in East Timor whatever the outcome of the Popular Consultation.

I embraced a man who shouted: ‘Do we have to die again?’ as a token of good faith that the UN would keep its word, but on August 30 the police ordered us on board a helicopter because ‘there was going to be a bloodbath’. I am ashamed to say I obeyed.

After the UN left, the slaughter began, with flashing machettes cutting down villagers amid burning huts while the world stood by doing nothing. I drafted a petition from the Darwin RAAF base, calling on the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and the prime ministers of New Zealand and Australia to urgently press for a UN peacekeeping force to be sent to Timor. This was signed by about 300 UN colleagues. There were no UN, ministerial or media responses.

Four colleagues and I reiterated the call for UN peacekeepers from the roof of Parliament House and I sprayed ‘Shame Australia Shame’ on the white marble wall in desperate hope that such an outrageous act would draw a positive response and at least express solidarity with the Timorese and show that they were not forgotten.

It is interesting to note that while Fairfax locked onto me as a possible victim of these fascist laws they could, instead, have focused on the 12 Australian Wheat Board executives who bribed the Saddam Hussein regime and were indicted by the 2005 Royal Commission which called for criminal charges to be laid against them. So far the Australian Federal Police have not acted!

Gareth W R Smith, Palestine Liberation Centre, Byron Bay


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