David Albuquerque (QLD) writes to Julia Bishop MP/Liberal Party re Palestine issues 5Sep13 September 5, 2013

David Lin
Liberal National for Rankin
Dear David Lin
Thank you for your letter in my letter box introducing yourself and inviting me to meet you at various venues.
May I please place before you the following unhappy experiences I have had with LNP and its members?:
Jane Prentice, federal member for Ryan: In January 2012, I attended a citizenship ceremony in Indooroopilly State High School presided over by Ms Prentice who handed out the citizenship certificates. Ms Prentice presented herself through her demeanour as a person who stood for courtesy and respect for human rights.
    At the morning tea that followed the ceremony, I introduced myself as a fairly new Australian and expressed my disappointment that the LNP had a very selective attitude towards world human rights issues: that while very vocal in some cases of human rights abuse relating to particular countries, LNP as a party declared unconditional support to a nation, Israel, involved in blatant human rights abuse and war crimes/crimes against humanity, the practice of Apartheid, detention and torture of children and ethnic cleansing and the imposition of a life-crippling siege on Gaza.
I expressed a fear that perhaps many LNP federal and state functionaries were unaware of the extent of the above abuse and offered to present a screening of a documentary on the subject to LNP members and field questions along from them with my colleagues in Justice for Palestine, Brisbane. Ms Prentice introduced me to one of her staff members and asked me to discuss my offer with her – which I did.
I then wrote several letters over the course of one year to Ms Prentice on her online contact form reminding her of our discussion and renewing my interest in delivering the presentation/screening the human rights documentary. I also called her office at least six times over these years and spoke with her staff members including the lady staff member Ms Prentice introduced me to. All promised to discuss my call with Ms Prentice and revert to me. However, Ms Prentice has never once called back: a lady who presented herself as a person welcoming new Australians to the Australian democracy was unwilling to listen or respond to a citizen.
2. LNP’s silence over Israel’s child abuse: I have been very disappointed by LNP’s selective attitude towards world human rights issues. While very vocal and indignant in some cases of human rights abuse relating to particular countries, LNP, as a party, has been shockingly silent over Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity: home demolitions, forcible expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, detention without charge, trial, family and legal access.
Most shocking of all is LNP’s silence over Israel’s systemic child abuse. Palestinian children have lived under Israeli military occupation for over 46 years. Since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, Israeli forces are responsible for the deaths of 1,397 children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including 1,031 in Gaza. From December 2008 to January 2009, in the offensive known as Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed at least 353 children, including 26 kids in or near schools. At the end of 2012, during the most recent offensive in Gaza, 33 children were killed.
Over the past decade, around 8,000 children have been arrested and prosecuted in a system where ill-treatment of Palestinian children is widespread and systematic. Nearly 80% of Palestinian children experience some form of physical abuse during their arrest, transfer or interrogation. Israel is the only country in the world where children are automatically charged in military courts.
Since 2008, DCI-Palestine has documented 73 cases where Palestinian children have been held in solitary confinement, sometimes for periods up to 29 days. They are repeatedly subjected to coercive interrogations and are denied access to their parents and legal counsel. Confessions or statements obtained by coercion or force, and in some cases written in Hebrew, are rarely excluded in the Israeli military courts, which maintain nearly a 98 percent conviction rate, according to DCI-Palestine evidence.
3. LNP’s deafening silence on other areas of human rights abuse: While hearing vociferous support to Israel by Tony Abbot – and earlier John Howard and Alexander Downer – I have never known of a single LNP member standing up in Parliament and calling a wrong a wrong as Julia Irwin, member for Fowler, did on 16 June 2010. These were her words (http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/23619418/2035683169/name/Julia%20Irwin%20MP%20speech%20in%20support%20of%20BDS%20adjournment%20deb ):

“Like millions of people around the world I watched with horror the actions of the Israeli armed forces in their assault on the freedom flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.
The predictable response from the Israeli propaganda machine portrayed the murder of nine peace activists as yet another act of self-defence. While the Secretary- General of the United Nations has called for an independent international inquiry, the United States and Australia are again happy to leave the inquiry in the hands of Israeli authorities. And even if there were any adverse findings we could expect the matter to be brushed aside like the damning Goldstone report into Israel’s war on Gaza in 2009.

This reminds me very much of those apologists for Stalinism who were blind to the human rights abuses of that brutal regime. They would justify any atrocity by saying that it was in defence of socialism and begin each statement with words like ‘you have to realise that more than 20 million Russians were killed in the great patriotic war’. But that is exactly how Western leaders excuse the gross abuses of human rights committed in the name of self-defence by the state of Israel. Are they blind to the evidence presented by United Nations agencies, by Amnesty International or by the Red Cross, none of which could remotely be described as terrorist organisations? And are they also blind to the damage done to their standing in the world community by their unquestioning defence of Israel?
My own awakening to the reality of life in the illegally occupied territories came in a visit in 2000. I mention just one incident that has left a lasting impact on me. We were walking through the streets of East Jerusalem when we were confronted with a group of teenage Israeli youths each carrying a submachine gun slung over their shoulder and with a ‘go ahead, make my day’ look in their eyes. The group came across an old woman sitting in her doorway selling her homemade cheeses from a large platter. To my amazement, one of the youths kicked the platter down the alley spilling the cheeses into the ground. I will never forget the tearful expression on that old woman’s face or the mocking laugh of the youths as they swaggered off down the street.
While this was hardly a gross abuse of human rights, it is part of everyday life in the illegally occupied territories. When taken together with the abduction, imprisonment and torture of more than 10,000 Palestinians, including children and a number of members of the Palestinian Legislative Assembly, the reality of life under the jackboot of Israeli occupation can be felt. And to that can be added the bombing of schools, hospitals and United Nations stores during Israel’s war on Gaza and so many other documented cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These are not the acts of a civilised nation. Yet, like the Stalinists of old, some world leaders continue to deny the reality, or, worse, defend it in the name of Israel’s right of self-defence. But while nations’ leaders fail to act, responsible citizens throughout the world are beginning to take action.

The worldwide campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against products and services originating in whole or in part in the occupied territories is gaining momentum. I am pleased to see unions in Australia, including state branches of the CFMEU and the Australian Services Union, joining this movement. Churches, universities and trade unions are refusing to invest in enterprises conducting business in or involved in construction in the occupied territories. Unions in Europe have applied international law forbidding the economic exploitation of illegally occupied territory and have embargoed goods made in the West Bank. Faced with the refusal by Israeli authorities to allow academic freedom in the occupied territories, many universities have broken contact with Israeli institutions with ties in the West Bank.”
4.  LNP’s shocking silence over Indonesia’s atrocities in West Papua.: LNP leaders and members have been shockingly silent over this too.
David Lin and other LNP recipients of this message, I have appended the following testimony of Sheikh Abu Aziz, whose village, Al Araqib, has been razed by the Israeli government at least 50 times. Please also read about
Israel’s military courts: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=291
Torture and ill-treatment: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=294
Isolation: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=298
Family visits: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=297
Medical negligence: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=299
Administrative detainees: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=342
Children: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=296
Women: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=295
May I therefore ask: what do you and the LNP propose to do about Israel’ and Indonesia’s human rights abuse?
Yours sincerely
David Albuquerque

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