(The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge—who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group’s newsletter)
"April 26, 2015
"Anzac Day has come and gone. Thank god. When I was a kid, it was a day of reflection and sadness, a quiet day to remember the terrible devastation and loss of our young, not only in Gallipoli but during the four appalling years of war when every second family suffered a bereavement and two in every three Australians in uniform were ether killed or wounded, some so terribly they were kept out of sight. And at war’s end, the great army of damaged silent men returned home.
"No jingoism, no glorification, just deep private grief with no bodies or gravestones. In their place, memorials sprung up throughout the land with a digger on top sporting a slouched hat. On the sides, the names of the dead carved in stone. Not a noble war fought for noble motives but a war between empires for control of trade.
"But in this 100th anniversary year, Gallipoli has become an ‘event’, the ‘place to be’ along with the nonsensical ‘when we came of age’, and we’ve been swamped with hard-sell commercialised pro-war drivel that plumbed new depths with ‘Camp Gallipoli’ where deluded idiots shelled out their hard-earned to camp under the stars for ‘an authentic Gallipoli experience’ minus the stench of the dead, the mud, the shellfire, the fear, the madness and rancid food.
"PM Abbott babbled on about ‘magnificent defeat’ and ‘terrible victory’ after trying to cut back the wages of serving soldiers and reducing their pensions. Did he know that the bombs raining down on the Anzacs while trapped on the beach were sold to the Turks by the British company Woolwich Arsenal? Imagine their fury. And their anger at the wholesale corruption that infests our society, the growing gap between rich and poor, the ‘terror raids’ with police bashing down doors and the disgraceful attack on trade unions by a hand-picked anti-worker royal commission.
"And what about the almost-signed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive agreement being rammed through without any public debate. ‘Partnership’? My foot. The TPP’s been cooked up by giant corporations with no democratic input.
"In November 2013, Julian Assange released a 95-page draft text of the proposed chapter on ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ that laid out the provisions to institute a far-reaching transnational legal and enforcement regime with implications for individual rights, civil liberties, publishing, internet service providers and internet privacy as well as for anything creative, intellectual and environmental. Litigation tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer will have no human rights safeguards.
"As Julian Assange says: ‘If instituted, the TPP’s regime would trample over individual rights and free expression…If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might be one day, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.’
"But the rich will do very nicely thank you. I keep raising the TPP because once it’s signed, that’s it. And when you look at the Federal Liberal goose in charge of negotiating with the Yankees, Andrew Robb (’great opportunities for business’), you know we’re going to be done like a dinner.
John Pilger reminds us of the war we’ve continued to wage against our own indigenous people, one we don’t care to talk about. Abbott slashed $534 million from indigenous social programmes, with$160 million from health and $13.4 million from their legal aid budgets. To our shame, the number of Aboriginal people hospitalised for self-harm has increased, especially among the young, but Abbott then had the gall to attack a long standing commitment to homelands as a ‘lifestyle choice’. As bad as apartheid South Africa?
"In the last few days, a number of US media outlets have reported that the US State Department is claiming that the Cuban and US governments are discussing the potential removal of Cuba from its list of ‘State Sponsors of Terrorism’ with the suggestion that an issue under review is the return of various US revolutionaries and radicals currently living in exile in Cuba. One is Assata Shakur who was given political asylum in Cuba in 1984 after escaping from a New Jersey prison five years earlier.
"Assata had been convicted of murder in 1977 over the death of Trooper Foerster despite the absence of fingerprints on any weapon or powder residue on her hands. She was shot twice while her arms were raised, paralysing her right arm, making it impossible for her to fire a gun, and was then shot again from the back. Taken to hospital, she was threatened, beaten and tortured and later convicted in a trial she described as a ‘legal lynching’.
"In 1979, a delegation from the UN Commission on Human Rights visited Assata in prison and reported that political activists like her had been selectively targeted for provocation, false arrests, entrapment, fabrication of evidence and false criminal prosecutions. A reminder of Washington’s appalling treatment of the Cuban Five.
"We live in demented times but no amount of money or trade could justify sending good comrades back to the hell of US prisons. Anyone negotiating with Washington crooks needs a long spoon and permanent amnesia. The US breaks treaties with impunity, from old ones with Native Americans to recent ones with Ukraine to confine the eastward expansion of NATO, even to reparation promised to Vietnam but never paid.
"Cuba knows America’s track record better than most. Hated by Washington since its successful Revolution, but respected and admired by millions around the world who believe that fighting US imperialism is a just and worthy cause. Freedom is non-negotiable. Viva Cuba!