Water Week

EWN Publishing

Squads of heavily armed, anti-terror police now targeting Aus dissent, claims Australia Institute chief

Posted by waterweek on 2 October 2007

In a recent ‘Quarterly Essay’, David Marr told the disturbing story of the treatment of a number of young men in Sydney who were arrested for events that occurred at the G20 demonstration in Melbourne last year, wrote Clive Hamilton, executive director of the Australia Institute, in The Sydney Morning Herald (7/92007, p.27).

Goon squads: Squads of heavily armed police, some from counter-terrorism units, arrived at dawn, in one case kicking the door down. Houses were turned upside down. One of the young men told how he had previously been snatched off the streets of Melbourne by eight men who did not identify them­selves. He claimed he was punched and kicked and subsequently charged as one of those who occupied an office building during the G20 demonstration. The police warned the demonstrators to stay away from protests and not to go anywhere near APEC. Each of these young people – “middle-class boys” as one observer called them – was severely shaken up.

Fear tactics: If the intention was to frighten them out of their political engagement, it was very effective. Although breaking into offices and throw­ing things at the police were clearly illegal, anyone contemplating going to a protest nowadays must be worried that simply being there may have serious consequences. “They know they will be photographed by security agents and they may well have a police file kept on them merely for exercis­ing their democratic rights,” Hamilton added.

Reference: Clive Hamilton is the executive director of the Australia Institute. This is an edited extract of a talk delivered at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7/9/2007, p. 27

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