The four men arrested as a result of terrorism squad raids in Sydney last week appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court yesterday. All four were bailed to re-appear on May 11. One, Daniel Jones, was “ordered to submit to forensic photography of his mouth, which detectives said was required for identification purposes” (‘Accused G20 rioters appear in Vic court’, [AAP], The Age, March 20, 2007).
According to a report in the Herald Sun (Elissa Hunt, ‘Mind gap, riot court told’, March 20, 2007), “Sen-Det Paul Topham gave evidence that Mr Jones had distinctive front teeth with a large gap and had been identified from footage of the riots, where he allegedly threw a street pole and yelled abuse”.
Pretty bizarre stuff, but not quite as bizarre — or as funny — as another Herald Sun journalists’ account of the protest rally held outside of the court in solidarity with the accused. After remarking upon the otherwise unremarkable appearance of the four (they were dressed neatly for court), Terry Brown (‘G20 sideshow must go on’, March 21, 2007) uses his hands and feet to recount the following:
But outside, other G20 co-accused and well-wishers put on a different fashion show. With piercings enough to send a metal detector into meltdown, about 20 dressed to impress. One had 14 metal pieces protruding from his head, and possibly others behind big, dark shades. Another, with purple Sideshow Bob hair, had 10, including a screw-in cup hook. Green hair, safety pins, hard-core lesbian badges [oo-er!], leather stud belts, dreadlocks, hand-painted red skulls — a bit of everything.
Call me crazy, but it reads like Brown’s true passion lies in fashion.
Last week’s highly provocative raids by anti-terrorism police on a number of University of Sydney students underscore the real political agenda behind the so-called war on terror. The bolstering of the state apparatus through a series of draconian “anti-terror” laws has been centrally aimed not at protecting ordinary people from the threat of terrorist attack, but rather at suppressing political dissent and intimidating anyone considering challenging the government or the state…
The manner in which the five arrested Sydney residents were traced by the anti-terrorist police raises further serious questions. Following the raids, the University of Sydney’s Student Representative Council (SRC) submitted an official request to the university council asking whether it cooperates with ASIO, state or federal police requests for information on students.
SRC President Angus McFarland told the World Socialist Web Site that he had received information from a journalist that ASIO has a number of agents and informants targetting protest groups and political organisations on the campus. McFarland was also told that it was possible his phone and email conversations were being monitored. Surveillance has reportedly been stepped up ahead of the APEC summit due to be held in Sydney in September.
There is no doubt, however, that ASIO’s campus activities are driven by much broader concerns than just the APEC meeting. Ever since the agency was founded in 1949 to help contain post-war political unrest, ASIO has been notorious for its harassment, dirty tricks, and frame ups of government opponents and political dissidents, particularly those identified with the socialist movement. Amid escalating opposition to the war in Iraq and mounting disaffection and hostility towards the entire political establishment, the political police are anticipating and preparing for the radicalisation of broad layers of student youth. Last week’s raids in Sydney will no doubt be followed by further provocative police actions aimed at intimidating young people…
On a further note, the number of people arrested and charged by police in relation to the G20 protests appears to be fluctuating quite a lot if one follows reports. Thus the Herald Sun now claims 27 have been charged and AAP 29; while on January 22, AAP reported a total of 28 arrests… and there have been at least five more arrests in Sydney since then.
Oh, and while Josh Wolf, “a San Francisco freelance journalist who has been held in federal prison since August 2006 for refusing to turn over video he shot of a demonstration in San Francisco, will be honored with the Herbert Block Freedom Award” and $5,000 by The (American) Newspaper Guild according to Editor & Publisher (March 20, 2007), Australian hacks continue to completely ignore his case. See also : Jeffrey Dvorkin, Executive Director, Committee of Concerned Journalists, ‘Is Josh Wolf Defending Journalism?’, March 12, 2007.