End the Cycle of Violence, say Doctors

15 October 2002

The Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia), appalled at the death and suffering inflicted on Indonesians, Australians and others in Bali, has stated that current Australian government policy puts us at risk of further such attacks.

Says MAPW President Dr Sue Wareham, The government knows it and accepts the risk so that we can take part in an unjust US war.

In a letter to MAPW (Australia) in January this year concerning Australia's participation in the war on Afghanistan, Bill Heffernan, (then) Parliamentary Secretary to Cabinet, said "The government is acutely aware that Australia's involvement in this fight could attract greater terrorist interest in Australia, but there is no other choice if we are to secure our future by minimising the scope for further terrorist incidents like those on 11 September 2001."

This contradictory and confused statement indicates what has become increasingly clear - the government can offer no logical justification for its support of the current US aggressive military stance.

Dr Wareham said "While our Prime Minister Mr Howard accurately described the Bali attacks as wicked and cowardly, he seems to imagine that lobbing missiles from afar on Afghan and Iraqi cities is brave and morally uplifting. The people of Afghanistan and Iraq bleed, burn and feel pain as do other people. Either the infliction of such suffering on innocent people is barbaric or it is not, and if it's barbaric then Australians want no part in it."

MAPW urges that the cycle of violence be broken and calls ALL states to be accountable to international law and treaties. MAPW Executive Officer Ms Gya, appeals We must address the reasons why terrorism is happening. This will enable us to combat terrorism far more successfully than aggressive military campaigns - that when thought about calmly and logically, are unlikely to stop small mobile groups that commandeer aircraft or plant car-bombs. These crimes should be addressed through the International Criminal Court.

If Western governments are not prepared to break the cycle of violence, why should we be surprised that terrorists will not do so?

Australians were told that the bombing of Afghanistan was needed to eradicate terrorism. It clearly did not (and could not) achieve that aim. War on Iraq will be no more successful in reducing terrorism or acts of grotesque violence. It will increase such acts.

A very significant event took place in Australia over the weekend also, overshadowed by the tragedy on our doorstep. 40,000 people marched in Melbourne to urge an end to the violence and protest against an attack on Iraq.

We mourn the loss of all those who died in Bali. We have already lost too many Australians in this war of terror. There must be no more.

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