Sep 26, 2001

Statements by Members: United States of America: Terrorist Attacks

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS United States of America: Terrorist Attacks

26 September 2001

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (9.52 a.m.)—The day of 11 September 2001 will live in infamy. The terrorism in the United States, which we saw so graphically illustrated on our TV screens, has shocked the world and is something that will remain in our memory forever. Over 6,000 fatalities, including many Australians, have shown us that terrorism is something that is hard to fight against with conventional means. This was an attack on democratic values and an attack on humanity. I believe that the perpetrators of this cowardly act must be brought to justice. The international community must ensure that the international response discriminates and punishes those responsible, but we must also ensure that no more innocent lives are lost to add to the count of murders conducted by the terrorists.

Terrorism is wrong whether it is conducted by individuals or by states. Like terrorism, in my view fundamentalism of any variety is also evil and wrong. Osama bin Laden and his fundamentalist supporters in the Taliban have also terrorised the people of Afghanistan. William Maley from the Australian Defence Force Academy, who is Australia’s leading authority on Afghanistan, has reported that in 1998 some 2,000 Hazaras, a very conservative figure, were massacred over three days in northern Afghanistan. Further massacres have occurred over the last two years. William Maley, in speaking about the plight of refugees, has said that the characterisation of Afghans coming by boat as queue jumpers is comprehensively spurious. What the offshore program offers, he has argued, is not a place in a queue but a ticket in a lottery.

If we are to defeat terrorism truly, we must support its antithesis—tolerance and humanity; humanity and compassion in our nation’s domestic policy as well as in our attitude to international affairs. Australians of Arab descent have been unjustly targeted as a result of recent events. The attacks on a mosque in Brisbane—and I have received letters from individual constituents who have been spat on and vilified in the streets due to their religion—have no place whatsoever in Australian society and simply give victory to the aims of those people who seek to divide us, such as those terrorists and their actions on the international stage.