3 August 201126 March 2012 Main Posts / Politics The Hicks petition Jacinda Woodhead A fortnight ago, the Australian government announced its intention to seize funds that David Hicks has received from the sale of his memoir about his time imprisoned in Guantanamo. The court case is today. Many Australians are stunned by the decision. To those people, the Hicks case represents a foul miscarriage of justice during the Howard years: an Australian citizen detained in 2001 and abandoned in a legally dubious prison run by the US military, a prison notorious for detention without charge or trial, gross human rights violations and allegations of torture. When David Hicks was finally charged, it was under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 – an Act created at least five years after his capture. That is to say, fighting the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in 2001 wasn’t a crime. Hicks finally signed a plea bargain in 2007 out of ‘desperation’ to escape Guantanamo. After six years of campaigning, it was a case where it seemed decency finally prevailed. Hicks was returned to Australia where, yes, he had to serve a short prison term, but was then freed, presumably to move on with his life. Hence the outrage at this continued persecution. The allegations that Hicks is living off the ‘proceeds of crime’ are simply extraordinary. One could ask: why does the Act apply in the case of the questionable conviction of David Hicks, but not the case of Chopper Read, a self-confessed murderer who continues to make a living from his crimes? This prosecution against David Hicks should not stand. Firstly, he’s entitled to some justice. We need to know more, not less about what happened at Guantanamo Bay. Secondly, who can say where this kind of political censorship ends? Anyone involved in publishing, broadcasting or any other kind of media knows what a chilling impact this will have on freedom of speech. For that reason, I wrote and circulated a petition that has been signed by more than 200 prominent writers, lawyers and politicians, including Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Julian Assange, Alexis Wright, Christos Tsiolkas, Adam Bandt, Julian Burnside, Mary Kostakidis and Stuart Rees. The petition text is below. We are seeking endorsements both from organisations and from individuals. If you want to add your name to this growing campaign, leave your signature in the comments. On 20 July 2011, the Australian government served David Hicks with a notice of their intent to restrain any funds obtained from the sale of his book, Guantanamo: My Journey, under the Commonwealth Proceeds of Crime Act. After Hicks was captured in Afghanistan and sold to the US by the Northern Alliance, he spent six years in Guantanamo Bay without trial or charges. He alleges that, during his detention, he was tortured. He spent much of his captivity in 24-hour solitary detention. Hicks was eventually brought before a military commission, in a procedure condemned by lawyers and human rights groups everywhere. With no other way to get home, he accepted a deal, under which, in return for pleading guilty, he served a short sentence in Australia. The arrangement was widely acknowledged as a political resolution to a case that was causing increasing embarrassment to both the US and Australian governments. Obviously, Hicks would never have been released had the Americans thought he represented the slightest threat. Many Australians regard the treatment of David Hicks as an international outrage. What took place – what continues to take place – in Guantanamo Bay deserves more publicity, not less. If the government thinks it has done nothing wrong, it has nothing to fear from a full discussion of the Hicks case. The move against Hicks’ memoirs should concern everyone. But it is of particular relevance to writers and publishers, precisely because of the direct interference into publications with which the government politically disagrees. How can Australian publishers feel safe publishing material that is controversial knowing that the Australian government is willing to use laws to financially penalise perceived opponents? Fundamentally, this is an issue of political censorship. As lawyer Elizabeth O’Shea put it, ‘Anyone who believes in the right to a fair trial and freedom from torture should defend Hicks.’ The government’s application is to be heard 3 August in NSW. We’re asking those in the publishing industry to sign this petition (leave your name below or send us an email) because this action has alarming political and financial implications for writers and publishers everywhere. See the Justice Campaign for more information. Signed Jacinda Woodhead – writer and editor Dr Jeff Sparrow – writer and editor Elizabeth O’Shea – lawyer Dr Rjurik Davidson – writer and editor Alex Skutenko – publisher Professor Noam Chomsky – writer and academic John Pilger – journalist and filmmaker Julian Assange – publisher, internet activist Rodney Hall – author James Bradley – novelist and critic Julian Burnside AO QC Spencer Zifcak – president, Liberty Vicoria Sophie Cunningham – writer and editor Dr Peter Minter – writer and editor Jane Gleeson-White – writer and editor Alison Croggon – poet, critic and novelist Professor Wendy Bacon – the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, UTS The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC Greens MP Adam Bandt – Federal Member for Melbourne Mary Kostakidis – broadcaster and journalist Alexis Wright – author Emmett Stinson – lecturer in publishing and communications Jo Case – writer and editor Zoe Dattner – publisher Louise Swinn – publisher Professor Chris Nash – Monash University John Marnell – editor Adam Ford – writer and editor Antony Loewenstein – journalist John Martinkus – academic and journalist, University of Tasmania Christos Tsiolkas – writer Mark Davis – writer and academic Emily Maguire – writer Kate Eltham – writer, publisher and arts manager Sally Heath – editor and publisher Clare Strahan – writer and editor Joshua Mostafa – writer and citizen Tim Coronel – publisher, editor and journalist Greg Black Roselina Press – writer and editor Stephanie Convery – writer Karen Pickering – writer and editor Stephen Wright – writer, NGO manager, trauma counsellor Benjamin Solah – blogger, writer and activist Boris Kelly – writer and lecturer Trish Bolton – writer Michele Freeman – writer and producer Kathleen McLeod – poet Laura Haglund – writer Michael Brull – writer and activist Foong Ling Kong – publisher and editor Judy Horacek – cartoonist, illustrator and writer Ann Cunningham – publisher and lawyer Nicholas Perkins – blogger, computer programmer and citizen Esther Anatolitis – writer, arts advocate and citizen Julietta Jameson – writer Shane Jesse Christmass – writer Jonathan Shaw – blogger, citizen and former editor Mark William Jackson – writer Neil Whitfield – retired teacher Jackson Taylor – citizen Michelle Bennett – broadcaster Simon Butler – writer and co-editor, Green Left Weekly Stuart Munckton – writer and co-editor, Green Left Weekly Associate Professor Jake Lynch – director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney Professor Emeritus Stuart Rees AM – director, Sydney Peace Foundation Dr Tara Mokhtari – poet and lecturer in creative writing Pam Brown – poet and editor Carol Christie – citizen Elena Jeffreys – writer and sex worker Nicholas Brody Stuart Annels Lucy Salt Daniel Jones – computer programmer Maxine Clarke – poet Koraly Dimitriadis – writer Alison Smith – writer Vanessa Murray – writer Peter J Casey – songwriter Samantha Jarrett – theatre practitioner Dr Jeffrey Kaye – psychologist and writer (US) Susan Bennett – writer Andrew Byrne Heidi Claus – activist, unionist Alexandra Adsett – publishing consultant Tony Iltis – writer and editor Josh Lees – activist Greens Councillor Irene Doutney – City of Sydney Donna Mulhearn – writer, activist, speaker Kathy Hope – legal sector community educator, former editor Mark Goudkamp – spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, teacher of English to speakers of other languages Peter Kemp – solicitor of the Supreme Court NSW, editor at Wikileaks Central Kirsten Tranter – author Lyn Tranter – literary agent Jennifer Mills – author Benjamin Law – writer Francesca Rendle-Short – writer and RMIT academic Tim Wright – writer Peter Francis – writer and student Dr Michael Grewcock – author and academic, Faculty of Law, UNSW John Morris – president, Canterbury-Bankstown Teachers Assn NSW Tom Orsag – journalist and builders’ labourer Leon Brooks – computer programmer, massage therapist, author Pip Hinman – Stop the War Coalition Sophie Splatt – editor Lisa Greenaway – writer, broadcaster and editor Mustafa Qadri – journalist Alec Patric Diane Simonelli – writer, Meanland blogger Dr Robert Bollard – writer and historian Jeanette Hunter David Prater – poet and editor, Cordite Poetry Review Griffin Boyce – researcher Jacinta Sinclair – home educator Margarita Windisch – teacher, VU, and sexual assault counsellor Kristoffer Greaves – lawyer and educator Dr Peter Slezak – senior lecturer, UNSW Judith Rodriguez – writer and teacher Hugo Race – musician Ruth Cosgrove – editor Karyn Noble – editor Rosemary Webb – historian, politics lecturer and justice activist Maree Sheldon Beccy Smith Jamie Summers Julian Block Andy Battle Marlene Obeid – community worker, Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group Jon Krampner – author PM Newton – writer Matty Soccio – writer and editor Lena Reilly Melissa Brooks – community worker Simon Moyle – Baptist Minister Robert Hollingworth – artist and writer SJ Finn – writer Dr John Tully – writer and academic Sharon Callaghan Lynne Bon de Veire – artist Helen Osborn Susan Hawthorne – writer and publisher Renate Klein Ann Harriage Wendy Poussard Dr Jennifer Strauss AM – poet and academic Dana Miltins – actor and writer Kieran Finnane – journalist Rod Jones – writer Michael Nolan – editor Andrew Bath Judith Deland – photographer and activist Chris Hocking Snr Lyndon Gordon – student Jennifer Loewenstein – teacher, writer and activist Misha Van Loder Erwin Dassen Marc Rudgley Kate Holden – writer Paddy O’Reilly – writer Joy Claridge – writer and editor Beverley Farmer – writer N.A.J. Taylor – PhD candidate, Political Science and Intl Studies, UQ Kylie Ladd – writer and psychologist Susan Hall Mary Lockley Professor Emeritus John Milfull – European Studies, UNSW Cindi Burkey Stephen Stefanac – meteorologist and activist Stephen Perrett Nicole Prince Bea Bleile – mathematician Dr Rhona Hammond – writer on Caribbean literature and Overland blogger Emma Murphy – activist and community educator, Darwin & North-East Arnhem Land David Lowe Judith Armstrong – writer and reviewer Jutta Goetze Kerry Bergin Linda Batson Julia Canella Steve Brook Maria Tolosa – scientist Klaas Kalma – sport psychologist, writer, artist Sylvia Phillips Kym Connell – lawyer Guy Rundle – writer Davidh Digman – writer, blogger, educator, citizen Miranda Bain Anthea Wynn – writer Dr Tad Tietze – writer and psychiatrist Paul X. Stoney – photographer, prosthetist/orthotist Nick Tidey – concerned citizen Ella Hall- blogger, activist, social media architect Colin Wilson Alyson Gearing Paul Sinclair Ben Hibbs Joel Arnold Dr Judith Crispin – writer and academic Andrew G T Bailey – photographer, writer, poet John Kinsella – poet Jacinda Woodhead Jacinda Woodhead is a former editor of Overland and current law student. More by Jacinda Woodhead Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 24 February 202317 March 2023 Main Posts Final Results of the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry Prize Editorial Team Overland, the judges and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are thrilled to announce the final results of the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. 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