Wiesenthal Centre Proposal to Australian Parliament Results in Passage of Motion on Suicide Terrorism

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Wiesenthal Centre Proposal to Australian Parliament Results in Passage of Motion on Suicide Terrorism

Australian Parliament, Canberra, 16 October 2006
 
Shadow Defence Minister Robert McClelland opened the House of Representatives discussion of the bipartisan Motion on Suicide Terrorism by welcoming the presence of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels.
 
During a lecture-tour of Australia last June, Samuels had discussed with the Shadow Defence Minister, the Centre’s global campaign to characterize suicide terrorism as a crime against humanity.  McClelland had invited Samuels to return to Canberra for today’s Motion.
 
McClelland noted, “Suicide terrorism now accounts for 48% of all terrorist victims and was the deadliest global threat…Since the 2002 Bali atrocity that left 88 Australian bereaved families, we cannot leave this to others to fix.  We need an unambiguous convention to strengthen the international response.  There must be penalties for those who indoctrinate children to martyrdom, from those extremists in Iran to the ‘pesantren’ Koranic schools across Southeast Asia. … Host States must either prosecute or extradite. … A Convention Against Suicide Terrorism will be a building block in the battle against terrorism in general.”
 
MP Peter Slipper of the governing Liberal Party coalition added: “Terrorism has become almost a norm; its callousness generates fear and instability. … Suicide terrorism has greatly increased since 11 September [2001].  The death of a suicide bomber is the final step for those who use him for wide media coverage as a bargaining chip. … Australia supports a ‘fair go’ for everyone, but terrorism derails what Australia stands for…”
 
MP Chris Hayes (Labour, former Police Unionist): “Suicide bombing is nothing short of a criminal act and should be dealt with as a crime against humanity. … Suicide is senseless for those who are rational, but for those who send them it is very rational.  Australia must play its role in the world to bring the international community to condemn and clarify the standards by which terrorists are treated. … Four years after Bali, we owe 88 Australian families a world which lays to rest suicide terrorism.”
 
MP Michael Hatton (Labour):  “We must seek to prosecute those supportive of suicide terrorism – the teachers, the religious leaders, the media. So far there is no such convention; those in place are reactions to the taking of hostages on aircraft, going back to Yassir Arafat and the PLO. … A new situation in Iraq, Palestine and Israel requires a new convention.”
 
MP Bruce Scott (Liberal): “We must denounce the nature and increase in suicide terrorism and take a wholistic approach whereby the criminal code makes it an offence to plan or participate…”
 
The Motion passed without opposition.  The final version will be available upon publication by the Parliament.
 
In a letter of thanks to Prime Minister John Howard and Leader of the Opposition Kim Beazley, Samuels stated, “On behalf our Centre, I wish to congratulate you on the bipartisan Motion on Suicide Terrorism passed today at the Australian Parliament.  It was a personal gratification to witness this historic act of justice from the Gallery of the Chamber.”
 
The letter continued, “While the international community has been unable to define ‘terrorism,’ there is a growing constituency of States victim to ‘suicide terrorism.’  This scourge is not covered by any existing convention, as such instruments do not go beyond the perpetrator, who is only the last link in the chain of terror of those who incite, finance, arm, protect, host, condone and glorify the evil.”
 
Samuels added, “The Nuremberg Tribunal codified ‘crimes against humanity’ as ‘acts so egregious that, by their scale or nature, outrage the human conscience.’  This was the baseline for the late Simon Wiesenthal’s prosecution of Nazi war criminals, a canon that:
 
—     has no statute of limitations
 
—     constitutes crimes of universal jurisdiction
 
—     imposes a ‘command responsibility’ on superiors for atrocities committed by their subordinates
 
—     holds ‘non-State’ actors as criminally responsible
 
—     views as complicit those who order, plan, assist, condone or incite.
 
The Centre called today’s Australian Motion, “A pathbreaking step and a model with universal significance” and proposed four proactive measures, based upon the Motion, to suppress and root out suicide terrorism:
 
 
• an international conference of jurists, law enforcement, educators, clerics, psychologists, media, et al, on suicide terrorism to be convoked by Australia
• the establishment of a Centre and database, in Australia, to coordinate and monitor the efforts of States to counter suicide terrorism
• an international campaign, led by the Australian Parliament, in the Parliamentary Assemblies of ASEAN and the Commonwealth, as also the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Inter-Parliamentary Union
 
The Wiesenthal Centre, in parallel and in cooperation with Australia, is well-placed to take the model to the European Parliament, the Parlatino and to the United States Congress.           
 
* empowering the victims of suicide attacks by bringing those who inspired them to the bar of justice, beginning with the architects of the Bali atrocity.
 
Samuels concluded, “Today the Australian Parliament took a first step towards closure for the families of the 88 Australians murdered in Bali, as for the victims of suicide terrorism worldwide.”
 
For further information, Shimon Samuels may be reached Tuesday in Sydney via his French mobile,  +33 6 09 77 01 58.