Monday, June 26, 2006

Internal matters, good for me but not for thee.

The Indonesian government has recently got all upset over John Howard expressing "concern and distress" over Abu Bakir Bashir's release. They say it's an "internal matter" when someone who promoted the murder of Australians is released after only two years. Where was all this concern over internal matters when they protested about the 42 Papuans being granted asylum? The decision to grant asylum is a finding of fact by Australian government officials and is not and cannot legally be subject to Australia's foreign policy. Constitutionally under the doctrine of "Seperation of Powers" John Howard had no more right to change the determination of the proper tribunerals and courts than he has to have the courts find someone guilty they acquited. The response to Indonesia's arrogant and insulting actions was to kowtow and change policy to make asylum seekers, both legitimate and not, more miserable for longer at a cost of millions to the Australian taxpayer. Needless to say the Indonesians were not so accommodating when our government commented on their system.

In a facile and stupid article in the SMH Gerald Henderson took aim at those that support West Papuan independence. Yes, Gerald it is racist to oppose the breakup of the Indonesian state, considering how much people supported the breakup of the Yugoslavian state for far less oppressive actions. If the West Papuans were white you would have no problem with their independence. Mr. Henderson claims that the asylum seekers "engaging in public debate" is counterproductive? Why? Because "to imply that this policy [of the ALP and the coalition not supporting independence] will change is misleading]. The problem is that nobody implied that. The Papuans simply talked about the bad things the Indonesian government is doing and why independence is a good thing, not surprising behaviour from seccessionists. It got him talking about Papua and civil rights violations there, so at least it's raising awareness.

On the subject of rights violations Mr. Henderson was disingenous saying "The extent of human rights violations in Papua is a matter of contention.". No doubt it is, but then so is whether the holocaust happened*. The only evidence he presents is a statement by someone on Lateline that there is no contemporary evidence [note, contemporary, so presumably there is historical evidence for this] that Indonesian special forces or inteliigence are systemactically going after Papuan independence activists for assasination. This is pretty weak tea. All it says is that a particular type of abuse isn't happening right now to a particular type of people in a particular way (systematically) by two particular groups. The actions of Indonesian backed militias are removed from the equation as are non-"systematic" murders or murders of non-activists. Nobody would write this unless they had nothing better to write in defence of the indefensible. It was perhaps the most hypocritical thing I've read in the Herald. To describe the proposed changes in asylum seeker policy as "reform" is the final insulting icing on a putrid cake.

* It did.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Government shoots self in foot, soldier didn't shoot himself anywhere.

Well they're still trying to figure out how poor private Kovco got a bullet in his head. The official story version 4 is "we don't know". That would be fine if it had been official story version 1, nobody expects instant omniscence from our fearless leaders. Instead we got "it went off while he was cleaning it", an unlikely story given Kovco was a qualified sniper, which indicates both high intelligence and respect for weapons. I initially suspected suicide for that very reason, but it turns out there were no powder burns on the body,<1> meaning it was fired from at least 4 foot away. So story number one was rubbish, and anyone who had any information about the events should have known it, particularly highly qualified officers.

Then there was official story number 2 that he had moved the gun and somehow it went off. Again this is contradicted by the powder residue evidence.

Then there was official statement number 3 that he had somehow dropped his laptop computer on to it and it had discharged. This was perhaps the weakest explanation. For a start how does a laptop falling onto a properly designed and maintained pistol, in it's holster cause it to go off? Simply having the corner of it wedge between the trigger and trigger guard won't do, there has to be pressure on the back of the butt. This safety feature prevents discharge if nobody is actually holding the pistol to shoot. Then there's the question of how the bullet ends up in his temple if it came from underneath. Finally this version as all the other versions before it did, contradicts the powder burn evidence or rather lack thereof.

Now this is more than just guessing 3 times and getting it wrong, as callous as that is to Shelly, Tyrie and Alana Kovco. The government knew all along that there were two people in the room when it happened and either of them could have told them none of these versions were true. So what's going on? Guns just don't go off. Particularly not guns bought by one of the most professional militaries in the world and maintained by a qualified sniper. The government gave information that it ought to have known was bad at least 3 times. Either the military is consistently handing them rumours instead of confirmed fact or the government is trying to spin something. But what? Were the other two soldiers in the room "skylarking" with Kovco's gun? If so what efforts were made to investigate what they were doing? A simple GunShot Residue should confirm or disprove their firing the gun. If this test was done what are the results? If not why was this simple investigative step not taken. I can think of no reason why you would not test someone in the room of a suspicious gunshot death for GSR. Not doing so is arguably deriliction of duty. Perhaps that's the extent of the spin, simply covering up for shoddy investigation. I hope so, but knowning the Howard government we won't get the truth until we drag it kicking and screaming into the light, presumerably after next election.

Oh yeah and they've lost the bullet. That should be a firing offense all by itself but don't hold your breathe.

<1> In fact this was an error, apparently there were such burns when the coroner examined the body, or at least burns "consistent" with powder burns. There just wasn't any powder. So either the powder was washed off, as apparently happened or something weird is going on. Of course this means even more evidence was compromised than previously suspected.