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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 939

Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (21:01): I stand today in support of the motion of the member for Fremantle. I stand together with somebody from the opposite side of the chamber in condemning the abhorrent and repugnant human rights abuses that are currently occurring in the so-called Republic of Iran. There must be no more serious and heinous act in this world than a government turning on its own people and committing violent atrocities on its own citizenry. The very institution that is designed to defend the rights of its people turns persecutor on those that it is expected to protect.

The Arab Spring, at its inception, gave us all hope and anticipation of a positive cultural and political revolution across the Middle East. The optimist in all of us was hoping that democracy would sweep across northern Africa and into the Persian Gulf in a tidal wave of freedom. We did not want Israel to continue to stand as the lone beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Alas, on the ground, the Arab Spring has not matched the anticipation. For all of the hopes that we had, the people of Iran, Syria, Libya and Bahrain have been met with bullets, aggression and brutality. It is the act of the desperate and despicable to unleash the might of its armed forces on its own people, and we have witnessed that. The Arab Spring gave us hope of democracy and the young Iranians on the streets gave us hope for change, but we have seen the acts of a true despot in that of the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

One needs only look at a number of his public statements to discover the depths of this so-called leader's depravity. On the state of Israel he has stated that it 'must be wiped off the map' and that 'with God's grace this regime will be annihilated and Palestinians and other regional nations will be rid of its bad omen'. On the Holocaust he has said:

Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces and they insist on it to the extent that if anyone proves something contrary to that they condemn that person and throw them in jail … we don't accept this claim.

He went on to say that they, being Germans or Europeans:

… have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets.

On Zionists—read Jews—he has said:

The Zionists and their protectors are the most detested people in all of humanity, and the hatred is increasing every day.

And he has said:

The world powers established these filthy bacteria, the Zionist regime, which is lashing out at the nations in the region like a wild beast.

Finally, on the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel's independence, he said:

Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken.

Any one of these statements on its own warrants immediate condemnation, yet this despicable vitriol is left unchallenged and has been left unchallenged too often and for too long. It is only now that the world is starting to take more notice of Iran. It is only after the tragic loss of life that the world is paying the attention it should have paid many years before. The words of a tyrant lead to the deeds of a tyrant. It should come as no surprise that the owner of such vile words could be a perpetrator of such vile acts. The only question that remains is: how many people must continue to die before the international community stands against such repression?

In Australia during this time one must ask the questions: Who stands conspicuously quiet? Who stands silent while these human rights are abused? It is not those sitting directly opposite me. It is, in fact, the Greens, those people who suggest that they are the champions of human rights and the keepers of the moral chalice, those professed keepers of all that is right and ethical. Where, I ask you, is Senator Brown condemning these actions? Where is Senator Hanson-Young on her soapbox demanding justice? Where is the member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, in this chamber supporting this motion? Where are the Greens protests in the streets? Most importantly, given all that we have learned about the boycott, divestments and sanctions scheme that grew from the Greens local council movement in Marrickville, where are the calls for the boycotts of Iranian companies or even of Syrian ones, to be truly consistent? No, all that is simply reserved for Israel.

Interestingly, the Greens also profess to be strong champions of human rights, particularly for those who are homosexual. Yet it is the country of Israel, the only democracy in the region, that legislates rights for women and homosexuals. In fact, in a recent poll conducted by in conjunction with American Airlines, Tel Aviv was rated the best gay travel destination of 2011. Yet here the Greens condemn Israel and not Iran.

Could you imagine if the Prime Minister of Israel had prayed for the 'annihilation' of the Palestinians? How many motions would the Greens have moved by now? How many press releases, demonstrations and media conferences would they have called? I conducted a search on the Greens website. I typed 'Iran' into their search feature, 23 results were returned and in those results there was not one mention—not one, single, solitary mention—of the atrocities that have taken place, of the abhorrent preachings of the President of Iran or of the blatant human rights abuses posed against ethnic minorities, women and homosexuals. However, if you type in 'Israel' you will find pages and pages and pages—in particular pages as to how you can be involved as well in the BDS movement. This is a truly sad state of affairs and it is of great concern in particular to me that the Greens do not stand with us in this chamber against such violence against human rights workers, women's rights activists, journalists and government opponents.

The Greens seem to quote the UN when it suits them and ignore them when it does not conform to their agenda. And make no mistake: the Greens agenda on Israel is well and truly on show. It is incumbent upon all of us who, at times, take our freedoms for granted to stand up for those who do not share the same freedoms. I call on all members of this parliament, including the Greens—so including Senator Bob Brown—to support this motion and to highlight the atrocities and depravity of the Iranian government and to stand up for the fact that these depravities must come to an end. For too long we have turned a blind eye to the signs that have been staring us in the face, and we must not accept what is unacceptable. I call on the Greens to stand with us in this chamber and support the human rights that are being abused in Iran and to make a very strong and public statement about it.