Press Release Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Australia's complicity in war crimes

Defence Minister Hill's claims that Australia will fight 'clean' and under different rules to the otherwise aggressive and out-of-control US are not sufficient to exonerate the Australia Government from involvement in crimes against humanity as Australia goes to war against Iraq.

"Mr Hill's claims about different rules of engagement miss the point about war crimes," said Denis Doherty of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition today.

"Australia has been involved in a secret war on Iraq for months through Pine Gap. The Defence Minster admitted as much when he went to Pine Gap last August.

"The US will use 'shock and awe' tactics, with up to 1,000 guided missiles targeted on Iraq in the first few days of the conflict. Pine Gap will guide these missiles to their targets.

"The US intends to knock out both military (allowed in a conflict) and civilian infrastructure (illegal under the rules of war). The appallingly high civilian casualties rates predicted by the UN have apparently not influenced the US Government.

"All targets in Iraq have been selected and logged with the help of the Australian Government through their assistance, cooperation and financial support for Pine Gap and other centres in Australia.

"The Australian Government claims it is fully aware of what goes on at Pine Gap and is in complete agreement with it. The Government must therefore take responsibility for the US tactics.

"The Australian Government has signed treaties that facilitate the use of RAAF bases like Richmond for US combat purposes. These bases can be used and we suggest are being used to transport banned weaponry such as cluster bombs through our facilities. This is aiding and abetting criminality.

"People living near Richmond RAAF base report an increase in the number of huge US military transport planes arriving and departing from this airfield.

"The only alternative for the Australian Government and people is to restrict our relationship with the US to sporting, cultural and economic ties and to void any military links, including the ANZUS treaty. All US military bases in Australia should be closed and the US should not be permitted to use our territory for its nefarious worldwide deeds.

"Our complicity and support for the US through Pine Gap and the use of Australian troops in this war make us war criminals," Mr. Doherty concluded.

For more information contact Denis Doherty 0418 290 663 or 9212 0800 or 9660 7562

Mr. Doherty is one of the organisers of the Walk Against the War Coalition which is staging anti-war vigils today (19t March) at the Sydney Town Hall Square and on following evenings, and a major protest rally on Sunday, 23 March.