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Tuesday, 06 February 2007

Response to Piers Akerman column in the Daily Telegraph


The letters editor
The Daily Telegraph

In his rush to discredit those concerned at the appalling treatment of David Hicks it seems Piers Akerman has misrepresented the substance of a press statement I issued yesterday (Trials, tribulations of life in free Hicksville - Daily Telegraph, 6 Feb 2007).

In an attempt to paint me as ignorant and somehow unaware of the imminent charges, he jettisons the introductory paragraph of my statement, where I acknowledge that draft charges have been prepared against David Hicks, notwithstanding the fact Hicks has been incarcerated for five years with no charges and no trial.

Then through his gratuitous comment - “Hallejuah Henderson, Hallejuah Thomson” (I think he means “Hallelujah”) – Mr Akerman grossly misrepresents me by implying that I somehow support the atrocities committed by the Taliban. That’s offensive.

For the record let me make my views and those of the National Assembly of the Uniting Church very clear:

  • We continue to be astonished that the Australian Government supports an Australian citizen facing trial before the flawed processes of an American military tribunal when other countries, including Britain, have not deemed those processes suitable or appropriate for their citizens.
  • We believe David Hicks should be returned to Australia to be charged and face trial under Australian or international law, and if no such charges can be laid then he should be released into the community; if he is deemed dangerous to the community under our current anti-terrorist laws, then he could be placed under a control order.
  • We believe that the conditions in Guantanamo are inhumane and cruel (5 years of detention without trial; 22 hours a day locked in solitary in a windowless cell when he’s not been found guilty of anything; no access to books or educational programs etc).
  • We condemn terrorism, we believe that terrorists should be brought to justice under right and proper legal procedures.
  • In no way do we support the Taliban and their atrocious attitudes and actions.


Rev. Gregor Henderson
Uniting Church President
Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest Canberra