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A wedding and an execution

28 April 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

Gun barrelThe last days of Andrew Chan spoke more powerfully than words can about the meaning of execution. On Monday he married Febyanti Herewila. On Tuesday he was taken out and shot. In the wedding service he may have heard the words, 'What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' A few hours later men had sundered man from both wife and life.

Indonesia shows its ugly side with regressive executions

28 April 2015 | Pat Walsh

President Joko Widodo speaks with CNN's Christiane AmanpourIndonesia is a country of great promise with a significant, maybe crucial, contribution to make to our troubled world. As a very large, pluralist, Muslim-majority democracy it offers a template for other societies in transition. President SBY was acutely aware of this opportunity and through his democracy forums and other initiatives did much to re-brand Indonesia in this positive light. All this good work is being undone by the anal, small-town thinking the executions represent.

Diplomatic lessons for Julie Bishop in Tehran

14 April 2015 | Justin Glyn

Julie BishopThere are few things less palatable – or likely to persuade others to see your point of view – than public humiliation. This week, as Julie Bishop visits Tehran, there are already some signs that these lessons may not have been well learned. If Australia really wants to make a positive difference in the Middle East, it would be better to listen carefully to the many voices than try to push its tired and cruel demands for the boats to stop and for the world to be remade in its own image.

The General of the poor and the Iron Lady of industry

31 March 2015 | Barry Gittins

Maggie Thatcher caricatureFormer Australian Salvation Army world leader General Eva Burrows, who died on 20 March, tried in vain to engage the former British PM in making the preferential option for the poor. ‘Margaret Thatcher was a disappointment,’ the General said. ‘I felt she didn’t have a deep, true feeling for the poor. I invited her to come out on the soup run indirectly and said it wouldn’t be a media event, we’d go incognito, but the answer was no.’

Women are not responsible for violent crimes against them

31 March 2015 | Maureen O'Brien

Jill MeagherJudgmental attitudes towards women who are victims of male violence are never far from the surface. A crass example occurred recently when a priest suggested to his congregation that if rape-murder victim Jill Meagher had been more ‘faith-filled’ she would have been home instead of out late on the night when she was raped and murdered. There is greater public moral outrage when acts of violence are committed against women considered 'virtuous' than others such as sex industry workers.

Paying tribute without creating war narratives

23 March 2015 | Justin Glyn

Operation Slipper posterThe emotional parades welcoming troops home from the end of 'Operation Slipper' in Afghanistan leave us contemplating the horrific effects of war on veterans and their families. It is absolutely right, indeed imperative, that we grieve with them and count the costs. In doing so, however, we should beware the danger of selective empathy.

Emboldened Netanyahu maintains hard line against US-Iran deal

19 March 2015 | Tony Kevin

US-Iran talksIn coming days, a major US-Iran negotiation will conclude in success or failure. As long as the US and Iran remain opposed, the US is much less effective in working for peace and inter-communal harmony in Iraq and Syria. Israel is indifferent to these wider concerns and, fresh from this week's convincing election vistory, a newly invigorated Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to stress that the Iranian nuclear issue is ‘existential’ for Israel.

Unmasking Australia's boat-stopping deal with the Sri Lankan devil

24 February 2015 | Justin Glyn

Headline Sri Lanka abuse silence ‘price of boats deal’Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has claimed Australia's silence on the country's appalling human rights record was the price for its government taking extra measures to prevent people fleeing the country and arriving in Australia on boats seeking asylum. This is a problem on many levels, including our government's seeking to remove human rights issues by reframing them as national security ones.

Britain's Bahrain bid triggers human rights alert

1 Comment
22 February 2015 | Daniel Read

Map of Britain and BahrainBritain's recent drive to establish a naval base in Bahrain has only widened the rift between the UK's foreign policy and its respect for human rights. Bahrain will now potentially play host to a British military presence for the long-term, despite the Gulf state's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests over the past several years. This may be yet another instance of political expediency taking precedence over all else.

Allow Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumuran to flourish

22 February 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Chan and Myuran SukumuranWhile people are alive there is the possibility, admittedly sometimes remote, that they will respond by reflecting on their lives, becoming deeper and more generous as human beings, making connections with others and contributing even in small ways to the happiness of others and to society. Capital punishment brutally excludes possibility and leaves all of us the smaller for it.

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