Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Letter to Andrew Nikolic MP - Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies

Mr Andrew Nikolic AM, CSC, MP
Member for Bass, Tasmania
100 St John Street
Launceston, TAS, 7250
ph. 1300 784 745

Dear Andrew

I refer to the article in The Australian, ‘Former Digger MP Andrew Nikolic derides governor’s call to fund Sydney uni peace centre’ 28 April 2014

I note the article makes the impression that you are critical of

  1.  Federal funding amounting to millions of dollars for academic studies in peace and conflict resolution, in particular to the Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University.  The article gives the impression that “the causes of war have been studied for centuries”, starting with Thucydides who declared them to be “fear, honour and interest”. There is therefore no need to spend millions of dollars for further studies.
  2. The use of boycott, sanctions or divestment against Israel for its continued military occupation of over 4 million Palestinians.

I note your extensive military professionalexperience and your work in Israel, Syria and South Lebanon.  I note that your professional experience did not require you to work in the Occupied Palestinian territories.

I disclose that I am a graduate of the Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies in 2003.  My thesis was Empathising with theenemy: Transformation of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by overcomingpsychological and structural obstacles.

My questions to you are:

  1. If the causes of war as Thucydides declared are “fear, honour and interest”, then what role does education have in preventing war?
  2. What are the common aims of both education for peace and conflict studies; and military training?
  3. Is education for peace and conflict studies; and military training mutually exclusive?  Or do they complement each other and build a safer world?
  4.  How much federal funding is currently being spent in education for Peace and conflict studies in comparison with military training?
  5. How much do other countries, such as the United States, spend on education for Peace and conflict studies in comparison with military training?
  6. How much public funding should be spent on (a) peace and conflict studies? (b) military training?
  7.  What impact do you believe is warranted for the study of Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela?
  8. What need is there to study the causes of the Shoah, or genocides that occurred in Rwanda, Cambodia; or conflicts such as the Sudan or the Palestinian-Israeli-Arab conflict?
  9. What need is there to study of the origins of the United Nations and the study of Humanitarian Law?
  10. What is your response to the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 was a law enacted by the United States Congress that placed economic sanctions on South Africa whilst Apartheid.
  11. What is your response to a consumer boycott of Israeli settlements goods as called by Israeli and Palestinian peace groups, The World Council of Churches, The National Council of Churches in Australia, prominent peace activists such as Desmond Tutu (Tutu also supports a broader boycott, such as of Israel proper)
Andrew, I thank you for your service to our country, and to building a safer world.

I ask that you consider the questions I have prepared, and I await your response.

Yours sincerely

Stewart Mills


US State Department, ‘The End of Apartheid’

Stewart Mills, Empathising with the enemy: Transformation of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by overcoming psychological and structural obstacles, University of Sydney, 2003.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Torture and inhumane treatment - US and China (To Foreign Minister Australia)

The Hon Bob Carr, Senator
Australian Government

Dear Foreign Minister

I am writing to you having just viewed the following YouTube clip uploaded by the Guardian:

The Guardian, 'Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) force fed under standard Guantánamo', Published on Jul 8, 2013

This video allegedly shows the methods used to force feed detainees on hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay on a volunteer (Yasiin Bey).

Could you please investigate if the United States is using such methods against persons under US custody.  If so could you in the strongest diplomatic actions encourage the United States to cease such acts, which would amount to torture.

I have recently been viewing acts of torture of Chinese security on Tibetans following the 2008 resistance. 

The footage from this YouTube clip is deeply disturbing as it shows the end result of the inhuman treatment suffered by Tendar, a Tibetan, who was allegedly subjected to beatings and torture by Chinese security and was denied basic medical care” at the military hospital.  Tendar subsequently died.

In context the actions of security personnel of the United States and China are vastly different.  However, if we cannot get the United States to stop the inhuman practice of force feeding in the manner demonstrated, how can we ever expect nations like China to change?

I ask that my concerns be investigated and appropriate diplomatic action taken for both the situation in Guantanamo Bay and the actions taken by Chinese security against Tibetan nationals, like Tendar.  Further I ask that you please provide any updates on the outcome of your investigation and diplomatic action.

Yours sincerely

Stewart Mills

About this blog

This blog is intended to document letters I have sent to various powers that be (politicians and the like) for action.

The hope is to hold our leaders to account to build a more peaceful world.  The hope is people will feel empowered to speak out when they see injustices against another.

"Let us be the change we wish to see" (Mahatma Gandhi).