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Peace Activist May Be Black-Listed


Published on Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Peace Activist May Be Black-Listed
by Jano Gibson and Jesse Hogan

An American peace activist being held in Australia may never be able to travel outside the US again if he is deported over national security concerns, Greenpeace says.

Parkin: Surprise Arrest

Scott Parkin, who has been in Australia since June, was detained last Saturday after his visa was revoked over matters relating to "violent protest activity".

Greenpeace, which is helping Mr Parkin in a legal bid to have his visa reinstated, said that if the activist were to be deported he would be black-listed from travelling to other countries.

"He probably wouldn't be able to travel anywhere else in the world because he's been deemed a security threat and that charge is not appealable in any court once it has been acted upon," Greenpeace campaign manager, Danny Kennedy, said.

"It's effectively a life sentence the Commonwealth has put on this man without charge or due process," he said.

Mr Parkin as been in solitary confinement at the Melbourne Custody Centre since being detained.

Earlier, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock told ABC Radio that Mr Parkin received an "adverse security assessment" from ASIO after he arrived in the country, based on evidence at hand.

"The assessment has to be made upon matters relating to politically motivated violence, including violent protest activity," he said.

Mr Kennedy said Mr Parkin had been arrested at least once in the US while working for Greenpeace.

"He once dressed as Tony the Tiger and ran around the Exxon Mobile headquarters in Texas along with 20 other Tony the Tigers. He wasn't charged with a violent crime," Mr Kennedy said.

It was a minor charge relating to trespass or causing public nuisance, he said.

"Scott has never advocated violence. He has only ever advocated non-violence and peaceful protest. And if Mr Ruddock knows better he needs to make it clear and transparent and explain it to Scott so that he can defend himself," Mr Kennedy said.

Meanwhile, Mr Parkin's lawyer said the Immigration Department had pressured the activist to drop his appeal by threatening to keep him in solitary confinement.

Julian Burnside, QC, said his client had been told by immigration officers that his deportation would be brought forward if he dropped his appeal to the Migration Review Tribunal to find out why his visa was revoked.

Mr Burnside described this as "factually false and legally improper".

"What they're doing, in effect, is saying: 'All right, we'll hold you here in solitary confinement until you dump your action,' and that's outrageous," he said.

The immigration department is yet to respond.

Mr Burnside said the Migration Act allowed appeal applicants to seek information even after they had been deported. It also requires visitors without visas to be deported as soon as practicable.

He said Mr Parkin's detention set a "disturbing precedent" for the Government's planned anti-terror laws, which had been criticised by civil libertarians.

"Here we've got a person locked up, at his own expense, and then removed from the country without ever knowing what he's supposed to have done," he said.

"Quite frankly, I'm beginning to feel more alarmed by our Government's conduct than about the risk of a terrorist attack."

Mr Burnside said he would consider taking the matter to court if the immigration department continued to hold Mr Parkin in detention.

"You would hope that you wouldn't have to go to a court to tell a government department to obey their own laws."

Mr Ruddock today rejected suggestions that political pressure from Washington may have been behind the decision to deport Mr Parkin.

But Victorian Premier Steve Bracks called on the Federal Government to explain why Mr Parkin's visa was revoked.

Mr Parkin is an activist with the Houston Global Awareness Collective, which aims to end the US-led war in Iraq.

Since February 2003, the collective has targeted US-based multinational company Halliburton, which is a prime recipient of US Government contracts in Iraq and formerly had US Vice-President Dick Cheney as its chief executive officer.

Mr Parkin has described Halliburton as a "poster child of war profiteering".

He arrived in Australia in early June and, on August 31, took part in a non-violent protest outside Halliburton's Sydney headquarters.

When he was detained on Saturday, he had been due to give a workshop in Melbourne discussing emerging trends in grassroots direct-action campaigns.

Greens leader Bob Brown said Mr Parkin may have been arrested for political reasons on orders from Washington, because of his history of activism against Halliburton.

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