The following is a letter I received from a reader of Blak and Black and the Fiji Sun, talking about his experiences as a Pakistani/Australian living in Australia’s Capital, Canberra:
I read with interest your article Moti End Game which appeared in the Fiji Sun on Friday 22 July 2011. I commend you on your courage in standing up for the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific against the neo-colonial and exploitative interests of the United States and its ‘deputy sheriff’ puppet Australia.
I migrated to Australia in the 1990s after completing my PhD in Political Science at MIT. After arriving in Australia I began working with a number of NGO’s specialising in capacity building in developing countries in and around the Asia/Pacific region. After taking out Australian ‘citizenship’ I secured a position with the Commonwealth in Canberra. While in Canberra I became a frequent visitor to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and became good friends with your cousin Aunty Isabelle Coe. You may recall having met me there and again at Utopia while protesting the Northern Territory Intervention in 2007.
What interests me about the analysis you provide in your article is your concept of ‘beholden-ness’. While different terms may have been used, this is the basic mechanism used by the British, during their exploitative and destructive control of the ‘Raj’ for nearly 200 years. The only things to come out of British rule of the so called sub-continent were the economic strangulation and political dividedness. The theft of the wealth of the region provided the capital for the Industrial Revolution in England. In the same way the theft of the wealth from the indigenous peoples of Asia, Africa and the Pacific is driving the growth of the middle classes in North America, Europe and Australia. What is in this for the indigenous people of these regions? To date, nothing, prospects for future improvements in the standards of living for the exploited, zero.
This brings me to the point of why I renounced my Australian ‘citizenship’ and returned to Islamabad.
According to Cicero, remembering that it was Cicero and not Locke who first pronounced this principle:
“The primary concern of those responsible for the conduct of public affairs will be to make certain that every man is secure in his possessions, and that there is no invasion of private right on the part of the government…This, indeed, is the reason why states and republics have been created. For, though nature herself prompts men to congregate together, nevertheless it is in the hope of protecting what they have that they seek the protection cities.” De Offic. ii. 21. 73.
With all the fervour of a true Roman, Cicero believed that the mission of his country was to make the world safe for property. The very same objectives of the Anglo-American Economic Empire of the 21st Century, the difference between Cicero and Locke is that Cicero conceived this not in any absolute sense but, in the terminology of jurisprudence, as an object (res) which exists only for a subject of legal right (persona); in other words as an extension of personality.
As such, its function was to ensure interdependence, thus making possible either of the alternative characteristics of a well-ordered society, inactivity without loss of standing and activity exempt from risk (qui in optima republica…eum vitae cursum tenere potuerunt, ut vel in negotio sine periculo vel in otio cum dignitate esse possent). With these refinements, the Romans had arrived at a point of view which was foreign to the political thinking of the Greeks. For whereas the world polis had carried with it the suggestion of ‘one big family’ or an all-in partnership, the term res publica could hardly be used without an implied reference to its counterpart, the res privata. Res Privata, although distinct from, was not in conflict with res publica, but rather its correlative, indissolubly linked to it by what may be called ‘a principle of polarity’ and, in a precisely analogous sense, the object of right. Thus envisaged, the ‘republic’ may be defined as ‘that which belongs to the people’, a people being ‘no heterogeneous collection of human beings, but a society organized iuris consensus et utilitatis communione, i.e. on a basis of agreed rights and common interests (De Rep i. 25. 39). These rights and interests constitute citizenship and they exist, Cicero adds, in order to make possible ‘a better and happier life’.
The point of all of this is that from the earliest utterances on the concept of citizenship, it has been assumed that citizenship carries within itself certain inalienable rights and obligations. Without these, citizenship ceases to have any meaningful purpose. It is for this reason that I renounced my Australian ‘citizenship.
In Australia, which I believe is neither democratic nor inclusive, there are at least three catagories of ‘citizens’ (which is impossile in a true democracy); the first are those who have the title citizen carrying with it all of the obligations but, none of the rights. The second; are those of European extraction, who have the full franchise carrying all of the inalienable rights and obligations and finally there are those citizens who are members of the ‘club’ (politicians, senior public servants, business leaders and sporting identities) who have all of the rights but none of the responsibilities.
In the lowest category of ‘citizens’ I would place Indigenous Australians, refugees, those who rely on welfare and migrants of non-European extraction, who are outside of the law. In the middle category I would put, as I have already suggested, all ‘citizens’ of European extraction who are within the law. Finally, in the highest category we have those ‘citizens’ who are in positions of power, whether via politics, business or sporting prowess who are above the law. If we accept this premise, then Australia cannot claim to be a society based on a set of agreed rights and common interests, which means that it is neither democratic nor legitimate.
When I was working in Canberra, which incidentally, is the reason I’m am no longer in Australia, I was subjected to the most dehumanising and humiliating barrage of personal invective imaginable, because of my ethnicity. At one stage a Commonwealth employee who reported to me and who had his fifteen seconds of fame in the early 80s as a soccer player, refused to work for a ‘nigger’. Because of his false celebrity as a small time sporting hero in a colonial town ‘Canberra’, he got away with those insults. What is more telling, is that after having failed first year accounting three times at the CIT, he was promoted into a financial management role.
More telling though was that on May 9, 2002 I witnessed an Aboriginal man at the site of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy being deliberately assaulted by an Australian Federal Police officer. The Aboriginal man was eventually handcuffed by several abusive AFP officers and placed into the back of a police van. While this was occurring the Aboriginal man was crying out in pain saying that his “elbows are dislocated”. From my vantage point I could clearly see what was occurring, to me, his elbows were akimbo and he was obviously in distress. After he was placed into the back of the police van I clearly heard the AFP officers refer to the Aboriginal man that they had just placed into the back of the van as a “useless piece of black shit”. I attempted to report this incident to the Civic Police later that day and was told o “mind my own business…that the prisoner is a trouble maker and had stolen the Coat of Arms from Old Parliament House…” I was troubled by this and raised the issue with my departments Ministerial Liaison Officer, I was told in no uncertain terms that in his opinion and in the opinion of the Minister that Aborigines were more trouble than they are worth and the sooner the country were rid of them the better we would all be. I remain troubled to this day that I did not take the matter further.
The issue that finally made me decide to leave Australia occurred in 2008. I had not received a rates notice for three quarters and was troubled about not ‘paying my way’ within the community so I went to the ACT Revenue Office to enquire about my rates liability. Without going into detail, I was racially abused and humiliated by a senior manager (name removed by moderator) at the ACT Revenue Office. When I attempted to escalate that matter within the department I was stonewalled, abused and ridiculed. I was treated as something less than human. My ethnicity and accent were mocked to my face by (names removed by moderator) all officers within ACT Treasury.
Several months later I read in the Canberra Times that the ACT Revenue Office had failed to rate several Canberra suburbs for over a year. I thought at the time that this is unbelievable. The ACT is the smallest financial jurisdiction in Australia. Residential rates account for a significant portion of ACT revenue and they can’t even get that right.
What my time in Canberra working for the Commonwealth did reinforce, in my mind, is that no matter how educated you may be, no matter how much you may achieve in life, to some Australians of European extraction; their ethnicity, to use your expression, as ‘white fellas’ means more that all the PhD’s from all the non-European graduates of MIT combined. Hubris, to say the least.
I returned to Islamabad in disgust following the racism I was subjected to by ACT Treasury. Since returning home, I have devoted my time to ensuring that the true nature of the Australian character is exposed to the world. Your message is beginning to reach a wide audience in South Asia; you were mentioned in the Mosque last week. Keep up the good work.
You may not be aware that ‘Skunky Funk’ AFP Agent Peter Bond is currently based in Islamabad. He appears to be up to his old tricks here.
If you are in contact with Mr Moti please pass on to him my words of encouragement and support and remind him, even if he is an unbeliever, that All’ah never asks his servants to bear a load greater than they carry.