The End of Terror or A
Amrozi has been sentenced to death. Informed observers seem to think the
trial has been fair. It is a matter for rejoicing that some justice has been
done. A death penalty is not a matter for rejoicing. Refusing a penalty of
death is a mark of civility. It says that despite the barbarity of Amrozi's beliefs,
and the unspeakable cruelty of his actions, we will not stoop so low. Life
is sacred. In the heat of battle if you burst into my home I may kill you so
my child survives. But in the measured deliberations of justice when you are
powerless and at my mercy in prison I will bring you and your conspirators
the message of life and all its sacredness. Perhaps what you have done and
may do again is too evil to ever allow your freedom on this earth. But I
will not descend to simply winning over you and those like you. I will risk
instead seeking to win you over. And if that means I must also change to
allow true justice in the situation, then so I will.
When Australians cheered at the guilty verdict and death sentence for
Amrozi it was an understandable response for families whom he has caused
irreplaceable loss It is OK to respond like that. But now, days later, to
still agree to the sentence is to be Amrozi. It is to claim in utter self contradiction
that humanity is made greater and better and safer by inhumane acts.
The truly human person in this scenario is magistrate Brian Deegan who
said "I do not agree with the death penalty under any circumstances,
and especially not in the name of my child." In contrast the Australian
government is silent, implicitly supporting more barbarity. There appears to
have been some reluctant move on their part to protect David Hicks from the
death penalty when he is finally subjected to an American Kangaroo court.
One assumes this is because of Howard's sensitivity to domestic sentiment.
No such reprieve for Amrozi.
It is situations like this which truly frighten me about Australia. No
matter how one approaches the situation of refugees there will. be pain and
suffering. The injustice of the American empire that is built into the
fabric of our world and fuels, often very understandably, the hatreds of a J.I.
or AI Quaeda, is so breathtaking as to be almost impossible to address. But
the Prime Minister appears to be making life and death ethical decisions about
these things based on the effect at the ballot box- and we let him. A life
is a life, whether here or Indonesia, whether Hicks or Habib, citizen or
refugee. In today's Australia one might wonder if a life's worth is counted
in the votes it will win or lose.