KASAMA Vol. 18 No. 3 / July-August-September 2004 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

AKBAYAN denounces reckless Aussie government remarks

Manila - July 30, 2004

AKBAYAN Party-List today trooped to the Australian embassy to express outrage over the remarks made by the Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer.

"The Australian government is itself under strong pressure from their own citizens regarding their participation in the US-led war on Iraq," said AKBAYAN President Ronald Llamas.

"They should look at the wisdom of their own policy before they insinuate anything about the Philippine government's decision to pull out of Iraq," he added.

As a sign of protest, AKBAYAN members held up a picture of Howard and Downer who had said the Philippines acted "like a marshmallow" and threw marshmallows at their pictures.

"The bombing of Bali and the death of Australian citizens was a catastrophic loss that no nation should bear," Llamas explained, "but the Australian government is not making the world a safer place against terrorism by participating in the so-called Coalition of the Willing," he said.

According to Llamas, the decision to pull out of Iraq was a categorical statement that no life should be expended in the name of a war that was proven founded on a lie.

"Howard and Downer should apologize for their crass remarks," Llamas suggested. "They have no first-hand knowledge of our context and are thus in no position to tell us how we should craft our foreign policies."

For Llamas, "Australia should instead focus on the interests of its own citizens. Even without a Philippine pullout, Australians can never feel secure anywhere in the world as long as their government continues to support a war that has promoted nothing but violence and division in the Middle East."