On the 11th of March, myself and around 60-70 other activists, friends, family & colleagues of Austin Mackell rallied outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (or Department of Fucking Around and Timewasting, as I prefer) to demand our parachute Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, make public statements and take action on Austin's behalf.
|Rally for Austin Mackell, 11/03|
You can also check out three videos of the protest posted on YouTube.
|Rally for Austin Mackell, 11/03 - boys in blue in the back...|
A Change.org petition has been circulating calling for both Carr & Julia Gillard to intervene on Austin's behalf, along with an open letter in the same vein. Between my signing the petition yesterday and the time of posting, the signatures have gone up by at least a couple of thousand. Let's hope it hits ten thousand by the time I check tomorrow night...
|Hillier Windsor, Austin's sister, speaking at the rally, 11/03.|
Austin himself has written several pieces on the question of his arrest; the first is his firsthand account of the events in Mahalla, an amazing look at the belly of the beast which is worth reading for anyone who wants to understand how the police bureaucracy in a police/military state like Egypt actually runs. Since then, he's written another two pieces: one, a letter calling for Bob Carr to intervene, and another speculating as to the reasons why his arrest may be preceeding. As usual, Austin is able to see how the issue (in this case, his own arrest) gets to the heart of the post-January 25 balance of forces in Egypt and what it says for the ongoing revolutionary struggle.
The "Iron Lady" he identifies, Fayza Aboul-Naga is, according to Ahram Online, more well known internationally than General Tantawi; I doubt this is actually true, but either way it bodes poorly for Austin's case if it's become part of the maneuvering amongst Egypt's corrupt bureaucrats. Deckchairs on the Titanic, etc etc... And either way, it means pressure from the Australian government may make a real difference in the outcome, either for Austin's freedom to work or at the very least his freedom to leave the country.
Bob Carr probably won't be inclined to do this, given that he's about as corrupt a bureacrat as they come (check out this video on what he actually stands for), so your pressure is needed. I'd encourage everyone to sign the petition, or check out the series of letters to members of parliament Austin's posted on his blog, write your own, and come to the next protest calling for the government to take action.
|Lee Rhiannon, Greens Senator, speaking at the rally, 11/03 - photo courtesy of Kate Ausburn|
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon spoke at the rally, and said that the Greens will be actively pursuing this issue through the parliament. According to her twitter account, the motion they put calling for the government to take action passed the senate this evening.
|Yours Truly speaking at the rally, 11/03... photo courtesy of Kate Ausburn|