by Jim Jepps
Last Friday 30 activists turned up at Australian Science Minister Julie Bishop's office to deliver a letter calling for a halt to plans to turn an aboriginal community in the Northern Territories into a nuclear dumping ground.
After delivering the letter the Minister's office seemed like a new and interesting place to sing a few songs. Where's the harm in that you might ask. Bishop did not see the funny side though and the police were called.
It was at this point that things went a touch sour. In the shape of batons, the confiscation of cameras and five arrests, including one for assaulting a police officer - which all seems a bit of an over the top response to the fluffy Students of Sustainability who've just had a conference full of drum wrkshops, NVDA and Tai Chi.
Toby Lee said that "As I was leaving, I was directly sprayed with capsicum spray into my eyes 10 centimeters from my face without warning" and Natalie Wasley, another protester, denied the group had had any violent intentions saying "We didn't get a chance to leave peacefully. The police just started pepper spraying people, hitting them with batons and throwing them to the floor. It was absolutely shameful."
One of those arrested (but not charged) was one Nicola Paris a feisty young staffer for Green Senator Rachel Siewert. Now, when Siewert heard that Paris had been arrested you might imagine she immediately sent a message of support to her jail cell supporting her fight for aboriginal rights and against nuclear toxicity. Indeed part of her official response did read "I hope to speak with the Minister to personally convey my concern at the earliest possible opportunity."
But alas this was not to condemn Nicola's arrest dear readers. No, in fact Nicola was asked to resign her position because "Greens do not condone violence of any kind", even though she was a peaceful protester at a peaceful protest. Well, peaceful until the cops showed up and started hitting people with sticks.
The rumours are that Green Party leader Bob Brown put pressure on Siewert to turn her back on Nicola and issue this mealy mouthed statement to the press. After all Siewert actually spoke at the Students of Sustainability conference the week before on the subject of... wait for it... wait for it... silencing dissent! Presumably a how-to guide.
You can email Senator Rachel Siewert here if you want a little word in her ear. Messages of support can be sent here. (This story first appeared at the Daily (Maybe)).