Subject: Fw: Germany's NPD Chairman Denied Entry To Australia
Bizarre Claims Of 'Weapons Of Mass Destruction' Link: Foreign Minister's Refusal Of A Visa To Udo Voigt To Be Subject Of Campaign
The Foreign Minister, Mr. Downer, has refused a visa to the chairman of the National Democratic Party of Germany, Mr. Udo Voigt, to enter Australia to address a meeting on free speech issues in Germany. The first report of this occurrence in The Australian newspaper for April 26,has been the signal for action to reverse the decision. However, the report scarcely did justice to the comedy performance of the Foreign Minister. There is no doubt the visa matter was settled at the highest level, after briefings by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
The terms of the visa-refusal (issued by the Australian Embassy in Berlin) were:
"Specifically you failed to meet Public Interest Criterion 4003, which states:
The applicant is determined by the Foreign Minister, or a person authorised by the Foreign Minister, to be a person whose presence in Australia -
(a) is, or would be, prejudicial to relations between Australia and a foreign country,
(b) may be directly or indirectly associated with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."
Mr. Voigt had been invited to Australia to speak at the third Sydney Forum, scheduled for July 2003. The proposition that Mr. Voigt is linked to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction can only be a reflex of his party's vocal opposition to the US invasion of Iraq, rather than any connection to the deployment of weapons held by Iraq. However, the matter has now moved into the theatre of the absurd: for the Australian Foreign Minister is yet to prove Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, let alone that any German citizen was involved in their proliferation.
Mr. Welf Herfurth, co-convenor of the Sydney Forum said today:
"It is a matter of public knowledge that the NPD opposed the war against Iraq. But then, so did all political parties in Germany. To refuse a visa to Mr. Voigt sets a dangerous precedent because members of parties such as the Social Democrats, the Party of Democratic Socialism and The Greens, could also be refused an Australian visa on the basis of a statement more appropriate to a Monty Python skit than an Australian Minister.
The damage of Australian-German relations has been done, not by any remarks Mr. Voigt could make in this country, but by the Foreign Minister. Mr. Voigt will apply for a review of the decision."
The NPD is a legal German political party. Attempts by the German government to ban it failed in March 2003 in the Constitutional Court. Germany's judges decided that the government's evidence supposedly linking the NPD to the activities of neo-nazis and anti-semitic conduct was tainted by the secret-police agents who may have fabricated the so-called evidence. The case also showed the inter-relationship of German security organs and the neo-nazis and the ideological gulf which separated the NPD from the neo-nazi 'ideology'.
Mr. Herfurth continued:
"There is to be a campaign to highlight this absurdity in both Australia and Germany. Mr. Horst Mahler, who defended the NPD in the Constitutional Court, is to apply for a visa shortly. I expect that within days, this visa-rejection story for Voigt will be the laughing stock of German public humour. And if Mr. Downer refuses Mahler, then someone else will apply, and so on and so on. There's going to be a lot of Germans linked to Saddam's weapons to mass destruction."
Mr. Mahler, although once a founder of the leftist terrorist movement, the Red Army Fraction, was permitted into Australia some years ago, but before his relationship with the NPD began. Mr. Mahler of course, rejects political violence, but was an energetic opponent of any German involvement in the imperialist aggression against Iraq.
Mr. Herfurth concluded:
"The Australian government has a long history of refusing visas to people it doesn't like, and this must stop. Thought-policing is alive in Australia and if Australia was a strong democracy it could deal with dissenting opinions; obviously, it has taken the dictatorial road. Obviously, it is Mr. Voigt's message that constitutes the supposed damage that may be caused to the German-Australian relationship. After all, despite their differences over Iraq, the Foreign Minister could only have sympathised with the attempt to ban a legal party which opposes the New World Order, open door immigration and the loss of national identities. The use of the terrorist bogy is one attack point on civil liberties, but to say a citizen of Germany, a lieutenant in that country's army reserves with no criminal history, is linked to weapons of mass destruction, goes way over the top. Should not free speech be the chief factor of consideration? "
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