Remember Scott Parkin: the American political activist, in
Australia on a six month visa, who was arrested in Melbourne
on the 10th of September last year – where
he was going to speak on non-violent activism against the Iraq
war – detained and then deported five days later after ASIO and the Department
of Immigration determined he was a security risk?

Well, today his curious case
is being reopened, by way of a directions hearing in Melbourne’s
Federal Court at 9.30am this morning. Through his lawyers, Parkin is
hoping
to win the right to review the basis on which his visa was withdrawn
and to clear his name.

Parkin, now safe and sound back in America,
has always maintained he has no idea why he was deported or why he would be considered a security risk. Actually, no
one really seems to know. And those who do – Federal Attorney-General Philip
Ruddock
,
the Minister for Immigration Amanda Vanstone,
Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, seem satisfied not to comment on the
decision.

With the exception of The
Australian
‘s Greg Sheridan, who commented with some authority in a front
page article (“Deported activist was to teach tactics of violence,” 22 September
2005, not online), co-authored by John Kerin, that Parkin planned to
“instruct demonstrators in tactics including disabling police horses and
springing arrested protesters from custody.”

The 36-year-old American teacher vigorously denied these charges, which were, apparently, leaked to Sheridan. “I
am a student of mass social movements in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and
Martin Luther King Jnr and I think that these movements have shown us the way
to achieve positive social change,” he said in a statement on the day he
was deported.

Will we ever know the truth behind this saga?
That remains to be seen. But it’s good to know that there are people
still working to find out.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW