Happy new year, readers. 2007 was a big one for me, and it seems that lots of interesting things happened. So I made a list.
The Bar: My senior mentor, Peter Riordan SC, was elected Chairman of the Bar Council. Peter Hayes QC died, and the Ethics Committee took Peter Faris to task for commenting to excess on drugs in the profession. Mr Faris joined the Law Institute in lieu of the Bar. Former solicitor-advocate Andrew Fraser got out of jail and published his memoirs, Court in the Middle. Julian Burnside wrote an excellent book. Good people joined the Bar, including Tony Horan, formerly a partner of Phillips Fox, and Lisa Nichols, formerly a partner of Slater & Gordon Ltd, suggesting that it is a healthy institution. Mark Dreyfus QC was elected into Federal Parliament, Jeff Sher QC retired, and Peter Cawthorn, Dr Ian Freckleton, and Kerri Judd, all leaders of the professional negligence and/or discipline bar, took silk. Ross Ray QC assumed the helm at the Law Council of Australia.
The Bench: Justice Kiefel was appointed to the High Court from the Feds, the Howard Government’s 6th appointment after Justices Hayne, Callinan, Gleeson, Heydon and Crennan. She was the trial judge in Queensland v JL Holdings Pty Ltd (1997) 189 CLR 146, the case which is commonly understood to mean that you can always amend your pleadings at any time, contrary to her Honour’s view that sometimes, enough’s enough. Justice Callinan, the protagonist in Flower & Hart v White Industries (Qld) Pty Ltd (1999) 163 ALR 744, one of the key legal ethics cases of recent times, retired after nine and a half years. Lex Lasry was appointed to the Supreme Court. He was one of the blokes who campaigned against the execution of Van Nguyen, and was a legal observer at David Hicks’s show trial. Also appointed were Jack Forrest, Ross Robson, Paul Coghlan (ex-director of the Office of Public Prosecutions), and Tony Pagone (a tax lawyer with a keen interest in human rights who was reappointed after a tenure of 9 months in 2001 and 2002). The Court of Appeal had added to its bench Murray Kellam and Julie Dodds-Streeton. So 1 in 5 Supreme Court judges was appointed this year. Justice Gillard retired after ruling that Dr Abbie Lee was not defamed in the Herald-Sun‘s ‘Medibonk’ articles which called her a madam and a fraud. Justices of Appeal Callaway and Eames retired too.
Michelle Gordon, to whom the High Court’s Justice Hayne is married, was the only Melbourne appointment to the Federal Court. Former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld QC was committed to stand trial for perjury after pleading not guilty.
Blogs: Melbourne lawyers Peter Faris, Leagle Eagle, Dr Mirko Bagaric, and Nicky Greenberg all wrote interesting blogs, mostly not about the law. Jamie Wodetzki, also a Melbourne lawyer, published the excellent Breakfast Blog. Club Troppo‘s ‘Missing Link‘ rounded up the best posts from Australian blogs twice a week or so: well worth subscribing to.
Books: Monash’s Professor Adrian Evans and Melbourne’s Christine Parker put out a book Inside Lawyers’ Ethics. Walmsley, Abadee and Zipser did great with the second edition of Professional Liability in Australia. University of Woollongong’s Ainslee Lamb and John Littrich put out Lawyers in Australia. Jason Pizer published the 3rd edition of his Annotated VCAT Act. The 9th edition of Keith Fletcher’s The Law of Partnership in Australia hit the stores. Former actress, barrister and ABC Radio National ‘Law Report’ compere Susannah Lobez published Gangland Australia. Leigh Sales published a book about David Hicks, Detainee 002. J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold over 8 million copies in the first 24 hours of its release. Black Inc.’s The Monthly continued, unlike most in its genre, to publish, suggesting this might actually be the new quality news magazine which sticks around. Helps when your publisher, Morry Schwartz, is a property developer I suppose. (A bit off-topic, but Bali got Lawyers’ Lawyered this year, so: Black Inc. also published Under the Volcano; The Story of Bali. Former English property lawyer Jonathan Copeland published another good book about Bali — a rare thing — Secrets of Bali.)
Crime, and alleged crime: Christopher Hudson allegedly shot Norton Gledhill solicitor Brendan Keilar dead outside the Rialto where I had been working until a couple of weeks before. A martial arts enthusiast is suspected of killing Pumpkin’s mum, and cast Pumpkin adrift at Spencer St. Carl Williams said that in an ideal world, he wouldn’t have executed Jason Moran in front of his kids, and Justice Betty King responded to point out that in an ideal world he wouldn’t have executed him at all. In an ideal world wife Roberta probably wouldn’t have expressed disappointment that Carl would be behind glass, making spitting in his face problematic, and Jason probably wouldn’t have hired two hit men to gun Carl down at his daughter Dhakota’s christening, giving Carl the idea of the execution with kids in the first place. The Herald Sun must have been spewing about the 35 year fully catered luxury State holiday Justice King granted him despite his insolence. Tony Mokbel was found in Greece. Bad wig. Peter Dupas was convicted of another murder as a result of confessions made to Andrew Fraser. Paris Hilton went to jail, prompting this peculiar peaen from Dr Bagaric.
Death: Elizabeth Jolley, Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer died. French postmodernist Jean Baudrillard, author of one of the worst books I have ever started (Simulacra) died. Bob Woolmer met a sticky end. Boris Yeltsin, Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, and Evel Knievel shuffled off this mortal coil, as did Ingmar Bergman and Marcel Marceau. Musicians who sang their swan song included Mstislav Rostropovich, Luciano Pavarotti, the great South African reggae musician Lucky Dube (who copped a bullet from Johannesburg carjackers, leaving a wife and seven children), Karlheinz Stockhausen, and jazz piano great Oscar Peterson.
Dever’s List: Justice Gillard retired, and Judge Bowman was VCAT’s Acting President after Justice Morris’s sudden resignation from the Supreme Court and VCAT. Justice of Appeal Ashley, Justice Bongiorno, Justice of Appeal Buchanan, Justice Mandie, and Chief Justice Warren kept on doing their thing. The List welcomed 6 other new readers: Gabi Crafti (ex-Mallesons, Weinberg J associate), Ben Gibson (ex-Blakes, Finkelstein J associate), Tony Horan (ex-Phillips Fox, a proportionate liability guru), Graeme Hill (ex-AGS, Hayne J associate, a constitutional law buff), Zoe Maud (ex-Deacons, Maxwell P associate) and Jack Tracey (ex-Tanya Cirkavic & Assocs, Callaway JA associate). Jeremy Ruskin QC gave the most entertaining and masterful after dinner address I have heard at the Bar Dinner at the Museum. David Brookes, Peter Cawthorn, Stephen McLeish and Mark Moschinsky were made silk.
Film & tv: ‘Judge John Deed‘ got a bit silly after a while. ‘The Brief’ was better viewing. A great lawyer movie came out — Michael Clayton. Tilda Swinton was superb. So were George Clooney and Sydney Pollack. Best though was less well known Tom Wilkinson. Then there was A Mighty Heart (Angelina Jolie in a film about kidnapped American journalist Daniel Pearl), Notes on a Scandal (fabulous acting from Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench), 2 Days in Paris (Julie Delpy gets better looking with age), and An Old Mistress (I do like an Andalucienne). Keira Knightley did Atonement. Ang Lee put out Lust, Caution. Rowan Atkinson put out Mr Bean’s Holiday. Jerry Seinfeld did Bee Movie. The Cohen Brothers released No Country for Old Men after a Cormack McCarthy novel. Check out the trailer. Music films included The US v John Lennon, and the bizarre but entertaining Across the Universe, a Blackpool-like Homage to the Beatles. Then Cate Blanchett dressed up as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, a shocking film. And we learnt how interesting Edith Piaf was in La Vie en Rose. Documentaries included The Jammed (about trafficked sex slaves, set in Melbourne), John Pilger’s The War on Democracy, Michael Moor’s Sicko, and the bizarre Into Great Silence, almost 3 hours of reality cinema set in a Carthusian monsastery, which observes a vow of silence. It’s probably the most G-rated movie of all time.
Friends: Jazz pianist Monique di Mattina put out the exquisite album of solo piano pieces, Senses. Lawyer, writer and artist Nicky Greenberg published her graphic novel adaptation of The Great Gatsby, began work on Hamlet and launched her blog and website. Shanaka Fernando won the national Local Hero Award in the Australia Day Honours. Melbourne’s very own Gatsby, Lee Miechel, became very ill. Ex-Labor politician and UN man Professor John Langmore published To Firmer Ground about Federal politics. Percussionist Ariel Valent went to live in Argentina for a while. Meaghan Burton resigned her job, headed for New York without a plan, and walked into a dream job with the Spiegel Tent. Camille Nicholson resigned and went to live in Paris. Paula O’Brien took off for Cambridge, and Kristen Hilton took over her job at PILCH. Andre Martyres lived in Norway and learnt Norwegian, while Rohan Martyres went to live in Kathmandu. Shane retired and his test wicket record was soon eclipsed by Muttiah Muralitharan, once labelled a chucker.
The government: Labor, led by a Whitlam protege won back government after 12 years with the third largest swing since 1949, but the victory speech was a yawn. Rudd needs Keating to write his speeches. The Jackie Kelly leaflet helped, along with her chortling rebuke to those who didn’t see the innocent Chaser-like humour. Like the PM. Chas Licciardello’s Osama Bin Laden stunt at APEC was more consistently appreciated. Maxine McKew took the seat of Bennelong off a Menzies protege, and a book was written about it. Mungo Macallum wrote a book too, naturally titled Poll Dancing. Pauline published her autobiography, Untamed and Unashamed, in which Kim Beazley’s name is misspelt throughout. One in every 25 Queenslanders voted for her. She outpolled her old party, One Nation, and picked up electoral funding of $150,000. But she did not win. After Kevin Andrews’s comments about Sudanese integration, the electorate probably thought her job was already done. Prime Minister Howard declared another war: the war on child sexual abuse in aboriginal communities, and sent the army in. Family First candidate Andrew Quah explained what looked like pictures of the aspirant Member’s member on the internet by saying ‘I might have been drunk off my face or my political enemies might have drugged me.’ He got dumped, but the Deputy Leader of the Nationals fared better. A former fisherman, and Territorian, Nigel Scullion, whose advice to the nation after what he described as ‘a terrific night’ 10 years ago in Moscow was:
- always wear clean underwear;
- never allow yourself to be chained to a pole; and
- ‘If you ever get an offer to go drinking with Icelandic whalers and Canadian crab fishermen, take them up on it.’
While we’re on the topic of sexual titillation, it would be a shame to overlook Ralph Fienne’s unprotected flying toilet tryst with bankrupt Qantas stewardess and former under-cover cop Lisa Robertson on a Darwin to Mumbai flight on his way to talk to Indian villagers about AIDS and the desirability of safe sex.
Back to federal politics, though, Kerry O’Brien noted a ‘5% swing to the ABC’ in the tally room. Four ministers lost their seats. Attorney-General and long-time Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock retired to the back bench. The Greens got almost one million votes in the lower house, but no seats. They hold the balance of power in the Senate, in the sense that legislation opposed by one major party cannot get through without their vote, though it seems like other support will be needed by Labor as well before they have the numbers. More than one million voters gave the Greens their first preference replacing the now-seatless Democrats as the third party. Ivan Milat’s sister-in-law, campaigning on a pro-guns and anti-Greenie platform managed just 127 votes despite her excellent policy of decriminalising victimless crime. I missed Keating the Musical, but it’s coming back.
Steve Bracks resigned after his son crashed his car, drunk. Thwaitsey followed. John Brumby and long-time Attorney-General Rob Hulls ascended. Then Peter Beattie gave way to Anna Bligh, and Claire Martin gave up the top job in the Northern Territory. (Also, incidentally: Tony Blair gave way to Gordon Brown, Kofi Annan to Ban Ki-moon, Jacques Chirac to Nicolas Sarkozy, and Shinzo Abe resigned.) John Laws, who sometimes seems to have thought he was Premier of NSW, retired too.
Me: I resigned my job of 11 years, went without income for 3 months while undertaking the Bar Readers’ Course during which the blog which I had been working on for a while was let loose in cyberspace, survived the examination moot which was about a gay orgy, read with Danny Masel, the most generous, capable and equable master one could hope for, and was let loose on the public on 25 May 2007 at a ceremony in the Supreme Court Library. I ventured into the world of real estate agents, mental health, pharmacists, environmental consultants, the government, dentists, used car dealers, pool plasterers, liquidators, class actions, funeral directors, crematoria, eisteddfods, financial advisers, night clubs, banks, fraudsters, and property developers. I pleaded the defence of de minimus non curat lex (the law does not concern itself with trifles), and I meant it. And I presented a seminar on affidavits. My favourite instruction for 2007: ‘He’s being so petty over $2 million’.
News: An area the size of Greece was burnt in the Great Dividing Range over 69 days. Then floods struck Gippsland. It was the hottest Victorian year on record, the hottest South Australian year on record and one of the hottest years ever globally. January 2007 was hotter globally than any before it. Umbrellas got little use (contrast the sad case of Sudan where three quarters of a million desperately poor people were displaced). Climate change went mainstream as an issue — on March 31, Sydney turned its lights off for an hour; Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize (I haven’t worked out why he won that Nobel Prize); it was a key election issue; and Kevin Rudd signed the Kyoto Protocol. Climate change of another sort was welcomed by most Victorians in pubs from 1 July 2007, and smoking in public or at work was banned in England the same day. This essay from The Monthly by Martin Flanagan prompted a Telstra board member and businessman to launch a surprise campaign against Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth focussing on the Tasmanian pulp mill, which Environment Minister Peter Garrett later gave the conditional go ahead to. He letterboxed 50,000 copies of the essay as part of the campaign. Echoing him was conservative Melbourne real estate magnate Bill McHarg who equipped a van with a loudspeaker which gave out kookaburra song, and painted it with slogans like ‘Planet First, Howard Last’. He said driving it around Bennelong was an affront to his dignity, but it had to be done.
A little blow to impunity was struck when General Peron’s wife Isabel (herself a former President of Argentina) was arrested in Spain on the order of an Argentine judge on charges relating to the disappearance of a human rights worker in 1976. The Venezualan National Assembly gave the colourful Hugo Chávez the power to rule by decree for 18 months, but his proposed changes to the Venezuelan constitution were narrowly defeated in a nationwide referendum. The Supreme Court of Chile ruled that former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori must be extradited to Peru to face charges of corruption and human rights abuse.
Korean relations thawed when at the Second Inter-Korean Summit Kim Jong-il gave his presidential guest Roh Moo-hyun $2.6 million worth (500 boxes) of a prized species of mushroom, a delicacy. The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum gave US$10 billion to an educational foundation in the Middle East which did not get a lot of press given it may have been the largest charitable donation in modern times.
Three hundred Melbourne lawyers finally got around to having a little protest outside the County Court about half a decade of detention without trial of an Australian citizen by our principal ally, and a grubby little plea bargain secured before the election the release from Guantanamo of the puffy shell of detainee 002, now known again as David Hicks, with a gag order and a bit of imprisonment lite (comparatively) with real criminals in South Australia until after the election. Once the election was over, Hicks finally got out of jail, but remains subject to a gag order which his lawyers have probably advised him is unenforceable but which he is respecting, apparently terrified of being thrown back into the alleged torture-lite chamber that was Guantanamo. Torture-lite, that is, as in waterboarding, which certain Americans call a ‘professional interrogation technique’. It induces the real terror of imminent death by drowning and involves flooding the lungs with water. It was favoured as a torture technique by the Spanish Inquisition and by the Khmer Rouge because it does not leave marks on the victim’s body. It is only spin, and a testament to its force, which gives rise to doubts about whether this is torture. FOI doesn’t seem to work to get professional interrogation technique manuals, so we don’t really know, but the former leader of the free world has probably been tying people to boards so that their head is angled downards and then pouring water down their nose while their head is wrapped in celophane. Since we are interested in professionals here on this blog, consider that doctors are said, by the anonymous www.waterboarding.com, to be on hand:
‘There’s an asphyxiation hazard, but modern interrogators have doctors on hand with blood oxygen monitors to make sure their subject stays oxygenated enough to remain conscious. If the prisoner begins to asphyxiate to the point of unconsciousness the doctors have five to six minutes to resuscitate your prisoner before brain damage occurs, which is more than enough time especially with the equipment prepped. … Doctors are present as “safety officers” to advise interrogators how long they can torture their prisoners without permanent physical damage. Doctors in the Guantanamo “Behavioral Science Consultation Team” have reviewed interrogation procedures, selected which procedures would be used, designed the procedures, and trained interrogators to follow them.’
An English doctor of Iraqi descent drove into the entrance of the main terminal of Glasgow International Airport, and the car exploded. No one died except a perpetrator (compare the other terrorist incidents this year, and how they slip from memory compared with this relative non-event against people like us). An attack on London the previous day was foiled. Of the seven suspects arrested other than Dr Haneef, 4 were doctors. The Federal Police arrested Bangalore doctor Mohammed Haneef, surely the politest alleged terrorist yet, as he was leaving Australia and held him under anti-terrorism laws. They wrongly believed, to Scotland Yard’s mirthful incredulity, that the sim card for a phone he had once used in England had been found in the burning car, and that Dr Haneef had once lived with a terrorism suspect. When the poverty of the prosecution case was revealed to a court, which granted bail, Dr Haneef’s visa was revoked and he was deported to India. The Federal Court, and then the Full Federal Court with renewed vigour said that the Minister’s decision was misconceived and illegal, so Dr Haneef got his visa back. Minister Andrews, a member of the Victorian Bar, showing great respect for the first-instance decision, said ‘As Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, I made the decision to cancel Dr Haneef’s visa in the national interest and I stand by that decision. It was the correct decision for the national interest and I believe that Justice Spender is wrong in his interpretation of the legislation.’
The must-have gadget was the GPS navigator, though elsewhere, it was Apple’s iPhone. Apple launched its Leopard operating system, and I can now include bulleted lists in emails. Roger Federer won Wimbledon for the fifth time in a row.
VCAT: Judge Harbison was appointed a Deputy President. President Morris resigned to go back to the Bar. Judge Bowman held the fort as Acting President. The Health Professions Registration Act, 2005 (Vic.) came into force on 1 July 2007, bringing decreased self-regulation, one omnibus statute regulating the various health professions, and a new original jurisdiction for VCAT.
War: There were lots of wars terrifying people this year. Terrible things kept on happening in Afghanistan, Darfur and Somalia. The medical journal, The Lancet, estimated that, by July 2006, 655,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the US-led invasion, including 601,000 whose deaths involved some form of violence. The number is now said by serious commentators to be 1.14 million, more people than died in the Rwandan genocide, and getting on for thrice the combined UK and Australian deaths in WWII (about 450,000 and 40,000 respectively). If these figures are right, it means that 25,000 odd Iraqis a month have been quietly dying unnaturally as a result of the war, or one every couple of seconds. 40% of Iraq’s professionals have fled the country, including one in every 3 doctors. 2,000 doctors have been murdered. (More money has been spent on the war than was spent in today’s dollars by the Allies rebuilding Germany after WWII in the Marshall Plan. America’s spending alone is almost $2 billion (2,000 million) a week, though it has to be said much of the spending has flowed back into the American economy. The American embassy has grown to nearly the size of the Vatican. And Saudi Arabia is planning a 900 km razor wire fence to keep out the 1.6 million people internally displaced by the war. Banksy must be miffed it’s not going to be a big concrete structure like the 700 km one the Israelis are finishing to keep the Palestinians in.)
Divinity is one of the ‘true professions’ according to the cases on whether professionals act in ‘trade or commerce’, along with medicine and the law. For some reason I find the slaughter of monks and the rape of nuns especially distateful. So pity the downtrodden Burmese this year. According to the press, most of them could think of nothing lovelier than being liberated by the US. But that does not seem to be on the agenda, despite the ready availability of a nice Oxford-educated girl doing a Nelson Mandela which would surely be good press for George Bush after Iraq if he could wave his wand and help her out of house arrest. Oil again. French oil company Chevron, branded Caltex in Australia, lobbies on behalf of the Orwellian government, formerly known as ‘the SLORC’, and pays the ignorant, brutal, superstitious, oligarchical slorcs that run the place half a billion Australian dollars a year from one oil project alone. The junta completed its move to a fantasyland capital in the jungle, probably on the advice of astrologers. It’s named Pyinmana.
The SLORC decided to double petrol prices, and the people rose up a little bit, led by the monks, which made for nice photos. Given what happened in 1988 (several thousand civilians, including monks were shot dead), this showed some courage. Who knows what really happened, but there are reports that the army came by the homes of slaughtered civilians and ‘purchased’ the corpses for $20 hush money before cremating them with the other, unidentified, dead (and, some reports say, the still-alive but badly injured — ouch!) after machine guns were deployed to sprinkle death on non-violent protesters. Pity the doctors, too, who were given orders not to treat the injured. And poor old Abbott of Mwe Kya Jan monastery in Rangoon. He had to watch his monks have their shaven heads pulped by being rammed by government thugs into a wall and then was himself beaten until he was dead, according to reports in The Times. Full credit to the dictators though for their unexpectedly clever use of the internet: they used the images being fed to the outside world clandestinely to identify the protesters, then marched into their homes at night and took them away to be tortured. Then they closed the internet down and blacked out the world’s media. At which point an impressive new very mainstream online human rights activist network, Avaaz — itself one of the interesting developments of 2007 — went to work and raised money to send an alternative media network in.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopia-Eritrea war over a patch of barren land on the border, likened to two bald men fighting over a comb, is on the brink of starting over again after an exhausting international law process produced a result, which was ignored. A quarter of a million troops are facing off against each other, literally. They are conscripts, and last time, there were 70,000 casualties. They and their families will have had a very ordinary Christmas, worrying that they are about to die.
The Nepalese decided to end their monarchy, so King Gyanendra will be the last, and the absurdity of the Chinese aiding a monarch against Maoist rebels will fade into the history books. King Gyanendra was not at the dinner in which Crown Prince Dipendra killed most of the family, and suspicion descended on Gyanendra because of the way the many relos with better claim to the throne were wiped out at once, but there doesn’t seem to have been anything in it. He was not as popular as King Birendra, and after almost 13,000 dead in the civil war, the monarchy was dispensed with to buy a continuation of the peace achieved in a fragile kind of way last year.
The most dramatic rule of law contest I have known occurred in Pakistan, our war on terror buddy, which, along with India, celebrated the 60th anniversary of independence from old Blighty. General Pervez Musharaf required Supreme Court judges to take an oath of office which in truth was a renunciation of their original oath to protect the constitution. One judge resigned in protest and put himself forward as an opponent in the Presidential Elections. Then he sued in the Supreme Court seeking a declaration that General Musharaf was not eligible as a Presidential candidate, since he was a member of the military. The election went ahead on 6 October but the Court enjoined the Electoral Commission from declaring the result pending the outcome of the case. In the evening of the day before the eve of the recommencement of the hearing, General Musharaf declared a state of emergency, on 3 November, and suspended the Constitution. The Pakistani Constitution allows the President to declare a state of emergency, but General Musharaf made the declaration in his capacity as Chief of the Armed Forces, and then did it his way, sending the army into the Supreme Court and locking up the judges. Lots of rallies and outrage in America’s legal community, but hardly a murmur in Australia’s, not that I noticed anyway. Perv then shut down the media, and put Benazir under house arrest ‘for her own safety’. He had a point as it turns out: she was assassinated the other day, and now in an example of dynasty going too far, her 19 year old son has stepped into the breach to lead the Pakistan People’s Party.
As a member of the International Commission of Jurists, an organisation partial to a bit of rule of law, I was privy to a letter written from a high level within Pakistan which recounted what happens when there are anti-terrorism laws in place when the going gets tough:
‘As you are aware, we are tragically facing yet another Martial Law in Pakistan and the stark governmental approach to any dissent and criticism of the same is shamelessly brutal. I narrowly escaped being picked up by the authorities after the police arrested, and detained for over forty-eight hours, 56 activists (including two of my colleagues from my university – Professor [name] – Head of the [faculty] Department and Mr. [name] – Advocate Supreme Court and [faculty]) who had peacefully assembled at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) office in Lahore. I have spent the last three days with others in bailing them out. Every single lawyer, N.G.O worker, politician, journalist, politically active academic and civil society member of note that one knows of has been arrested under special anti-terrorism laws and put away indefinitely. They are now arresting any and every lawyer on sight. The very liberal, progressive and educated elements in Pakistan that can help against the common cause of countering religious obscurantism and
militancy is currently facing the heat as the judiciary, lawyers, media people, human rights organization workers and educated professionals are being beaten up and presented before kangaroo courts under baseless charges and through ad hoc procedures. More than 60% of the appellate judiciary is under house arrest and all independent as well as international channels
have been blocked. The protests are being organized through internet, phones and word of mouth and anyone who is remotely likely to, capable of, or suspecting of organizing any resistance, is being hounded. Some have gone under ground and others are not sleeping in their homes any more. We had mass protests earlier this year when the Supreme Court Chief Justice had been illegally removed by Musharraf but the protestors at least had the confidence that there was a judiciary and media to lend them protection. All that has been stamped out and we have a completely lawless society now with a draconian writ being forced on any one who cares to differ.’