Wednesday 17 February 2010

"The proposition by Mr Hulls is an affront in itself"

Two months ago the Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls snuck in immediately before Christmas a major change in Victoria’s legal system - without any public discussion. From 1st January 2010, criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the Director of Public Prosecutions, rather than The Queen. Even a republican lawyer raised concerns about the changes.

But what is the Victorian Parliament saying? Labor MP Ann Barker, who represents the constituency where the RadicalRoyalist lives and works, echoes Rob Hulls’ claims:
“This change more accurately reflects the way in which criminal proceedings are currently conducted in Victoria, as the Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for instituting, preparing and conducting indictable criminal proceedings on behalf of the Crown.

“Removing the reference to
“The Queen” is consistent with the spirit and purpose of the Act and the Government’s commitment to modernising the criminal justice system.”

Ted Baillieu, the Leader of the Opposition in the Victorian Parliament, answered the RadicalRoyalist’s letter, but only to inform him, that he has no opinion of his own on this matter.
I appreciate your concerns about this decision and its potential effects on the legal process in Victoria.

“I have passed a copy of your letter to
Robert Clark MLA, Shadow Attorney-General, for his information and consideration of your comment.”

A very different response came from Peter Ryan MLA, Leader of The Nationals:
“The Attorney-General Rob Hulls is to be condemned for his proposal to replace reference to The Queen with that of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Robert Clark, our Shadow Attorney-General, has already made comment to that effect.

“I practised law for about 17 years before coming to politics. The proposition by Mr
Hulls is an affront in itself. The more so, since he should busy himself about the multitude of issue which face Victorians in matters of law and order and the operations of the justice system at large.”

Shadow Attorney-General Robert Clark may have made comments about Rob Hulls’ dictated changes, but he has – so far – not made them known to the RadicalRoyalist. Two months after the announcement, the major political opposition party's point of view on this matter is still not known. There is nothing on his website either.

May be the Liberal Party in Victoria should adopt a perception of the federal Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott, that an opposition should oppose the government. Especially when the government's measure work against the judicial traditions of this country.

Monday 15 February 2010

The Queen's special Australian Anniversary

When in Australia, The Queen is able to undertake some of the ceremonial roles of the Sovereign. On 16th February 1954, for example, The Queen opened the third session of the 20th National Parliament in Canberra, wearing the gown she had worn for Her Coronation the previous year.

The National Museum of Australia describes this event with enthusiasm:
"One of the most eagerly anticipated events was the opening of Parliament in Canberra. For this The Queen wore her white satin coronation gown which was flown from London at a cost of 75 pounds. Even though the gown was specially packed for the journey, it still took three days to iron the wrinkles out!
"The Queen looked magnificent in her sunray fringe tiara and heavily embroidered gown in the solemn setting of the Senate Chamber."
On 15th February 1954 Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen of Australia, became the first reigning Australian Monarch to visit and open the Federal Parliament. As well as opening Parliament she unveiled the Australian-American Memorial at Russell. Her visit highlighted the ceremonial role of Canberra as the national capital.

The National Museum of Australia summed the Royal visit up by putting it into the historic perspective:
"In political terms, the particular relevance of The Queen's first visit was set by the Statute of Westminster, issued in 1931. Prompted by the governments of Canada and South Africa, the Statute gave the Dominions of the British Empire the chance to establish themselves as independent nations of equal status to Britain. This formal independence changed the role of the Crown, which now became the foremost symbol of unity among the independent peoples of the British Commonwealth. However, successive Australian governments did not see fit to ratify the Statute until 1942, when British power east of Suez had collapsed at Singapore and the fear of Japanese invasion gripped the Australian nation.

"Official war artist
[Sir] Ivor Hele was given the opportunity of a lifetime when he was commissioned to paint The Queen opening the third session of the twentieth Parliament on 15 February 1954. [Sir Ivor], an artist with a strong sense of history and a talent for portraiture, was ideally suited for the commission.

"The 1954 visit gave Australians the chance to the reconnect with Britain and for Britain to witness scenes of loyalty from Australia

The Diamond Jubilee provides the perfect opportunity for The Queen to open the Parliament of Australia again.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Surprise, surprise

John Warhurst, senior deputy chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, came to the rescue of the Murdoch media’s failed attempt to cause a stir.

The Australian was his familiar platform to accuse “opponents and Buckingham Palace of ‘muddying the waters’. ‘The position is inherently complicated, and Australians will find it hard to believe that we don't actually have an Australian as head of state,’ Warhurst said.”

Well, as explained here, The Queen of Australia is of course Australian, just as she is Canadian, Barbadian or Jamaican.

We do need to remind republicans that the Queen is a symbol of multiculturalism and multi-nationalism. As it seems, republicans have great difficulties with that concept.

Friday 12 February 2010

Murdoch media create a storm in a tea cup

The united media power of News Corporation tried to create what they may consider “a scandal” (which would, of course, result in higher sales of the Murdoch papers).

The Australian, the HeraldSun and Sky News and probably some other papers came out this Friday with headlines like: Aussies Ask: Is The Queen Still In Charge?

Well, do they really ask? How bizarre that nobody else but Murdoch’s media noticed it. Sky News:

Australians are wondering exactly who is head of state in the latest twist to the debate over whether the country should ditch the monarchy and become a republic.

The trigger, that brought these headlines was a press release of Buckingham Palace of 22nd January 2010. Yes, it took the Murdoch press three weeks to find their scoop.
22 January 2010
The Queen to address the United Nations Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, will visit the United Nations in New York where The Queen will address the UN General Assembly on the 6th July, 2010.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will arrive that day from Canada, where Her Majesty will have undertaken a Royal Visit as Queen of Canada from the 28th June – 6th July.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will depart for London on the evening of the 6th July.

The Queen addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 1957.

The Queen will address the UN as the Head of State of the United Kingdom and 15 other United Nations member states. As well as the United Kingdom, The Queen is the Head of State of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

The Queen is Head of the Commonwealth, an association of 54 nations, all of which are also United Nations member states.
The Australian newspaper concluded: Following the triumphant tour of Australia by its potential future king, Prince William, the Queen has reasserted her claim on the title "head of state" of Australia by using it in the announcement of her address to the UN in July.

"The trigger for the confusion is the announcement by
Buckingham Palace that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be addressing the UN General Assembly in July as Australia's "head of state", a statement that has taken Canberra's diplomats, officials and constitutional combatants by surprise.

"Asked by
The Australian yesterday to answer questions about her forthcoming UN address and Australia's input, a spokesman for Mr Rudd said: 'Australia's head of state is HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented by the Governor-General HE Ms Quentin Bryce AC. The government is aware of the plan for the Queen to address the United Nations.

"'The Queen's speech is a matter for the Queen, but Australia will ensure the Queen is aware of Australia's views in advance of the speech.'"

These information come hardly as a surprise, which is why no other media except those of Murdoch’s empire have taken up the story.

Bad luck, Mr. Murdoch, your spin doctors have failed to trigger a new debate about Australia’s Constitutional Monarchy.

Certainly, he will set them at work again and try to push his republican agenda in the hope of improving the sale figures for his papers or the hit numbers on their websites.
Islamic republican justice system

The Los Angeles Times managed to interview the solicitor of Arash Rahmanipour. The young man was executed on 28th January 2010 along with fellow Monarchist Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani (37).

“Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh (46) is filled with rage over the treatment of her client, 20-year-old Arash Rahmanipour, who was not defended in court and then was quietly put to death.”

"The defendant met with his lawyer once for 15 minutes before he was sentenced to death and hanged.

"When the lawyer complained to authorities, they ignored her. When she tried to enter the courtroom where he was being tried, they threatened her with arrest. And when she spoke out publicly at what she described as a gross miscarriage of justice, they shut off her cellphone.

"Rahmanipour was arrested in April, weeks before the disputed June presidential election and the mass protests that erupted afterward. Nonetheless, he was tried during the mass court proceedings against opposition supporters last fall and sentenced to death on charges of being a mohareb, someone who takes up arms against God.

"After the sentence was read out in court,
Rahmanipour pulled himself together, Sotoudeh said. He wrote a letter to his father, Davoud, describing himself as Arash the Archer, a character from Persian legend, who stretched the string of his bow to send an arrow to the farthest distance, sacrificing himself for his nation.

"Immediately after an appeals court upheld the conviction three months later, he was executed.

"At noon,
Rahmanipour's father called Sotoudeh. To her surprise, he spoke hopefully about visiting his son that day. They had spoken Monday, and Rahmanipour had told him he'd be allowed to see his parents on Thursday.

"He had no idea that his son had been executed hours earlier."

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Exemplary Republics

A very republican speciality in a run off between two candidates for the presidential palace: The loser is arrested by the winner.

This is no tale out of the history books, but that has happened this week in Sri Lanka.

The office holder Mahinda Rajapakse had the rival presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka arrested. It sounds like a fabricated story that the Sri Lankan government has told the public: “He was detained on suspicion of committing 'military offences' and will face a military court.” Fonseka has previously been accused of plotting both a coup and to assassinate President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family. Mano Ganesan, a Tamil-speaking MP meeting Fonseka at the time, said the retired general was dragged away "like a dog" and assaulted.

It is difficult to judge the accusations from Australia, but they sound as if revenge was taken by a president who could not accept the fact that he was challenged and perhaps even beaten in an election.

A Sri Lankan blogger called the situation of his country Zimbabwefication. Nothing could describe the situation better than this term.

On the other side of the planet, in Ukraine, a similar situation occurred. Russia's preferred candidate in the Ukrainian presidential race, Viktor Yanukovich, seems to have won last Sunday’s elections with 48 percent of the votes cast. Defeated rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, trailed behind him by three percentage points. However, she refused to concede defeat, despite appeals for her to do so by Mr Yanukovich and European election monitors. Weeks of demonstrations lie ahead of Ukraine. Will Ms Tymoskeno end up in prison?

Republican regimes provide no higher authority to which people can turn to in case of doubtful elections. In Constitutional Monarchies there’s always the impartial umpire who is above party politics who guarantees fair play.

Sunday 7 February 2010

Shirin Ebadi: "Arash's crime was being a member of a monarchist group"

Shirin Ebadi, 62, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her long career as a human rights lawyer in Iran. She spoke to The Sunday Telegraph during a stay in London. She answered Angus McDowall's questions concerning the execution of Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani (37) and Arash Rahmanipour (19) on 28th January 2010 (as reported here).

The Sunday Telegraph: Did the protesters who were sentenced to death in Iran receive fair trials?

Shirin Ebadi: The recent executions in Iran were not justified and I'm totally against it.

One of those executed was
Arash, who was only 19 years old. In court he said he had taken part in the demonstrations after the elections. And he mentioned that he was part of a royalist group. The lawyer of Arash is a member of one of the legal non-governmental organisations in Iran. His lawyer has said several times that Arash was arrested two months before the election.

His interrogators promised that if he agreed to everything in court, he would be freed. In fact he wrongly confessed to taking part in the demonstrations, but it wasn't true.

On his trial day his solicitor wasn't allowed to appear in court. Another lawyer was then chosen by the court instead. They even threatened his solicitor outside the court, saying that if he tried to take part in the trial he would be arrested. Then they issued a death sentence to the young man.

In the appeal court, the lawyer only got permission to visit
Arash for 15 minutes. It was at that meeting that Arash told the lawyer why he confessed. Considering that the date of his arrest was two months prior to the elections, his lawyer objected formally to the death penalty. But unfortunately the appeal court did not accept her objections and quickly issued a death penalty.

Without any legal procedures or informing the family, the young man was executed.

In fact, his real crime was being a member of a monarchist group - he did not take part in the demonstrations.

But the government wants to create an atmosphere of fear, to stop people taking part in any more demonstrations. I'm so sad and sorry that they issued the death penalty. I also think the same about the others. Their only crime is that they said they did not accept the election.

The Sunday Telegraph: Are you in any danger from the regime?

Shirin Ebadi: I've never been contacted by the regime directly. But they contacted my family and friends and said 'wherever she is, we can get rid of her'.

I don't take the threat seriously. If people want to do something they don't talk about it beforehand. Their main aim is to scare me off doing my work properly.

Obviously, I don't want to make my enemies happy, so I continue with my work inside the law.

They threatened my husband and my sister that if I continue with my work they will arrest both of them. My sister was detained for three weeks. They were not tortured physically, but to arrest people because of something someone else has done is a form of emotional torture.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

The Queen may attend the 150th Melbourne Cup

Last week the Vice-Regal Notes on the website of Her Majesty’s Representative in the State of Victoria, the Governor of Victoria, had an interesting note.

On Saturday 30th January 2010 it registered: The Right Honourable Christopher Geidt, CVO, OBE, Private Secretary to Her Majesty The Queen, arrived to stay at Government House.

This is not unusual, but considering Premier John Brumby’s meeting with his Queen at Balmoral Castle in October 2009 and his declaration after the audience, that he had invited The Queen to attend to 150th Melbourne Cup in November 2010, a visit of Her Majesty’s Private Secretary cannot be considered a coincidence.

On 2nd February Victorian Racing Minister Rob Hulls, who with his other hat as the state’s Attorney-General had decreed a month ago that The Queen will be replaced by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Victoria’s legal system, refused to reveal to The Age whether or not The Queen had been invited to attend Australia's premier horse race.

"I know that the Queen is a great racing fan, and I honestly don't know whether or not she has any plans to come here," he told reporters. It was “up to her” if she wanted to attend the 150th Melbourne Cup he stumbled into the TV cameras.

As if she would fly to Melbourne just because she wanted to see a good horse race. But who would expect a nice and friendly invitation by someone with the freezing charms of Rob Hulls?
">The Queen received Her Victorian Premier on 5th October 2009.

Monday 1 February 2010

The Portuguese have to celebrate the republic - if they can afford or want it or not

The European TV channel euronews reported from Lisbon: "Portugal has begun huge celebrations marking 100 years since the collapse of the country’s monarchy".

The beginning of the ominous festivities collides with the 102nd anniversary of the Assassination of the Portuguese King and Crown Prince.

On 1st February 1908 King Carlos I. and Crown Prince Luis Filipe were murdered in Lisbon.

The impoverished EU member is forced to waste more money on state exhibitions; theatre plays and concerts that are among the myriad of cultural events the country will be hosted to commemorate the republic’s implementation, euronews said.

According to euronews Portugal’s President Anibal Cavaco Silva said he hoped the events would act as a catalyst for change and inspire people with the values held dear by the revolutionists 100 years ago.

What "values"? The assassination of the King and Crown Prince was followed by the loss of the Monarchy and decades of civil unrest, anarchy and dictatorship.