An Open Letter To Julie Bishop

Dear Ms Bishop,

I am writing you as a concerned Australian regarding the Australian Federal Police’s support & training of police in the Philippines.

As you are no doubt aware the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, has been encouraging and aiding police and citizens in the extra judicial killing and imprisoning of people who are suspected of being drug users or selling drugs.

Unlike a controlled, fair judicial system there is no innocent until proven guilty, nor is there any impartial oversight. It is a campaign run on rumours, revenge and allows individuals to paint targets on the families and community members they may not like.

I am deeply troubled that not only have you not firmly spoken out in opposition to this drastic, callous and brutal campaign, but that Australia is condoning it explicitly by continuing to provide support and training to the Philippines’ police force.

I would ask you to consider the lives of hundreds of thousands of people – many innocent, many simply using illicit drugs as we might consume alcohol. I can not imagine any crime that would warrant the complete suspension of basic human rights, let alone how anyone could stand by while such cruelty is meted out to those who are in need of help, or who are harming no-one.

As for those who are dealing widely: there are no reports of so called “Mr Big” dealers facing justice. In all likelihood they are being protected by the very police we are training, the very police who are using drug use and this ‘crackdown’ as an excuse to thin out problem communities or seek revenge on those they dislike.

I am begging you to take a stand, Ms Bishop. There is a moral imperative – we must be engaged in our region, and be seen to be supporting all people in fair and humane treatment.

I eagerly await your response, and hope you can convince your colleagues that something must be done about this.