I notice the headline and the focus of the story have changed since I first saw the article. I guess the SMH fears Howard more than they fear Amnesty.
Anyway, the headline is now ‘Amnesty claims a shoddy caricature, PM says’.
And the lead in:
“Prime Minister John Howard has robustly defended his government against claims by Amnesty International that it is as divisive as Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
The human rights pressure group has accused Mr Howard of portraying asylum-seekers as a threat to national security.
In a report released overnight, it also criticised Australia’s role in the war on terror and its treatment of female victims of violence.
Amnesty secretary-general Irene Khan said the fear generated by leaders such as Mr Howard “thrives on myopic and cowardly leadership”.
Ms Khan lumped Mr Howard in with Mr Mugabe, US President George W Bush and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir in a paragraph about leaders who used fear to suit their political agenda.”
I like what Howard’s done here:
“In statement today, Mr Howard rejected the way Australia was characterised in the Amnesty report.”
They weren’t characterising Australia, you blockhead, they were characterising you.
But Amnesty weren’t taking it:
Ms Khan stood by her comments today, accusing the Howard government of having an “appalling” domestic human rights record regarding its treatment of asylum seekers and indigenous people.
These failures had undermined its good work overseas
“I believe many Australians will be as offended by this report as I am”
Not if they’ve got any sense, they won’t. Living in Europe gives me far too clear-sighted a vision of the damage Howard has done to Australia’s reputation overseas.
Final word to Amnesty:
Ms Khan also urged Australian voters to think about giving others a “fair go” at this year’s election.