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Open Letter & List of Signatories

In February 2011, a letter (displayed below) was circulated to high profile Australian’s and organisations to gain support for an inquiry into David Hicks’ case. Attorney-General Robert McClelland condemned the Howard Government for supporting the Military C0mmissions process, and called for an investigation into allegations of torture back in 2003. The letter is asking the Attorney-General to follow through on his past comments since he is now in a position where he can make things right.

We extend thanks to the individuals and organisations who became signatories to this letter. We also acknowledge and thank the countless others who support an independent and open investigation into David Hicks’ case, including Sydney Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, Dick Smith AO, Clover Moore MP, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First.

An invitation was sent to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Attorney General Robert McClelland to personally receive the letters during the campaign launch on the 13th May 2011, however, Prime Minster Gillard had other commitments, and the Attorney-General did not respond.

We continue to welcome the opportunity to discuss these matters in person with Prime Minister Gillard or the Hon Robert McClelland.

13th May 2011

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House

Dear Prime Minister,

We welcome your announcement that Mamdouh Habib has been compensated for his three years of illegal imprisonment in Egypt and Guantanamo Bay and that there will be an investigation into his torture. However, there is another Australian that the Government seems to have forgotten. He too was abducted and detained on several US military bases, and tortured in Guantanamo Bay. David Hicks was held for six years, the last seven months with the cooperation of the former Howard Government in an Australian prison. David Hicks recounted many stories in his book which was sent to you, but there are some in particular that stand out in our minds; him being sodomised with a plastic implement, the brutal beatings, some that lasted 10 hours and broke his bones, the feeling of being spat on by US marines until it webbed on his fingers, and the humiliation of being photographed hooded and naked. The majority of David’s time in Guantanamo was spent in isolation; there was one point where he did not see the sun for around 12 months. He had censored contact with family, he was not allowed to receive letters that conveyed any love or concern.

In 2003, Robert McClelland called for an investigation into the allegations of David’s torture. Eight years later, and David’s treatment is still being ignored and justice is still not served. Instead your government is investigating him under the proceeds of crime legislation; giving the false impression that a crime was committed. David Hicks has not broken any Australian law- this was even admitted by John Howard himself.

Your government is denying justice to one of its citizens, just as the Howard government denied him help when he most needed it. David still lives with an illegal conviction, obtained under coercion in a military commission deemed ‘fatally flawed’ by President Obama himself.
You now have the opportunity to make this right. We ask you earnestly: please take all necessary steps to ensure an independent and open investigation into David’s torture and illegal conviction.

With hope,

  • The Hon John Dowd AO QC – President of the ICJ Australia
  • The Hon Elizabeth A Evatt AC – Former Commissioner for Human Rights and Federal Court Judge
  • Dr Manfred Nowak – Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and professor International Law and Human Rights Vienna University
  • Dr John Pace – Visiting fellow, Centre for Human Rights and Former Secretary of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
  • Julian Burnside AO QC – Barrister, Human Rights and Asylum Seeker Advocate
  • Dr Spencer Zifcak – on behalf of Liberty Victoria
  • Stephen J. Keim – President of the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
  • James Cavallaro – Executive Director of the Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School
  • Dr Danielle Celermajer – Director Asia Pacific Master of Human Rights and Democratisation Sydney University
  • Greg Barns – Barrister and writer, Director of the Australian Lawyers Alliance
  • Michael Ratner – President of the Centre for Constitutional Rights
  • Dr Ben Saul – Co-director Sydney Centre for International Law
  • Philip Lynch – Executive Director of Human Rights Law Resource Centre
  • Kate Eastman – Barrister and co-founder of the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
  • Dr Kristine Klugman – President, Civil Liberties Australia
  • Michael Cope – President and on behalf of the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties
  • Brandon Neely – former US soldier and Guantanamo Bay guard
  • Albert Melise – US Army Reservist and former Guantanamo Bay guard
  • Amnesty International Australia
  • Andrew Wilkie MP – Independent Federal Member for Denison
  • Senator Adam Bandt MP – Australian Greens Senator for Victoria
  • Senator Sarah Hanson-Young MP – Australian Greens Senator for South Australia
  • Senator Scott Ludlam MP – Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia
  • Cameron Murphy – on behalf of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties
  • Malcom Tulloch – Secretary of Construction Division of the CFMEU
  • Rev. Elenie Poulos - Director of Uniting Justice Australia
  • Most Rev Christopher Saunders – Chairperson of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
  • Ikebal Adam Patel – President Muslims Australia, Australian Federation of Islamic Councils Inc.
  • Rev. Bill Crews AM – Creator and Director of the Exodus Foundation
  • Rev. Graham Long – Pastor and Chief Executive of the Wayside Chapel
  • Phil Glendenning – Director of the Edmund Rice Centre
  • Pat McGorry – 2010 Australian of the Year
  • Witness Against Torture
  • John Pilger – Sydney Peace Prize recipient, journalist and filmmaker
  • Dr. Jake Lynch – Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Mary Kostakidis – Board Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation
  • Stuart Rees – Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation
  • Kellie Tranter – Lawyer and human rights activist

Since the letter has been sent, others have joined the list;

  • Jeremy Sear – Barrister
  • Hamish Dyson – Musician and Educator
  • Debra Sheehan – Freelance Copy Editor (UK)
  • Rowan Cahill – Historian and Author
  • Richard Brent – Computer Scientist and Mathematician

If you would like to add your name, it’s not too late! Email us at

Other letters by individuals and organisations who support the investigation have also been sent to the Prime Minister, click here to view some of them.