Archive for April, 2015


ANZAC Day Not for Faggots and Towelheads

australian-christian-lobby-tell-me-more-about-ho

by Geoff Lemon

[This piece is a few years old, but age has not wearied its sentiment.]

At least, not according to the Australian Christian Lobby. Sure, their main man Jim Wallace used slightly more careful language, but that was the sentiment of what he said. “Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!” was the thoughtful missive he left via Twitter on the 25th.

I generally couldn’t give two shits in a waffle cone what people have to say on Twitter, the place where relevance goes to pick out its funeral clothes in pale blue. But once in a while you get something juicy, someone reposts it, and suddenly giant kerfuffles are exploding over everyone. (They’re kind of like soufflés.)

Generally, also like soufflés, these are massive beat-ups: think Nir Rosen, Catherine Deveny, that poor bloody lady with the horse. But Wallace has more reason for contrition than most. Aside from the fact that most of the towelheads and faggots could demolish him in a grammar challenge, his opinions (which he may have extensively pondered) only reinforce the ill-thought-out prejudices of thousands of other people. At least, they do once they make it onto the evening news.

Wallace said he would stand by his comment “if people read it in the right context and realise I’m not slurring gays. I have a lot of friends and associates who are gays, in fact one even tweeted me last night…” That must’ve been an illicit thrill, Jim. So, not slurring gays, you just don’t think they should have the same rights as proper normal people. Ok, check.

He went on to explain that this revelation of his came about after sitting with his father, a veteran of Tobruk and Milne Bay, who said that he didn’t recognise this Australia as being the one he fought for. Thought Jim, it was a good time to make a statement about our Judeo-Christian heritage, despite the fact that most of Australia these days is about as Christian as a bag of wet socks.

The extra-bad taste in the mouth from all this, though, is his invocation of the ANZACs to back up his point. We shouldn’t have gay marriage because ‘the ANZACs’ didn’t fight for that. We should keep an eye on dodgy Muslims because ‘the ANZACs’ sure as hell didn’t fight for them either. It was in the same vein as a particularly lunk-headed individual named Mick (natch), commenting on my pokies article, that restrictions on people’s gambling meant “the anzacs would be turning in their graves.”

To quote another commenter’s rejoinder, “Everyone loves making the ANZACs say what they want them to. They’re kind of like Jesus like that.”

And spot on. As recent years have ticked by, I’ve increasingly come to loathe ANZAC Day. Not the soldiers it honours, but the modern way of supposedly honouring them. Before you get all down on me for my disrespect, check my credentials. Through high school, my uni major, and my honours year, I specialised in Australian First and Second World War history. I’ve read dozens of biographies and memoirs by servicemen, interviewed WWII vets, and spent countless hours in archives here, in Canberra, and in Singapore. I spent a year in Thailand and Borneo researching prisoner-of-war camps, walked across northern Borneo to retrace a forced march of Aussie soldiers, then drove back and forth several more times to follow up on leads. I wrote a book of poems based on the stories I found, and I’ve done readings from it in all kinds of places to try and make sure those stories are heard. My best mate since primary school is an infantry corporal. I probably have a more direct emotional connection to that history than just about anyone who now chooses to invoke its name when April rolls around.

The fact that I do care so much is why ANZAC Days have increasingly become a time to cringe. It’s the resurgent nationalism and mythologising championed by Keating and Howard. Sentimental crud like ‘the ANZAC spirit’, gets thrown around by every chump with a lectern. People get tagged with it for playing football. The modern understanding of the phrase makes it more and more synonymous with a kind of Aussie boganeering. Thousands of young Australians go to Gallipoli to pay their respects by getting shitfaced, watching rock concerts, unrolling their sleeping bags on the graves of the dead, and fucking off the next day leaving the place completely trashed for the Turks to clean up. Much like 1915, but with a bit more piss. It’s a short step from this ‘spirit’ to the Aussie pride that saw flags tied on as capes down at Cronulla a few years ago. It seems to appeal to the same demographic that have made “Fuck off, we’re full” such a big seller down at Bumper Sticker Bonanza.

The most recent dawn service I went to sounded more like a school assembly, with the officially-voted Most Boring Prick on Earth conducting the service, then the tokenism of some Year 12 from an all-girl private school reading us her revelations after a trip to Gallipoli. The same myth-heavy sacred-worship shite. The ANZACs were this, the ANZACs were that. No, Hannah Montana. The ANZACs were a bunch of different people. The ANZACs weren’t one thing. ‘They’ didn’t believe in this or that, ‘they’ didn’t have these characteristics. They were a group of individuals.

The sanctity shtick is also popular with politicians who want to push a particular view. But the use and misuse of that history is the topic of my next post, which is an actual essay (as opposed to rant) on that subject. Yes, an essay. The internet will fall over when someone posts more than 500 words in one hit. Mind you, the 5000-worder I wrote on Balibo is one of the most popular entries on this site, so, give this a shake. I promise it’s interesting.

All of which brings us, bereft of a segue, back to Mr Wallace. His Twitter post, he said, “was a comment on the nature of the Australia [his father] had fought for, and the need to honour that in the way we preserve it into the future.”

So let me just make sure I’ve got this, Jim. Because soldiers fought and died in 1943, we need to maintain the values they had in 1943. Or do we maintain the values of the ones who fought in 1945? But hang on, they fought and died in 1915 as well… and 1914. So do we wind our values back to then? Do we bring back the Australia Party and the Northern Territory Chief Protector of Aborigines?

Let’s settle on the 1940s in general – Milne Bay and all that. And look at the values of the 1940s. This was an era when it was ok to smack your wife around a bit if she gave you lip. If you went too hard on her too often, then people might tut disapprovingly, like they did with a bloke who kicked his dog. But the odd puffy cheek was nothing to be remarked upon.

This was an era when women were supposed to show respect to men as the heads of the households and their natural superiors.

This was an era when you could pretty casually rape a girl who ended up somewhere alone with you, because if she’d got herself into that situation she was probably asking for it. Girls who said no or changed their minds were just playing hard to get. You know women, right? So fickle, so flighty. It was an era when the Australian occupation troops sent to Japan post-war were involved in the consistent rapes of Japanese women. Not traumatised vengeful former combatants, mind you, but fresh recruits, straight out of training.

This was an era when capital punishment was legal, and conscription was encouraged. This was an era when dodgy foreigners were kept out of the country by being made to sit a test in a language of the examiner’s choosing. Oh, you don’t speak Aramaic? Sorry, you failed. This was an era when Aboriginals weren’t recognised as people. Despite having been here when everyone else rocked up, they weren’t even given citizenship till 1967. Twenty-two years after the war had ended.

Were these the values that our Aussie heroes fought and died for too? Or were these not-so-good values, ones that we can discard? Where’s the distinction, Jim? Where do your values end and your values begin?

Well, guess what. I don’t want to live in the 1940s. I don’t want to live in 1918. I don’t want to brush off Vietnam, Korea, Malaya, because they were morally ambiguous. I don’t want to be part of a culture that makes people saints. I want to respect them for being people. I don’t want to live in a society where people are encouraged to hate each other, either. That kind of hatred is one of the most corrosive things in existence.

When I was in Year 9, I went to a boarding school for a year with this kid named Chris Millet. Word on the street was that he was gay. It was never clear why – I don’t think he even was. The story was along the lines of him being dared to touch another kid’s dick in the change room, and doing it to impress the tougher kids daring him. Presumably it was a set-up, and from that moment on he was branded “faggot”. I don’t mean that kids called him a faggot. I mean that they flat out swore that he was a faggot. And to 14-year-old boys there was nothing more terrifying in the world, nor so potentially destructive to one’s social standing. Millet was a fag, the lowest of the low, and in all my years I have yet to witness anyone treated in such a consistently awful fashion.

Chris Millet was bastardised and ostracised for that entire year. He was mocked, reviled, heckled, and spat at as a matter of course, the mere sight of him passing by enough to prompt a volley of abuse. Some of it was the comic genius of teenage boys (“Bums to the wall, Millet’s on the crawl!”), but usually it was just plain old invective. A big country kid, quiet and thoughtful, he just bowed his broad shoulders and kept on walking. We lived in small dorms of sixteen kids apiece; he was socially frozen out of his. His size meant not many would risk straight-out assaults, but he was routinely pushed and whacked and scuffled with; his belongings stolen, broken, or sabotaged; clothes and bed dirtied or thrown around the dorm; fair game for anyone, anytime. He ate alone, sat in class alone, walked the paths of the school alone. Even the nerdiest of the nerds only associated with him by default. He had no recourse, beyond reach and beyond help.

Even then, I was sickened by it. Even then, I could see that the fear was irrational, like being scared of catching AIDS from a handshake. Even then, I wanted to reject it. But I rarely had contact with Chris. He was in a different dorm, different activities, different classes. It was impossible not to know who he was, but our paths seldom crossed. Whenever they did, walking around school, I would smile and say hello. It was nothing, but more than he got from most people. It still felt so useless, though, that all I could offer was “Hey, Chris.” An actual smile and the sound of his real name. I don’t know if he ever noticed, but I did.

And while I wanted to do more, it was dangerous. I was a new kid that year, only just managing to fit in. Awkward, strange, providing the kind of comic relief that was mostly jester or dancing chimp. Even though I was sickened, I couldn’t seek him out to talk to, or it would have been obvious. There was the risk his personal opprobrium could have deflected onto me. I felt like a coward, but couldn’t see a way out. Even talking was dicey. One day I said hello to Chris while a kid from my dorm was walking with me. “What’s going on there?” said Will as we continued up the road. “Are you and Millet special friends?” And while he was mostly taking the piss there was still an edge to it; I could still sense that moment balancing, the risk that if he decided to push the topic with others around, it could easily tip the wrong way.

That school was tough. We spent three days a week hiking – proper stuff, 30-kilo packs, heavy old gear, 30-kilometre days through the Vic Alps. More than one stretch of mountains I crossed crying, or trying not to, or bent double, crawling up slopes with hands as well as feet. Other times I was painfully homesick, weeks spent with just the indifference of other kids and the professional distance of teachers. No phones, no internet, no way home. Physical exhaustion and isolation.

It was one of the hardest years of my life. The small group of friends I made were the one blessing that meant it could be borne. And that was exactly the thing that Chris Millet didn’t have. I cannot imagine how he made it through that year alone. Not just alone, but in the face of constant and targeted aggression. I would have buckled and gone home broken.

The last night of that year, there was a big get-together in the dining hall. When it was over I left the building looking for one person. I wandered around till I spotted him, that round-shouldered trudge, a fair way off up the hill towards his dorm. I don’t know if he was a great guy underneath it all. We never even had a proper conversation. He was just a big, quiet kid, brutalised into shyness. But I did know he didn’t deserve what he’d got. I ran up the hill after him and called out, and when he stopped, looking back a little hesitantly, I jogged up and shook his hand. “Congratulations on surviving the year,” I said. And I hope he understood how much I meant it.

That wasn’t the 1940s. That was the 1990s. And I don’t doubt you could find similar instances today. It’s attitudes like Jim Wallace’s that give legitimacy to the kind of reflex hatred that was thrown at that kid all those years ago. It’s attitudes like Wallace’s that legitimise dudes throwing molotovs at mosques in Sydney because something blew up in Bali.

And that shit doesn’t just go away. Dealing with homophobia isn’t a matter of surviving your awkward adolescence to find the inner-urban Greens-voting world has become yours to enjoy. Not every gay man gets to flower into Benjamin Law’s dashing-young-homosexual-about-town persona. Some are awkward and nervous and clumsy and just plain uncharismatic. And the kind of damage done by that early hatred will stay with them for good.

Memo: Jim Wallace. Relax. Gay marriage does not entitle hordes of faggots to come round to your house and fuck you in the mouth. At least, not without your express consent. I kinda wish they would, because at least that might shut you up, but it’s not going to happen. So what exactly is your problem? None of this legislation has any effect on your life whatsoever. Your only connection is that it makes you uncomfortable from a distance. And guess what, champ? That doesn’t give you the right to have a say. Take a pew, Jim.

As for citing ‘Anzac values’, or however you want to phrase it, it’s a rolled-gold furphy. There was no charter of mutual ideology at the recruitment office, in any of our wars. Reasons for joining up were as varied and individual as the men themselves. You have no right to start designating what those men believed.

But if you want to boil things down to the basic principle on which the war was fought – the national political principle – it was that smaller and weaker powers should not be dominated by larger ones. It was that men (and yes, it was men) should have the right to determine their own form of government, and reap the rewards of their own lands. It was (putting aside the attendant hypocrisy of the Allies’ colonial pasts) that Germany had no right to push around Poland or Czechoslovakia, and Japan no right to stand over China or Korea. It was that those people should live free, and free from fear.

Australians deserve to live free from fear too. There were nearly a million Aussie servicemen and women in WWII. Stands to reason more than a few of them were gay, even if they didn’t admit it. How could they have, when most of the population would have regarded them as either criminal, deviant, disgusting, or mentally ill? How about the 70s or 80s, when gays starting to live more openly were bashed and killed in parks and streets? Or the Sudanese kid bashed to death in Melbourne a couple of years ago? How do you feel being a Lakemba Muslim when racial tensions start heating up? Living your life in fear doesn’t only apply to warzones.

Australian soldiers fought and died in 1943. Australian soldiers fought and died in 2011, too. And in 2010, and in 2009. So what about protecting the values they represented? Like the freedom to be yourself and love you who want. The freedom to practice your religion in peace. Values like a tolerance of difference. What about protecting a society where warmth and kindness and generosity of spirit are promoted ahead of distrust, segregation and disapproval? I’d like to live in a society like that. I might even be prepared to fight for it.

Because guess what, Jim? Faggots and towelheads are people too. And in a society that still calls them faggots and towelheads, they’re some of the most vulnerable people we’ve got.

If you want to talk to me about values worth dying for, protecting the vulnerable would be a good place to start.


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RELIGIO-FASCIST ALERT! The Truth about “Reclaim Australia Rallies”

Anonymous – Truth about “Reclaim Australia Rallies”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_NJv09Hj54

Anonymous would like to highlight the truth about the so called “Reclaim Australia Rallies” and their Neo Nazi ties.

FOR INFORMATION ON THE NAZI FASCIST ELEMENTS ORGANISING THIS RALLY AND DEBUNKING THE ISLAMOPHOBIC MYTHS PLEASE VISIT – http://www.reclaimwhat.net/

BRISBANE COUNTER RALLY – https://www.facebook.com/events/494287630709966/

MELBOURNE COUNTER RALLY – https://www.facebook.com/events/494287630709966/

SYDNEY COUNTER RALLY – https://www.facebook.com/events/1559805754258488/

GOLD COAST COUNTER RALLY – https://www.facebook.com/events/1533221720290510/

ADELAIDE – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=823458121023854&ref=ts&fref=ts

ACT COUNTER RALLY – https://www.facebook.com/events/823458121023854/

ANONYMOUS IS AGAINST RACISM, BIGOTRY & FASCISM. Video of The Great Aussie Patriot making up lies to incite hatred. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8spPxoE7ncA&feature=youtu.be


Bangladesh Killings Send Chilling Message to Secular Bloggers
 Arrests After Bangladesh Blogger’s Death

Biplob Kumar Sarker, a police official in Dhaka, spoke after a blogger was killed in a machete attack by three men in Bangladesh’s capital on Monday.

Video By Associated Press on Publish Date March 30, 2015. Photo by Suvra Kanti Das/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.

DHAKA, Bangladesh — When the steamy, clamorous evening had settled over this city, and Oyasiqur Rhaman had finished his day’s work at a travel agency, he would turn to one of his favorite pastimes: Poking fun at fundamentalist Islam.

Mr. Rhaman, 27, blogged under the name Kutshit Hasher Chhana, or The Ugly Duckling, and he specialized in sharp-edged satire. In one post, he adopted the persona of a self-important believer fielding questions from an atheist. (An example: “See, the captive women, impressed at the heroism of the Muslim fighters, used to engage in sex with them willingly. Don’t you see that it gave pleasures to them as well?”) He posted photos of sausages wrapped in pastries, labeled “pigs in a burqa.”

On Monday morning, after he left home for the travel agency, Mr. Rhaman was killed for what he had posted. Three young men — among them students of madrasas here in the capital and in Chittagong — surrounded him and sliced at his head with machetes, cutting deep gouges into his forehead, face and throat. His body was left on the pavement in a pool of congealing blood.

Photo

A relative of Oyasiqur Rhaman in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Monday. Mr. Rhaman had been attacked on his way to work. Credit Munir Uz Zaman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Two men were captured by local residents and handed over to the police, according to Mohammad Salahuddin, who heads the district police station. Those men said an acquaintance known as Masum had instructed them to kill Mr. Rhaman because “he made some comments against Islam” on social media, but that they had not read the comments themselves.

The killing closely followed the pattern of another five weeks earlier, when young men with machetes surrounded a secular blogger and author, Avijit Roy, as he left a book fair.

Mr. Rhaman took Mr. Roy’s murder to heart, changing his Facebook profile image to read “I am Avijit.” Over the next few days, he also mourned the 2013 killing of another blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, known online as Thaba Baba, and vowed to keep fighting.

“The pen will remain active, will continue till the death of your belief,” he wrote. “Get Islam destroyed, get Islam destroyed, get Islam destroyed.”

A writer using the name Biswaoy Balok, or Amazing Boy, responded in the comments section: “Son of a dog, you will also be killed.”

The deaths of Mr. Roy and Mr. Rhaman this month have sent a chilling message to the country’s secular bloggers, who say they are competing for the hearts and minds of young people exposed to oceans of material promoting conservative Islam.

Mr. Haider, Mr. Roy and Mr. Rhaman were all swept up in the 2013 Shahbag movement, which called for the death penalty for Islamist political leaders who were implicated in atrocities committed during the 1971 war for independence from Pakistan. The movement was met with a passionate response from young Islamist activists, deepening a divide among members of the same generation over whether Bangladesh is, or should be, a Muslim state.

Omi Rahman Pial, another prominent blogger from the same group, said he heard from five activists on Monday who said they were considering seeking asylum outside Bangladesh. Arif Jebtik, another activist, said that more “have begun shutting their blogs down” under pressure from their families.

“People who have lived in conflict zones will describe how you move from being a society where you attack people verbally and try to invoke the law against them,” she said. “Now our society is increasingly going toward one where you murder your enemies.”

Many people here had a mixed reaction to Mr. Roy’s death, condemning the violence but also taking issue with his views.

“Look, 93.2 percent of Bangladeshis are Muslim, and 80 percent of those are against what he wrote,” said Abdullah Fahim, 22, a business student at North South University, a private institution here. “I don’t know why our government gave him the liberty to write against Islam.”

Monirul Islam, a police official who is overseeing the investigation into Mr. Roy’s death, said the police have seen a pattern of attacks on writers and intellectuals. Those involved are often well-off, Internet-savvy young people, he said, and not the impoverished men who typically committed such crimes in the past. Mr. Islam said the attackers operate in small groups and have been active so far in eight to 10 of the country’s 64 districts.

“At this stage, their strategy is silent, targeted killing,” he said.

Though the killing of Mr. Roy happened more than a month ago in a crowded street full of witnesses, the police have so far made only one arrest — Shafiur Rahman Farabi, who called for him to be murdered in a Facebook post.

Mr. Islam said Mr. Farabi “disclosed some information,” and that the police have identified additional suspects, a group of men not directly connected with Mr. Farabi. He said he believed more than five people were involved, and that several of them probably attended North South University.

The authorities were luckier on Monday, when bystanders caught two men trying to flee the scene; a third man escaped. In an exchange with journalists, the two suspects seemed remorseless, according to Mohammad Jamil Khan, a reporter for The Dhaka Tribune.

“They were talking with me very happily, that they have done a good job by killing the blogger,” Mr. Khan told the BBC. “They don’t feel any guilt. They think they have done a very good job for their religion.”


China executes more people than rest of world combined, Amnesty International reveal

by: DEBRA KILLALEA

Death sentences and executions in 2014

In 2014, there was an alarming rise in death sentences as governments resorted to capital punishment to combat crime and terrorism. An alarming number of countries used the death penalty to tackle real or perceived threats to state security linked to terrorism, crime or internal instability in 2014, Amnesty International found in its annual review of the death penalty worldwide. Courtesy Amnesty International

While the number of executions dropped, the number of people being sentenced to death sky

While the number of executions dropped, the number of people being sentenced to death skyrocketed. Picture: Courtesy Amnesty International. Source: Supplied

IN A single year, it executed more people than the rest of the world combined.

But exactly how many death row prisoners have been killed in China remains top secret.

Amnesty International estimates at least 1000 people were executed by the Asian powerhouse in 2014 alone.

In its Death Penalty 2014 report, the human rights group said it actually believed the real number of people being put to death in China each year was in the “thousands”, conceding the true figure was impossible to determine.

And with more than 50 offences punishable by death and a startling 99 per cent conviction rate, it is perhaps the one country in the world where you don’t want to be accused of committing a crime.

At least one Australian resident, New Zealand-born Peter Gardiner, is facing the prospect of a Chinese firing squad after being accused of smuggling ice into the country with his girfriend, Sydney woman Kalynda Davis, who has since been returned to Australia.

The annual report names China among 22 nations which still carry out executions, despite the scrapping of capital punishment in more than 140 others.

And unlike other nations, China does not reveal its official figures to the world.

Amnesty International spokesman Rose Kulak said the conservative estimate of 1000 deaths was obtained via non-government agencies, families who’ve had bodies returned to them and activists on the ground.

“The Chinese Government treats executions as a state secret,” she said.

“In China you can get the death penalty for a wide scope of crimes (roughly 55 different crimes). This includes burglary, burning down a shop or accepting a bribe.

Death penalty kept a state secret

China remains the world’s top executioner according to Amnesty International. Source: AFP

“The lack of fairness in trials, which sees on average a 99 per cent conviction rate and a huge number of charges for which you can face the death penalty, is why there’s such a massive execution tally in China, and why the exact number remains a secret.”

Just last month, a Chinese court sentenced a man to death for a 1996 rape and murder, after admitting it had earlier executed the wrong man by mistake for the same crime.

Zhao Zhihong, 42, confessed to the attack in 2005, after an innocent Huugjilt, 18, had already been put to death. He was posthumously exonnerated and his family awarded compensation.

Amnesty said while the numbers of executions around the world had fallen by 22 per cent, the number of people being sentenced to their deaths had skyrocketed by 28 per cent.

It said 607 official executions were recorded across the world, excluding China’s figures, with countries using the death penalty “in a flawed attempt to tackle crime, terrorism and internal instability.”

Amnesty also said the spike in death sentences being handed out — 2466 globally —was largely due to recent mass sentencing carried out across Egypt and Nigeria.

While China remained the world’s top executioner, Iran came in second with 289 deaths officially announced. It is understood a further 450 which have not been officially acknowledged.

Saudi Arabia came in at number three with at least 90 executions, followed by Iraq, 61, and the United States in number five position with 35 executions.

The 607 recorded global executions carried out in 2014 was a decrease on the 778 recorded in 2013, a drop of more than 20 per cent.

Amnesty International has used its annual report to again call for the global abolition of the death penalty, which it regards as a harsh, inhumane and cruel punishment.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary-general, said governments which used the death penalty to tackle crime were deluding themselves.

“There is no evidence that shows the threat of execution is more of a deterrent to crime than any other punishment,” he said.

How executions compare around the world. Picture: Courtesy Amnesty International.

How executions compare around the world. Picture: Courtesy Amnesty International. Source: Supplied

“The dark trend of governments using the death penalty in a futile attempt to tackle real or imaginary threats to state security and public safety was stark last year.

“It is shameful that so many states around the world are essentially playing with people’s lives — putting people to death for ‘terrorism’ or to quell internal instability on the ill-conceived premise of deterrence.”

Mr Shetty said the numbers spoke for themselves and the death penalty was slowly becoming a thing of the past.

“The few countries that still execute need to take a serious look in the mirror and ask themselves if they want to continue to violate the right to life, or join the vast majority of countries that have abandoned this ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment,” he said.

OPERATION: STRIKE HARD

China, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq all executed people accused of terrorism offences, according to Amnesty.

Pakistan attracted global headlines when it announced 8000 prisoners on death row would soon be executed.

It lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in all capital cases after restarting executions for terrorism offences in the wake of a Taliban school massacre in December last year.

Pakistan has lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in all capital cases.

Pakistan has lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in all capital cases. Source: AFP

In China, authorities used the death penalty as a punitive tool in the “Strike Hard” campaign against unrest in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, executing at least 21 people during the year related to separate attacks, Amnesty figures reveal.

North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia continued to use the death penalty as a tool to suppress political dissent, while Jordan ended an eight-year moratorium in December, putting eleven murder convicts to death.

The government claimed it was a move to end a surge in violent crime.

In Indonesia, the government announced plans to execute mainly drug traffickers to tackle a public safety “national emergency”.

Executions have declined worldwide since 2013. Picture: Courtesy Amnesty International.

Executions have declined worldwide since 2013. Picture: Courtesy Amnesty International. Source: Supplied

Among the methods used to kill in 2014 were beheading, hanging, lethal injection and firing squad.

In Saudi Arabia and Iran, executions are carried out in public, often by beheading and hanging.

People were executed for a range of crimes including robbery, drug-related offences, economic offences, adultery, blasphemy and even sorcery.

The firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper. The US ranks fifth

The firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper. The US ranks fifth for its execution tally. Source: AP

AUSTRALIANS ON DEATH ROW IN CHINA

Little is known about those on death row in China, however recent cases involving Australian citizens have brought it into the global spotlight.

New Zealand-born Australian resident Peter Gardiner is among the thousands understood to be facing the firing squad in China.

Gardiner was allegedly caught with 30 kilograms of methamphetamine, worth up to $80 million, with Australian woman Kalynda Davis earlier this year.

The pair were busted after meeting on Tinder and travelling to China on a whim. However, while Mr Gardiner awaits his fate, Ms Davis has returned to Australia after top secret negotiations led by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop saw her secretly flown back to Sydney.

New Zealand-born Australian resident Peter Gardiner could also face the firing squad in C

New Zealand-born Australian resident Peter Gardiner could also face the firing squad in China. Source: Supplied

In September last year, an Australian government source also revealed there are an unknown number of citizens possibly facing the death penalty in China after being arrested for drug smuggling.

Government sources would not reveal how many people are involved but told The Courier-Mail there appeared to be a pattern of Australians being caught carrying “significant quantities”.

It is understood “several Australians have been arrested, and that Chinese laws mandate an immediate death sentence for serious drugs offences.”

A GRIM PICTURE

According to the report, the US remained the only country in the Americas to carry out executions, which dropped from 39 to 35 compared to the previous year.

Seven states carried out executions in 2014, with 90 per cent taking place in four states: Texas, Missouri, Florida and Oklahoma.

The overall number of people sentenced to death dropped from 95 in 2013 to 77 in 2014.

In the Asia-Pacific, executions were recorded in nine countries with 32 recorded deaths, excluding China and North Korea, whose figures are also unknown.

Sub-Saharan Africa recorded 46 executions which was down from 64 in 2013, a drop of 28 per cent.

Belarus remained the onlyEuropean nation to record executions, with three in 2014.

However, the Middle East raised concern among human rights groups with Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia recording 72 per cent of the world’s global executions, excluding China.

Amnesty International has called for a complete abolition of executions worldwide. Pictur

Amnesty International has called for a complete abolition of executions worldwide. Picture: Courtesy Amnesty International. Source: Supplied