Family, friends and colleagues gathered yesterday at Sydney’s Woronora Cemetery and Crematorium to pay their respects to Sergeant Brett Till, who was tragically killed in Afghanistan on 19 March 2009. The official Defence Department press release said the dedicated Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician was remembered for his love of his family and for his service and sacrifice to the nation.
Joining the family were the Hon Julia Gillard MP, Acting Prime Minister, representing the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister; The Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Minister for Defence; Mr Scott Morrison MP, Member for Cook, representing the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Leader of the Opposition; andthe Hon Carmel Tebbutt MP, Deputy Premier of NSW, representing the Hon Nathan Rees MLA, Premier of NSW. The Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston; The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie; and the Special Operations Commander — Australia, Major General Tim McOwan were also present to pay their respects.
The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, extended his deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sergeant Till on this sad occasion.
“On behalf of the nation, I would like to offer our prayers and support to Brett’s wife, children, family, friends and colleagues. His dedication and professionalism were true expressions of the ANZAC spirit,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“Sergeant Till was a patriotic Australian and a valued member of his regiment. He is owed a special debt of gratitude that can never fully be repaid. I know all Australians will remember and honour Brett’s sacrifice.”
Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai was being accused of trying to win votes in Afghanistan’s presidential election by backing a law the UN says legalises r-pe within marriage and bans wives from stepping outside their homes without their husbands’ permission. The Guardian reports the Afghan president signed the law earlier this month, despite condemnation by human rights activists and some MPs that it flouts the constitution’s equal rights provisions.
The final document has not been published, but the law is believed to contain articles that rule women cannot leave the house without their husbands’ permission, that they can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission, and that they cannot refuse their husband s-x.
A briefing document prepared by the United Nations Development Fund for Women also warns that the law grants custody of children to fathers and grandfathers only.
Senator Humaira Namati, a member of the upper house of the Afghan parliament, was quoted in The Guardian saying the law was “worse than during the Taliban”.
“Anyone who spoke out was accused of being against Islam,” she said.