Writers' Festival audience spellbound by great courage

ORDEAL: Rabia Siddique at the signing tent with her book Equal Justice on Saturday.
ORDEAL: Rabia Siddique at the signing tent with her book Equal Justice on Saturday. Doug Eaton

WHEN a crazed Iraqi aimed an AK-47 at her head at point-blank range, all Rabia Siddique could do was stare him in the eye, hoping he would not be able to kill her in cold blood.

Rabia told an enthralled marquee at the Byron Bay Writers Festival on Saturday how the man was wrestled to the ground by his superior and she survived.

But the Perth-raised Muslim woman faced another ordeal, this time at the hands of her employer, the British defence department.

She was told to be silent about the episode, which occurred while she was negotiating the release of two SAS soldiers captured by an extremist group posing as policemen.

Meanwhile, her senior officer, who had dropped to the ground when the man burst in, was awarded a Military Cross.

Unable to bear the hypocrisy forced upon her, she took the army to court and won.

It was not the first time she had been outraged by injustice: as a nine-year-old she was frequently sexually abused by a family friend, a crime her parents refused to confront.

Feeling powerless, she resolved then to take control of her own life and turn any negative event into something positive to help others - a quality of resilience she puts down largely to her own DNA.

She went on to prosecute Al Qaeda terrorists and war criminals in The Hague and is now legal counsel to the WA police commissioner and is a busy activist for social justice in every arena.

Her book detailing her extraordinarily courageous life is called Equal Justice.

Topics:  byron bay writers' festival iraq

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