SPRING HILL VOICE
The Australian website where spooks, media advisors, media monitors, partisan shills, sentiment miners, establishment media purloiners, fabricators, marketing and PR people start their day! ...
STOP THE WARS! TAX THE RICH! FREE THE REFUGEES! LEGALISE FREEDOM!
Perception correction. Bearing witness. Unfashionable.
"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time ... but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." - Lilla Watson, aboriginal educator and activist, Brisbane
* Other Things *
@free_mojgan: A letter of thanks from Mojgan to her supporters ...
Message from Mojgan Shamsalipoor to her supporters 31/08/2015 via March Australia - Brisbane:
... I have learned to be patient. Even when people are talking angry to me, I just leave it as I know lots of kind people are supporting me, so I’m not caring about angriness.
I have learned that every person has a kindness in their hearts. Everyone is beautiful. Even if they are cranky, they have kindness – it is just covered and they don’t know how to bring it back.
I have learned how to bring the kindness back to me. When people are angry with me, I am respectful and kind and they change how they are.
I have no hatred in me, there is no room left for hatred in my heart. I am flooded with love.
Now, I can see the world. Before, nothing had taste or enjoyment, no colour. But now, in detention, which is a sad dark place, I see only light. I look and see colour. Now being in detention – is nothing for me. And all of this because of the people supporting.
... Immigration minister Peter Dutton, who earlier this week revealed he had finished reviewing Ms Shamsalipoor's case, on Thursday refused to comment, except to say the government was right to take action against failed claimants like her.
"The Australian public would expect us to take action against people who are not here with a valid visa," he said.
Ms Shamsalipoor's lawyer, Kevin Kadirgamar, said her asylum claim failed because she was initially reluctant to tell immigration officials that family members, with connections in the government, had sexually abused her in Iran.
He told AAP he wrote to Mr Dutton urging him to allow her to apply for a partner visa while in detention, instead of having to return to Iran to do so.
Mr Kadirgamar said Ms Shamsalipoor not only feared for her safety in Iran, but that Australian immigration protocols meant her application was almost certain to fail if lodged from Iran.
Her husband told AAP he was urgently seeking a face-to-face meeting with Mr Dutton.
The "Free Mojgan" campaign will include a rally
outside Mr Dutton's Brisbane offices in coming weeks.
Refugees are not a box of chocolates.
You cannot selectively "help" some refugees while you are torturing, exiling, repelling and invisibilising others.
For nearly a year Australia has refused to accept UNHCR refugees.
Donating to corporate charities only "helps" corporate charities. Our government needs to start meeting its obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and stop committing human rights atrocities.
At least 13 dead after refugee boat sinks off Malaysia: Official
News Asia [3/9/15]:
A small rickety wooden boat believed to be carrying around 70 Indonesian migrants [refugees] sank in the Malacca Strait early Thursday killing at least 13 people, Malaysian officials said.
The boat sank in choppy waters off Malaysia's western coast near Sauh Cape near the coastal town of Sabak Bernam in central Selangor state, Mohamad Aliyas Hamdan, the local head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, told AFP.
"Local fishermen have rescued 13 people and have found 13 bodies," he said.
Based on the size of the boat, it could be carrying about 70 people but local fishermen said there could be up to 100 migrants, he added.
"We have deployed 12 ships and a plane along with some 200 officers to carry out the search and rescue operation for the remaining victims," he said.
The authorities have yet to interview the victims to confirm their nationality.
The bodies will be taken to taken to a public hospital Teluk Intan in neighbouring Perak state.
"We are not sure if the migrants were attempting to land in Malaysia or trying to leave Malaysia illegally," Aliyas said, describing the sinking as the worst boat tragedy so far this year.
PNG Supreme Court extends deportation injunction
The National [3/9/15]:
The Supreme Court has extended its orders which prevent the Government from deporting 27 detainees located at the Manus Regional Processing Centre.
Justice Terence Higgins, presiding as a single judge, issued the orders when parties appeared for hearing in Waigani yesterday.
Higgins directed the detainees’ lawyer, Ben Lomai, to file within 14 days further affidavits of 12 of the detainees stopped from deportation.
The matter returns to court at a later date.
State lawyer Asher Chillion said some of the detainees were still being processed and some were classed as non genuine refugees.
Lomai, representing Benham Satah and 301 others, argued that his clients’ rights would be lost if they were deported back to there home countries.
Lomai said the detainees wanted to be settled in Australia but they were brought to PNG against there will.
The Supreme Court on Aug 25 restrained Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato, and Chief Migration Officer Rabura Mataio from deporting 27 detainees located at the Manus Regional Processing Centre.
Lomai obtained the restraining orders after some of his clients were purportedly on the list for deportation to their country of origin.
Benham Satah and 301 others have filed court proceedings in the Supreme Court to invoke section 57 of the Constitution on the enforcement of guaranteed rights and freedoms.
The detainees are seeking various orders, including the enforcement of their rights by invoking section 58 of the Constitution for reasonable compensation damages and exemplary damages.
The detainees are kept at the regional processing centre on Manus Island pursuant to a memoranda of agreement between the Governments of PNG and Australia.
O’Neill, Pato, Mataio, Attorney-General Ano Pala and the State are named as defendants in the proceedings.
PNG police in talks with Australia to return Manus guards accused of rape [Guardian – 3/9/15]
Lack of funding forces PNG Ambulance service to close [RNZI – 3/9/15]
The world famous Hilton hotel and resort brand will bring its five star services to Papua New Guinea.
The Mineral Resource Development Company (MRDC) signed an agreement with Hilton Worldwide last month for the construction of a five star hotel in Port Moresby. ... [PNG Loop - 1/9/15]
... “The Australian model may seem attractive to politicians,” said Leonard Doyle, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration.
“Politicians love fences, but what fences do is create a market for smugglers and major humanitarian problems.” ...
[New York Times - 3/9/15]
Each time an asylum seeker complains about their human rights or about the conditions in the centre, they are offered an appointment with IOM to discuss voluntary return.
Submission 94, Nauru Senate Inquiry
Strategic Partnership Framework with @IOM_news Director General William Lacy
Image: @PeterDutton_MP [28/4/15]
...The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is providing initial accommodation for the refugees and some services, yesterday suggested that media access to the refugees would not be forthcoming.
“Media exposure could potentially jeopardise protection needs of refugees and carries high level of risk to their families at home,” an IOM spokesman said.
“While IOM can speak in general terms about what services will be available to refugees, IOM will not disclose any specific details about a refugee’s particular assistance.”
The group said last week that it had “villa-style” accommodation in Phnom Penh readied for the arrival of the four. ... [Phnom Penh Post - 28/5/15]
Richard Marles visits Myanmar to reassert that the ALP poses no threat to the Coalition's refugee policy ------> @RichardMarlesMP: The people you meet in Yangon - Kieran Gorman-Best of IOM who hails from my hometown of #Geelong. [May 2015]
Guam passes chemical castration bill
Legislators in Guam have passed a bill to pilot chemically castrating sex offenders.
The bill today scraped through the legislature by eight votes to seven.
The Chemical Castration for Sex Offenders Act will see the Department of Corrections refer convicted sex offenders to undergo anti-androgen treatment one week before their release.
Androgen Deprivation Therapy involves the injection of anti-hormone drugs to suppress testosterone production and shut down a person's sex drive.
According to national and local statistics, Guam has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the United States.
The bill has been forwarded to Guam's governor Eddie Calvo for approval and if passed will make Guam the only US territory to adopt chemical castration for sex offenders and paedophiles.
California was the first US state to specify chemical castration for child molestation in 1996, and today at least nine states have some form of chemical castration for sex offenders in their legislation.
Washington state sues US over toxic vapors at nuclear waste site
The U.S. government has failed to adequately safeguard crews involved in the decades-long cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, leaving workers sickened by exposure to toxic vapors, the state said in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
The 18-page complaint, filed in federal court in Spokane, cited more than 50 instances since January 2014 of workers being exposed to hazardous fumes at the sprawling World War Two-era site along the Columbia River.
One worker was treated last year for chemical pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lungs caused by chemical exposure, the complaint said.
Hanford, occupying 586 square miles (1,517 sq km) in southeastern Washington, produced plutonium for the U.S. nuclear weapons program from 1943 to 1987 and now ranks as one of the most contaminated sites in North America.
The main activity there now is removal of 56 million gallons (212 million liters) of hazardous waste, much of it radioactive, kept in 177 underground storage tanks, a number of them with known leaks.
The U.S. Energy Department is responsible for cleanup at the site, including the hiring of contractors and workers to extract the waste from tanks for safe disposal.
As a result of lax safety practices amid leaks and releases of toxic vapors in the vicinity of the storage tanks, workers have been continually put at risk and left ill from chemical exposure, the lawsuit said.
"Enough is enough. The health risks are real, and the state is taking action today to ensure the federal government protects these workers now and in the future," state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.
Watchdog group Hanford Challenge said it believes several hundred workers have received medical treatment or evaluation due to exposures over the last 10 years.
The state is seeking a legally enforceable agreement requiring all tank-area workers to wear respiratory protection, among other safety improvements.
Ferguson announced last November that he intended to sue the federal government.
In order to further protect workers, tank farm contractor Washington River Protection Solutions has increased the use of personal protective equipment, including the use of self-contained breathing machines in areas of potential vapor exposure, Energy Department spokeswoman Carrie Meyer said.
"The Department is committed to safe and efficient work in the tank farms," Meyer said in a statement.
Cleanup began at Hanford in 1989 and is projected to cost almost $115 billion by century's end, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates.
Misguided safety assumptions key factor at Fukushima: IAEA [Japan Today – 2/9/15]
A misguided faith in the complete safety of atomic power was a key factor in Japan’s 2011 Fukushima accident, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in its most comprehensive report on the disaster.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) pointed to numerous failings, including unclear responsibilities among regulators along with weaknesses in plant design and in disaster-preparedness.
But possibly the biggest factor was the “widespread assumption in Japan that its nuclear power plants were so safe that an accident of this magnitude was simply unthinkable”, IAEA director general Yukiya Amano said in the report of more than 1,200 pages.
A quake-sparked tsunami swamped cooling systems and triggered reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima plant in March 2011.
Radiation spread over a wide area and forced tens of thousands from their homes—many of whom will likely never return—in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
The IAEA report, published late Monday, criticised safety assumptions by the nuclear plant operators that were not challenged by regulators or the government.
As a result, the quake-prone nation “was not sufficiently prepared for a severe nuclear accident”.
Operators assumed there “would never be a loss of all electrical power at a nuclear power plant for more than a short period” and did not consider “the possibility of several reactors at the same facility suffering a crisis at the same time”, it added.
“Since the accident, Japan has reformed its regulatory system to better meet international standards. It gave regulators clearer responsibilities and greater authority,” Amano said.
“There can be no grounds for complacency about nuclear safety in any country. Some of the factors that contributed to the Fukushima Daiichi accident were not unique to Japan.”
Anti-nuclear sentiment still runs high in Japan, which last month began restarting its atomic power program after a shutdown triggered by Fukushima.
Utility Kyushu Electric Power turned on a reactor at Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture.
Commercial operations for the 31-year-old reactor—operating under tougher post-Fukushima safety rules—will begin early this month, as the government pushes to return to a cheaper energy source than fossil fuels.
The resource-poor nation, which once relied on nuclear power for a quarter of its electricity, restarted two reactors temporarily to feed its needs after Fukushima. But they both went offline by September 2013, making Japan completely nuclear-free for about two years.
The government wants nuclear power to generate up to 22% of Japan’s electricity needs by 2030, a lower percentage than before Fukushima.
Farmers to stage massive tractor protest in Paris
France 24 [3/9/15]:
Hundreds of French farmers who say falling food prices are threatening their livelihoods are en route to the French capital, where a protest involving as many as 1,000 tractors is expected to cause travel chaos on Thursday.
Increasingly desperate farmers are demanding political reforms and additional financial help, despite a pledge from the French government this summer to deliver a 600-million-euro aid package.
Hundreds of Paris-bound tractors left Brittany, Normandy and other French departments on Tuesday, and were expected to converge on Place de la Nation on Thursday morning.
A “go-slow” operation on the Paris ring-road was expected to heavily disrupt travel in and around the city before the massive tractor gathering on the eastern side of the capital.
The farmers came under fire this summer for staging similar protests near prominent tourist destinations, including Mont Saint-Michel in lower Normandy.
Meanwhile, a delegation representing the farmers is expected at France’s National Assembly to present a list of grievances and demands to lawmakers.
The FNSEA farmers union calling for Thursday’s protest says falling prices – from dairy and meat to sugar – is pushing many of its members to bankruptcy.
Leader Xavier Beulin said his union’s goal was not to disrupt motor traffic in Paris, although he admitted there would be delays related to the protest.
“Our goal is to show the government that we are a very determined group,” Beulin told France Info radio on Wednesday morning, adding that the announced government measures were insufficient.
Katter Australian Party Rural Crisis Summit at Charters Towers sends emotions running high [North West Star - 2/9/15]
Questions asked about timing of Queensland political donations inquiry announcement [Lock The Gate - 1/9/15]
West Australian organic farmer Steve Marsh has lost his appeal against an $804,000 legal costs bill, which could result in him losing his farm. ... [SBS - 3/9/15]
Asia doing 'pretty well' despite China slowdown say international predators during Indonesia visit [Jakarta Post – 2/9/15]
Greece to miss 2015 privatisation sales target - agency chief [Yahoo - 3/9/15]
Several big German corporations are allegedly involved in corruption in Greece as former executives are to appear in Greek courts, according to an AFP report.
Siemens, Daimler, Rheinmetall have allegedly bribed Greek politicians in order to get contracts in the country. The investigation is now in its ninth year with a case brief over 2,300 pages long.
Nineteen former executives of German engineering group Siemens are to appear in Greek court, while more than 60 German executives are under investigation. Overall, Siemens allegedly spent 70 million euros on bribes in Greece, say Greek judicial sources. ... [Greek Reporter - 2/9/15]
Brooks returns to News Corporation
Hollywood Reporter [2/9/15]:
Rebekah Brooks is returning to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp as CEO of the company's News UK unit, the media giant said Wednesday, making the appointment official.
She had left the post as head of the company's U.K. newspaper arm amid the phone-hacking scandal. She was found not guilty on several charges in one the hacking-related trials.
The former CEO of the U.K. arm of the publishing company last year started looking at new career opportunities. It emerged in the fall that News Corp was among the companies that met with the former News of the World and The Sun editor. She was at the company's New York office during a visit to the U.S. in October, a source told THR at the time.
She will serve as CEO of News UK, replacing Mike Darcey. The Sun boss David Dinsmore will be her COO.
With a record backing coups, secret war and genocide, is Kissinger an
elder statesman or war criminal? [Democracy Now - 2/9/15]:
… AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go for a moment to another clip. This is a clip of a well-known TV personality who is coming back on the air in just a few days. This is Stephen Colbert, Stephen Colbert who is dancing in Kissinger’s office.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Kissinger calling security. But, of course, it was all a joke.
GREG GRANDIN [AUTHOR]: Yeah, and I think that’s part of the rehabilitation, the transformation of somebody implicated and responsible, directly or indirectly, in a number of genocides and mass murder, turning into an avuncular kind of comic figure that we can make fun of.
I mean, at the same time, people like Samantha Power and Hillary Clinton, they seek out his advice, and they banter with him. And I think it’s—it’s ritualistic. It’s a way of kind of invoking purpose or invoking gravitas.
I think that things have gotten so bad in the foreign policy establishment, and things have gotten so bad for U.S. strategy abroad, that there’s a nostalgia for what Kissinger represents.
But nobody really quite knows what Kissinger represents. He kind of represents purpose. But what I try to argue in the book is that there’s a hollowness to the purpose, that leads to a circularity, of escalation causing more escalation causing more escalation.
The Ukrainian authorities are violating a UN Security Council resolution by ignoring the political aspects of the Minsk agreements, Russian Ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin said on Wednesday.
The diplomat said the UN Security Council had adopted a resolution supporting a package of measure to implement the Minsk agreements in February this year. ... [TASS - 2/9/15]
A suspected militant and an Indian soldier were killed in a gunbattle in Indian-held Kashmir on Wednesday.
Indian police said the clash started in the morning in the northern Rafiabad area after Indian forces cordoned off a village for a search operation. ... [Anadolu Agency - 2/9/15]
Afghanistan Ministry of Defense: More than "100 Taliban" killed, wounded in newest security operations [Khaama - 3/9/15]
At least a dozen militants and one civilian have been killed in a fresh wave of violence in troubled northern Kunduz province, an official said on Wednesday. ... [Pajhwok - 2/9/15]
Boko Haram kill 'dozens' in NE Nigeria: locals [Yahoo - 2/9/15]
At least 50 African Union soldiers are believed to have been killed and another 50 are missing after Shebab militants overran a military camp in southern Somalia on Tuesday, according to Western military officials. ... [Yahoo - 2/9/15]
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says two of its local workers have been shot dead in Yemen.
It is believed a lone gunman opened fire on their vehicle as they travelled through the northern province of Amran.
Aid agencies have been trying to reach millions of people in Yemen, who lack basic supplies because of the conflict that has been raging there for months. ... [BBC - 2/9/15]
Deadly explosion hits Zaidi mosque in Yemen capital [Al Jazeera - 2/9/15]
In Lebanon, riot police have forcibly removed more than two dozen protesters from the Environment Ministry building in the capital Beirut, after the demonstrators occupied the building Tuesday to demand the minister’s resignation over the heaps of trash piling up in the streets.
The occupation was part of the growing "You Stink!" campaign protesting government ineptitude. [Democracy Now - 2/9/15]
Israel army conducts military exercises in occupied Shebaa Farms on Lebanese border [Daily Star - 3/9/15]
The Israeli army said Thursday its air force had attacked a Hamas military position in the Gaza Strip overnight from which bullets had been fired at homes in southern Israel.
Shots from Gaza had on Wednesday hit a number of houses in Netiv Haasara, just north of the Palestinian enclave, causing damage but harming none, it said in a statement.
"In response to the shooting, an IAF (Israel air force) aircraft targeted a Hamas military post in the northern Gaza Strip, from where the shots were fired," it read.
The army could not say whether the shots from Gaza had been deliberate or stray fire from the Hamas position, identified in Israeli media as a training base.
There were no reports of casualties as a result of the Israeli attack. [Naharnet - 3/9/15]
Israel confiscates ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem [Middle East Eye - 2/9/15]
Second video emerges in Texas police shooting of man with hands raised [USA Today - 2/9/15]
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the actions of two police officers who responded to the wrong home after a 911 call, where they shot a dog and the unsuspecting homeowner inside -- not to mention one of themselves, officials said Tuesday. ... [UPI.com - 1/9/15]
A judge on Wednesday ordered that six Baltimore Police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray be tried separately. ... [MSN - 2/9/15]
The New York Times published video Tuesday of a diabetic man arrested for selling drugs who died from diabetes complications at Rikers Island hours after arriving there.
The incident highlights yet another facet of what Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara earlier this year called a "broken system" with "a decades-long culture of violence" within New York City's main jail complex. ... [Al Jazeera - 1/9/15]
Former CIA Director David Petraeus explains empire to a room full of arselickers in Sydney [Nine MSN - 2/9/15]
Bernie Sanders said to be close to signing fund-raising deal with Democratic Party [New York Times – 2/9/15]
Another 57 Clinton email threads contain foreign governments' information [Reuters – 2/9/15]
Arrest warrant issued for Guatemala President Perez Molina [BBC - 3/9/15]
Turkish jets attack PKK targets in SE after soldier killed in nearby attack [Today's Zaman - 2/9/15]
Russian Foreign Minister: Assad is legitimate leader despite West’s claims [TASS - 1/9/15]
Ten people were killed and dozens wounded on Wednesday in a rare car bombing in the Syrian city of Latakia, the coastal bastion of President Bashar al-Assad, state media said. ... [Ahram - 2/9/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [2/9/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted five airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hawl, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL front end loader.
-- Near Raqqah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL bunker.
-- Near Mar’a, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL buildings, an ISIL excavator, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar system.
-- Near Washiyah, one airstrike struck an ISIL artillery piece.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the government of Iraq:
-- Near Qaim, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Beiji, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL vehicles and an ISIL homemade explosives facility.
-- Near Haditha, an airstrike destroyed two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
-- Near Qayyrah, an airstrike struck an ISIL staging area.
-- Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL light machine gun.
-- Near Tal Afar, one airstrike struck an ISIL mortar firing position.
Terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq killed more than 1,300 people and injured over 1,800 others last month, reflecting a “steadily increasing number of casualties,” according to casualty figures released by the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMI). ... [UN Media Release - 2/9/15]
More than 13 million children are being denied an education due to conflicts in the Middle East, the UN has said, warning "the hopes of a generation" would be dashed if they cannot return to classrooms.
In a report on the impact of conflict on education in six countries and territories across the region, the UN's children fund UNICEF on Thursday said more than 8,850 schools were no longer usable due to violence. ... [Al Jazeera - 2/9/15]
Police wall blocks refugees in Budapest for second day [Al Jazeera - 2/9/15]
... The child's name was Aylan Kurdi and he was three years old.
He drowned in the Mediterranean Sea along with his five-year-old brother Galip and mother Rihan, according to the BBC.
The father, Abdullah, is said to have survived. ... [Middle East Monitor - 2/9/15]
@MSF_Sea [2/9/15]: After our biggest ever day, the #MSF and #MOAS teams have rescued 1658 people but this really shouldn't be our job.
@MSF_Sea [2/9/15]: Across #Europe from #Greece to #Calais, the issue is not too many people, but rather too little #EU response #MSFSea
Republic of Ireland's refugee rescue mission in Mediterranean extended [Belfast Telegraph - 2/9/15]
In treating needy refugees like invaders, we risk losing our humanity, Robert Fisk [The Independent - 30/8/15]:
… A unique irony of our modern-day tragedy is that an Irish naval vessel has been saving the lives of thousands of shipwrecked refugees a few miles from the Libyan coast.
A century and a half ago the Irish famine exodus was washing its refugees up on the coast of Canada, the vessels filled with men, women and children dying or dead of typhus, received with compassion – but also with fear that their plague would contaminate the people of the Canadian Maritimes.
It fell to Pól Ó Muirí, the Irish-language editor of The Irish Times, whose own father was a migrant construction worker in Britain, to point out last week how many Irishmen helped build the Channel Tunnel – and of how today “the migrants are on the other side, trying to get through”.
Yes, “something should be done” about the refugees, Ó Muirí rhetorically agreed. But then – and since I love great writing, you must bear with me – he added: “The whole thing is a bit frightening, isn’t it, all those people throwing themselves at the fences at the mouth of the tunnel that the Donegal ones helped build… It was when the camera panned back to show men standing and watching, with all the dignity they could muster, that I suddenly realised I was seeing… my father in England… Do you see your family in their faces too? Look a little closer. Don’t be afraid.”
Inside Australia’s Pacific Non-Solution [AUDIO - Spoke RRR - 2/9/15]:
Two years since the signing of the Regional Resettlement Agreement by the Australian & PNG governments, no asylum seeks have yet been resettled.
After recently returning from Manus Island, Daniel Webb of the Human Rights Law Centre and Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch discuss the fundamental issues of the Pacific Solution.
After investigating of the centres conditions, Pearson & Webb discuss the inherent breaches of human rights at the offshore centres and the experiences of those residing in them and more.
Listen to the discussion held at The Human Rights Law Centre as chaired by Michelle Bennett and rebroadcast on Spoke.
Boycott Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI).
End the culture-washing of the detention industry.
Boycott the 19th Sydney Biennale [3/9/15]:
Yesterday Tariq Ali, Johann Hari, Naomi Klein, Laurie Penny and Jon Ronson released a statement criticising the St James Ethics Centre (SJEC), co-curator of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI), for including retired Major General Jim Molan on its board.
Jim Molan was an adviser and special envoy for the Abbott government's Operation Sovereign Borders.
In the lead-up to last year's FODI, the headline speakers, Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina, were called upon to withdraw from the event over the same issue.
They declined, choosing to criticise from inside.
Molan remains a director of SJEC.
Since FODI 2014, Molan has been involved in promoting Australia's border policies to governments in Europe, and has given advice and support to Israeli politicians and defence force leaders.
The connection between FODI, St James Ethics Centre and Jim Molan must be cut.
The withdrawal of artists from the Biennale of Sydney in 2014 showed what can be achieved if cultural workers refuse to add value to the detention industry.
We call on Tariq Ali, Johann Hari, Naomi Klein, Laurie Penny and Jon Ronson to stop lending their names to an event and organisation that refuses to cut its ties to the detention industry.
Boycott FODI. Remove Molan. End the culture-washing of the detention industry.
This man is being tortured by the Australian government in its Guantanamo on Manus Island
Save Mohammad Albederee [2/9/15]:
Now we are on day 147 since Mohammad has been able to keep anything in his stomach.
What is the Australian Government waiting for we must ask?
There only seems like one way this can end unless they act.
He cannot keep even fluids down for over 2 months. He drinks half a cup of tea and vomits over a litre for hours afterward.
He is destroying his stomach even more trying to ingest anything and has never been successful in keeping anything down despite anti-nausea injections ...and over 30 tablets a day.
He has given up on that treatment. The pain from the vomiting is excruciating. Every day is another world of pain and he rarely sleeps. Sometimes a couple of hours every 3 or 4 days.
This is not a life.
Please contact Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on (02) 62777860 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to register your opposition to the slow torture and death of Mohammad.
He needs to be brought to Australia for medical treatment. Australia can do better than this!
Meanwhile, critically injured expats whisked back to Australia after car accident on Manus Island [SBS - 2/9/15]:
Two Australian guards from Manus Island detention centre have been medically evacuated to Queensland after a serious car crash involving alcohol.
Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in a serious car crash that led to two Australian guards being medically evacuated in a critical condition from the Manus Island immigration detention centre.
The men were injured when their vehicle hit a bridge and overturned on the island late last week.
Manus Island MP Ron Knight said the men had been drinking at a hotel on the island before the crash.
"They were so drunk they ran into the (bridge) rail," he told AAP on Wednesday.
"There were so many houses along the side of the road, they could have ploughed into someone's home."
The immigration department told AAP both Australians were in a stable condition and have been transferred to a Queensland hospital for medical treatment.
Mr Knight said cans of beer and a local liquor called wara glass (moonshine) were found inside the vehicle.
"You could run an outboard motor on it, it's so potent," Mr Knight said.
The men were in a critical condition when they were flown off the island.
The PNG government in early August ordered a drug and alcohol crackdown on detention centre staff, following an alleged gang rape involving three Australian guards.
The companies running the centre were accused of not enforcing the rules and failing to carry out regular substance testing.
Comment has been sought from centre operator Transfield Services and Wilson Security.
The two expatriates involved in the car accident on Wednesday night in Lorengau will be facing charges once they return back into the country.
PNG Loop [28/8/15]:
The two expatriates involved in the car accident on Wednesday night in Lorengau will be facing charges once they return back into the country.
Police say that both men will face charges of dinking under the influence while driving.
The incident occurred at around 9:30pm when the two were returning from a night out at a hotel in town.
They were making their way back to Lombrum.
Manus Police Commander Alex N’Drasel says the two men were speeding at the time of the crash which occurred on the left hand side of the Lolak bridge.
He said the car was badly smashed as a result of the intensity of the crash.
The two men who were engaged with a contract company at the asylum center are from New Zealand and the United Kingdom respectively but are both now residing in Australia.
Police were alerted by the nearby locals to attend to the two men.
They were airlifted for treatment in Australia late yesterday afternoon.
New Zealand suspends aid to Nauru's justice sector citing concerns about civil rights abuses
New Zealand's Foreign Minister says he has suspended the country's aid to Nauru's justice sector because of ongoing concerns about civil rights abuses.
New Zealand had been giving Nauru US$760,000 annually, paid out quarterly.
McCully says there have been several incidents which have caused him concern, including the removal of senior members of the judiciary, and the suspension of most of the country's opposition MPs.
There has also been widespread criticism of new laws that restrict freedom of expression and assembly, as well as restrictions on internet access and social media.
He says he previously met with the Justice Minister, David Adeang, and other ministers from Nauru and received assurances that they intended to remedy the problems and restore international confidence.
"We agreed to go forward with our funding on that basis. Now, I've reminded them of the obligation that they've entered into with us at that time, I've made it clear that some of the actions that have taken place recently we regard as being incompatible with those assurances."
Mr McCully says there are a range of other matters regarding human rights and the general operation of the justice system that have caused the New Zealand government concern.
"I've made it clear that we are very reluctant to take our funding away, we're reluctant even to place it on hold. But where the system we're funding is essentially part of the problem rather than part of the solution, we don't have much choice."
He says the ball is now in Nauru's court and he will continue to work with its governent to reach a point where the funding can be resumed.
One of the suspended MPs, Roland Kun, says it's disappointing that New Zealand has been forced to suspend the aid.
Mr Kun was suspended from parliament almost 15 months ago for questioning the actions of the government, and three months ago his passport was seized, stopping him from returning to his New Zealand-based family.
He says it is unfortunate but inevitable given the Nauru Government's failure to respond to New Zealand's concerns.
"New Zealand is the biggest donor partner who is assisting us with the strengthening of our justice system here on Nauru, so New Zealand does have great interest in what is happening in the justice sector. That the government of Nauru has failed to satisfy New Zealand in terms of the pursuit of their shared objectives of strengthening the justice sector on Nauru is very disappointing."
... The migrant crisis in Europe is undoubtedly one of the biggest humanitarian challenges of this decade.
As world leaders continue to work on a possible solution to the problem, it’s important that they do not leave out the refugees fleeing Myanmar and Bangladesh since they too deserve to be rescued and saved. ...
South East Asia
... Destitute migrants escaping countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq in a bid to reach Europe via land and sea have been well-documented by the mainstream media over the past couple of months.
However, an equally bigger humanitarian emergency is about to erupt – again – in the Southeast Asia and the international community remains as negligent as ever about it.
The United Nations has issued a warning over an expected surge of mostly Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees heading out into the Andaman Sea in September.
The last time these asylum-seekers, mainly hailing from Myanmar, made headlines was in May when police in Thailand discovered dozens of graves of suspected Rohingya migrants in an abandoned jungle camp.
Subsequently, thousands of refugees were discovered stranded in Southeast Asian waters; they were initially denied help from neighboring nations, including Indonesia and Malaysia.
The refusal to rescue these "boat people" – as they were collectively dubbed by international media – led to protests by human rights activists. After much outrage, several countries, including Japan, finally offered asylum.
The flow of boats eventually subsided but now the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has warned the crisis will resume before the end of the monsoon season in the region.
“We expect this to resume again in about a month,” said UNCHR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.
“There are appalling conditions on these boats and a bit of ping pong, and real concerns about access to territory.”
Thousands of Rohingya have tried to escape atrocities by Buddhist extremists in Myanmar by risking their lives on dilapidated vessels. Since the conditions in the country remain the same, members of the persecuted minority will yet again attempt to flee violence.
According to the agency, around 31,000 Rohingyas and Bangladeshis left from the Bay of Bangal on boats since the beginning of the year; that’s almost 34 percent more people from the same period in 2014.
A total of 94,000 people are believed to have embarked on similar perilous journeys since 2014.
At least 1,100 more have reportedly drowned in the same time period.
The migrant crisis in Europe is undoubtedly one of the biggest humanitarian challenges of this decade.
As world leaders continue to work on a possible solution to the problem, it’s important that they do not leave out the refugees fleeing Myanmar and Bangladesh since they too deserve to be rescued and saved.
The Phuketwan journalists say this picture of emaciated Rohingya on the beach was given to them by the Thai navy [BBC - 1/9/15]
... On January 1, 2013, Phuketwan reporters travelled by speedboat to intercept a Rohingya boat off the southern Phuket destination of Rawai. This boat was different to other boats: there were women and children on board. We were shocked to see whole families in the basic primitive conditions that usually only the Rohingya menfolk experienced. This was because two outbreaks of violence in Burma's Arakan state in 2012 had led to the torching of family homes, and the refugee camps were being deprived of essentials by the Rohingya's hateful neighbors. The children said they were fleeing ''certain death.'' Those families were trucked back to Ranong and put back on another boat. ... [Phuketwan - 7/12/13]
A Ranong Immigration truck heads for the Andaman Club pier on Saturday [Phuketwan - 21/10/13]
UNHCR urges region to establish search and rescue effort before next expected wave of refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh [Media Release - 28/8/15]
… Based on the current data, a large
proportion—perhaps even a majority—of the individuals voyaging across the Bay of
Bengal are refugees and, with many lacking any citizenship, are also stateless.
These individuals are entitled to international protection, including access to asylum.
In the absence of
domestic refugee status determination systems, the most effective and efficient
response may be the mobile protection teams referred to above. …
Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea: Proposals for Action, May 2015
Australia stopped accepting UNHCR refugees in October 2014.
Perplexing -----> The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is calling on New Zealand to take more Syrian refugees as the migrant crisis in Europe grows. ... [RNZI - 3/9/15]
Finding better answers for Asia’s refugees [Refugee Council of Australia event]:
SYDNEY: 7pm Thursday September 3rd UTS
As billions of Australian taxpayer dollars are spent on keeping asylum seekers at bay, the Asia Pacific region is struggling to deal with the needs of 3.9 million refugees.
Experts dealing with refugees and asylum seekers every day across the region share their thoughts about how the region can shift the focus to finding durable solutions for refugees.
Organised by Refugee Council of Australia, these seminars feature senior NGO leaders from the Asia-Pacific Refugee Rights Network, a growing network of more than 240 civil society organisations and individuals from 26 countries.
The best way to see Myanmar, Asia's stunning new destination
Brigid Delaney [Sydney Morning Herald - 3/9/15]
Rohingya kids in the rain during the rainy season in Sittwe's Muslim Quarter, now effectively a sealed ghetto.
Image: @andreapitzer [16/7/15]
The Union Election Commission (UEC) has disqualified 17 out of the 18 candidates chosen to contest on the banner of an Islamic party.
Eleven of the rejected candidates are from Arakan state, and the six others are from the Yangon division. Only one candidate is therefore left to run as the candidate of the pro Muslim Democracy and Human Rights Party (DHRP). ... [Burma Times - 3/9/15]
The ABC's "most informative current affairs program" might as well have reported this ----> … While she famously wears Giorgio Armarni suits and has a love for designer heels, the 59-year-old opted for a glamorous ensemble at the launch of Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced on Wednesday night. Always one to put a fashionable foot forward, Ms Bishop caught up with the renowned designer Collette Dinnigan as the pair posed in front of the cameras. ... [Daily Mail - 3/9/15]
Journalism goes AWOL as protected and unaccountable Australian government still refuses to answer Indonesia's allegations that officials repelled a refugee boat by bribing its crew [SBS - 19/6/15]:
A letter from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to Indonesian officials does not address claims that Australia paid the crew of an asylum seeker boat.
There is no explanation of whether Australia paid cash to an asylum boat crew in correspondence from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir says.
Ms Bishop's letter was handed to her counterpart Retno Marsudi from Ambassador Paul Grigson on Friday.
"When we did not receive any new information or any clarification, again, like I said, we cannot be blamed for taking the view that there was an illicit payment made to the smugglers," Mr Nasir told reporters.
A boat captain and five crew members are being questioned by police on the Indonesian island of Rote for aiding 65 people who wanted asylum in New Zealand, and say an Australian official paid them cash to turn back to Indonesia.
Ms Retno asked Mr Grigson to seek an explanation of the claims on Saturday, before she left for meetings in Norway.
He visited her office for about 20 minutes on Friday, their first formal get-together since returning from his recall over Indonesia's execution of Bali Nine drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
"Australia remains very committed to cooperation with Indonesia to combat people smuggling in all its forms," Mr Grigson told reporters after the meeting.
"As my prime minister has said repeatedly, ... Australian officials have always acted within the law in this case."
New Zealand government refers refugees to Australia [RNZI - 13/6/15]:
The Government has told 65 asylum seekers wanting to live in New Zealand to contact United Nations officials in Australia.
The people, from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, say they were heading for New Zealand when they were shipwrecked on an Indonesian reef earlier this month.
In a letter seen by Radio New Zealand, the group made a plea to the Government for asylum, saying it is unsafe for them to return home.
A written reply from the office of the Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, said while New Zealand accepted 750 refugees annually, it could not pick and choose.
It said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra was responsible for inquires dealing with New Zealand and suggested the group approach that office. [The UNHCR Canberra have said nothing - as is their usual response to regional refugee issues - and the media have not asked them about the refugees' predicament.]
A UN representative in Indonesia said they met with the group, 52 of whom were registered as refugees.
... Nazmul Hassan, who identifies himself as one of the 65 in a Kupang detention centre, said they just wanted a peaceful life.
"We leave our country because of some problems and political violence and [too many problems]."
"We are really in trouble now, and under pressure now."
Mr Hassan said they were all confined to one room at the centre in West Timor. He said the group was mentally and physically exhausted. ... [RNZI - 7/6/15]
Sydney Morning Herald [2/6/15]:
... Fishermen spotted two boats floating near Landuti island in the West Rote district, 500 kilometres north-east of the Australian coast, on Sunday.
"They looked exhausted," Rote police chief Hidayat said.
"One female passenger is pregnant – we took her immediately to the hospital but she is ok now."
Mr Hidayat said the migrants told him they had been caught by Australian customs on May 26, who sunk their boat.
They were put in two blue and white boats, and sent back into Indonesian waters. ...
... Tourism Minister Arief said that among the 47 new countries that would be granted visa exemptions were the Vatican, San Marino, India, Taiwan and Australia. ... 47 more nations to get visa waivers [Jakarta Post - 2/9/15]
Hadi Zaher [New Matilda - 24/5/15]:
… Where regional countries, including the Philippines, have come forward to help on humanitarian grounds, Australia has resorted to political sloganeering and looked the other way. Rohingya refugees are considered one of the world's most vulnerable and brutalised people.
The danger is that once we, one of the aspiring leaders of a liberal world, cherry-pick international laws, we set precedents for regional countries, and we lose the moral high ground.
If we can choose to willfully ignore, manipulate, and ignore our international commitments, what’s to stop or shame other countries, with bleak human rights record, from doing the same!?
In 2015, we have passively and gradually come to accept this standard of response and practice from our government. We sit by idly as our sense of obligation to the rest of the world, and our understanding of human rights and their importance, undergo a paradigm shift. We morph into an isolationist member of the international community.
If the responses in both social and news media are any indications of the matters we care about, the indefinite offshore detention of asylum seekers - who have broken no laws by coming to Australia to apply for asylum - is a non-issue. The alleged abuse of children in detention on Nauru does not raise many eyebrows; the stranded Rohingya are somebody else’s problem.
Johnny Depp’s dogs, however, are both an issue and a matter of reputation for Australia, and deserve consistent media and political attention. …
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