Fascism 101: Ignore the human rights atrocity
Australia represented by @SenatorCash & @AusAWG [Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AM, Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls] at the opening session of #CSW59 [The fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women]
Image: @AustraliaUN - Gillian Bird - Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations [9/3/15]
Last authentic communication from Nauru - 5 March.
Since then, silence.
No human rights/refugee organisation/politician has called for transparency, information, or for journalists, the UN or lawyers to have access.
No organisation or politician has called on Australia to stop torturing refugees.
What is happening to the refugees who were arrested last week?
Hope In A Slingshot <------- Here's an example of the type of censorship the Australian media are deliberately undertaking (as they did during the Manus hunger strikes, arrests and beatings) in their blackout of the Nauru refugee arrests.
Australia will do anything to keep torturing refugees on Nauru - spying, lying etc.
... On the thirty-first floor a gold-plated door
Won't keep out the Lord's burning rain ...
'Sin City', The Flying Burrito Brothers 
... When pressed by Mr Moss over allegations that Save the Children staff encouraged asylum seekers to self harm, Mr Mitchell provided no specific evidence, instead citing a previous report from former operations manager at Nauru, Greg Lake.
"I'm feeding back to Lake's comments in July," Mr Mitchell said.
"He says he knows this goes on. Coaching absolutely does go on."
Mr Moss said more clarification was needed.
"To my mind there's a world of difference between a general state of implying self-harm can be coached, and self-harm is being coached in the context of a particular series of demonstrations," he said.
"I know 75 per cent. It's three quarters of the way there to confidence, to full confidence," Mr Mitchell responded.
In one instance, Wilson Security's senior intelligence analyst cited a tweet from journalist Daniel Pye, as evidence Save the Children staff were leaking information to the media.
In his testimony to the Moss inquiry, Mr Mitchell said: "This is a guy who works for the Phnom Penh Times, so he's in direct contact with someone on Nauru."
"He's talking about academics working with refugees confirmed seven suicide attempts yesterday to me. Well, the only academics that work inside the centre are employed by Save the Children."
But Mr Mitchell misinterpreted Mr Pye's tweet. It contains a link to an article he wrote for Al Jazeera.
Mr Pye was not quoting Save the Children staff but Professor Suvendrini Perera.
Professor Perera had spoken directly with asylum seekers on Nauru and was quoted on the record for Mr Pye's article. She works for Curtin University, not Save the Children.
Mr Mitchell's testimony before the Moss inquiry also revealed he was approached to gather information on Save the Children in the lead-up to the Government's announcement of an inquiry.
"I think it was either the 28th or the 29th of September," he told Mr Moss.
"I was approached by someone from the department [who] just said that we're interested in anything you've got on Save the Children."
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was unavailable for interview.
"We're not going to comment before the report is released," a spokesman for the Minister said.
There is speculation the Moss report will be released this week. Lateline understands it will detail allegations of sexual abuse as well as the trade in sexual favours between guards and detainees.
The transcripts of evidence seen by the ABC contain harrowing testimonies of sexual abuse.
Australia to South Sudanese refugees: Stay where you are and eat lentils, if you don't, we'll torture you.
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said the government of Australia donated $1.1 million to provide assistance to South Sudanese who have been forced into Sudan since conflict broke out in their country in 2013.
WFP said in a press release on Sunday that the Australian contribution will enable it to buy 600 metric tons of pulses, enough to feed 66,650 people for five months.
According to the press release, “WFP is currently assisting close to 70,000 South Sudanese in Sudan’s North Kordofan, South Kordofan, West Kordofan and White Nile states.”
Australia’s Chargé d’Affaires to Sudan, Brett Young, said his country is pleased to offer this contribution to assist the efforts of South Sudan’s neighbours to provide protection and support to South Sudanese populations.
“We welcome the government of Sudan’s efforts to register and document populations coming from South Sudan in order to ensure their access to humanitarian assistance.” he added.
In 2014, Australia contributed $1.8 million to WFP’s operations in Sudan, allowing the agency to buy food such as cereals and pulses which were distributed to vulnerable people in Sudan. This was the first direct Australian contribution to WFP’s operations in Sudan since 2010.
WFP Sudan country director Adnan Khan, for his part, said they are grateful to the Australian people and government for this timely contribution which will allow them provide life-saving food assistance to the South Sudanese who have sought refuge in Sudan.
“This contribution enhances our ongoing efforts to respond to their [South Sudanese refugees] needs effectively and efficiently,” he added.
Under an agreement made with the governments of Sudan and South Sudan in July 2014, WFP is moving convoys of trucks and barges carrying food through Sudan to South Sudan for distribution to those affected by the ongoing civil war across the border.
“To date, WFP Sudan has transported 2,800 metric tons of food assistance to South Sudan with a plan to move a further 21,000 metric tons within the coming three months.”, press release read.
Twenty one UN humanitarian agencies are operating in Sudan including the WFP which began its operations since 1963 besides 104 foreign aid groups which are mainly operating in conflict areas where the Sudanese army is fighting against 4 rebel groups in 8 states including South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.
The UN estimates as many as 300,000 people have been killed and almost 3 million people have been displaced in Darfur since rebel movements took up arms against the Khartoum government in 2003.
UN reports also estimate that 1.2 million people have been affected by the conflict which erupted between the Sudanese army and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile state since 2011.
According to the press release, “for the first half of 2015, WFP plans to assist 3.7 million people, 2.8 million of whom are in the conflict-affected region of Darfur and 890,000 are in central and eastern Sudan including people who fled conflict in South Sudan.”
Pissweak, refugee torturing Australian government still hasn't withdrawn our Ambassador from Indonesia
Jakarta Post [8/3/15]:
The execution of 10 convicts on Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, will most likely be postponed, with the relevant officials leaving the regency.
Officials from the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the National Police reportedly checked out of their hotels on Friday.
“That’s right, they checked out on Friday. Most of them were police officers,” said a receptionist of the Wijaya Kusuma Hotel, who asked for anonymity, on Saturday.
She said that as of Thursday, her hotel had been fully occupied by mostly police personnel.
Earlier, almost all hotels in Cilacap, especially those located in downtown Cilacap, had enjoyed full occupancy rates, as two high-profile convicts, Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan of the so-called Bali Nine drug trafficking gang, were escorted to Nusakambangan for execution.
A member of staff at Sindoro Hotel said the hotel had been fully booked a week before the Bali Nine duo had arrived in Nusakambangan. They were booked for a week’s stay, starting from March 3.
Yet, on Saturday, the staff said, many of the hotel’s rooms were already vacant.
Meanwhile, Ursa Supit, the lawyer of Nigerian death-row inmate Raheem Agbaje Salami, who has been in Cilacap for three days, confirmed the departures.
“There are no more prosecutors in Nusakambangan. They’ve all returned to Jakarta,” Ursa said.
He said the government had to reconsider postponing the executions, as many of the death-row convicts scheduled to be executed were still undergoing the legal process.
“My client Raheem, for example, had to attend a trial at the Jakarta State Administrative Court on Monday, for the rejection of our judicial review proposal,” Ursa said.
As of Saturday, security measures at the prison island’s Wijaya Kusuma Dock appeared less tight than before. No police officers were seen guarding the dock and only the prison’s security officers were seen checking on visitors.
On Friday, AGO spokesman Tony Spontana said the executions would unlikely be conducted soon, although nine of the death-row convicts, including Sukumaran and Chan, had arrived in Nusakambangan.
Earlier, many speculated that the executions would be conducted this weekend based on the January executions of six drug traffickers who spent three days on the prison island before facing the firing squad.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian Embassy in Indonesia was reportedly still awaiting a reply from the AGO regarding its request to send Brazilian death-row inmate Rodrigo Gularte to a mental hospital for treatment, as the Cilacap regency-owned RSUD Hospital had declared him mentally ill.
“We have sent the official letter to the AGO but have not yet received a response,” Brazilian Deputy Ambassador to Indonesia Leonardo Monteiro said in Jakarta on Saturday as quoted by Antara news agency.
Previously, Attorney General M. Prasetyo said that according to the law on the death penalty, mental illness was not a reason for the postponement of an execution.
“No regulation says so. Exceptions apply only to pregnant women and those under the age of 18. For others, there are no exceptions.Gularte did not have a mental illness when he committed the crime,” Prasetyo said.
Thanks for bailing us out ... now it's back to business! (until next time)
General Motors Co. said Monday it will launch a $5 billion share buyback and put forward a new plan for capital allocation that promises investors the potential for further cash returns.
GM reached a deal with an investor group that averts a proxy fight.
As part of the agreement, investor Harry Wilson will drop his effort to get a seat on GM's board.
Wilson praised the company's capital plan.
Mount Isa student gains spot at Harvard
North West Star [9/3/15]:
Sixteen-year-old Good Shepherd Catholic College student Kathrin Orda will take up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study at Harvard University.
Kathrin was the only Australian student chosen to attend this year’s Harvard program and was overwhelmed by the news she had been accepted into the university.
Each year, 94 per cent of applications are rejected from Harvard.
After moving to Australia from Germany in 2008, Kathrin started school not knowing any English but through hard work, determination and a dedication to her studies, has now surpassed expectations.
Kathrin said she was approached by Good Shepherd Catholic College head of the English department John Harrop to apply for the program.
“At the end of last year my English teacher asked if I wanted to apply for the program,” she said.
“American students get first preference but in the end I was the only one in Australia to get in.”
“Thirty-two people in Queensland applied to do this program and somehow I was selected.”
Kathrin admitted it still hadn’t quite sunk in that she will be going to Harvard since receiving her acceptance email.
“I was overwhelmed. I didn’t think I had much of a chance to be selected and to be told I was selected was really great,” she said.
Kathrin applied to take neurobiology and biology of cancer courses while at Harvard, which once she has completed, will be recognised in any university in the world.
Kathrin said she will be living on campus and will be able to participate in activities within the university.
“You always hear about everyone going to Harvard and just being one of those people selected to go is just a fantastic opportunity,” she said.
“I think the curriculum will be very different for me because I haven’t experienced university before but I will still have a really great support system back here if I have any questions.”
In the future Kathrin hopes to study medicine at James Cook University focusing on development of medication in third world countries.
Queensland surgeon who lashed out at Bundaberg airport security staff fined for being public nuisance
A Queensland surgeon has been fined for causing a public nuisance at the Bundaberg airport in the state's south.
Bundaberg Magistrates Court court heard, Kamal Praveena Galketiya, 40, became violent towards airport security staff after he was asked to undertake a routine bomb swab test last May.
He told staff the process was racist and struggled with several guards before he was arrested.
His defence argued the behaviour was out of character for the doctor, who had lost his locum jobs at the Bundaberg and Bega hospitals because of the incident.
The prosecution dropped the initial common assault and stealing charge but Galketiya pled guilty to public nuisance.
Magistrate John Smith said the case was made more serious because the offending occurred at an airport.
No-conviction was recorded and he was fined $650.
Townsville man receives life sentence for 2013 murder of girlfriend
A man from Townsville, in north Queensland, has received a life sentence for the violent murder of his girlfriend in February 2013.
Selwyn Collins, 42, has pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in Townsville to murdering 41-year-old mother Lisa Harwood.
Police found Ms Harwood's body in her Vincent home on February 16, 2013.
The court has heard Ms Harwood was trying to leave Collins when they got into an argument and he attacked her with a hockey stick and cut her throat.
Collins called police 24 hours later.
A victim impact statement read out in court said the event had ripped apart Ms Harwood's family.
Man pleads guilty to rape, torture of girlfriend
A man who admitted to violently raping his girlfriend before locking her inside a remote shipping container on the Gold Coast will be sentenced next week.
The man, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to raping and torturing the woman on White Ribbon Day – a day of global campaigning to stop violence against women – in November of 2012.
The woman, aged in her 20s, was found by police gagged and tied to a trolley inside a locked storage unit on a remote property near Tallai after neighbours reported hearing her screams for help.
A man at the address, who tried telling responding officers he was home alone, was arrested and charged over the brutal attack.
Now aged in his 30s, the man will return to court for sentencing on March 19 after pleading guilty.
Man pleads not guilty to raping teenager on sailing
A man has pleaded not guilty to repeatedly raping a teenage woman who worked aboard a yacht almost 30 years ago.
John Collins, 76, pleaded not guilty to three counts of rape and one count of sexual assault at a trial in the Brisbane District Court on Monday.
Crown prosecutor David Nardone said the complainant, who can't be identified, was 19 when she answered Collins' 1986 newspaper advertisement seeking a companion and tutor for a boy aboard the yacht.
The vessel, which had other adults on board, was to sail up the Queensland coast.
Mr Nardone said once the trip was underway, Collins began harassing the teen and asking her for sex but she rebuffed his advances.
After a group dinner on a deserted island, the others returned to the yacht, leaving Collins alone with the young woman.
"The accused started to touch (the woman) and he would not take no for an answer," Mr Nardone said.
"In order to get what it was that he wanted, he threatened to harm (her) parents.
"He had told her that he knew bad people capable of hurting them."
The woman reluctantly agreed to sex, and wept during it.
The prosecutor said the following day Collins again forced her to have sex in a room on the yacht.
The day after, when moored off Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, Collins sexually assaulted the teen on deck and raped her in his cabin.
Later a woman on Hamilton Island helped the teen buy passage to the mainland where she was able to contact her parents.
Mr Nardone said the complainant never told her parents the full story but contacted police many years later.
She gave evidence on Monday in a closed court.
The trial continues.
Bird pleads not guilty to
Nine MSN [9/3/15]:
Gold Coast rugby league star Greg Bird says he is keen to return to the Titans squad after pleading not guilty to cocaine supply charges at Southport Magistrates Court this morning.
NSW and Australia representative Bird, 31, is facing two charges of supplying cocaine following a Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission investigation into a drug trafficking syndicate in the state's south.
Bird has been remanded on bail until May 8.
Police had to speak with a man who heckled Bird by shouting, "Rack 'em up Birdy," as the player left court.
NSW Origin forward Bird responded "I do" when asked by reporters if he intends to be available for the Titans' round two clash against Penrith on Saturday.
It's been reported one of Bird's offences is alleged to have occurred a day after his wedding in Byron Bay in December last year.
That's the same day Bird was caught urinating in public, an incident that resulted in him being fined by the Titans and stripped of the NRL club's co-captaincy.
It's believed the first incident allegedly occurred during Bird's bucks' party on November 21.
Bird's Titans teammates Dave Taylor and Kalifa Faifai Loa also pleaded not guilty to cocaine charges today.
Their appearances come after current Titans' players Beau Falloon and Jamie Dowling faced the same court last Thursday.
Falloon and Dowling's matters were both adjourned until May 8.
The lawyer representing the five Gold Coast players, Campbell MacCallum, is set to meet the club's board this afternoon to push for their immediate reinstatement to the Titans squad.
Representatives from the Rugby League Players' Association are also expected to attend the meeting.
Last week former NRL star and current Queensland Reds Super Rugby player Karmichael Hunt pleaded guilty to four counts of possession and was fined $2500 by the court last week.
He was fined a further $30,000 by the Australian Rugby Union and handed a six-week suspension from the Reds.
Detectives from the Tablelands have charged a man following the discovery of a cannabis plantation at a property in Koah yesterday. … [QPS Media – 9/3/15]
Armed robbery, East Ipswich
QPS Media [9/3/15]:
Police are investigating an armed robbery at a bakery on Jacaranda Street in East Ipswich early this morning.
Around 12.40am a man armed with a hand gun entered the shop and threatened the male attendant demanding money.
The attendant complied and the offender fled on foot with a sum of cash. No one was physically injured as a result of the incident.
The man is described as wearing dark clothing, 180cm tall and of solid build
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Armed robbery, Toowoomba
QPS Media [9/3/15]:
Police are investigating an armed robbery at a Toowoomba service station this morning.
At 5.30am, a man armed with a knife, entered the Perth and Mackenzie Streets business and threatened the male attendant and demanded money.
He left the scene on foot with a sum of cash, and was last seen on Mackenzie Street heading towards James Street.
No-one was physically injured during the incident.
The man may have left the scene in a vehicle parked in an adjacent street.
The man is described as being 180cm tall with a medium build, had his face covered and was wearing a long-sleeved maroon and yellow shirt, black track suit pants and shoes.
Police are appealing to anyone with information who may have been walking or running in the area at the time of the incident to call Toowoomba CIB on 4631 6400 or Crime Stoppers.
Break and enter, Toowoomba
QPS Media [9/3/15]:
Police are investigating a break and enter at a Toowoomba pharmacy last night.
At 9.20pm, a stolen Toyota Prado wagon was used to force entry through the front entrance of the High Street chemist, causing significant damage.
Two males then entered the store but did not take any property.
Toowoomba detectives believe a third person may have been in the vehicle, which was stolen from a local dealership earlier on.
The men left the scene in the vehicle which was located abandoned nearby.
Police believe a second vehicle, a black BMW sedan, which was also stolen from the same dealership as the Prado, may also have been involved in the incident.
One man is described as being of medium height and build, and the second man is described as having a solid build and medium height.
Anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious is urged to contact Toowoomba CIB on 4631 6400 or Crime Stoppers.
Suspicious fire, Marian (near Mackay)
QPS Media [9/3/15]:
Police are investigating a fire that occurred at Marian Eton Road in Marian yesterday.
Emergency crews attended the address around 9.15pm to find the vacant residence well alight, causing significant damage.
The fire is being treated as suspicious and a crime scene has been declared as investigations continue.
Police would like to urge any witnesses that may be able to assist police with their investigations into the matter to contact Crime Stoppers.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Anger, grief accompany coroner's finding into fatal Sydney nursing home blaze
Nine MSN [9/3/15]:
There were scenes of grief and anger at the inquest into a Sydney nursing home fire today, with families telling the owners they should be ashamed of their response.
Fourteen families of the Quaker's Hill nursing home fire victims arrived at the inquest looking for answers, only to leave united in unimaginable anger.
Nurse Roger Dean was sentenced to life in jail last year after pleading guilty to 11 counts of murder.
But the grief-stricken families were seeking a finding against the home's owner, Domain (Opal).
"Believe you me, Domain. This is not over. You should be held responsible. Shame on you. (Dean) should have never got in those doors," said Linda Morrow, a friend of one victim.
Dean lit the fire to cover up his theft of painkillers, a blaze which eventually claimed 14 lives.
They were mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, grandparents, friends.
Families say their memories have been tainted by painful recollections of soot-covered faces and frightened eyes.
"Why do people have to get killed to fix something? Why?" said Paul Cachia, son of fire victim Emmanuela Cachia.
Today, a raft of recommendations was put forward, including better background checks on staff and increased security measures when accessing drugs on site or through "doctor shopping".
The inquest also highlighted design flaws within the home itself, including fire doors.
"This excellent design feature also jammed hoses as they were being advanced towards the worst of the fires," said Magistrate Hugh Dillon.
The coroner found that nursing staff here at the home behaved commendably at the height of the emergency, apart from one crucial aspect: no one called Triple Zero.
This slowed the response of firefighters. Had staff received adequate fire training, lives could have possibly been saved.
The nursing home's owners failed to attend court for the findings, instead releasing a statement: "We have reviewed every circumstance leading up to and following this event to inform our policies and procedures now and in the future."
Truck carrying guns, 'ammo', quad bikes bursts into flames, Warrego Highway [Chronicle – 9/3/15]
Update – fatal traffic crash, Kelvin Grove
QPS Media [9/3/15]:
Investigations into a fatal traffic crash at Kelvin Grove on Saturday are continuing with investigators appealing for public assistance.
Investigations indicate a motorcycle ridden by a 33-year-old man collided with a car before crashing into a tree off Herston Road around 5.40pm.
The rider died after being taken to hospital.
The female driver of the car was not injured.
Police would like to speak with anyone in the vicinity at the time and may have seen a blue and white trail bike or a red motorcycle being ridden in the area prior to, or after the crash.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
One killed, one critical and one injured in morning smash
News Mail [9/3/15]:
A female Chinese national has died following an early morning crash at Oakwood.
The two-car crash occurred on the Rosedale Rd at about 5.30am.
The woman, in her mid-20s, was the passenger in a car that police suspect failed to give way.
The driver of the car, a 20-year-old male Chinese national, has been transported to Bundaberg Hospital in a critical condition.
Bundaberg Control Group Acting Inspector Grant Marcus said initial investigations suggested the Holden Astra failed to give way.
The third person in the car, a woman, has been hospitalised with serious injuries.
The two occupants of the other vehicle did not suffer any serious injuries.
Fatal traffic crash, Oakwood [QPS Media - 9/3/15]
Cow hit by truck on the Peak Downs Highway
Daily Mercury [9/3/15]:
A cow was killed on the Peak Downs Hwy near Nebo in the early hours of Sunday morning, causing a cattle truck to veer off the side of the road.
The truck driver was not hurt.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews from Walkerston and Mackay were called to the scene at 3am yesterday.
However, their services were not required as SES Nebo volunteers were quick to arrive at the incident near The Junction.
The dead beast had to be removed from the highway.
Woman in critical condition after being struck by car in driveway of Melbourne unit block [Nine MSN – 9/3/15]
Driver crashes into Surfers Paradise resort [MYGC - 9/3/15]
Driver flees Southport crash scene [MYGC – 9/3/15]
Business as usual
Queensland is like a beautiful girl with lots of money. But stupid. For some reason she just loves to open her purse and bare her big pink arse to the world and say 'Fuck me over, please' to all comers. And trust me, the fuckers come running.
Andrew McGahan, 'Last Drinks' 
Queensland's premier has tried to save a drab 1970s office block from a multi-billion dollar CBD makeover plan.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she asked her department last week whether it was possible save the government Executive Building on George Street.
"I wanted to know whether or not we could keep this Executive Building for the use of ministers," she said.
But the premier admitted on Monday that keeping the building was unlikely because the former Liberal National Party government had already sold it.
The Executive Building will be one of many demolished to make way for a multi-billion resort and casino development in the CBD.
Both Echo Entertainment and Crown Resorts are bidding for the project, which was initiated by the LNP government.
The credibility of Lawrence Springborg’s wait time guarantee has been blown out of the water with revelations that $77 million was to be spent on advertising and bureaucracy over three years, Health Minister Cameron Dick said today. ... [Media Release - 8/3/15]
IBM Corp was sued on Monday by a shareholder that said it committed securities fraud by failing to write down a money-losing semiconductor unit before agreeing to pay another company $1.5 billion to take that unit off its hands.
The lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court arose from IBM's announcement last Oct. 20 that it would sell the unit to GlobalFoundries Inc, and take a related $4.7 billion pre-tax charge.
... [Reuters - 2/3/15]
An agreement in principle has been reached between IBM and residents in Endicott who suffered injuries as a result of environmental contamination caused, at least in part, by the computer manufacturer at its North Street facility.
The agreement was announced via a joint statement late Tuesday evening. Both parties began discussions last July, per the request of state Supreme Court Justice Justice Ferrous D. Lebous after years of litigation that began in 2008. ... [WBNG - 11/2/15]
Queensland Attorney-General considers call to change driving laws as coroner recommends new mid-range charge for unlicensed drivers [ABC - 9/3/15]
North West Star [9/3/15]:
... “The Hughenden Chamber of Commerce, Hann Highway Action Group and Flinders Shire Council are holding a Regional roads Forum to convince Government Ministers, Senators, high level Government officers, development officers and groups that the completion of the Hann Highway must be a priority to provide an inland alternative road from Cairns to Melbourne.”
Mr Katter said the Hann Highway would shave off eight hours and 800 kilometres from the Cairns-to-Melbourne trip and will enable the use of triple road trains.
“One Triple road train can take the place of two B Doubles on the Highway and will save congestion, wear and tear on the Bruce highway which is a huge carrot for government,” he said.
US-owned Australian media full of sh*t: Malaysia Airlines
Malaysia Airlines Media Statement [9/3/15]:
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) welcomes the publication of the Interim Statement from the Safety Investigation for MH370 (9M-MRO) published by the Ministry of Transport, Government of Malaysia.
MAS lost 13 dear friends and colleagues on board the flight. We also want to find all of the answers as fast as possible.
MAS has supported and cooperated fully with the investigation from the beginning, across several lines of enquiry, and will continue to do so. MAS will act on any specific recommendations made in the final report.
MAS would like to clarify two points made in the interim report findings:
1. As stated in the findings of the report, the Engineering Maintenance System was not updated correctly when the ULB battery was first installed. This was a maintenance scheduling oversight.
However a similar ULB unit is also installed with the Solid State Cockpit Voice Recorder (SSCVR) and the battery life was still valid on the day of the event as stated in the Interim Report Factual Information document. The CVR is installed side by side with the Solid State Flight Data Recorder (SSFDR) at the E7 Avionic rack. The SSCVR battery would have been transmitting for 30 days upon activation when immersed in water.
2. The consignment of Motorola Lithium-ion batteries was physically inspected by MASKargo personnel in Penang and customs inspectors prior to being sealed before it left the Penang Cargo Complex. The inspection procedures followed for this consignment are in line with those defined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
MAS has already taken significant steps to improve safety in response to the loss of MH370. The airline has consistently adhered to the standards required by the International Air Transport Association (“IATA”) Operational Safety Audit (“IOSA”) programme, as part of its compliance with IATA membership requirements. In March 2015 it will voluntarily adopt the Enhanced IATA Operational Safety Audit to further enhance operational safety and security practices.
Flight tracking and monitoring procedures are being enhanced. We have upgraded our Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) across the entire MAS fleet. Since December 2014, the B777 fleet ACARS position report intervals have been changed from the 30 minute ACARS protocol previously in place, to match the recent ICAO mandated 15 minute reporting interval. Our B737-8, A330 and A380 fleet are now set at 10 minute reporting intervals.
We are also preparing to upgrade our flight tracking application using the SITA system. Once implemented, every aircraft will be tracked using ADS-B, Ground Radar and ACARS. This will allow the dispatcher to see both the aircraft’s actual track and projected track. Flight planning and flight monitoring is also now better integrated.
MAS will continue to review its operations and procedures to enhance flight safety.
NZ spying has ramifications for Fiji NGO's safety
A prominent non-government organisation in Fiji, the Citizens' Constitutional Forum, says reported mass surveillance by New Zealand could affect the group's safety and security.
The comments by the CCF chair Akuila Yabaki come following last week's report that New Zealand is spying on its regional neighbours, including Fiji and passing the information on to the United States.
The Reverend Yabaki says it is a concern that the group's communications are being monitored on the international stage.
"The way the information is used could potentially have repercussions on CSOs like CCF as we are already working under a challenging political environment for the last number of years. At the end of the day it's about our security and safety at stake here."
The Reverend Yabaki says if the reports are true it is probably time for Fiji to get international protection for its citizens' privacy by ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
He says it is understandable such mass surveillance is happening, given the geopolitical landscape of the last few years and a lack of information about China's aid activities in the Pacific.
Pratap Chatterjee, Is Drone Warfare Fraying at the Edges? [Tomdispatch.com - 5/3/15]:
… Back in the United States, a combination of lower-class status in the military, overwork, and psychological trauma appears to be taking its mental toll on drone pilots. During the Vietnam War, soldiers would desert, flee to Canada, or even “frag” -- kill -- their officers. But what do you do when you’ve had it with your war, but your battle station is a cubicle in Nevada and your weapon is a keyboard?
Is it possible that, like their victims in Pakistan and Yemen who say that they are going mad from the constant buzz of drones overhead and the fear of sudden death without warning, drone pilots, too, are fleeing into the night as soon as they can? Since the Civil War in the U.S., war of every modern sort has produced mental disturbances that have been given a variety of labels, including what we today call PTSD. In a way, it would be surprising if a completely new form of warfare didn’t produce a new form of disturbance. …
FOI - US Global Hawk Drone @ Avalon:
On the evening of 21st February, an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone piloted remotely by the US Air Force landed at Melbourne's Avalon Airport ahead of the Australian International Airshow 2015.
“It is the first time a military unmanned aerial system has been in civil airspace with a civil air traffic control service in Australia, and the first time a military UAS has landed at a civil airport.”
- RAAF Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown
The news of a US military drone flying in coordination with Australian civil air traffic control, and landing at an Australian civil airport for the first time, comes as the news breaks that RAAF pilots are in the US training to fly MQ-9 Reaper drones. ( http://www.defense-unmanned.com/article/1699/raaf-... )
It also comes in the context that "The United States flew highly classified Global Hawk spy drone missions from the Royal Australian Air Force base at Edinburgh in South Australia from late 2001 until at least 2006." ( http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-03/revealed-us-... )
I filed a FOI request (first with CASA, who passed it on to Defence) for the Risk Assessment for the US Global Hawk landing at Avalon in February 2015.
Department of Defence have identified 93 pages which may fit the request.
How the funds will be used
If raised, the $144 will pay Dept Defence to process the FOI request. Dept Defence may or may not release or redact the documents.
Australia tortures refugees.
THAT is the issue.
Reject the political and media establishment framing.
#Brisbane protests as #Geneva condemns Australia's treatment of #asylumseekers & #refugees. ...
Image: @kristin8X [9/3/15]
The Prime Minister's response to UN's finding that Australia tortures refugees via @ABCNews24 [9/3/15]:
Tony Abbott: The conditions on Manus Island are reasonable...all of the basic needs of the people on Manus Island are being met ...
Tony Abbott:The UN would have a lot more credibility if they were to give some credit to the Australian Govt for what we've achieved ...
Tony Abbott: I really think Australians are sick
of being lectured to by the UN particularly given that we have stopped the boats
Where's the opposition?
UN slams indefinite refugee detention as cruel, inhuman and degrading [ABC- AM - 23/8/13]:
TONY EASTLEY: Refugee advocates want the Federal Government to immediately release people who've received an adverse security assessment and been held in indefinite detention.
The UN human rights watchdog has issued a damning report which criticised what it describes as the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of asylum seekers.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee wants the Government to release the detainees, help in their rehabilitation, and to pay compensation.
The Federal Government says it will carefully consider the report before formulating any a response.
Ashley Hall reports from Canberra.
ASHLEY HALL: The case involves two complaints lodged in 2011 and 2012 covering 46 people recognised as refugees but denied a visa and held in detention because the spy agency ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) deemed them a security risk. They asked the committee for help to get out.
NIGEL RODLEY: We can't but view them seriously.
ASHLEY HALL: Sir Nigel Rodley is the chair of the UN's Human Rights Committee.
NIGEL RODLEY: Not only do they not have any grounds for challenging the continuing detention because they don't know what it is that's alleged against them when it's a security determination, the fact that it's indefinite as well has had serious psychological effects on them.
And so it's not just an issue of arbitrary detention, which would be serious enough, but it really amounts to prohibited ill-treatment of the people who have been put in this situation.
ASHLEY HALL: The committee's findings are, as I understand it, non-binding. How confident are you that the Australian Government will take them seriously and not simply thumb their nose at the committee?
NIGEL RODLEY: We're not just a self-selecting bunch of individuals. We're the people set up by the state in order to reach decisions like this. And it would be a disrespect to the institution not to take it seriously I think.
JANE MCADAM: Internationally it's highly embarrassing for a country like Australia to have the UN Human Rights Committee say something like this.
ASHLEY HALL: Jane McAdam is a professor of law at the University of New South Wales.
JANE MCADAM: This is, it's certainly not the first time that the UN Human Rights Committee has expressed the view that Australia's mandatory detention regime and indefinite detention constitutes a violation of human rights law. Australia's response has been to say, well, that's how we do things here. But Australia has voluntarily committed itself to these standards through its ratification of human rights treaty.
ASHLEY HALL: The former immigration ombudsman Allan Asher is doubtful the Government will follow the committee's recommendations.
ALLAN ASHER: So far they've shown a singular lack of an ability to understand what the courts have said, what every prominent judicial body in Australia have said and I don't suppose they'll change their minds now.
ASHLEY HALL: Well, I guess the Government would argue that they have a responsibility to national security to ensure that these people who are found to be a security risk aren't in the community. How do you put to rest those concerns?
ALLAN ASHER: In order to deprive somebody of their liberty, there should be some ability for an individual to test the evidence against them.
ASHLEY HALL: A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says the Government will carefully consider the committee's views and respond within the six months allowed. She says the Government is actively looking for a solution to the problem.
TONY EASTLEY: Ashley Hall reporting.
Queensland may face Cyclone Nathan, as low looms large
Morning Bulletin [9/3/15]:
A cyclone named Nathan could strike Queensland's coastline before the end of the week, after a Tropical Low formed south of Papua New Guinea this morning.
It is one of two major soon-to-be cylones building in the area, with the smaller of the two expected to develop into a cyclone and head towards Cape York Peninsula.
The larger is expected to evolve into a powerful Category Three system, delivering powerful winds and rain to the pacific nations of Fiji and Vanuatu.
Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Jess Carey said our cyclone - likely to be named Nathan when it forms on Wednesday - will cross the Queensland coast "later this week".
If a system off the West Australian coast develops first, the northern cyclone would be dubbed Olwyn.
It comes just weeks after Cyclone Marcia barrelled into the Central Queensland coastal towns, after shocking weather watchers by strengthening from a Category One to a Category Four system in just 10 hours.
Marcia destroyed properties in Yeppoon and Rockhampton after it made landfall on February 20.
Nathan's chances of expanding into a cyclone lie between 20% and 50%
at the moment, but the Bureau believes its chances will be stronger from
The timing and intensity of the looming cyclone is still unknown, because the Tropical Low is so young.
BOM boffins do not believe Nathan would head south towards Queensland's more heavily-populated regions.
"At this stage, the most favoured track is that westerly route across the (Cape York) peninsula and into the Gulf of Carpentaria," Mr Carey said.
He emphasised that cyclone movements were always difficult to predict.
Fiji Times [9/3/15]:
Tropical Depression 11F was located about 1300 kilometres northwest of Nadi this morning.
The system is presently slow moving and is expected to move towards the south in the next 24 hours.
It continues to intensify and is expected to form into a tropical cyclone in the next 12 to 24 hours.
The National Weather Forecasting Centre is anticipating it to be a Category Three cyclone.
If it continues on its projected path, the system is expected to pass towards the southwest of Fiji.
The NWFC will issue another update at 4pm.
Bottled water available for residents [Morning Bulletin – 9/3/15]:
Rockhampton Regional Council will today have bottled water available to residents.
This comes after council received drinking water complaints from the community.
Residents are being reminded the change in water is temporary and remains safe to drink, despite a slight musty or earthy taste the last few days as a result of TC Marcia.
This slight change to the quality of drinking water supplied by FRW is due to the large quantity of leaf matter and other vegetation that has been stripped from trees by TC Marcia and together with soil has been washed by the heavy rainfall into the upstream creeks and rivers that flow into the Fitzroy River.
The only extra care to be taken is when washing white clothing and linen.
This discolouration does not present in all areas of the network and FRW are continuing efforts to minimise the issue and further media will be provided as the situation changes.
Residents can collect bottled water from the below manned locations between 11am-1pm and 4pm-6pm today:
- Heritage Village Car Park, Boundary Road
- Church Park Car Park, Glenmore Road
- Judd Park Car Park, Norman Road
Please note: Only one carton (24 bottles) available per family.
Concern over plans to mine oil shale in Baffle catchment [Gladstone Observer – 9/3/15]
Religious bigots raise money for homophobic advertisement.
Victims of pedophile priests remain uncompensated.
In something of a David and Goliath feat, a small group of Toowoomba residents has bankrolled a television advertising campaign targeting the same-sex marriage lobby.
President of the Australian Marriage Forum Dr David van Gend, a Toowoomba family doctor, called for help to raise the $20,000 required to make and run the advertisements in Sydney at the weekend.
The ads focussing on same-sex marriage from the viewpoint of the rights of the child, ran in prime time Saturday night on Channel 9 and Channel 7 in Sydney in direct opposition to the 2015 Sydney Mardi Gras parade which one media report claimed attracted a crowd of 200,000.
The advertisement was pulled by SBS management.
The AMF ads, which featured Dr van Gend, reportedly reached a prospective television audience of 800,000 across Sydney.
Dr van Gend yesterday thanked parishioners of the Holy Name Catholic Church in Toowoomba through which $21,000 had been raised in about one week for the weekend's advertising campaign in Sydney.
He asked parishioners to pray for him and those associated with their campaign which he said often received an "ugly" response from some proponents of same-sex marriage.
Dr van Gend said he expected to be interviewed about the issue on national morning television as early as today.
In the AMF television ad, which can be viewed at australianmarriage.org Dr van Gend contends that the same-sex marriage debate dealt solely with the rights of the adult and not the rights of the child concerned.
"Children have an equal right wherever possible to both a mum and a dad," Dr van Gend said.
"So-called marriage equality forces a child to miss out on a mother or a father.
"That's not equality for the kids who miss out. That's not marriage."
National director of Australian Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, was quoted by Sydney media yesterday saying the ads timing highlighted how "out of place anti-gay prejudice is in our increasingly inclusive and respectful society."
"If this campaign has any impact at all, its obvious prejudice and fear mongering will actually increase support for marriage equality," he was quoted.
The report said Mr Croome claimed children currently in the care of same-sex couples deserve the same opportunities as other children.
How to maintain the status quo (or make things worse).
Queensland's punishment and abuse fetishising political and media establishment keen on using domestic violence as an excuse to further undermine the rule of law by removing rights.
Gladstone Observer [9/3/15]:
Six Gladstone women fell victim to domestic violence over the weekend as momentum to do something about the issue starts to build.
Police confirmed the six victims in the past two days joined an increasing number being hurt in the home - there were 78 cases recorded in the past month alone.
However, drastic measures like those on the verge of being adopted in New South Wales - where Mike Baird's government wants to set up a register to allow women to check the violent history of their partners - is not getting a lot of support in Queensland.
Instead, this state's effort is likely to focus on recommendations made in a hard-hitting report on domestic violence released in the past 10 days, from the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence.
Special interest groups are in the process of joining forces with The Observer and other Australian Regional Media mastheads to push for change.
Specialist courts, a more empathetic police force and education in schools are the likely focus.
That won't help the 17 women believed to have been killed by their partners across the nation already this year, but it should help people like the Women's Legal Service, struggling to cope with 2000 calls a month.
Gladstone Salvation Army lieutenant Kaylene Ford, new to the city since January, was one not willing to back the NSW proposals, but said something had to be done.
"We're working on building relationships within the community. Domestic violence should not be tolerated."
Gladstone police sergeant Caroline Hogan gave an insight into the size of the problem when comparing the number of domestic violence cases to callouts to traffic incidents.
"There's been 78 (domestic violence callouts) this last month," she said. "A high proportion of these came where alleged offenders ignored previous orders."
The new report and the steady tale of woe through Gladstone's courts has made The Observer and its sister papers consider ways to join forces with support agencies.
And one of the most vital campaigns in our history will launch this weekend.
Pissweak. [Brisbane Times - 9/3/15]:
Brisbane and Townsville will get new shelters to help victims of domestic violence who flee their homes.
The two centres are part of the Queensland government's response to a report on family violence. ...
Police draw gun on man in Townsville
An officer has drawn a gun on a man who brandished a broken bottle at police in Townsville.
Police were called to an argument between a man and a woman at an Aitkenvale park on Sunday afternoon.
It's alleged the man confronted police with the broken bottle, raising it towards one officer.
One officer drew his gun when the man refused to drop the bottle. He was eventually taken into custody.
The 31-year-old will face the Townsville Magistrates Court on Monday charged with assaulting police.
WA police officer on assault charge
West Australian [9/3/15]:
A senior WA police officer has been charged with the aggravated assault of a woman in February.
It will be alleged the male detective sergeant attacked the woman inside a private residence on Saturday, February 21.
He was not on duty.
The woman was left with facial injuries.
The detective sergeant has been stood down from operational duties and charged with aggravated assault occasioning bodily harm.
He is due to appear in the Joondalup Magistrates Court today.
PNG Court backlog
The National [9/3/15]:
Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia says there is a backlog of 20,000 cases in the National Court dating back to 1983, which lawyers are partly to blame for.
He said there were 1200 cases pending in the Supreme Court dating back to 1994. He told a group of 112 lawyers admitted to the bar last Friday in Waigani that they were joining at a time when the people were questioning the effectiveness and efficiency of judicial services delivery.
He said there were many causes. “The root cause in my assessment is the inability of the courts and the inability of the lawyers in assisting the court to conduct these cases with due despatch and efficiency,” Sir Injia said.
Sir Injia said it was the duty of the courts, assisted by a competent legal profession, to dispose of these cases “in a timely and qualitative manner”.
“Lawyers decide if the case is to continue to its conclusion or to withdraw it from the court,” Sir Salamo (pictured) said.
“If lawyers do not do their job properly, this directly contributes to the build-up of cases, or that when cases are heard, justice is miscarried.
“It is my personal assessment that if it was not for poor or bad lawyering in the courts, the courts’ workload would be reduced by 30 per cent.”
Sir Salamo said the backlog was caused by cases “unduly and unnecessarily delayed for months and years on end” or when they were heard, they were “not completed within a reasonable time”.
He pointed out that poor lawyering resulted in cases being brought to court prematurely, cases deliberately brought to court without proper consideration of their merits, cases rushed to court without proper preparation of documents, cases adjourned because lawyers were unprepared, and lawyers failing to serve court orders.
“For example, there are over 5000 bench warrants for the arrest of accused persons outstanding since 1983,” he said.
“This represents about 70 per cent of the National Court’s criminal case workload.”
He said it was the duty of prosecutors and defence lawyers to bring accused people to court.
“For the court’s part, among the concerns raised with regards to court registry officers (are) missing court files, registry staff not turning up for work, lack of diligence, unfair preference given to lawyers,” Sir Salamo said.
The country has about 1500 lawyers.
And the latest group is the biggest to join the bar at any one time, he said.
Awaiting a reply from Australian politicians to a very simple question: What is your response to the UN Special Rapporteur's finding that Australia tortures refugees?
Where's the Australian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty and the Refugee Council?
UN finds Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers violates the Convention Against Torture [Human Rights Law Centre - 9/3/15]
UN Human Rights Council Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez [6/3/15]:
... The Rapporteur welcomes the Government’s initiatives to investigate and review the events of 16-18 February; however, he regrets that the Government has not to this date submitted, as announced in its initial reply, any substantive reply.
The Rapporteur hence finds that the Government, in its reply, does not sufficiently address the concerns, legal obligations, and questions raised in the initial communication, which prompts him to infer that the Government fails to fully and expeditiously cooperate with the mandate issued by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/13, as well as to comply with its obligation, under international customary law, to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as codified, inter alia, in the Convention against Torture (CAT).
In the absence of information to the contrary, the Rapporteur concludes that there is substance in the allegations presented in the initial communication, reiterated above, and thus, that the Government of Australia, by failing to provide adequate detention conditions; end the practice of detention of children; and put a stop to the escalating violence and tension at the Regional Processing Centre, has violated the right of the asylum seekers, including children, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as provided by articles 1 and 16 of the CAT.
Allegations concerning the situation of two groups of Sri Lankan asylum seekers and migrants (203 in total), including a significant number of Tamils, and their incommunicado detention and imminent deportation to Sri Lanka by the Australian Government, in contravention of Australia’s non-refoulement obligations.
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Australia for its reply, dated 10 July 2014, to the present communication.
The Rapporteur finds that the Government, in its reply, does not sufficiently address the concerns, legal obligations, and questions raised in the initial communication, which prompts him to infer that the Government fails to fully and expeditiously cooperate with the mandate issued by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/13, as well as to comply with its obligation, under international customary law, to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as codified, inter alia, in the Convention against Torture (CAT). The Government in July 2014, stating that these matters were currently before the High Court of Australia. The Special Rapporteur has not received any communication since. ...
Opening Statement, Item 2, High Commissioner's Annual Report - UN Office for the High Commission on Human Rights [5/3/15]:
... Migration is another issue that cries out for more thoughtful and coordinated action between States. The notion of ghost ships drifting on auto-pilot towards the coasts of Europe in the hopes that coast-guards will rescue the people on board – and the hideous sight of men and women tearing their flesh on barbed-wire fences in a desperate, and sometimes lethal, attempt to clamber into Western Europe and find a better, more peaceful life: such scenes are simply intolerable.
And they are not restricted to Europe. In the Americas, hundreds of thousands of people are forced to flee the uncontrolled violence of criminal gangs, and may then be preyed upon by criminal gangs during their attempted journey. And in the Indian Ocean, irregular migrants and asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia by boat are being intercepted and diverted to detention and resettlement in countries that are far less equipped to receive them. It is truly urgent that we seek far more thoughtful, and better-coordinated, responses to migration: responses that are humane, and which fully acknowledge the human rights of every individual involved at all points of origin, transit and destination.
Who killed Reza Berati?
Michael Gordon, The Age [29/3/14]:
... Employees say they are bound by the confidentiality clauses in their contracts, clauses that extend well after they change jobs. Locals insist they have been told that life will be more difficult if they speak out.
The local police commander politely refers any questions to the chief commissioner in Port Moresby.
Those manning the camp entrance deflect any queries to the office of the Australian Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison.
The Australian and PNG politicians say the investigation will take its course, but there are worrying signs that it has been stymied, not by a lack of will on the part of the PNG investigators, but by a lack of access to the Australian-run centre, an endemic lack of transparency and an inability to assure witnesses that they will be safe. ...
Six weeks since I emailed @TonyAbbottMHR to ask how he would ensure there were no more deaths on #Manus.
Still no reply. ...
Six weeks since I emailed @billshortenmp to ask what he'd do to ensure there are no more deaths on #Manus.
Still no reply. ...
"tweeted" by @victoriajack - PhD Candidate exploring the role of communication in improving humanitarian aid for refugees on the Thai-Burma border. [28/3/14]
... "TO AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. STOP TORTURING US. IF YOU THINK WE DON'T DESERVE AUS. THEN HAND OVER ALL OF US TO THE UN. WE DON'T WANT YOUR HELP!" ... [CNN - 21/1/15]
Senator Macdonald's dismissive remarks re last year's Senate Inquiry into the Manus attack. [Senate Hansard - 5/3/15]
The Senate Inquiry recommendations are quite clear, but even Australia's so called opposition parties and human rights establishment appear to have no inclination of accepting or raising them for discussion.
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Recommendations re "Incident at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 February to 18 February 2014" [December 2014]:
8.26 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure an adequate and effective investigation into the criminal assaults perpetrated against individuals detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre during the events of 16 to 18 February 2014, including by assisting the Papua New Guinea authorities in any ongoing investigations and facilitating the taking of witness testimony from individuals present at the incident who are now in Australian territory.
8.35 The committee recommends that the Australian Government acknowledge its responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of individuals detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.
8.39 The committee recommends that, in accordance with the right to an effective remedy and right to health in international human rights law, the Australian Government:
• acknowledge and take responsibility for violations of human rights in relation to the incident at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014; and
• provide compensation to those who have suffered human rights violations, including to Mr Reza Barati's family and to asylum seekers who were injured during the incident.
8.40 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure that all asylum seekers injured in the violence at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014 receive adequate professional assistance, including medical treatment, full rehabilitation and mental health services, as well as independent legal advice.
8.49 The committee recommends that, in the interests of transparency and accountability, the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea take measures to facilitate appropriate access to the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, including:
• allowing United Nations representatives full access to the centre and transferees;
• permitting qualified lawyers, including lawyers certified to practice in Australia, access to the centre in order to meet with transferees and provide legal assistance;
• allowing the Australian Human Rights Commission to regularly inspect the centre and meet with centre staff and transferees; and
• permitting journalists to visit the centre and speak freely with centre staff and transferees.
8.52 The committee recommends that Transfield Services and the Australian Government ensure that service provider staff employed at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre be provided with sufficient workplace training to perform their roles, in line with the standards applicable to employees working in detention environments in Australia, and accounting for the particular difficulties associated with working in remote conditions.
1.8 On account of the committee's inability to make a site visit to the centre under its own powers, the committee sought the support and assistance of the Commonwealth Government to do so.
On 28 April 2014, the committee wrote to the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, as well as the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, seeking the government's approval and assistance.
1.9 The committee did not receive any response.
4.70 In specific evidence about actual incidents of encouragement to return home, a former employee of Playfair suggested that staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were 'speaking to transferees, trying to convince them of the benefits of returning home'.
4.71 In contrast, government representatives re-confirmed their view that any returns from Manus Island RPC were strictly voluntary. For example Lieutenant General Campbell stated that '[i]t is really important to note these are voluntary returns'.
4.72 In terms of the number of returns from the Manus Island RPC, the department provided information that:
As at 1 August 2014, 203 transferees have been voluntarily returned from an Offshore Processing Centre (OPC) and 174 transferees from the Manus OPC since 18 February 2014 with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
6.57 Other evidence presented to the committee contested the claim that no individuals involved in assaults on asylum seekers were now employed at the centre.
Humanitarian Research Partners (HRP) contended that 'at least two of the alleged 17 February assailants are now back working in the centre and terrifying their victims by their mere presence'.
Mr Ben Pynt, Director of Human Rights Advocacy at HRP, told the committee that asylum seekers at the centre had reported to him on multiple occasions that perpetrators were still working at the centre.
Mr Pynt expanded:
[The transferees] do not feel that they are being adequately protected by the guards that are employed at the centre. In fact, they feel threatened by a number of the guards at the centre. I know of one story that chilled me to the bone. An asylum seeker contacted me shortly after he had been to medical. He was in Mike compound. From Mike compound you get in the back of a ute and they take you through to IHMS, because you are not meant to walk through. He got into the ute, screamed, and got out of the ute, because the person driving the ute was one of the people who attacked him. This is happening all the time. The mental harm that is created simply by having the attackers remain at the centre is unbelievable and unconscionable.
Miss Judge [who worked on Manus Island] continued:
The attacks on asylum seekers [in February 2014] were not unpredictable and unforeseen. The attacks were not due to asylum seekers insulting PNG nationals in February or asylum seekers feeling discontent with their processing time frames. The attacks were due to the entire system. The attacks were due to the lack of due care for asylum seekers' safety and wellbeing, the acceptance by staff that PNG was just a dangerous place and that there was nothing we could do to change that. With reports going unheard and incidents being covered up, with no-one really to report to and the threat of danger being from outside, I am unsure of how anyone can guarantee the asylum seekers' safety. Regardless of how high fences are built around the centre, how many CCTV cameras are installed or how many extra guards are employed, I do not believe anything can change the fact that the key threat to the asylum seekers safety is, in fact, simply being detained on Manus Island.
Solomons supports West Papua
The Solomon Islands Foreign Minister says the Melanesian Spearhead Group as a collective supports the right of West Papuans to self-determination.
Milner Tozaka says he related this during his recent talks with Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Honiara.
Ms Marsudi's recent visits to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji came as members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group consider a membership bid by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Mr Tozaka says the MSG agreed that member countries would raise West Papua issues bilaterally.
"We have a collective stand on it that we support the self-determination of West Papua. But we have to look at it in light of the referendum that was signed (by West Papuans to join Indonesia) in 1969."
Milner Tozaka says the United Liberation Movement's bid will have to be considered under the terms of the MSG membership criteria.
Thousands march for youngest Gezi victim
Hurriyet Daily News [7/3/15]:
Thousands of people in Istanbul have marched to mark the first anniversary of the death of the youngest victim of the Gezi Park protests.
Berkin Elvan was 14 when he was hit by a police teargas canister in Istanbul on June 16, 2013, as anti-government demonstrations swept Turkey.
He turned 15 while still unconscious but failed to recover from his injuries and died two months after his birthday, on March 11, 2014. His death triggered nationwide protests in Turkey, as the policeman who shot him remains free.
"Throughout the past 12 years that the AKP [Justice and Development Party] ruled the country, hundreds of kids, younger than 18, have been killed in the streets," Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said at the remembrance ceremony for Elvan at the Okmeydanı Cemevi on March 7.
"The Prime Minister and the President of this country has never voiced their sorrow even for one of those kids," he added.
After the ceremony, thousands of people walked to the spot where Elvan was reportedly shot when going to buy bread in the Okmeydanı neighborhood. They then marched to the cemetery.
Police cordoned off the area, closing several streets to traffic, as mourners marched somberly with water cannons following them for a possible intervention.
Berkin Elvan's mother and father told the story of their son's grave in a written statement on March 6, noting that the new marble and glass work, which has several references to the Gezi protests, has been crafted by artisans from all the regions of Turkey, including an Alevi, a Syriac Christian, an Armenian and a Jewish master.
Gülsüm Elvan, the mother of the youngest Gezi victim, with the sculpture depicting her son and a bread.
9 March 2015