Terror attacks continue across Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [9/2/16]:
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.
Strikes in Syria
Attack aircraft conducted three strikes in Syria:
-- Near Kobani, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Manbij, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Mar’a, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
Strikes in Iraq
Coalition forces used rocket artillery and attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 18 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Baghdadi, seven strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and three ISIL staging areas, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed two ISIL rockets, an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL front-end loader, an ISIL heavy machine gun, and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Huwayjah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Fallujah, a strike destroyed an ISIL-used bridge.
-- Near Mosul, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL mortar tube, and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Qayyarah, two strikes struck an ISIL logistics facility and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Ramadi, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL staging area, and two ISIL boats.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Tal Afar, a strike suppressed an ISIL rocket position.
Additionally, a strike in Iraq from Feb. 7 was not included on the Feb. 8 strike release:
-- Near Ramadi, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun, and an ISIL boat.
Moscow considers Washington’s claims that Russia is using free-fall bombs in its air operation in Syria absolutely inadmissible, Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
"We regard public statements by US representatives that Russia is using free-fall bombs in Syria as absolutely inadmissible," Zakharova said.
"This is speculation, information confirmed by no facts." ... [TASS - 10/2/16]
It must be made clear to Assad that he won’t succeed, war criminal Tony Blair tells Rudaw [10/2/16]
Russia backs Baghdad's demands for Turkish troops removal from Iraq's north [Sputnik News - 10/2/16]
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz has directed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) to facilitate the release of the death benefits and other assistance due the families of the 13 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) killed in last week’s fire at Capitol Hotel in Kurdistan, Iraq. ... [Inquirer - 10/2/16]
Turkey coastguard saves lone Syrian refugee stranded on sinking boat [Naharnet - 10/2/16]
Proactiva Open Arms [VIDEO - 10/2/16]:
A message for those who have decision-making power in this humanitarian crisis and remain passive:
You may choose to look the other way, see statistics where there are precious human lives, but you can never say again that you did not know.
Your children, time and history will judge you.
How many refugee and asylum seeker boats did the Australian "Fuck your mothers ... fuck your family ..." Navy push back and/or abandon in the last 24 hours? ----> @guardiacostiera [9/2/16]: #Egeo, le immagini del salvataggio di 68 #migranti effettuato dalla CP322 della #GuardiaCostiera italiana a #Samos ...
@guardiacostiera [9/2/16: #Grecia, motovedetta CP292 #GuardiaCostiera salva 23 #migranti: tentavano traversata #Egeo su 2 piccole unità a remi
Thousands of young people who sought refuge in Britain as unaccompanied child asylum seekers have since been deported to war torn countries that are in part controlled by Islamic State, the Taliban or other repressive regimes, a Home Office minister has admitted.
James Brokenshire said that over the past nine years 2,748 young people – many of whom had spent formative years in the UK, forging friendships and going to school – had been returned to the likes of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.
The bulk – some 2,018 – have concerned Afghanistan, but an investigation has found that 60 young people have also been deported to Iraq since 2014, the year so-called Islamic State began its brutal regime in swathes of the country.
The findings, which were triggered by questions from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Labour MP Louise Haigh, raise serious concerns about what happens to child asylum seekers when they turn 18, and at a time when Britain is being urged to help thousands of orphaned child refugees from Syria. ... [TBIJ - 9/2/16]
A way for Europe to remove chaos from the migration crisis [Human Rights Watch - 1/2/16]:
... The answer lies in creating a safe and legal route for refugees to find their way to Europe. If refugees were given the option of having their claims for asylum heard in countries of first refuge such as Turkey and Lebanon, many would exercise that option rather than risk their lives — and the lives of their families — on rickety boats at sea. Their willingness to pursue that option would require their confidence that those with valid asylum claims would be moved to a place of refuge within a reasonable period, which in turn would depend on EU member states finally agreeing on genuine responsibility for sharing and creating adequate capacity to process and resettle large numbers of people. ...
A group of vulnerable Cuban migrants have been flown by the Costa Rican authorities to a Mexican border town, from where they are expected to enter the US.
The 113, including children and pregnant women, landed in Nuevo Laredo on Tuesday.
They were among thousands stranded in Costa Rica after neighbouring Nicaragua denied them passage north.
Cubans are allowed automatic residence when they set foot in the US.
But after the two counties normalised ties following years of animosity, the number of Cubans trying to reach the US surged amid fears the policy would be dropped.
Central American nations reached a deal last month allowing migrants stranded in Costa Rica to continue on to the US.
The first flight carrying about 180 flew from Costa Rica to El Salvador in January. [BBC - 9/2/16]
More lies about the exile of refugees arbitrarily detained and tortured by the Australian government on Manus Island [PNG Loop - 10/2/16]
An expert witness told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday that most of Cambodia’s Cham community initially supported the Khmer Rouge but attitudes changed drastically after an estimated 500,000 members of the predominantly Muslim minority group were killed by the regime.
Currently employed as an analyst for the tribunal’s investigating judges, Ysa Osman, himself an ethnic Cham, testified on Tuesday regarding the treatment of the group during the period of Democratic Kampuchea, a subject on which he has published two books. ... [Cambodia Daily - 10/2/16]
After 30 years of conflict, Sri Lanka still in 'early stages of renewal' – UN rights chief [Media Release - 9/2/16]
British man held in Myanmar for 14 months without charge pleads for help [Guardian - 9/2/16]
Hard-line Buddhists pressure Suu Kyi's party on Rohingya laws [UCA News - 9/2/16]
The U.S. Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve as ambassador to Burma.
The vote on Tuesday was 90-0 for a career Foreign Service officer, Scot Alan Marciel, who has served in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Turkey, Brazil and Hong Kong.
Marciel has been principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs since 2013. ... [Asian Correspondent - 10/2/16]
Indonesian leader slams WikiLeaks graft charges [Asian Correspondent - 15/3/11]
Interview with Academy Award nominee Joshua Oppenheimer [Jakarta Post - 10/2/16]:
American documentary film director Joshua Oppenheimer is set once again to focus global awareness on Indonesia's past human rights abuses as his critically acclaimed documentary "The Look of Silence” is up for the Best Documentary in the 2016 Academy Awards on Feb. 28.
“The Look of Silence” tells the story of a family in North Sumatra who confront the murderers of their son. The film is the second installment of Oppenheimer's documentary on the same theme; "The Act of Killing" was released in 2012 and also globally acknowledged.
Thejakartapost.com's Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, spoke to Oppenheimer by Skype over the weekend talking about his latest Oscar nomination for “The Look of Silence” and the hopes he has for resolution of Indonesia's human rights cases.
Q: Did you ever receive threats from the government?
A: Not so much from the government but I mean I received pretty regular threats in some social media and some emails and some telephone [conversations]. I don’t know exactly where they were from. Actually, I don’t know who threatened me.
Q: What is the content of the threats?
A: The threats usually prohibit me from coming to Indonesia. There was one threat which said “don’t come back to Indonesia, unless you want us to use your head as a football.”
I think that I heard story about a person who looked like me who returned to Indonesia. He has been harassed in Indonesia. He contacted me afterward, that he had been arrested and detained just because he looked like me. It was a year ago.
Q: Who is your look-alike?
A : He’s not an Indonesian and he has left, he got out of the situation but he was detained for some days. I cannot comment, I promised him not to tell the story.
Q: How do you see the efforts toward human rights settlement in Indonesia?
A : I think for most Indonesians and these films, of course they want to be able to talk about the past and the government to acknowledge the truth and set up a truth commission, and they want the government to stop teaching the history lesson of the New Order because people don’t want to send their children to school to be lied to and brainwashed.
Millions of Indonesians who live with secrets in their family who have a sense of that kind of secret that their parents never told them, want to be told about what happened so they can know where they come from.
Prosecution of man charged under Queensland's draconian anti rights laws dropped and $30,000 awarded [Guardian - 10/2/16]
Sarah Reed: Hundreds gather at vigil for police attack victim who died in cell at Holloway Prison [Evening Standard - 9/2/16]
Hong Kong was left reeling after a night of violence during which protesters and riot police clashed on the streets, resulting in bloodshed and mass arrests.
Police fired live warning shots into the air as demonstrators and activists set fire to rubbish bins and threw stones at officers in the worst episode of unrest since pro-democracy protests rocked the city in 2014.
The choatic scenes on first night of the lunar new year were prompted by a government decision to clear a central Hong Kong market of unlicensed food hawkers.
Night-time street markets are a common sight in many Hong Kong neighbourhoods, especially at holiday time, but the government recently decided to phase them out, citing safety concerns. ... [Guardian - 9/2/16]
"This man will almost certainly die": The secret deaths at privatized immigrant-only jails [Democracy Now - 9/2/16]:
... SETH FREED WESSLER: That title comes from a quote that was left in one of the medical files I obtained through an open records request. I obtained 9,000 pages of documents. And in those documents, from one of these prisons, there was a medical doctor who left his normal medical notes, but he also left a series of notes railing against the system that he had—he worked in, inside of one of these private federal prisons, private federal prisons used only to hold noncitizens convicted of federal crime—a sort of segregated system of prisons. In these files, he left a series of notes where he was railing against this prison system, basically saying that it wasn’t providing prisoners, or wasn’t allowing him to provide prisoners, the kind of care that as a medical doctor he believed he should be able to provide. These records tell the stories of 103 men who died inside this federal subsystem of prisons.
If you’re convicted of a crime in the United States, a federal crime, and you’re a noncitizen considered a low-security prisoner, you’re likely to be sent to a different prison from all of the rest of—from citizens. And those prisons are nearly the only prisons that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has privatized, has contracted out to private companies—GEO Group, Corrections Corporation of America, Management and Training Corporation.
And what I found is that the federal government is applying a different and less stringent set of rules to these prisons. And that, in the context of medical care, is leading to stripped-down kinds of medical clinics with lower-trained, lesser-paid, less expensive workers. And in dozens of cases, prisoners held inside are facing medical neglect. In 25 cases I looked at, doctors who reviewed the files said these prisoners likely would have lived had they received adequate medical care. ...
What makes the Australian media persistently and deliberately not join the dots?
... Choose! Or I'll send them both over there! ...
'Sophie's Choice' 
Australia's establishment media types outraged as ABC mixes up refugee rape cases [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 9/2/16]:
Two examples from Nauru reveal the lack of law and order and child services and protection on Nauru.
One 44-year-old Iranian refugee father has been in jail since 27 January. He is a sole parent on Nauru. His eight-year-old daughter has been cared for by another refugee family since was he was abruptly taken into custody.
Neither the Nauruan authorities nor the Australian service provider, Connect, have lifted a finger to even enquire about the welfare of his daughter.
The Nauruan police were actually called by Connect after the man had moved himself and his daughter into spare accommodation in Nibok on the west of the island. Connect objected to the move.
For almost two weeks, the Iranian man has been held in jail. His daughter is being cared for by another family at the Nibok settlement. There has still been no enquiry concerning the care of his daughter. He appeared in court yesterday (Monday, 8 February), although the exact charge was unclear. But he was returned to jail.
He is expected to make another appearance in court today, Tuesday, 9 February.
The second incident involves a 26-year-old single female Iranian asylum seeker who was arrested after an argument with guards at the mess in the single women’s section of the family camp, RPC 3.
Around 7.00pm last night (8 February), the Iranian woman tried to take some food out of the mess to her room. The mess closes at 8.00pm – and doesn’t open until the morning – so asylum seekers are left without food for a long time.
Wilson security guards confronted her at the mess; there was an altercation and the food was taken from her.
Around 10pm, Wilson security guards arrived at the single women’s compound with Nauruan police to arrest the woman.
The Refugee Action Coalition was told, “Around five or six police grabbed her, pushed her and smashed her to the ground. She was handcuffed with her hands behind her back and she was dragged to the police car. She was put in the back of the [police] car.”
She was released a few hours later but has been told she will be re-arrested over the incident. She has been left with abrasions and bruises as a result of the incident.
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [17/1/16]:
In May, 2015, Nazanin, a 23 year-old Iranian asylum seeker was raped on Nauru.
It took three months and a medical emergency for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to finally medivac her from Nauru to Australia in August 2015.
At the time, the Department said that Nazanin’s mother and brother would also be brought to Australia to provide critical family support. But the Department reneged on that promise.
For six months, the Department has ignored advice from its own medical service provider, IHMS, on Nauru and the advice of Nazanin’s treating doctors and psychiatrists in Australia that she be re-united with her mother and brother. Requests for the transfer of her mother and brother were over-ridden ‘by Border Force in Canberra’.
Last Thursday, 14 January, with 30 minutes notice, Nazanin’s brother and mother were told they were being sent to Australia.
Thankfully, the separation of Nazanin from her family, enforced by the Department, has finally ended, but it has taken a terrible toll on Nazanin and her family.
But the belated transfer of the family to Australia raises the wider question of the contempt exhibited by the Minister and the Immigration Department, the Nauru government and the Nauruan police for the victims of sexual assault on Nauru.
There were at least two other victims of sexual assault brought to Australia from Nauru on that flight last Thursday. But other victims have been left suffering on Nauru.
“The transfer of more victims of sexual assault from Nauru is a tacit admission that Nauru is unsafe. But the begrudging response reveals the official policy to cover-up the scale of the abuse on Nauru,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“As a matter of urgency, all the victims of rape and sexual assault on Nauru should be immediately brought to Australia; some victims have been unable to leave their accommodation for months for fear of more harassment. The government’s offshore policy has left asylum seekers and refugees vulnerable to attack. Nauru must be closed.
“The department’s contempt doesn’t end on Nauru. Victims of sexual assault who have been brought to Australia have been left for months in detention, treated as criminals and isolated from the support that they need. They should be released into the community.”
... It is his fourth birthday in one of our detention camps.
It is the first birthday he will spend separated from his beloved sister Nazanin.
Omid and his mother remain imprisoned in our detention camp on Nauru.
Nazanin remains imprisoned in a detention camp in Australia. ... via Janet Galbraith [25/12/15]
Sydney Morning Herald [25/5/15]:
...The 23-year-old asylum seeker has told Fairfax Media that she was leaving the detention centre on a day release last Saturday when she claims that someone jumped out from behind her, put his hand on her mouth and forcefully pulled down her top.
She said she was then forced to give violent oral sex for over an hour as her assailant bit her breasts and shoulders.
After her attacker fled, the naked, distressed and disorientated woman managed to find a local police unit who put her in the back of their truck.
"They didn't take me back to the police station, they decided to take me with them to watch the fireworks for Nauru's constitution day," she said in a statement.
"It was not until hours later that the police asked for an interpreter".
She claims that she was asked to repeat the story of her assault three times without receiving medical attention.
Last week Nauruan police said that there was no suggestion that anyone had assaulted her.
In a statement they said the woman was found walking in a nearby street naked after failing to return to the the detention centre on Saturday night.
"There is no injury to her or any sign of other physical force or trauma," the Nauru Police Force said.
In an about face last week, the police force have since launched an investigation and promised to "find the person who did this".
Mother of alleged gang-rape victim attempts suicide [Guardian – 7/10/15]:
... Workers on the island have told Guardian Australia camp managers resisted moving Nazanin to Australia even as she went into organ failure, but came under sustained pressure from doctors who warned she would die if she was not moved. ...
Brother of alleged rape victim claims he was urinated on by guards in Nauru [The Age – 9/9/15]
PNG police stabbed me then urinated in my mouth – victim’s aunt [PNG Loop – 29/11/15]
... The children told their lawyer Masalhah that the IDF soldier did not give them water and food, and when they asked for water, the IDF urinated over their faces and ordered them to open their mouths to drink. They then forced them to drink the water in the toilet seat and took some pictures. ... [Occupied Palestine - 10/12/10]
Stop pretending mefloquine was used safely on soldiers: former top Canadian drug bureaucrat [Edmonton Journal - 7/2/16]:
The federal government should recognize the anti-malaria drug mefloquine was not used safely in a trial during the fateful Somalia mission and address veteran concerns, a former top Health Canada bureaucrat says.
The defence and health departments failed to do their due diligence when the drug was released under a clinical trial to 900 Canadian Airborne soldiers going to Somalia in 1992, Dr. Michele Brill Edwards says.
“We owe a duty to them to recognize mefloquine may have caused great harm,” Brill Edwards told The Journal in a rare interview on the subject.
“It’s high time we stopped pretending mefloquine was used safely.”
While many people can take the drug without danger, side effects may include nightmares, paranoia, aggression and cognitive impairment.
It’s now known there can be long-term symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Former soldiers in Canada, Australia and Britain are pushing for better treatment for these effects and an inquiry into mefloquine use in early 1990s.
In 1992, Brill Edwards was the federal government’s chief physician in charge of prescription drug approvals.
At the time, she had just started preliminary talks with the manufacturer Roche, which was seeking market access.
Although the drug was not yet approved, the military pushed to get access to it and received approval to use it under clinical trial rules. ...
Antimalaria drugs used in "an experimental program in interrogation and torture" of detainees at Guantanamo [Kevin Gosztola - 5/4/15]
Mass administration of the antimalarial drug mefloquine to Guantanamo detainees: a critical analysis, Remington L. Nevin Department of Preventive Medicine, Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Ft. Polk, LA, USA :
... One possibility is that the use of mefloquine was simply erroneously directed by senior US military medical officials overly confident of the drug’s safety and unfamiliar with its appropriate use, in an apparent foreshadowing of its later, broader misprescribing among US military personnel (Nevin 2010).
Another possibility, which is deeply troubling to consider, is that the decision to administer the drug was informed and motivated at least in part by knowledge of the drug’s adverse neuropsychiatric effects and the presumed plausible deniability of claims of misuse in the context of its seemingly legitimate clinical or public health indication. ...
Manus Island asylum seekers given anti-malarial drug known to cause mental health problems; Immigration Department moving to offer alternatives [ABC - 9/2/16]
Asylum seekers on Manus Island are being given a type of anti-malaria medication that detention centre staff have been warned not to take because of serious side effects.
Centre staff were warned not to take Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, because of adverse health effects.
Salvation Army worker Simon Taylor says in a submission to a Senate inquiry that he is aware asylum seekers have been given the drug despite the warnings to staff.
Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration warns that patients with a history of depression, anxiety disorders or other major psychiatric illness should not be prescribed the drug.
It's common for asylum seekers in detention to suffer depression, post traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.
The US military developed the drug in the 1970s and has curbed its use among troops after it was linked to permanent brain damage, suicide, murder and domestic violence.
Ronnie Knight MP continues inciting a pogram against refugees imprisoned by the Australian government on Manus Island [RNZI - 9/2/16]
Why hasn't The Age followed up on their powerful "It's time to set the refugees free" editorial by directly challenging bipartisan anti refugee ideology?
... We have some asylum seekers, but that’s pretty much stopped.
We have stopped the boats with our policies, which are regarded as cruel by many people.
But I have to say again, our policy on border protection is harsh, but it has been absolutely demonstrated that it is better than any other alternative. ...
Israel and Australia: A conversation with Turnbull [Jewish Journal - 25/8/15]
The Age [28/12/15]:
... The Age believes strongly, and we will say this until the policy ends, that the strategy of turning back boats carrying asylum seekers is ignoble. It demonstrates a paucity of imagination. It has been ruthlessly executed, without proper regard for the asylum claims of those people intercepted. And it has brought this nation into disrepute around the world.
The asylum seekers who arrive here have not broken the law. We will say it again: they are not "illegals". They have used the avenues allowed to anyone under international law – under the United Nations covenants to which Australia subscribes – to seek refuge from all forms of persecution.
It is time to call an amnesty, to end the imprisonment of people who came here seeking help and a better life. It is time to recognise that jailing people in detention facilities for years on end, denying them hope or any alternative, and treating them without compassion, is the most inhumane thing that we could do – short of shipping them back to the situation that they fear in their own countries.
No good can possibly be served by detaining people a day longer in camps in Third World nations. No good is served by denying refugees who are living in Australia the right to work. No good comes from demonising refugees, by ostracising them from the mainstream community. ...
A functioning media would use FACTS to hold Australian politicians accountable.
... Claims made as to the effectiveness of deterrence strategies are largely ideological and not based on empirical research. ...
There's no evidence that asylum seeker deterrence policy works [The Conversation - 24/7/12]:
... Policies of deterrence have become the “common sense” approach when it comes to what should be done about asylum seekers – both in terms of stopping the boats and in terms of saving lives.
The problem is that both these assumptions are largely unjustifiable based on the evidence.
Deterring irregular border crossings does not necessarily decrease border related deaths.
Evidence suggests in some contexts deterrence can simply displace deaths to another site, or changes the demographics of who dies.
In the US, research has found a relationship between deterrence policies and an increased number of border deaths.
As a criminologist, the idea that an illicit market, such as people smuggling, can be dealt with through enforcement-related strategies and broad deterrent messages has serious limitations.
Historically, the most effective approaches to reducing illicit markets have been found through regulatory measures and harm minimisation approaches, not deterrence.
There is simply not enough evidence that deterrence works to justify the expense and potential harm of its implementation.
Out of sight, out of mind: By stopping people from seeking protection, Australia is exacerbating a regional human rights crisis - 1,000s have died, and 1,000s more will die. ---> ... After five days at sea, their boat reached Australian waters, but the engine failed as they struggled to make their way closer to Christmas island.
The Rohingya desperately waved to the crew of a passing Australian Navy vessel, which Mr Abdul said did not respond. ... [The Straits Times - 1/2/16]
Britain, Sweden should accept ruling on Julian Assange: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [First Post - 9/2/16]
10 February 2016