George Gittoes wins 2015 Sydney Peace Prize
Sydney Peace Foundation Media Release [11/4/15]:
Australian artist George Gittoes AM has been selected to receive the 2015 Sydney Peace Prize. The Prize will be awarded on Tuesday 10 November at Sydney Town Hall.
The 2015 Sydney Peace Prize Jury’s citation reads:
George Gittoes AM: For exposing injustice for over 45 years as a humanist artist, activist and filmmaker, for his courage to witness and confront violence in the war zones of the world, for enlisting the arts to subdue aggression and for enlivening the creative spirit to promote tolerance, respect and peace with justice.
The Sydney Peace Prize is Australia’s only annual international prize for peace. For the past seventeen years the Sydney Peace Foundation at the University of Sydney has awarded it to someone who has made a significant contribution to peace with justice, respect for human rights and the language and practice of non-violence. Past winners include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Arundhati Roy and Noam Chomsky.
Gittoes grew up in the Sydney suburb of Rockdale and studied Fine Arts at The University of Sydney. In 1970 he helped establish The Yellow House artists collective in Kings Cross with others including Martin Sharp and Brett Whitely.
Gittoes’ activism evolved through his work as a painter, film maker and photojournalist. He has chronicled conflicts and social upheavals in places including Nicaragua, Somalia, Cambodia, Western Sahara, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Bougainville, East Timor, South Africa, Palestine, Iraq and Pakistan.
In 1995 Gittoes was a witness to the massacre of thousands of Rwandans at a displaced persons camp where they had sought protection from UN peacekeeping forces. This inspired his painting The Preacher, which won the 1995 Blake Prize for religious art.
“At a time when the world is speeding into a new cycle of war” says Gittoes, “it is inspiring the Sydney Peace Foundation values art as a way to help overcome the brutality. The award of the Sydney Peace Prize is a wonderful and unexpected honour”.
“George Gittoes is daring, brash and irreverent – qualities Australians identify with,” says David Hirsch, Chair of the Foundation. “He is also generous, open-minded and compassionate – qualities we also identify with but which have been in short supply in recent years. The Jury felt his unique approach to peacebuilding and social justice should be recognised and applauded.”
Gittoes is currently based in Jalalabad, Afghanistan – arguably the most dangerous city in the world. Against all odds, and at great personal risk from the Taliban, he has established a new Yellow House artists collective. Its mission is to bring peace and positive social change not with the weapons of war but with a broad range of creative media and strategies.
Gittoes’ documentary film Love City Jalalabad won awards for Best Documentary and Most Socially Relevant Film at the New York Winter Indie Film Festival in February this year.
Art historian Dr Rod Pattenden says “His images pry open the door to a conversation about what it means to be human at the very limits, where petty myths, tired illusions and worn-out symbols collapse. This is the dare at the heart of his practice – to activate the imagination rather than fear, and to create hope in the face of chaos.”
“I feel privileged to have been able to spend much of my life creating beauty in the face of the destruction of war” says George Gittoes. “I have been waging a personal war against war with art.”
The Sydney Peace Prize will be presented at Sydney Town Hall on Tuesday 10 November where George Gittoes will be delivering the 2015 City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture. For more information and tickets visit www.sydneypeacefoundation.org.au
#BringBack31Hazaras rally in #Brisbane #Australia #31kidnapped #Hazara #refugees
Image: @kasunubayasiri [11/4/15]
Sydney Hazaras want the 31 kidnapped in Feb to be freed & Aus gov to stop sending Hazara refugees back to Afghanistan
Image: @Mo_Taha1 - Mohamed Taha - ABC [11/4/15]
Imaginary Australian journalist to Abbott: What if Iran says "no" to refoulement you dickbrain?
Time for Mark Reilly to ask Australia's Prime Minister if he knows what a refugee is. [Guardian - 11/4/15]:
... “It’s important that those who are found not to be refugees go home,” Abbott told reporters in Sydney. “And this is where we will be talking to the Iranian government about taking back people who are ... Iranian citizens, because they deserve to be in Iran. They belong in Iran.”
Refugee advocates say Iran refuses to take back failed asylum seekers returned against their will ...
"Refugee advocates" say???? IT'S A FUCKING FACT - like the FACT Australia is committing human rights atrocities because of the bipartisan stitchup on refugee policy.
FACE IT. WE ARE THE NAZIS NOW.
The most essential component of refugee status and of asylum is protection against return to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution. This protection has found expression in the principle of non-refoulement which, as will be seen below, is widely accepted by States. … [UNHCR]
What does it take to capture your sorrow Lisa Wilkinson?
... Players are eliminated from the game by either following instructions that are not immediately preceded by the phrase, or by failing to follow an instruction which does include the phrase "Simon says". It is the ability to distinguish between valid and invalid commands, rather than physical ability, that usually matters in the game; in most cases, the action just needs to be attempted. ...
This ghoulish media campaign to commandeer a women's brutal and tragic death - and manipulate people's feelings - is disgraceful.
@Australian_Navy [11/4/15]: As the largest #WhiteRibbon accredited organisation we #putoutyourdress today for #StephanieScott
Deaths of man and woman in Wilmot the result of 'tragic family violence incident', police say
Tasmania Police say the deaths of a man and woman in Wilmot yesterday appear to be the result of a "tragic family violence incident".
Police were called to a property at Wilmot, near Sheffield, on Friday afternoon where they recovered a firearm believed to have been used in at least one of the deaths.
Detective Inspector Kim Steven said the man and woman, both in their 40s, were from Queensland but had been living in Tasmania for some years.
They did not attend work in Devonport on Thursday, and on Friday a friend found their bodies at the property on the outskirts of Wilmot.
Detective Inspector Steven said the man was found outside the back door with a gunshot wound, while the woman was found in a shed and appeared to have taken her own life.
"The indications at this stage is that no other persons are involved in the deaths and it appears to be a tragic family violence incident," he said.
"[We are trying to] exactly piece together what's happened in the previous 48 hours and what's been the catalyst for this tragic incident to occur."
Phillip Richards lives next door to the property and said locals were in shock.
"You know [it's] a little, quiet area," he said.
"It'll rock the community for a while, you know.
"Pretty close-knit community up here so everyone will be in shock for a little bit."
Wyndham Vale lake crash: a family and community mourns Bol, Anger and Madit [The Age - 10/4/15]
Missing man, Mount Mee
QPS Media [11/4/15]:
The search for a man reported missing in the Mount Mee area continues today with police appealing for public assistance.
Raymond Westrop, 56, was last seen at Florence Lane, Mount Mee around 10pm on Wednesday, April 8.
A search of the area yesterday involving police and State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers failed to locate him.
The search is continuing today with 50 SES volunteers with quad bikes and ATVs, and police, including officers and horses from the Police Mounted Unit.
Police are appealing for property owners in the Mount Mee area to conduct a check of their properties, paying attention to sheds, outbuildings and creeks.
Mr Westrop is described as frail with white hair and green eyes.
He is believed to be wearing navy blue shorts, a red and blue top, white running shoes with green ends on the laces, a polar fleece, and a camouflage rain jacket.
Concerns are held for his safety as he is suffering from a medical condition.
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.
South Canberra nursing home in lockdown after serious gastroenteritis outbreak
David Harper House has been closed to visitors to halt the spread of norovirus at the nursing home.
An aged care facility has been in lockdown in Canberra for two weeks because of a gastroenteritis outbreak.
ACT Health confirmed several residents tested positive for norovirus at the Goodwin Village David Harper House in Monash.
Norovirus generally causes vomiting and diarrhoea lasting one to two days and is highly infectious.
In elderly people the illness can be life threatening.
Goodwin released a statement which said infection control measures were introduced at the site to halt the spread of disease, including limited visitor access.
"The health and safety of our residents is our highest priority and we are working in partnership with ACT Health during this time, and according to legislative requirements," it said.
"This includes restriction of access during a highly contagious outbreak for the safety of residents.
"Goodwin respects the rights of family and residents to visit during these times, while avoiding health risks, and have put strategies in place to assist families to maintain contact."
The measures include increased hand washing, isolating residents who are unwell, restricting contact between affected and unaffected residents, and more frequent environmental cleaning.
Education Queensland child safety director faces child sex charges
Education Queensland has confirmed its director of child safety, Brett Anthony O'Connor, is facing child sex charges.
Police allege O'Connor sexually and indecently assaulted two boys at schools at Hunters Hill and Campbelltown in New South Wales between 1987 and 1989.
Both matters were reported to police in late 2014.
Education Queensland said O'Connor, 52, notified the department that he had been charged by police at Tweed Heads on March 20.
He was suspended the following Monday.
The former Catholic brother is facing 10 charges.
An Education Queensland spokesperson said O'Connor's role required no direct contact with children.
He is out on bail and is due to face the Tweed Heads Magistrates Court on Monday.
Children charged with attempted robbery, Toowoomba
QPS Media [11/4/15]:
Police have charged two juveniles following the attempted armed robbery of a taxi driver in Toowoomba on Monday April 6.
Police will allege that around 12.15am the two juveniles entered the taxi on Bridge Street armed with knives, and demanded cash while threatening the male driver.
A 13-year-old Wilsonton girl has been charged with one count of attempted robbery and will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.
A 15-year-old Harristown boy has also been charged with one count of attempted robbery and will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.
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.
Serious Assault, Maryborough
QPS Media [11/4/15]:
Maryborough police are appealing for public assistance following the serious assault of a 46-year-old Emerald man on Kent Street in Maryborough.
At about 2:15am this morning police attended outside a fast food business following reports a man had been punched in the face by another man during a verbal altercation.
The 46-year-old man was transported to Hervey Bay Hospital with head injuries in a serious but stable condition.
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.
Suspicious school fire, Bellbird Park
QPS Media [11/4/15]:
Police are investigating a fire that occurred at a school in Bellbird Park earlier this morning.
At about 1.30am emergency services attended the school on Kruger Parade where they found two bins well alight inside a toilet block.
The fire was extinguished however the block sustained significant damage.
A crime scene has been established and the fire is being treated as suspicious.
Investigations are continuing and anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Police are investigating after a house was destroyed by fire overnight at Qunaba, near Bundaberg. ... [QPS Media - 11/4/15]
Fatal traffic crash, Elimbah
QPS Media [10/4/15]:
A man has died following a single vehicle traffic crash at Elimbah this afternoon.
Initial information suggest around 4.45pm a motorcycle travelling on Beerburrum Road has lost control for unknown reasons and collided with a tree.
The rider, a 27-year-old Thornlands man, died at the scene.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
My home town Garissa will suffer again at the hands of Kenyan authorities, but it won’t make our country safer
Alinoor Moulid Bosh
I was born in Garissa, northeast Kenya, into a pastoralist family. My parents migrated to this land from parts of the greater Somali land which was under a British protectorate. Some of my relatives live across the border in Somalia. Growing up, Garissa was heavily militarized because of the effect of a secessionist struggle. It made life hard for many to live under such climate.
But my family did not give up on Garissa.
On April 2 nearly 150 young people were killed when a gang of heavily armed men from the Somali Islamist al-Shabaab militant group stormed our local university. It was the latest in a string of retaliatory attacks on Kenya for our military’s incursion into strongholds of Somalia currently controlled by al-Shabaab. My fear now is that the Kenyan government’s reaction of using military force in Somalia and at home against Somali-Kenyans will reopen decades of hurt and only radicalize more young men.
My town Garissa has taken the brunt of al-Shabaab’s retaliatory attacks. Our proximity to war-torn Somalia makes it ideal for the group’s plans. But a history that runs deep in here may also play a role. The region’s population is ethnic Somalis that have been marginalized by successive Kenyan governments. Until recent years, the region was constantly under emergency laws.
When Kenya got its independence from Britain in 1963, Garissa–which was part of the British-controlled Northern Frontier District–was put up for referendum. Majority of its residents expressed willingness to join their brethren across the border in Somalia. But that did not happen. The British administration instead handed the control to the government in Nairobi. What followed was the secessionist war described as the ‘Shifta war’ that planted a mistrust that runs deep and still flourishes in Kenyan society.
Kenyan government had a script on how to deal with the region. Any insecurity incident is met with an aggressive response that usually ends badly. Massacres occurred and abuses were meted out to civilian population on a daily basis. Our house was once torched by security forces in an operation locals dubbed “Garissa Gubay”. To the authorities, it was the only way of dealing with us. We came to live with it and grew up thinking camouflage uniforms of security agents were symbols of authority.
With the war in Somalia in 1990s, came our brethren from Somalia. Dadaab, an area within Garissa, was selected to host our brothers from Somalia, becoming the world’s largest refugee complex. We mingled and intermarried. And our way of life has never altered. But the rest of Kenya saw the arrival of Somali refugees through the prism of the Shifta war. To them we were one and the same–and we understand. A Somali, wherever he is in the world is not defined by the papers he holds but by his origin.
For centuries we have been nomads, criss-crossing the colonial-drawn boundaries that separates nations in the Horn of Africa. Our livelihood is sustained by livestock. It is a source of pride and wealth. Migrations happen in seasons, herders look for pasture wherever they can find. Sometimes competition for grazing lands become fierce and may lead to conflict. And many a times it is managed and solved.
However, the current security problems that are engulfing the northeastern region are mainly brought about by bad decisions made by a few in Nairobi with the seal of approval from the so-called international community. Kenya, which had long been described as the oasis of peace in a volatile region, provided safe haven to refugees fleeing conflict in their countries. The peaceful atmosphere was shattered in 2011 when it decided to militarily interfere in the affairs of her war-torn neighbor, Somalia.
Ever since the operation was launched, my hometown has been turned into a battle zone.
The heavy-handed approach by Kenyan security forces often fuel resentment that plays well with al-Shabaab recruitment strategy. And many of youth from my town have taken up the call to fight alongside al-Shabaab.
Garissa is a shell of her former self. Road blocks everywhere, dusk to dawn curfew imposed and security raids are daily routine. Once again, Somali Kenyans are in the spotlight. Not for the Shifta war that our forefathers fought but a proxy war that Kenya wages on behalf of Western powers. And the threat of al-Shabaab looms everywhere in this region.
With the report of one of attackers of Garissa University being a Somali Kenyan, however painful it can be, the decades old wounds will surely be opened once again. And loyalty of Somalis will be put to test. Already Somali Kenyan leaders have come out and said they will name sympathizers, fighters and financiers of al-Shabaab in our midst. They also call for the closure of Dadaab refugee complex. Meanwhile the Kenyan government is stopping vital international money remittances reaching the Somali community.
They have one month to do it right, it appears too long for many in Garissa like me to see this problem disappear. But in reality, it won’t until Nairobi sees beyond chest thumping in confronting al-Shabaab. Or recall troops from Somalia and fortify the border. It will be a wise and honorable decision to protect the lives of our sacred citizens.
Australian Government [DFAT]:
This Advice was last issued on Friday, 27 March 2015.
Current information suggests that terrorists may be planning attacks against crowded locations in Nairobi in the near future.
The level of advice has not changed.
We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Kenya overall, and to reconsider their need to travel to Nairobi and Mombasa.
Six Thais, one Italian injured in car bomb blast on Thailand's Samui Island [The Straits Times – 11/4/15]
Half New Zealand parliament says 'no nukes' [RNZI - 10/4/15]
A group of military veterans is taking aim at U.S. drone strikes overseas with graphic TV ads directly asking Air Force pilots to stop flying the unmanned aircraft, calling the operations immoral and illegal.
The ads are the first commercials opposing U.S. drone operations ever shown on American TV, according to sponsors, which include the Veterans Democratic Club of Sacramento County and the Sacramento chapter of Veterans for Peace. The campaign is spearheaded by an activist website, KnowDrones.com. … [ICH - 10/4/15]
The sudden cancellation of an academic conference on Israel, as well as the lack of outcry from 'mainstream' media, demonstrates once again the skewed limits to 'free speech' in 'advanced' Western democracies. 'Je suis Charlie' already feels like ancient history. It certainly does not apply when it comes to scrutiny of the state of Israel. … [Media Lens - 8/4/15]
American Historical Association Censors Ad for Book on Israel, Palestine and the US [ICH – 10/4/15]
The Royal Australian Air Force will soon receive two more heavy-lift C-17 transport planes as part of a $1 billion purchase.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the RAAF Amberley Base in Queensland on Friday.
Australia already has six of the powerful Boeing C-17 Globemasters. ... [ABC - 10/4/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
U.S.-led forces targeted Islamic State militants with nine air strikes in Iraq and seven in Syria since early on Thursday, the U.S. military said on Friday.
In Syria, the air strikes hit Islamic State positions near Al Hasakah and Kobani, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement.
In Iraq, the air strikes hit Islamic State positions near Bayji, Mosul and Fallujah, among other places, it said.
1,200 US marines set to arrive in Darwin [ABC - 11/4/15]
French, US navies integrate under Operation Inherent Resolve [Centcom – 10/4/15]
Egypt detains refugee boat headed for Italy
Egypt's coastguard on Friday detained a migrant boat heading for Italy, retrieved two bodies from the sea and rescued five injured people, security sources and medics said.
Coastguard officers also detained for questioning 129 migrants who were aboard the boat in the Mediterranean off the coast of the northern province of Kafr el-Sheikh, the sources said.
They said an Eritrean man and a Somali woman were found dead.
Health ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar confirmed the deaths, and said five people were hurt.
It was also not immediately clear where the boat had sailed from.
The sources said a search was under way for any more bodies, adding that those detained would be expelled to their respective countries after the investigation.
The number of migrants entering the European Union illegally in 2014 almost tripled to 276,000, according to EU border agency Frontex, nearly 220,000 of them arriving via the Mediterranean.
The chaotic situation in Egypt's neighbor Libya has sparked a rise in the number of migrant vessels setting out for Europe from its unpoliced ports, carrying refugees fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
Afghanistan: Suicide attack in Kabul injures three civilians
At least three civilians were injured following a suicide attack in Kabul on Friday afternoon, the security officials said.
Deputy Interior Minister for Security Gen. Ayub Salangi confirmed the incident and said a suicide bomber detonated a Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) in Tangi Tarakhel area.
Gen. Salangi said at least one civilian who was driving a vehicle was injured following the incident.
Kabul police chief Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi said at least three people who were all civilians were injured in the attack.
This was the second attack in Afghanistan targeting the convoy of the coalition security forces today.
A suicide bomber detonated a Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) targeting the coalition forces in Jalalabad city this morning.
According to the local government officials at least four people were killed and 13 others were injured in the attack.
Afghan Air Force conducts maneuver after receiving MD-530s from US [Khaama – 10/4/15]
71 Chadian soldiers killed fighting Boko Haram: Army
Seventy-one Chadian soldiers have been killed and 416 injured in two-and-a-half months' fighting Boko Haram, the Chadian army said on Friday.
Chad is taking part in a regional offensive against the Nigeria-based Islamist radicals along with troops from Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon.
Chad army chief General Brahim Seid told reporters in N'Djamena the "valiant soldiers" had died since February 3 in the "just and noble cause of bringing peace and security" to the region.
The countries neighbouring Nigeria, including Chad, sent troops to help crush Boko Haram after the Islamists began to threaten the region surrounding Lake Chad, where the borders of all four nations converge.
Nigeria's army has been criticised for failing to deal with Boko Haram fighters whose bid to set up a hardline Islamic state has killed more than 15,000 people since 2009 and put scores of thousands to flight, according to the UN.
The UN on Thursday launched an appeal for $174 million to give "life-saving aid" to the almost 200,000 Nigerians who have fled the country due to the group's brutal attacks.
12 injured as Israeli forces open fire on Jalazun refugee camp
Israeli forces injured 12 Palestinian youths after firing live and rubber-coated bullets during clashes in al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah on Friday.
Three Palestinians were injured with live fire and a further nine with rubber-coated steel bullets. They were taken to a Palestinian medical complex with light to moderate injuries.
The clashes broke out close to the wall that Israeli is building to seal off the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El.
Palestinian youths reportedly threw rocks and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers, who fired live bullets and rubber-coated steel bullets at them.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the incident.
The clashes come just two weeks after thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral of a young man buried in al-Jalazun refugee camp.
Ali Mahmoud Safi, 20, who succumbed to his wounds on Mar. 25 after being shot by Israeli forces during a protest near Ramallah a week earlier, was buried in the al-Shuhada (Martyrs') Cemetery inside the camp.
Head of a popular committee in the al-Jalazun refugee camp, Mahmoud Mubarak, said that the camp is being "systematically and unnaturally" attacked by Israel, and that there are daily clashes and injuries in the camp.
Mubarak called Safi "the first martyr this year," and said that four others were killed the year before in the refugee camp.
Safi was shot on Mar. 18 with a 0.22 caliber "tutu" bullet that pierced his chest and led to massive internal bleeding, leading to his death a week afterwards.
Eight other Palestinians were injured during the Israeli attack on the protesters.
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian dead at his cousin's funeral [Maan – 10/4/15]
Israel’s use of administrative detention against Palestinians draws concern of UN rights office [Media Release – 10/4/15]
PLO rejects idea of joining Yarmouk fighting
Hurriyet Daily News [10/4/15]:
The Palestinian leadership has rejected the idea of joining the conflict in Syria's Yarmouk camp, apparently ruling out involvement in a joint military operation to expel the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The position was made clear in a statement released late Thursday by the Palestine Liberation Organisation from its headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
It came just hours after Ahmed Majdalani, a senior PLO official who is currently in Damascus for talks, said 14 Palestinian factions backed the idea of a joint military operation with the Syrian army to expel the ISIL jihadists from the camp where more than 15,000 people, mostly Palestinian refugees, are trapped.
But the PLO said its traditional position of non-involvement had not changed.
"We refused to drag our people and their camps into the hellish conflict which is happening in Syria and we categorically refuse to become one of the parties involved in the armed conflict that is taking place in Yarmuk," it said.
"We refuse to be drawn into military actions, whatever or wherever they are, and we call for other means to ensure the safety of lives in Yarmuk and to prevent more destruction and forced displacement."
Majdalani had said the Palestinian forces would work in an "integrated" fashion "with the Syrian state to clear the camp of terrorists".
ISIL jihadists entered the Yarmuk camp in southern Damascus last week, quickly capturing large swathes of the district, sparking international concern for the residents inside.
Once home to some 160,000 Syrian and Palestinian residents, Yarmuk has been devastated by violence since late 2012, with about 18,000 people left in the camp.
Since the ISIL attack on April 1, around 2,500 people have managed to escape, some giving a grisly account of the atrocities perpetrated inside the camp by the jihadist forces.
The Palestinian leadership has frequently said it "would not get involved in (internal) Syrian affairs".
The San Bernardino County Sheriff ordered an internal investigation Thursday into an arrest caught on NBC Los Angeles' NewsChopper4 video that showed deputies beating a suspect when they caught up with him following a desert chase on horseback. ... [NBC - 10/4/15]
Attorneys for the family of a man who was fatally shot by Miami Gardens, Fla., police this year said Wednesday that a dash-cam video showed him being chased by officers before he was told to “get on the ground or you’re dead!” ... [KTLA - 9/4/15]
Father missing Mexican student on how US drug war aid "being used to annihilate students"
... This is an old problem, that has decades, of the school and the government, because the students fight for their rights to gain a better life, to gain better housing, better food, better education. What they do is they take to the streets to be heard. ...
Democracy Now [10/4/15]:
As the Summit of the Americas commences, several U.S.-based groups and university officials have signed a letter to President Obama questioning his response to the 43 students missing from the Mexican state of Guerrero for over six months.
The letter asks why the Obama administration has placed sanctions on Venezuela, but maintained normal relations with Mexico, despite the students’ disappearance.
Mexican authorities have declared the 43 students dead, saying local police acting on the orders of the mayor of Iguala attacked them and turned them over to drug gang members, who killed and incinerated them.
But so far the remains of only one of the 43 have been identified, and reports have pointed to the involvement of federal authorities.
We are joined by two relatives of the missing students who live here in New York: Antonio Tizapa is the father of missing student Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño; and Amado Tlatempa is the cousin of another missing student, Jesús Jovany Rodríguez Tlatempa.
"What I would tell President Obama is to stop supporting Plan Mérida, because the weapons, the arms that are supposedly supporting the war against drugs, those arms are being used to annihilate our students," Tizapa says.
Cuban delegation condemns presence of terrorist Félix Rodríguez in Panama [Granma - 8/4/15]:
The Cuban delegation participating the parallel Forums of the 7th Summit of the Americas condemned the presence of terrorist Félix Rodríguez Mendigutía in Panama - one of those directly involved in the murder of Che Guevara in Bolivia -, who is scheduled to meet with a group of accredited mercenaries participating in the event forums.
Ricardo Guardia Lugo, president of the Continental Organization of Latin American Students (OCLAE), read an open letter to organizers of the Civil Society Forum requesting that Panamanian authorities expel Rodríguez Mendiguitía from the country and demanding that the mercenaries, who were reveled yesterday morning, immediately withdraw from the event.
“The cat”, as this individual with proven links to the CIA is also known, participated in the Playa Girón invasion as a member of the 2506th brigade, was involved in the arms and drug trafficking operations supporting the Nicaraguan counterrevolution which blew up in the “Iran-Contra” scandal, and attacked civilian boats brining goods to Cuba.
“The most outrageous and painful thing for us is his direct involvement, under instructions from the CIA, in the murder of Che Guevara in Bolivia,” stated Guardia Lugo.
Trained from the most hard-line Batista stock, his uncle was Minister of Public Works under Batista. He studied in the U.S from 1954 and from an early age was offered the opportunity to participate in the first counterrevolutionary actions against our country, organized from the Dominican Republic by Leónidas Trujillo.
Given his credentials he was quickly recruited by the CIA and began his training in explosives, demolitions, sabotage and other undercover operation techniques.
His criminal record of subversive actions extends across Cuba, Uruguay, Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, among other nations on our continent.
Carrying out the empire’s missions as a member of the CIA in Latin America, he was part of the group who pursued and murdered Che in Bolivia.
“For the Latin American youth fighting for a better world Che represents the purest ethical and revolutionary ideals of today and forever,” stated the president of the OCLAE.
Guardia Lugo showed a photo which depicts the terrorist with one of the Cuban mercenaries accredited to participate in the Summit, holding up, as a trophy, one of the last images of heroic guerilla Che Guevara before he was murdered.
“We are sickened that an individual such as Félix Rodríguez Mendigutía, with a criminal record, could come to Panama to meet with traitors who have inexplicably been permitted to participate in the Civil Society Forum to share their opinions on the future of our homeland,” concluded Guardia Lago.
Coogee mother Jessica Bialek found safe
Sydney Morning Herald [10/4/15]:
Sydney mother Jessica Bialek has been found and is home safe with her family in Coogee, police have confirmed.
Ms Bialek's husband, Sabino Matera, broke the happy news on Facebook after 6.30pm on Thursday.
"Jessica Bialek is safe and at home. Found. Thank You," Mr Matera posted.
Hours later Mr Matera reached out again on Facebook to express his thanks to friends and family during the "hell" he experienced while his wife was missing.
"The last 24hr have been hell for me and my family and you all made a huge positive impact on the great outcome: Jess safe back home," he wrote just after 9.15pm.
"Thank you for all your prays
Thank you for the search
Thank you Facebook
Thank you for showing me the greatest community i underestimated i had behind my family
Thank you for the calls, messages
Thank you for the Food
Thanks you police workforce, you have been unbelievable!
I am overwhelmed by the people that joined forces for this huge task: returning a mother at home safe.
To all of you mothers: Thank you.
Thank you to the Jewish community and its spirit of solidarity
All your words have a special place in my heart and will never be forgotten.
Thank you GOD for bringing back Jessica home safely.
THANK YOU," it read.
Ms Bialek had been missing since Wednesday after intending to make a quick two-minute trip to her local bank to withdraw cash.
She never returned to her house to pay her cleaner, sparking a desperate search across Sydney on Thursday.
Rescued Fishermen Tell of Enslavement, Abuse
Cambodia Daily [10/4/15]:
When Roeun Hen would try to take a break from his 20-hour shift trawling Indonesian waters for fish, his Thai captain would pummel him, kicking and punching the 29-year-old until he returned to work.
After two years of the abuse, and without receiving the pay he had been promised, Mr. Hen made a dash for freedom when the boat docked at the remote Indonesian island of Benjina.
“I fled from the boat alone,” Mr. Hen said Thursday, noting that 10 other Cambodians had been forced to work on the boat with him. “I could not endure working on the boat anymore.”
Mr. Hen is among at least 58 Cambodians who were rescued from Benjina last Friday—along with hundreds of other slave laborers mostly from Burma—by the Indonesian government following an exposé by The Associated Press.
Injunction prevents Australian government destroying evidence in Christmas Island refugee concentration camp
A freeze has been ordered on the demolition of a Christmas Island detention facility, as lawyers for a young asylum seeker claim it may contain important evidence in a class action against the Federal Government.
The girl, known only as AS, is suing the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and his department, alleging they failed to provide adequate health care and schooling opportunities for children.
At the time the class action was launched last year, the girl was six years old and Scott Morrison was the minister.
He has since moved to the Ministry of Social Services and been replaced by Peter Dutton.
Lawyers representing the child said she had been in detention for more than a year and had suffered physical and mental health issues, including separation anxiety after her mother was transferred to the Australian mainland.
They said she also suffered bed-wetting, a stammer, post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression, and an ongoing dental infection.
The Government moved children off the island in December.
The class action also covers pregnant and other asylum seekers held in detention who have claimed physical or psychological injuries, and is seeking compensation as well as court orders.
At a directions hearing in the Victorian Supreme Court this week, lawyers for AS said they had discovered that the Government planned to demolish the Aqua and Lilac compounds on Christmas Island.
The compounds were built by the Rudd Labor government as an extension to the island's North West immigration detention centre.
The court heard its demolition was "imminent", and lawyers for the Government said a contract had been signed and entered into to demolish the compound on April 17.
But lawyers for AS want access to the compound, among other facilities on the island, to assist their case in determining if it had a bearing on the psychological state of their client.
They told the court "the battlelines were drawn" by a letter from authorities "indicating inspection would only be allowed with a number of conditions".
Lawyers for the plaintiff said the conditions were "unacceptable" and included that they not take any photographs of Christmas Island detention facilities, and give authorities at least two weeks' notice of any intention to visit.
Justice Stephen Kaye said he was persuaded the compound had "sufficient relevance" to the case to order a hold on its destruction.
"My concern is the compound should not be demolished," Justice Stephen Kaye said.
"There is a degree of urgency attached to it.
"I will make an order restraining the defendant from demolishing the Lilac Aqua compound, pending the hearing and determination of the application."
The parties will return to court next week.
Will Bishop's "death stare" diplomacy convince Iran to accept refoulement of refugees from Manus Island death camp?
The most essential component of refugee status and of asylum is protection against return to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution. This protection has found expression in the principle of non-refoulement which, as will be seen below, is widely accepted by States.
Canberra Times [11/4/15]:
The government is seeking to deport failed asylum seekers in a bid to relieve the Manus Island detention centre.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop will lobby Iran to take back hundreds of failed asylum seekers held in Australian immigration detention when she makes a rare visit to Tehran next week.
Iran has so far refused to accept any forced return from Australia of thousands of Iranians who arrived by boat during the Rudd and Gillard years and have been denied refugee protection.
Winning agreement with Iran to deport failed asylum seekers is seen as a potential breakthrough for the government to relieve the strife-prone Manus Island detention centre, where many Iranians are held.
Former foreign minister Bob Carr had controversially branded Iranians as economic migrants who were not facing persecution but were seeking to escape the squeeze of international sanctions.
Many Iranians had flown directly to Indonesia to be granted a visa on arrival until 2013, before travelling by boat to Australia.
Mr Carr told Fairfax Media this week returning failed asylum seekers to Iran would be "desirable" and it could be that the opening to the West following the nuclear deal has made an agreement possible.
West Australian [31/10/13]:
Julie Bishop has begun high-level efforts to strike an agreement with the Iranian Government to repatriate its nationals whose refugee claims have been rejected by Australia.
The Foreign Affairs Minister told The West Australian that she raised the involuntary return of boat people with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Zarif in New York last month.
Millions spent on ‘voluntary return’ of asylum seekers [Australian Lawyers Alliance – 5/8/14]
Australia's 'beautiful prison' in Papua New Guinea, Fariba Sahraei [VIDEO – BBC – 18/2/15]:
... "Imagine a large and real cage in the most isolated island, surrounded by ocean and jungle and tall coconut trees," says Omid, a 25-year-old Iranian.
"No doubt our prison is the most beautiful prison in the world."
Omid is not exaggerating. Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), is small and rugged, covered in thick jungle, and the coastline is stunning.
It's home to around 50,000 islanders - but also to about 1,000 detained asylum seekers who never wanted to be here and are mostly desperate to get out and go anywhere except back where they came from.
Until mid-2013, Omid was a journalist in Iran. He fled the country under the threat of arrest, paying traffickers a small fortune to take him to Australia.
Like many asylum seekers setting off from Indonesia, Omid headed for Christmas Island, a tiny Australian territory much closer than the mainland.
Despite reaching Australian borders, he was relocated to an overcrowded detention centre on Manus Island, where he has been stuck for the last 18 months.
Human Rights Watch [21/12/14]:
The Iranian government’s December 13, 2014 announcement that it will grant a six-month visa extension to 450,000 Afghans is a helpful move to prevent their imminent deportation, Human Rights Watch said today.
However, the visa-extension plan is no substitute for an asylum system that will allow newly arriving Afghans to lodge refugee claims.
An Iranian foreign ministry official described the visa extension plan as a reflection of Iran’s “brotherly relations” with Afghanistan.
The official said that the Afghan government had agreed to devise an assistance plan for reintegrating the 450,000 Afghans when they return to Afghanistan. Under the Iranian plan, the previously undocumented Afghans will be able to apply for temporary visas and work.
US expands intelligence sharing with Saudis in Yemen operation [Reuters - 10/4/15]
40 Houthis killed in car bombing in Yemen's Shabwah: Source [Press TV – 10/4/15]:
At least 40 Houthi Ansarullah fighters have lost their lives in a car bombing in Yemen’s southern province of Shabwa, a security source says.
"A booby-trapped car exploded at the Bejan police station in the province, killing 40 Houthis," the source told Turkey's official Anadolu Agency on Friday, adding that several people were also injured in the attack.
No group or individual has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing, and the Ansarullah movement has not commented on it.
This comes as the impoverished Arab country has been under violent attacks by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia started its air campaign against Yemen on March 26, without a UN mandate, in a bid to restore power to the country’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
A spokesperson for the Yemeni army, fighting alongside Ansarullah fighters, said on Thursday that at least 1,000 people, including 200 children, have been killed in the Saudi airstrikes.
He added that 15,000 others have also been injured since the start of the Saudi military campaign.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on April 7 that more than 540 people had been killed in Yemen since mid-March.
Christian Lindmeier, a WHO spokesman, noted that the death toll was related to the period between March 19 and April 6.
Thousands of Yemeni protesters have poured into the streets of the capital, Sana’a, to condemn the Saudi deadly military aggression against their country as a violation of international law.
In a mass rally on Friday, the Yemeni demonstrators waved national flags and carried large banners while calling on the international community to probe crimes committed in their country by the Saudi regime and prosecute the perpetrators of the atrocities.
The protesters reiterated that the Yemeni people are capable of resolving their own problems peacefully.
They also hailed efforts by Iran, Russia, China and several other countries to stand behind the people of Yemen. … [Press TV - 10/4/15]
11 April 2015