You could provide SAFE PASSAGE and RESCUE 1,000s of refugees with 57 ships. Other than that, there is an urgent need to disincentivise sociopathy ----> NATO deploys Aegean migrant naval mission [Yahoo - 11/2/16]:
NATO launched Thursday an unprecedented naval mission in the Aegean Sea to tackle people smugglers taking migrants and refugees from the Turkish coast, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.
The move follows a request this week by alliance members Germany, Greece and Turkey for assistance in tackling Europe's biggest migrant crisis since World War II.
Speaking after NATO defence ministers approved the mission, Stoltenberg said NATO is "now directing the standing maritime group to move into the Aegean without delay and start maritime surveillance activities".
The group comprises three ships that are currently under German command.
The NATO chief said the migrant crisis, driven by conflict and turmoil in Syria across the Middle East and North Africa, posed a major security threat to the 28-nation alliance.
"This is not about stopping and pushing back (refugee boats)... but about critical surveillance to help counter human trafficking and criminal networks," he said.
The move is a major step forward into humanitarian territory for NATO, an alliance formed during the depths of the Cold War and which normally reserves its assets for strictly military matters.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Turkey on Monday, agreeing to make the request to NATO as thousands more refugees fled heavy fighting around the Syrian city of Aleppo.
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter earlier said that the NATO ministers had backed the plan.
"NATO and all the parties at the table this morning indicated a willingness for NATO to support and be a part of that operation," Carter said.
"All three of those countries emphasised the need for NATO to act quickly, with which the United States strongly agrees, because this are people's lives and destinies at stake here."
Carter said military planners will now look at the issue and report back to NATO for final approval.
... If we thought they were different from us, we were very wrong.
In that boat it could travel your sister, your nephew, your neighbour, your students, your teacher, your doctor, yourself ...
The only difference from them is the place of origin, nothing else. ... [Proactiva Open Arms - 11/2/16]
Reinhold Hanning, former Auschwitz guard, goes on trial in Germany [NBC - 11/2/16]:
... Investigations by Germany's special Nazi war crimes office in Ludwigsburg show that Hanning served as a guard at Auschwitz until at least June 1944.
While Hanning admitted to his guard duties in a statement to the prosecution, he denied involvement in the mass killings.
But investigators say he also served at Auschwitz's Birkenau sub-division where about 90 percent of more than 1.2 million killings in the camp were carried out in four gas chambers.
Prosecutors maintain that the Nazis' killing machinery hinged on people like Hanning guarding the prisoners and accuse him of expediting, or at least facilitating, the murders.
Precedence for such charges was set in 2011 when death camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk was convicted of being an accessory to mass murder. ...
Judge notes bipartisan anti refugee policy in sentencing of man who helped family members seek asylum in Australia [ABC - 10/2/16]:
.. She took into account what she described as the protracted prosecution and put Buka on a two-year good behaviour bond.
The charges carried a 10-year maximum sentence.
"I find your moral culpability to be much lower than an organiser, a middleman, or the boat crew," she told Buka.
"You have had these matters handing over your head, unresolved, for over four years. That is an unfair and excessively long time."
Judge Hampel was critical of the prosecution which was responsible for the delays, because it failed to discover key evidence until late in the process.
She said imprisonment was not appropriate especially given the personal losses Buka and his family had experienced and his experience as a stateless and displaced person from the Shia Feili Kurd ethnic minority group.
Two of his brothers had been killed during Saddam Hussein's reign in Iraq.
He had also been in refugee camps since he was seven, oftentimes living in war torn areas.
While acknowledging the seriousness of the offending in violating "Australia's sovereignty and national security", Judge Hampel rejected the idea that she needed to jail Buka in order to deter others.
"The need to impose a sentence which will act as a deterrent ... had been overtaken by events,' she said.
"The bi-partisan support for the policy of offshoring, and the upholding just last week by the High Court of offshore processing means there is no longer any capacity to facilitate the entry to Australia of family members seeking to claim asylum.
"This is not the time or place to discuss the moral obligations of a well-off country to accept welcome refugees and asylum seekers.
"Parliament has chosen to make it an offence for a person in Australia to facilitate the entry of a family member who is fleeing persecution but has no lawful right of entry to Australia." ...
DFAT talking points for staff and Ministers deflected concerns about Nauru's sovereignty and the rule of law [Reuters - 11/2/16]
The only way to end a bipartisan policy of cruelty is through NON partisan opposition ---> ALP helps Coalition lock in offshore detention of refugees [ABC - 24/6/15]
Aceh fishermen nominated for UN award for rescuing Rohingya and Bangladeshis [Jakarta Post - 10/2/16]:
Aceh fishermen are nominated to receive the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) for rescuing hundreds of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh in Indonesian waters.
Geutanyoe Foundation international director Lilianne Fan said the organization had submitted the fishermen as candidates to receive the award in recognition of their services to save many lives of those who were stranded at sea.
"If they hadn’t been rescued by the Aceh fishermen, the lives of the children and the Rohingnya people and Bangladeshis may not have been saved," Fan said on Wednesday as quoted by news agency Antara.
According to a statement on its website, the UNCHR once a year awards the Nansen Refugee Award to an individual, group of people or an organization to honor extraordinary service to refugees and outstanding work on behalf of the forcibly displaced.
The UN body focuses on giving assistance to refugees as well as providing education for the children of the displaced in various countries.
Fan said the Aceh fishermen exemplified concrete humanitarian action in saving the lives of the refugees without exhibiting racial or ethnic bias.
The number of Rohingya refugees currently residing in the Aceh province has reportedly fallen to be 350 from the initial 1,010 people.
The refugees currently live in shelters located in Kuala Langsa harbor, in the town of Langsa, and also camps in Bayeun village in East Aceh and Blang Ado village in North Aceh.
The Geutanyoe Foundation is an Aceh-based NGO that focuses on humanitarian issues.
The foundation has been working with the fishermen and focuses on helping the refugees improve their living conditions and create social and livelihood programs in their camps in Aceh.
Report examines status of Rohingyas (and also includes analysis of the regional impact of Australia's anti refugee policies) [The Hindu - 11/2/16]:
The Rohingya refugee crisis has become a “regional issue involving countries of South and Southeast Asia,” a recent report on the community said, putting the number of Rohingyas living in India at 40,000-50,000.
The report, ‘Rohingyas: The Emergence of a Stateless Community,’ prepared by Calcutta Research Group, an independent research organisation, says that the number of families settled in different Indian States is 10,565.
According to the latest data, 6,684 families of the community have settled in Jammu and Kashmir, 1,755 in Andhra Pradesh, 760 in Delhi and 361 in West Bengal.
It says 32,000 Rohingyas registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are residing in Bangladesh, and three-five lakh people of the community live outside the formal camps in that country.
“At a time when the refugees crisis is spreading over Europe, we, in Southeast Asia, are not aware of a similar crisis closer to home involving the Rohingyas,” Sabyasachi Basu Ray Choudhury, Vice-Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University and one of the editors of the report, told The Hindu. Ranabir Samaddar, an expert in migration and post-migration, is also an editor of the report.
Interviews with the community members recorded in the report suggest the Rohingyas crossing over from Bangladesh to India prefer the camps in Jammu, Hyderabad and Delhi for better economic opportunities. “In West Bengal, there is no fixed settlement area for Rohingyas. The largest identifiable number is concentrated in correctional homes,” the report says.
Researchers who have painstakingly interviewed those from the families incarcerated have listed the “disintegration of the refugee family” and the accompanying trauma as one of the major observations of the report.
Even refugee cards issued by the UNHCR are not accepted as a valid document in West Bengal, and Rohingyas are put behind bars.
Major Observations and Recommendations
Taking Cognizance of the Following:
1. That vide the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law in Myanmar, the Rohingyas have been deprived of citizenship in the country as a result becoming de jure and de facto stateless.
2. That a long-term and durable solution to the situation can only be through the willing participation of the Government of Myanmar.
3. That this issue has turned into a regional issue involving the countries of South and Southeast Asia.
4. That UNHCR, as the apex body dealing with all issues of asylum seekers, refugees and stateless people internationally, has an important role to play in the resolution of the crisis.
5. That regional organisations, like ASEAN, SAARC and APEC, cannot ignore or overlook the enormity of the humanitarian crisis.
6. That since 2012 Rohingyas in large numbers have taken to the sea to seek refuge in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and taken the land route into India.
7. That there are about 30,000 registered and an estimated 200,000 Rohingyas living in abject or uncertain conditions in Bangladesh.
8. That there are significant numbers of Rohingya people detained in the Correctional Homes in India under the Foreigners’ Act 1946 and the Passport Act 1967.
9. That the disintegration of the refugee family unit upon incarceration, particularly the separation of children from their mothers, is a cause of ongoing trauma, loss of identity and is against all humanitarian principles.
10. That Rohingya women and children are the most vulnerable amongst this population and are a target of sexual violence at the hands of the troops manning the borders between Myanmar and Bangladesh and Bangladesh and India, traffickers and smugglers as well as military in Myanmar.
11. That UNHCR issued refugee identity proofs are not accepted as valid documents by the police in West Bengal.
12. That Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingyas have constantly been conflated together in this mixed and massive flow of population in the region, making it difficult for the Rohingyas to access refugee rights.
13. That Australia does not allow refugees and asylum seekers to come to their shore, instead detaining them at offshore facilities and thereby weakening the international regime of refugee rights and the fundamental tenet of non-refoulement and directly affecting the boat people, particularly Rohingyas taking to the seas, in the region.
The Report Recommends:
1. That the other Southeast Asian and SAARC countries have to engage with Myanmar to find durable solution to issues of the Rohingya people.
2. The UN system, including UNHCR, must prevail upon the global community and the countries in the Asia-Pacific region, in particular, to resolve the crisis within and without Myanmar.
3. That UNHCR has to see the crisis itself as a manifestation of the growing crisis of statelessness around the world as well as connected to the mixed and massive flows of populations across borders.
4. That regional and international bodies like SAARC, ASEAN, APEC and UNHCR should actively pursue a durable solution to this issue with the local and non-local stakeholders.
5. That Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia should stop their policy of pushback of boats, warehousing, offshore internment and take the necessary rescue, relief, and rehabilitation measures and humanitarian aid.
6. That Bangladesh has to sustain a policy of protecting the refugees and the stateless and discontinue the policy of forcing the Rohingyas to exit.
7. That India has to discontinue the policy of putting asylum seekers and unwanted migrants in jails or severely restricted places.
8. That local authorities, particularly the police and paramilitary personnel, should be sensitized about the refugees carrying UNHCR issued refugee identity cards to prevent their detention and incarceration.
9. That the Rohingya people currently incarcerated in West Bengal should be provided with free and quality legal aid by the state.
10. That Indian Navy should be directed by the Government of India to proactively rescue boat people and provide humanitarian assistance in the Bay of Bengal.
11. That there should be presence of women paralimilitary/police personnel in case of detention and arrests of Rohingya women at the border and due process of presenting those arrested before the Magistrate should be followed.
12. That after serving their term, the state is responsible for the reunification of the incarcerated refugees with their children and other family members and a due process should be established in all such cases.
The appointment of former army commander Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka as a member of parliament sends “worrying signals on accountability” from both the Sri Lankan president and prime minister, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a statement released on Wednesday.
“Fonseka’s appointment signals that the government may protect senior military leaders suspected of widespread abuses,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“The government should meaningfully demonstrate to the Sri Lankan people and the UN that it’s serious about accountability and not on the road to a whitewash.” ... [Tamil Guardian - 11/2/16]
Less than a month after the government announced that more than 170 Montagnard asylum seekers would have their refugee applications processed, an Interior Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that the group had not met the criteria for refugee status and would be returned to Vietnam. ... [Cambodia Daily - 11/2/16]
Health Ministry and IOM won't give details on new "care" pledge for repratriated migrant workers [Phnom Penh Post - 11/2/16]:
... Repatriated migrant workers often face dire mental health issues upon their return to Cambodia, with little to no state assistance.
Some former maids repatriated from Malaysia suffer from such severe trauma that they are chained up by their own families. ...
About 40 foreigners detained by an immigration office in Osaka launched a hunger strike Wednesday, demanding improvement in food and medical care, their supporters said.
The Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau was not immediately available for comment.
A group of 25 detainees requested in writing on Jan 6, as did another group of 28 detainees on Jan 22, better meals and medical care and fewer restrictions on the supply of food from outside, the supporters said.
The letters noted insufficient care by doctors even for detainees who have suffered strokes or from hypertension.
The representatives of the detainees held talks with bureau officials on Jan 19 and were told that they will be deported and “do not have the right to request” improvements in treatment, according to the supporters.
Around 80 people are currently detained by the immigration bureau, including foreigners who have filed suit against the Japanese government to challenge forced deportation and foreigners who have applied for refugee status.
“Ill treatment by the Osaka bureau stands out among immigration offices,” Nobukazu Nagai, one of the supporters, told Kyodo News.
“It is a problem that the bureau does not properly provide the first chance to take medical examination to distinguish whether they are severely ill or not,” Nagai said. [Japan Today - 11/2/16]
One day Australians could be refugees. They should think about that ----> A possible joint naval patrol by the United States and India in the South China Sea may reduce tensions in the disputed region, according to the American navy.
Commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris said he welcomes the Indian navy to patrol the South China Sea with the US.
Speaking on Thursday to ASEAN reporters at the Pacific Command camp in Honolulu, Hawaii, Admiral Harry added that he supports the right of any country to conduct patrols in the South China Sea.
He said: “The more patrols we have singularly, or jointly not only in the South China Sea, but throughout the region, helps to decrease tensions, and helps to improve stability because it reinforces the notion of freedom of the seas, freedom of navigation.”
Admiral Harry, who assumed command of the US Pacific Command last year, added that the South China Sea is international waters, and does not belong to any country.
The United States and India have held talks about conducting joint naval patrols that could include the South China Sea. ... [Channel News Asia - 11/2/16]
Pacific nations to offer new tuna deal to US [RNZI - 11/2/16]
South Korea begins Kaesong industrial park shut down [BBC – 11/2/16]
Dallas Buyers Club gives up on iiNet piracy case [IT News – 10/2/16]
In the latest sign of the revolving door between the U.S. government and Wall Street, former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has secured a personal line of credit from JPMorgan Chase—one of the banks he was previously charged with overseeing—in order to help fund his new endeavors in private equity.
Geithner is reportedly borrowing the money to invest in a $12 billion fund being raised by his current employer, the private equity firm Warburg Pincus. [Democracy Now - 9/2/16]
You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’
5 policemen killed, 6 wounded in an insider attack in Kandahar [Khaama - 11/2/16]
At least 21 Taliban insurgents were killed in a military operation carried out by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) special forces in southern Kandahar province on Tuesday, local officials said.
In addition, 11 other insurgents were injured. ... [TOLO News - 10/2/16]
Amidst reports of the return of hundreds of American troops to help Afghan security forces in Helmand, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Wednesday said the U.S soldiers' cooperation with Afghan forces on the battlefield is crucial.
"The presence of U.S troops in Helmand and other parts [of the country] – when they are needed – is in favor of Afghanistan and it will lead to the defeat of terrorism," said MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.
Hundreds of U.S troops will reportedly join ANA troops in Helmand at the end of this month but their exact number is not certain so far. ... [TOLO News - 10/2/16]
With fewer US troops in Afghanistan, pressure grows for more air strikes [Reuters – 10/2/16]
More than 70 people have been killed in a double suicide attack at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northeast Nigeria, local officials told Al Jazeera.
The twin suicide bombings in Borno state on Tuesday morning - reportedly committed by women - also left 78 people injured, officials added.
Information about the attacks was first reported by officials on Wednesday night. ... [Al Jazeera - 11/2/16]
AU says Al-Shabab planning Somalia attacks and atrocities using AU uniforms [Al Jazeera - 10/2/16]
Following months of blocked access to the Yemeni city of Taiz, and in response to mounting emergency health needs, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today it has successfully delivered more than 20 tonnes of life-saving medicines and medical supplies to meet the most urgent needs of those with limited access to humanitarian aid.
The health supplies, which had been blocked from entering the city for eight weeks, were delivered to Al-Thawra, Al-Jumhoori, Al-Rawdha and Al-Ta'aon hospitals as of 31 January, WHO said in a press release. ... [UN Media Release - 10/2/16]
... Despite over a decade of work in war zones, including in Syria, Seawright said, “I have never seen such destruction conducted in such a short period as in Yemen.” ... Last Call: The life and death of an ambulance driver in Yemen [The Intercept - 11/2/16]
Five members of the same family were killed when a Saudi-led coalition air strike hit their home in Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa, rescuers and neighbours said on Wednesday.
According to neighbours who identified the body, the father was Mounir al-Hakimi, a programme director at the Yemen Today television channel, which is owned by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
His body along with that of two of his children were still under the rubble of the destroyed building, while rescue workers managed to pull out the bodies of the wife and young daughter, according to an AFP photographer at the site. ... [Middle East Eye - 10/2/16]
An Israeli force crossed the Lebanese border on Wednesday and seized a goat herd belonging to a Lebanese citizen, sparking a protest by villagers, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.
“A force from the enemy's army violated the border and nabbed a flock of goats belonging to the citizen Wissam Abdul Al,” NNA said.
The development prompted residents from the southern border towns of Kfarshouba and Hilta to stage a sit-in outside the post of the Indian U.N. peacekeeping force in the Bustra Farm to press UNIFIL to seek the return of the herd, the agency added.
Earlier, NNA had reported that the Israelis abducted the flock to the occupied Shebaa Farms after the goats crossed the border of the occupied region.
Such incidents are frequent in that border area and the Israeli army sometimes kidnaps the shepherds themselves and frees them after interrogation.
Tensions have recently surged along the Lebanese-Israeli border, especially in Shebaa, after Hizbullah attacked an Israeli patrol in retaliation to Israel's December assassination in Syria of its top operative Samir al-Quntar. [Naharnet - 10/2/16]
A report from an autopsy performed on a 16-year-old Palestinian killed when clashes broke out during an Israeli military raid Tuesday revealed the teen died from a bullet to the chest.
Hebron’s District Attorney Alaa al-Tamimi told Ma'an Wednesday that Omar Yousef Madi al-Jawabreh died after being hit by a single bullet that entered his body from the right side of his chest.
Al-Tamimi said the bullet penetrated the teen’s liver, kidneys, and spleen before exiting his body from the lower left side of his rib cage.
The al-Jawabreh family is expected to hold a funeral on Thursday, Al-Tamimi added.
The 16-year-old was shot when clashes erupted between residents and Israeli forces raiding al-Arrub refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals said. ... [Maan - 10/2/16]
... On Tuesday night, seven Palestinian youths were injured and 20 others suffered teargas inhalation when IOF broke into Tukou’a village south of Bethlehem on Tuesday night.
IOF have opened gunfire and injured brothers Jihad al-Amour (26) and Alaa al-Amour (24) while they were on the rooftop of their family home in the village.
Five more Palestinians sustained rubber bullet wounds and 20 others choked on teargas in the clashes that flared up in the area.
Several casualties were evacuated to the Beit Jala public hospital for urgent treatment.
Meanwhile, the occupation troops sealed off the main entrances to Bethlehem’s western town of Nahalin and wreaked havoc on dozens of civilian homes.
Nahhalin was blockaded this morning and noone was allowed to leave the town.
Gaza patients battle cancer and Israeli siege [Electronic Intifada - 9/2/16]
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) tried during a Knesset debate on Wednesday to differentiate each other’s views on a two-state solution, which both support but say is not currently viable.
“Good morning Buji! I’m glad you woke up. Welcome to the Middle East,” Netanyahu said, using Herzog’s nickname, regarding the opposition leader’s recent statements that a Palestinian state is not immediately viable. ... [Jerusalem Post - 10/2/16]
... The latest exercise in harassment was the summoning of foreign correspondents to a reproachful debate on their “one-sided, biased coverage” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this week.
The surprise was the initiator of this harassment: not the government but the Knesset, and not just the Knesset but the opposition, too.
The subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union), summoned the foreign media to give an account of their supposedly biased coverage of terror attacks, hostile coverage of Israeli soldiers and policemen, and slander. ... Israel must end its inquisition of foreign media [Haaretz - 11/2/16]
Palestinians call on Oscar nominees to reject Israel propaganda trip [PNN - 10/2/16]
The U.S. Justice Department sued Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday to force the city to change its police department and court system after the federal government found both to be biased against minorities. ... [Reuters - 10/2/16]
Black Lives Matter activist kills himself on steps of Ohio Statehouse [Democracy Now - 10/2/16]
FBI moves in on last four occupiers at Oregon wildlife refuge [Reuters - 10/2/16]
Environmental groups in the Northern Marianas are planning to sue the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for alleged failure to comply with Endangered Species Act with the ongoing live-fire and sea training.
The groups decried the Navy's unfettered access to what it was being described as the largest military training area in the world.
They said the military had a potentially negative impact to any number of the 23 species listed by the Service as threatened.
At the forefront of the planned lawsuit is Pagan Watch as well as Alternative Zero Coalition, Center for Biological Diversity, Fanacho Marianas, Guardians of Gani, Oceania Resistance,Tinian Premier Football Club, and Tinian Women's Association.
The Marianas Islands Training and Testing area had been expanded to 2.5 million square kilometres which is an area larger than the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana and New Mexico combined. [RNZI - 11/2/16]
UN agriculture agency warns of threat to food security from overuse of antibiotics [Media Release - 10/2/16]
Haiti's third consecutive year of drought, exacerbated by the global El Niño weather phenomenon, has driven people deeper into poverty and hunger, and doubled the severely food-insecure population, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today.
Some 3.6 million Haitians are facing food insecurity, among them more than 1.5 million people who are severely food insecure. This is a key finding from an emergency food security assessment conducted by WFP, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and National Food Security Coordination. ... [UN Media Release - 9/2/16]
Various groups that are against the propagation of genetically modified (GM) crops said the government was railroading the issuance of new rules for the commercial cultivation and importation of such products as a final consultation session was held on Tuesday.
The groups include Greenpeace, Magsasaka at Syentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag), Green Action PH (Graph), Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham), Pesticide Action Network Philippines, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and the Center or Health Initiatives and Management of Eco-systems. ... [Inquirer - 10/2/16]
Concern over health of Guantanamo prisoner in 9/11 case [Stripes - 10/2/16]:
Amnesty International has taken up the cause of a Guantanamo prisoner who is said to be in declining health as he awaits trial for his alleged role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
The rights group is asking the Defense Department to investigate claims by lawyers for Mustafa al-Hawsawi that he is receiving inadequate medical treatment at the U.S. base in Cuba.
The letter released by the Saudi prisoner's lawyers Tuesday also calls for a full review of all medical care at Guantanamo.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross says all detainees receive the same treatment as soldiers but said the government cannot discuss the medical condition of any individual.
Al-Hawsawi and four co-defendants are due in court next week for a pretrial hearing in their long-stalled case.
Berlin Film Festival opens with Clooney - and eye on refugees [Reuters - 10/2/16]:
... Dieter Kosslick, the festival's director, told Reuters in an interview that without losing sight of its primary goal of presenting the best of world cinema, this year's Berlinale is programmed in part to show why people become refugees.
"If you lose your homeland you don't lose it because you want to leave your house, you want to leave your garden, your flowers, your family," Kosslick said.
"You want to be happy, and you are leaving because you are not happy and this is the way you can see the whole Berlinale."
CLOSE THE CAMPS!
FREE THE REFUGEES!
FREE JULIAN ASSANGE!
A free koala, Coombabah Wetlands
Julian Assange via @WikiLeaks [10/2/16]:
... I have been granted asylum in relation to the United States which has very serious pending prosecution against me, last confirmed in December 2015.
Sweden has a 100% extradition rate to the United States over the last 15 years.
The UK has a 90% extradition rate. Both countries so far refuse to abide by their asylum law obligations under the 1951 Convention on Refugees and veto an extradition to the US.
59 legal rights groups have made complaints to the UN about the situation, including two from Sweden.
The Cameron government cannot accept the comptency of the UN to hear the matter, take part in 16 months of adverserial submissions to the tribunal and then, then, when it loses try and wriggle out of the result.
David Cameron is a sore loser.
We can only imagine the government's gloating response if it had won.
It is not a credible way to behave. Either accept the verdict of the umpire or don't walk onto the field in the first place.
Have Lisa Millar and friends actually asked Julie Bishop whether she's demanded that the UK return Assange's passport?
if you think you'll ever need diplomatic or consular help from the australian government, make sure you don't piss off a superpower #assange
"tweeted" by @SenatorLudlam [11/2/16]
Today I had the great pleasure to join Foreign Minister Julie Bishop MP, Ambassador-designate Joe Hockey, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, and many others at the launch of G'Day USA 2016. ... [US Ambassador John Berry via Julie Bishop - 16/12/15]
Australia's Foreign Minister is free to flaunt the abandonment of Julian Assange because the media are protecting her [Media Release - 10/2/16]:
Australia’s four koala envoys - Paddle, Pellita, Chan and Idalia - have returned home to Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, following their successful stay at Singapore Zoo.
Our koalas charmed almost one million visitors during their ten month visit where they were cared for in a purpose built koala exhibit.
Australia provided the four koalas to Singapore last year as our gift to mark the 50th anniversary of Australia-Singapore relations and Singapore’s 50th year of independence.
Australia has been ranked sixth globally for soft power diplomacy* and initiatives such as our “Koala Diplomacy” demonstrate the potential to strengthen diplomatic relations and generate goodwill among the broader Singaporean public.
Singapore Zoo ran an array of public activities including a competition to select local nicknames for the koalas (Nila, Manja, Cantik and Sayang).
The estimated advertising value of global coverage of the Koala Diplomacy initiative across 189 media outlets is around $4 million, with a combined estimated audience of more than 1 billion people worldwide.
I thank Qantas Airways for its outstanding efforts in transporting the koalas and delivering fresh eucalyptus, and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for providing the koalas and sharing their expertise with Singapore Zoo.
Singapore is one of Australia’s most important international partners. Last year we formalised a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to further deepen our cooperation and collaboration with Singapore over the next decade to boost trade, investment, jobs and economic growth.
Are Australian refugee advocates and experts in international law so poisoned against Julian Assange they would sacrifice a fine legal point?
UN Victory in Assange Case: Decision has big implications for refugees and whistleblowers [Center for Constitutional Rights - 5/2/16]:
... In our briefs to the WGAD, we argued that someone is effectively detained when they are forced to choose between confinement and running the risk of persecution. That is the precise dilemma faced by Mr. Assange, who would lose the protection of his asylum if he stepped out of the embassy. The risk of extradition is the 'fourth wall' for the now repudiated claim that he is free to leave the embassy. As a result, it has been years since Mr. Assange has had access to proper medical care, sunlight, or the ability to see his family.
The WGAD's decision in Mr. Assange's case sets an important precedent for refugees. In our submissions we analogized the situation faced by Mr. Assange to that of asylum-seekers in detention facilities. States may claim that asylum-seekers held in subhuman conditions are not 'detained' because they are technically free to leave for their home country, but this is a non-choice, since the home country would persecute the asylum seeker.
The WGAD decision could mean that so-called 'open' facilities like the Israeli Holot, deep in an Israeli desert, and the Australian-run center in Nauru are legally equivalent to closed prisons.
This concept of detention builds on arguments already adopted by many sources of international law, including the European Court of Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and WGAD case law.
We expect this decision to be cited in future refugee detention challenges.
The decision is also resounding victory for freedom of expression as it recognizes that whistleblowers and publishers need protection, and acknowledges the coercive effect of an extradition threat. The WGAD announced today that the “Republic of Ecuador granted asylum because of Mr. Assange’s fear that if he was extradited to Sweden, he would be further extradited to the United States where he would face serious criminal charges for the peaceful exercise of his freedoms.”
The decision is a major milestone in the growing international consensus about the need to protect those who promote the publication of truth about government. Last October, the European Parliament voted to protect whistleblower Edward Snowden from extradition to the United States. That same month, the UN envoy charged with safeguarding free speech around the globe issued a report calling on governments to protect whistleblowers and confidential sources rather than punishing them.
Andrew Wilkie MP provides further material to the ICC [11/2/16]:
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has written again to the International Criminal Court to provide further material to support an investigation into the Australian Government for crimes against humanity in relation to asylum seekers.
“I have written to the ICC Prosecutor to draw her attention to the Government’s intention to deport to Nauru 267 asylum seekers, including 30 babies, who were brought to Australia for medical treatment,” Mr Wilkie said.
“We know that the Nauru Regional Processing Centre is no place for anyone, especially children, and that if these children are returned then they will be subject to treatment that is in breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Moreover the Government is in contravention of the Rome Statute because it continues to incarcerate people indefinitely without trial, forcibly transfer people to third countries and places them in conditions causing great suffering and serious injury to mental and physical health.
“If the Government won’t listen to the outrage of the Australian people, then let’s hope they listen to the ICC.”
Mr Wilkie first wrote to the ICC in October 2014 asking for an investigation into the Government in accordance with Article 15(1) of the Rome Statute.
He has submitted further evidence to the ICC since and the ICC has indicated that they are considering his submission.
The Coalition and Labor have joined forces to vote down a motion to grant amnesty to almost 270 asylum seekers currently in Australia.
The 267 people, including 37 babies, are facing the prospect of being sent to Nauru in the wake of yesterday's High Court judgement which upheld offshore immigration detention.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young today moved a motion in the Senate, asking for the Federal Government to allow the asylum seekers to remain onshore.
In full, the motion read: "the Senate calls on the Turnbull Government to grant amnesty to the 267 men, women and children in Australia as part of the M68 High Court challenge, and allow them to stay."
It was defeated 10-40, with independent senator John Madigan siding with the Greens.
@akaWACA [11/2/16]: Two women who dropped #LetThemStay banner have descended of their own accord & released without charge at this point
Full media release by activists currently suspended off M3 bridge in Melbourne [11/2/16]:
Activists unfurl banner across Eastern Freeway bridge to protest refugee deportation
Two climbers have suspended themselves from the Yarra Bend bridge above the Eastern Freeway and unfurled a banner reading “#LetThemStay”.
They are peacefully protesting the forced deportation of 267 refugees to Nauru, including 37 babies and 54 children.
Katherine Woskett, 25, an arborist, and Hannah Patchett, 22, a professional rope access worker, suspended themselves around 7.30am this morning and are not obstructing traffic.
Ms Patchett said, “It’s outrageous that we even have to protest torture against children. We’re calling on the Australian government to uphold their obligations to international human rights conventions.”
The deportations of refugees could happen at any moment, with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection secretary Michael Pezzullo telling senate estimates that some asylum seekers could be deported “within days.”
Ms Woskett added, “We’re here to raise awareness and encourage other Australians to take direct action and stand up for the rights of people who can’t.”
“Such a condemnable violation of human rights means the government should expect widespread protest.”
Eight families swept up in immigration raids released, while 30 other mothers issue plea for freedom [American Immigration Council - 10/2/16]
Deep within the desolate walls of the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), one of the largest immigration prisons in the nation, Miguel Angel Velazquez sat on the other side of the glass barrier as we conducted our interview.
As he started to tell me about his family, who he was forced to leave behind after being incarcerated by the immigration police, I look down only to find the words “I want my dad back” rudimentarily etched into the table on my side of the visitation phone booth.
On Saturday, the NWDC Resistance — a grassroots organization in coalition with Latino Advocacy to end the detention and deportation of immigrants — organized a people’s tribunal outside the NWDC in order to publicize human rights violations enacted upon the undocumented immigrants held inside. ... [The Daily - 8/2/16]
Mexican authorities confirm abducted journalist's body found [teleSUR - 9/2/16]:
Officials in the Mexican state of Puebla have confirmed that a body found Tuesday is that of missing Veracruz journalist, Anabel Flores Salazar.
Earlier, authorities said they had found a body of a women and were investigating a connection.
"The attorney general of the state of Puebla is working with the attorney general of the state of Veracruz on the discovery of a body that could belong to Anabel Flores Salazar," the attorney general's office said in a statement Tuesday.
According to local reports, Flores Salazar was abducted from her home in Orizaba, Veracruz state, at about 2 a.m. Monday by armed men who claimed to have an arrest warrant for her.
The Veracruz's general prosecutor released a statement saying it was investigating the disappearance, while numerous organizations including the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the crime reporter's disappearance and expressed concern for her safety.
"We are shocked by this kidnapping and urge Mexican authorities to do everything in their power to locate Anabel Flores Salazar and bring her back to safety," said CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas, Carlos Lauria.
"Veracruz has become one of the most dangerous regions in the world for the press, crippling citizens' rights to access vital information about crime and corruption. The Mexican federal government must put an end to this cycle of endless violence by bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice."
Flores Salazar covered crime for the newspaper El Sol de Orizaba and contributed to El Buen Tono and El Mundo de Orizaba.
Veracruz is one of the most dangerous states in Mexico for journalists, while Mexico remains the western hemisphere’s most dangerous country for journalists.
11 February 2016