Bombs continue raining down upon Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [12/3/16]:
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, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight strikes in Syria:
-- Near Hawl, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL mortar systems.
-- Near Dayr Ar Zawr, a strike struck an ISIL gas and oil separation plant well head.
-- Near Manbij, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL vehicles and an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Mar’a, four strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL artillery piece, two ISIL weapons caches, 10 ISIL fighting positions, and an ISIL heavy machine gun position.
Strikes in Iraq
Attack and fighter aircraft conducted nine strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Baghdadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun position.
-- Near Hit, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Ramadi, five strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL rocket position, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL fighting position and three ISIL tunnel systems and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL weapons cache.
There is no "plan B" to end war in Syria except peace talks in Geneva - de Mistura [TASS - 13/3/16]
Terrorists shelled with rockets al-Sqeilbiyeh city in the northwestern countryside of Hama province, in a new breach of the cessation of hostilities agreement in Syria. ... [SANA - 12/3/16]
An Iraqi official announced Sunday that the Islamic State (ISIS) has started to withdraw from the town of Rutbah in western Anbar province.
According to Eimad Ahmed, the mayor of Rutbah, the ISIS militants have left the town of Rutbah completely and headed towards the town of Qaem near the Jordanian border. ... [RUDAW - 13/3/16]
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [13/3/16]:
Baghdad: A roadside bomb has exploded in Basmaiya area southeast of Baghdad resulted in death and 8 injuries........
Baghdad: 3 dead bodies of unidentified men shot have been found in Hamamiyat area in Taji district north of Baghdad .... It is noteworthy that these cases spread in the areas controlled by Hashd militias ...........
Baghdad: A roadside bomb has exploded in Yusfiya nahiya south of Baghdad resulted in two deaths and 6 injuries........
Baghdad: A roadside bomb has exploded in Tubchi area west of Baghdad resulted in two deaths and 6 injuries........
Baghdad: A roadside bomb has exploded in Baya'a area southwest of Baghdad resulted in death and 5 injuries........
Turkey claims it killed 67 PKK members in airstrikes on Kurdistan Region [RUDAW - 12/3/16]
Air raids leave 17 dead in southern Yemeni district [Press TV - 13/3/16]:
... A least 20 civilians and militants plus three members of security forces sustained injuries in the attacks, according to the source.
It was not immediately clear who has carried out the raids; however, the source said the raids are thought to have been conducted by the Saudi military.
This is while US drone strikes in Yemen have continued alongside the Saudi military aggression against the Arab country.
Washington claims the drones target al-Qaeda militants, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks. ...
26 militants killed in Afghan forces air and ground operations: MoD [Khaama - 13/3/16]
Families who lost their beloved ones to a 2007 bombing that killed 80 people including some lawmakers in northern Baghlan province complain the government has never asked about their problems in seven years that passed after the incident.
The 80 dead included six members of the Wolesi Jirga’s economic commission, including the panel’s head Syed Mustafa Kazami, and 60 students and five teachers welcoming the lawmakers to inaugurate a sugar mill. ... [Pajhwok - 13/3/16]
Defense Minister Masoom Stanikzai has issued an order authorizing Afghan security forces to increase the number of night raids against homes of suspected Taliban insurgents and other militants. ... [TOLO News - 13/3/16]
Israel struck at Hamas military bases in the Gaza Strip overnight, killing a 10-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister, a Palestinian official said on Saturday.
The airstrikes came after Palestinian militants fired rockets toward Israeli border communities late Friday. ... [New York Times - 12/3/16]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday called for world powers to take "immediate punitive steps" against Iran, following its ballistic missile tests last week. ... [Reuters - 12/3/16]
The Gaza Strip’s civil defense found the bodies of two Palestinians workers in a flooded tunnel late on Saturday, days after Egyptian authorities pumped seawater into the structure.
Medical sources said that the civil defense found the bodies of Fadi Abu Dan, from Khan Yunis, and Muhammad Abbas, from Rafah, adding that both were in their twenties.
Seven Palestinians were rescued on Thursday during a search operation in the Gazan city of Rafah after Egyptian authorities flooded the tunnel while workers were present. ... [Maan - 13/3/16]
Chief rabbi urges killing of "knife-wielding terrorists" [Times of Israel - 13/3/16]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude on Saturday to French President Francois Hollande after the French government shut down a Hamas television station.
Netanyahu had earlier urged Hollande to end the transmission of Al Aksa television, the Hamas-run channel that was being broadcast on the French satellite service EUTELSAT.
After Netanyahu’s request, the Israeli embassy in Paris reported that Al Aksa’s transmission had been cut off from service.
Earlier this week, Israel decided to close Palestinian media outlets, accusing them of incitement.
Israel’s Shin Bet internal spy agency said in a statement on Friday that the Palestine Today TV station offices in Ramallah were raided overnight in a joint operation with the military over allegations that the channel “broadcasts on behalf of the Islamic Jihad,” a Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement. ... [ABNA - 12/3/16]
How are the 1,000s of refugees imprisoned by the LNP and ALP going to get to the churches in order to seek sanctuary? ----> Pro ALP campaigners hold tokenistic "sanctuary" training spectacle for Sunday night news bulletins [SBS - 13/3/16]
Australia to forcibly deport Hazara asylum seeker to Kabul on Monday [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 13/3/16]:
A 42-year-old Hazara asylum seeker is scheduled to be forcibly deported to Kabul from Darwin on Monday 14 March after appeals to the Minister for Immigration were rejected.
The case once again highlights the deep flaws in the refugee determination process and the system of Ministerial discretion.
The Hazara man was first rejected at the Refugee Review Tribunal in March 2013.
“There needs to be an appeal process that can deal with the fact that changed circumstances, in this case three years, can make a fundamental difference in any country’s situation, let alone in a country like Afghanistan,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“Afghanistan wasn’t safe in 2013. The situation is so obviously more dangerous in 2016.”
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs Afghanistan information in February 2016 warns of “the extremely dangerous security situation and the very high threat of terrorist attack”; and that “the frequency of attacks in Kabul, including in the most heavily fortified areas of the capital, has increased significantly in 2015-16 and further attacks are be expected”.
“Attacks”, it says, “can occur anywhere, anytime, particularly in Kabul, and the southern and eastern provinces.”
The Hazara asylum seeker will be the first forcible removal to Afghanistan since two Hazaras were forcibly deported in late 2014.
One of them, Zainullah Naseri, was removed in August 2014 on the basis of a December 2012 Refugee Review Tribunal decision.
Following his return he was seized by the Taliban when attempting to travel to his home village along a road about which the Tribunal had stated that “the level of risk does not reach the threshold of a real chance”.
“The flaws that were obvious in the refugee determination process then have not been fixed. The dangers in Afghanistan are even greater now,” said Rintoul.
“We urge the Minister to use his wide discretionary powers to reconsider this case and halt this removal.”
An Iranian Arab refugee was held naked and handcuffed for a night and a day at the Nauru police station after he was arrested last Thursday night (10 March).
The refugee, who also works for Connect, an Australian service provider for refugees on the island, was arrested after police were called to an argument between the refugee and a local shopkeeper.
Even though the shopkeeper declined to make any formal complaint, the police arrested the refugee.
At the police station, the Nauru police would not allow the man to make a phone call to call the Connect emergency number for assistance.
Instead, he was handcuffed and placed in a cell.
After numerous pleas to police to remove the handcuffs, “to free my hands”, the police stripped the man of all his clothes, leaving him completely naked and handcuffed in the cell.
“This is like Guantanamo”, the police said, “You might be a terrorist.” ... [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 13/3/16]
Former federal MP Stephen Smith has confirmed he would challenge for the leadership of WA Labor if he had majority backing.
Mr Smith told media he was available and was a known product to Western Australians, at a conference about 12pm AWST.
He said he would consider nominating for the new seat of Baldivis.
Mr Smith also said his WA Labor colleagues had told him that he would have a better chance of winning the election than current leader Mark McGowan. ... [Nine MSN - 13/3/16]
Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith talks with Myanmar's chief of police Major General Khin Yi on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific conference on people smuggling and the refugee rights of Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority in Nusa Dua on the resort island of Bali on April 15, 2009. The two-day ministerial conference was attended by representatives from more than 60 countries. AFP PHOTO/Sonny TUMBELAKA [Getty Images]
BALI PROCESS REINVIGORATED, SEEKS ANSWERS TO ROHINGYA CRISIS [17/4/09]:
... We also told the Australian delegation that since the conference did not formally discuss the Rohingyas - originally slated to be the key point of the conference - that the AHG [Ad Hoc Group] mechanism should be pursued quickly to address this pressing issue.
Bringing Burma to the table was a major accomplishment, we acknowledged; however, we cannot wait for Burma to change its policy before discussing the Rohingya crisis. This can be discussed without Burma.
Foreign Minister Steven Smith later approached us privately to assure us that Australia would press for the AHG mechanism to "be invoked soon to deal with the Rohingyas."
Australia announced at the conference its contribution of AD300,000 to care for the Rohingyas in Aceh. IOM said the Dutch are promising a similar donation, perhaps conditional upon a U.S. donation. ...
And just before Adam Bandt lost his seat, the people of Melbourne believed he cared about vaccination rates [The Age - 12/3/16]
Contained inside the data of the latest measles outbreak is a surprising — and troubling — number.
Among the 51 measles cases linked directly to Disneyland, six of the people had received their measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ... [PBS - 28/1/15]
Rebirth of the real left [Le Monde Diplomatique - March 2016]:
... Social liberalism has exhausted the strength it got from its alliance with the ruling classes, which are more powerful than ever and have less need of intermediaries to secure their interests.
At the same time, the complicity between former socialists and nouveaux riches is more noticeable, which angers those who suffer, and pay for, its consequences.
How many more examples of this corrupt, fascist ALP/LNP political duopoly do Australians need before they rebel?
… The city is black but the fire is red
Still got the sound of marching feet in my head ...
'The City of Soul', Eurogliders 
ADF was called during Palm Island riots [Nine MSN – 10/3/16]:
Palm Island police requested defence force helicopters and flyovers during rioting sparked by an Aboriginal death in custody 11 years ago, a court has heard.
A coroner's report into the death of Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee sparked unrest, which led to the local police station and home of arresting officer Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley being burnt to the ground in November 2004.
In a police running sheet read to a Federal Court trial in Townsville on Thursday, Acting Chief Superintendent John Howell wrote that the defence minister had been contacted on the day of the unrest.
"One request has been processed for a Chinook helicopter," the document said.
"Army have been requested for a low flyover."
The contents of the sheet, which was updated as the riots unfolded, were put to Inspector Joe Kitching on Thursday.
The police officer, who was a detective senior sergeant when he was put in charge of the major incident room during the riot, said he didn't have anything to do with the requests for assistance.
But the fact that the ADF stopped being mentioned in the report indicated they were denied, he said.
The class action, launched by once-jailed rioter Lex Wotton on behalf of Palm Islanders, alleges the police response to the riots, including an emergency declaration, was excessive and racially discriminatory.
The court heard police referred to "ATSIs" (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) and "Non ATSIs" in the running sheet during the riots.
"I'm asking for an explanation why there's a distinction based on race in a police document," Justice Debra Mortimer said.
Mr Kitching said he had personally used the term and was comfortable with it.
Justice Mortimer will determine whether the community should be compensated.
The trial continues.
Government warned of ‘blood on the streets’ over Wik bauxite plan [National Indigenous Times – 26/2/16]:
... The submission, one of 16 to the Senate Standing Committee, questions among many other things the signing of a Development Agreement between Glencore and the Queensland Government on January 5, 2015, the day before Campbell Newman announced a snap poll for January 31.
On January 14, during caretaker mode, a Mineral Development License was signed and accepted by the state, which ABD claims was a blatant break with convention.
It also alleges that both Glencore and the State Development Department hired a Wik Traditional Owner to help sever ties between NAK [Ngan Aak-Kunch Aboriginal Corporation] and the influential Cape York Land Council at the height of the negotiations, a claim emphatically denied by Glencore.
The submission also claims successive Queensland governments going back to Peter Beattie’s Labor administration in 2006 had done everything in their power to keep the Wik hamstrung during any bidding process and strip them of any chance to create economic opportunity in their communities, often described as the most disadvantaged in Australia.
ABD [Aurukun Bauxite Development Pty Ltd] and NAK believe that in 2006, legislative changes to the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld) effectively removed the Wik’s Native Title rights and every subsequent action of successive governments had “followed this pattern of denial”.
NAK is now challenging those amendments in the High Court. It argues that because the amendments were flawed, every decision relating to Aurukun since those amendments came into law are also flawed.
Can you see the policies of apartheid through the fog of political and media establishment dogwhistling and partisan pot shots? [SBS - 12/3/16]:
Youth sexual abuse and child prostitution in Queensland's indigenous communities must be discussed publicly with the same openness applied to domestic violence, the state government says.
A report commissioned by the Bligh government and handed to the Newman administration in 2013 has only just been made public, revealing a "deeply shocking" prevalence of sexual abuse, violence and over-representation in West Cairns and Aurukun.
The document, compiled by Griffith University's Professor Stephen Smallbone, was kept secret at the request of authors until Saturday but the government insists it has not been standing idly by.
"A nation building project": Wry sense of humour, Tabulam (birthplace of Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel of the Australian Light Horse) [12/3/16]
Before her assassination, Berta Cáceres singled out Hillary Clinton for backing Honduran coup [Democracy Now - 11/3/16]
The New Mexican Revolution [VIDEO - TRNN - 8/3/16]:
... JESSICA ALCAZAR: Mexico is living a historical crisis, a crisis that not only has to do with the destruction of the economy but also the destruction of the social tapestry, which is related directly with a plan by the Mexican government over the last 30 years, in complicity with the North American government ever since the start of NAFTA.
Yes, [it was signed on] 1994, but it's a plan that had been on the works since 84. The problem in Mexico is not only one of violence, but it's mainly about social rights being stripped away, rights which were won in the revolutionary process of 1917.
Such rights allowed anyone to have access to education, health, employment and housing.
The state and its Neoliberal politics has been slowly transforming the constitution. This means that the Mexican people have lost all of their constitutional rights.
Add to this the Narco Cartels, an international business which not only deal drugs; but also people, organs, and migrants, plus other sources of income for organized crime. So it's a difficult situation, so by 2006 the decision is made about sending the army to the streets. This is a questionable strategy because of the corruption inside the Mexican government.
Contrary Warrior: The Life and Times of Adam Fortunate Eagle 
... The occupiers didn't get their demands. But President Nixon ended the U.S. tribal termination policy in June 1970, while they still were on the island.
This was a result of the public spotlight that the occupation put on Indian issues, Johnson and Glassner said. ... 1969 Alcatraz takeover 'changed the whole course of history' [CNN - 20/11/09]
... Senior coal analyst from global consultancy firm IHS, Marian Hookham, said it was "widely expected" Peabody would enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US, which allows a company to restructure and pay its debts over time.
She said Peabody's Australian mines in NSW and Queensland could either be sold or operated as a going concern by the US parent.
The value of the Australian mines has been written down by more than $US500 million. ... [ABC - 11/3/16]
... "We haven't had clean water since he was in kindergarten," said Monica Marta-Ely, referring to her 13-year-old son, Jared, before the trial began. ... Pennsylvania families win $4.2 million damages in fracking lawsuit [Reuters – 10/3/16]
Here's to Flint: Broadcast premiere of ACLU documentary on the fight for democracy and clean water [Democracy Now - 8/3/16]
... Just yesterday, NT Chairman of Imperial Oil and Gas, Bruce McLeod, told NT ABC Country Hour that the upcoming US court outcome would prove that there is no risk from fracking, and that the water contamination reports that led to the New York State decision to ban fracking were "rubbish." ... [Lock The Gate - 11/3/16]
Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown has issued a High Court challenge to the Tasmanian Government's anti-protest laws.
The legislation which passed Parliament in 2014 allows for on-the-spot fines and tougher penatlities for repeat offenders.
Mr Brown and a number of others were arrested and charged in January, under the new laws, for protesting against the logging of Lapoinya Forest in Tasmania's north west.
He issued the High Court challenge on the grounds the laws were contrary to the implied freedom of speech on government and political matters under the Australian constitution. ... [ABC - 10/3/16]
... The asylum seekers remain in limbo in Indonesia. Kandiha Kayuran and his wife, who gave birth in December, are still in immigration detention in Kupang.
He told Fairfax Media they had no idea what the future held.
"No one cares, New Zealand is not listening, and Australia too, even after the Amnesty report came out. Please help us."
Jail for boat crew paid by Australian official to turn back [Sydney Morning Herald - 17/1/16]
Greens Leader Richard Di Natale Has Eyes On The Prize: "Never Say Never" ...
Image: @GQAustralia [8/3/16]
Rights groups demand end to indefinite detention of 1,000s of Rohingya refugees in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia [Bangkok Post - 12/3/16]
... Rohingya refugees in Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia told BROUK and Fortify Rights that police routinely used the threat of arrest to extort money and property from them, particularly if they were unable to produce proper documentation or a card demonstrating they were a registered asylum seeker with the UNHCR.
Changes in the UNHCR's registration practices in Malaysia have considerably narrowed access to asylum procedures for Rohingya refugees, the [Everywhere Is Trouble] report said, leaving many without any documents and at risk of serious security abuses, including the possibility of indefinite detention.
Rohingya refugees in Malaysia said the lack of access to UNHCR registration was the single most important issue they faced, followed by a lack of access to affordable healthcare and livelihoods.
"We hoped the international attention on the boat crisis last year would have resulted in durable solutions and greater protections for Rohingya refugees in Southeast Asia, but that's not what we've found," said Tun Khin.
"ASEAN can and should do better. ... [The Nation - 12/3/16]
NOTICE OF 2016 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, 21 April 2016 [WOODSIDE - 10/3/16]:
... Item 2(c) seeks approval for the election of Ms [Ann] Pickard who was appointed to the Board since the last annual general meeting under Rule 63 of the Company’s Constitution. Any director appointed under this rule may hold office only until the next annual general meeting and is then eligible for election at that meeting. Ms Pickard is eligible for election under Rules 63 and 75(c) and offers herself for election as a director of the Company. ...
Canberra Times [17/6/15]:
... The Kanak was shifting on the reef, and he was worried they would be cast adrift with no food or fuel.
Most of the 65 asylum seekers from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka [52 are registered as refugees] were already swimming ashore, but Mr Kayuran had stayed on board with his pregnant wife V. Nadhiya, and a handful of other women and young children.
The women were crying with fear. They tried to call for help but couldn't go outside because the ship was tilting sideways.
The Navy warship HMAS Wollongong and an Australian customs trip had transferred the asylum seekers onto two small boats, which they say was woefully inadequate.
"All we had was a small chocolate and water," Mr Kayuran said.
"It was not enough. If we had been stranded on an uninhabited island we would have died."
There were also no toilets: Ms Nadhiya, three months pregnant, had to use a box while Mr Kayuran covered her with a bed sheet.
The fuel on one boat, the Jasmine, had run out and almost 70 people had been forced to cram into the Kanak. Then it hit a reef.
When the villagers came to their rescue, Mr Kayuran discovered that far from being cannibals they were incredibly kind.
"They eat chicken and pigs," he says.
The people of Landu are mostly subsistence fishers and seaweed farmers, whose livelihoods were severely impacted by the Montara oil spill six years ago, which killed fish and turned seaweed yellow.
Despite their poverty they were incredibly generous, cooking and providing clothes for the asylum seekers.
Mr Kayaran, is now being processed at the immigration hostel, Inaboi, in Kupang. He has already eked out an existence in Malaysia for nine years, working illegally part time when possible.
"If I have to spend another 10 years here, it would be easier to die." All he wants, he says, is a peaceful life in New Zealand, where he can work legally and start again with their new baby.
Many of the asylum seekers Fairfax Media spoke to at Inaboi can't understand why the Australian navy and customs ships sent them back to Indonesia when they were still in international waters.
They say they had no intention of going to Australia, which they knew closed its borders in 2013, but had read on the internet that New Zealand had a refugee quota program which offers 750 places per year.
Bangladeshis Nazmul Hassan and Muhammad Habib were among those who allege they saw an Australian official called "Agus" give envelopes of money to the captain, Yohanis Humiang and crew.
"We saw the crew put it inside his pocket. It was inside a white envelope," Mr Hassan said.
"Yohanis said we have to go back to Indonesia and Australia wants to pay for that."
The asylum seekers recall the mysterious "Mr Agus" as a man who worked for the Australians, spoke fluent Indonesian and wore jeans and a black T-shirt with sunglasses pushed up on his head.
Bangladeshi Mohammad Belayer Hossain paid people smugglers $US4000 ($5190) to take him to New Zealand. Now he is back in Indonesia.
"I'm very sad - my money has finished," he says.
"I don't know why Australia stopped us. They should have let us go. They caught us, they turned us back and now they don't want anything to do with us."
Refugees on boat at centre of turn-back payment allegations ask why they were intercepted in international waters [ABC - 17/6/15]
… Mr Yohanis said the boats were unseaworthy, had limited fuel, no toilets and no navigational system other than a GPS, which was "of no help because it won't tell reef conditions".
The interview took place under oath on Rote island on Wednesday.
Mr Yohanis also claimed the Australian authorities "didn't care" when one of the wooden boats, Jasmine, ran out of fuel on the way back to Indonesia.
"Panic ensued among the passengers onboard, it was like in an emergency situation, they were going to kill each other," Mr Yohanis said. "At the time I was scared: What to do?"
General Endang asked Mr Yohanis if the Australian Navy and customs ships were still there when Jasmine's engine stopped.
"They were in the back, they already said: 'OK you just head [to Rote Island]," Mr Yohanis said.
"So they ignored you?" General Endang asked.
"Yes, after we were let go, they don't care any more," Mr Yohanis said.
Mr Yohanis said he was offered 150 million rupiah ($AUD15,000) by a people smuggling agent to take 65 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar to New Zealand.
The Navy warship HMAS Wollongong and an Australian Customs ship intercepted the asylum seeker boat, the Andika, on about May 19.
Mr Yohanis told the Australian official, Agus, they had no right to stop the boat, which had just passed Timor Leste, because it was still in international waters. ... [Canberra Times - 17/6/15]
Read the letter sent to the New Zealand government by the refugees via [RNZI - 7/6/15]
... Morally, it is Australia’s neighbours to whom it owes its first duty of assistance. ...
[The Conversation – 9/9/15]
Which country on this map of South East Asia is supposedly a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, but no longer accepts refugees or allows people to seek asylum?
@MSF_Sea [12/3/16]: This is what a "turnback" looks like. Absolutely terrifying, funded by your tax money, endorsed by your leaders.
@cpcatrambone [9/3/16]: #SAR Training this morning~Gulf Of Thailand ... #Phoenix using @JasonsCradle @moas_asia
The families of the “tens of thousands of missing who are unaccounted for are still suffering” despite a change of government in Sri Lanka, said Pasumai Thayagam, in a statement delivered to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.
“The government of Sri Lanka was elected over a year ago with great hopes for significant improvement in human rights,” said the non-governmental organisation.
The statement went on to quote the International Truth and Justice Project, which said that “instead, one year after the change of government in Sri Lanka, the security forces continue to detain, torture and sexually violate Tamils in a network of sites across the island”. ... [Tamil Guardian - 12/3/16]
Sri Lanka still precarious for returning Tamil asylum seekers, says Swiss NGO [Tamil Net - 5/3/16]
Song for the stranded [VIDEO - BBC - 12/3/16]:
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei set up a piano in the middle of a refugee camp on the Greek-Macedonian border.
He invited Nour Al Khzam to play. She is trying to reach her husband in Germany.
Ai Weiwei said her performance "tells the world the art will overcome the war".
... Because of the constant rain, the pianist, Nour Alkhzam, had to play under a plastic sheet.
She says "it's been three years since I touched the piano (due to the Syrian war). I have been feeling very nervous, but I'm feeling very good today to be able to put my hands on the piano again."
Ai says "it's not a performance, it's not a concert — it's life itself." ... [US News - 12/3/16]
UNHCR concerned at restrictions on displaced Iraqis forcibly transferred to camps [Media Release - 11/3/16]
... Hungary’s Jews have been fighting what one leading rabbi has called “the symbols war” against the government for years over the public veneration of Holocaust-era figures who promoted anti-Semitic laws.
But the mostly non-Jewish protest, in which participants carried EU symbols and chanted anti-fascist slogans, was taken as a sign that the effort is winning allies beyond the Jewish community.
“This is not just the Jewish community’s fight,” said Anna Kovacs, 27, a non-Jewish translator and member of a Holocaust commemoration group.
“It’s about the identity and future of this society. It’s our duty to ensure a second Holocaust doesn’t happen.” ... Jews and evangelicals remind Hungary’s politicians to never forget [Times of Israel - 12/3/16]
Hungary sends more troops to border [MWC News - 9/3/16]:
The Hungarian government has announced the deployment of an additional 1,500 troops and police officers on its border with Serbia, as it extended a nationwide "state of emergency" in response to the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.
Interior Minister Sandor Pinter made the announcement during a press conference in Hungary's capital Budapest on Wednesday.
The move comes just a day after Slovenia announced the closure of its border crossings to those who do not have valid European Union entry visas, effectively blocking the Balkan route that refugees use to reach Western Europe.
Referring to the decision to deploy more security forces on the border, Pinter said: "We do not know how the migrants stuck in the Balkan countries will react".
Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia have drastically tightened border restrictions since late 2015, leading to a sharp increase in refugees attempting to breach Hungary's 175-kilometre fence on the Serbian border.
"There have been breaches at various points along the Hungarian-Serbian border," a Hungarian police spokesperson said, explaining that generally between 100 and 200 people are arrested for crossing the fence each day.
On Tuesday, the police said that 127 people were caught attempting to enter Hungary from Serbia.
They are among the 976 people arrested by Hungarian police since March 1 for breaching the fence.
Andras Kovats, director of the Hungarian Association for Migrants, explained that the number of refugees and migrants in detention centres and open camps has tripled since the middle of February.
The open and closed facilities are full," he said, adding that the spate of border closures will likely push refugees to take riskier routes into Western Europe.
"We have no clue how many enter the country [from Serbia] without getting caught," Kovats said, arguing that Hungary's strict measures make it virtually impossible for asylum seekers to gain asylum in Hungary. ...
Australia stopped accepting refugees in October 2014.
Secret federal government documents cast doubt over whether Australia told Indonesia and the United Nations about a retrospective ban on taking refugees from official channels.
In November last year Australia announced it would no longer accept refugees who applied for resettlement through the UN’S refugee agency in Indonesia.
The ban applied to anyone who registered with the UNHCR from 1 July 2014.
An undated draft talking point document, released by the department of immigration under freedom of information, suggests Jakarta and the UNHCR were not consulted before the changes were made public.
“It has always been our intention to discuss these measures with the government of Indonesia and the UNHCR before any announcement was made,” the talking points say.
It was regretted information about the measures had “entered the public domain before these discussions could take place”.
The lengths to which the Australian immigration department has gone to facilitate the repatriation of traumatised Syrian asylum seekers detained in offshore detention centres has been extensively revealed in departmental emails obtained under freedom of information laws. ... [Guardian - 19/8/14]
... The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers and the Rwandan genocide did not start with the slayings. It started with the dehumanization of a specific group of persons. ... UN official welcomes proclamation of International Day to honour victims of genocide [Media Release - 14/9/15]
A nation that prides itself on imprisoning people in concentration camps just because they are seeking asylum is not a democracy.
With OSB Commander MAJGEN Andrew Bottrell at Manus RPC yesterday ...
Image: @PeterDutton_MP [31/3/15]
Julian Burnside [24/12/15]:
The Manus detention centre is supposed to hold only adult men. It is far too harsh for women or children: even the Immigration Department understand that.
A Rohingyan boy has been held there for 18 months and he is still only 17. This will be his second Christmas on Manus.
A colleague sent me a message about him. It includes the following:
“… He is currently 17 years of age, by his own account, and has been detained on Manus for over 25 months, since he was 15 years old. He no longer remembers his date of birth, but knows he was born in 1999. He is Rohingya, from Myanmar. He left Myanmar following a riot, in 2012.
The reason Immigration officials have recorded his age as older than this, leading to his detention, is that he has falsified papers, a “Family List”, required to obtain a White Card which allowed him to travel within Myanmar. His parents recorded his age as several years older, to facilitate the family moving.
[xxx] says he told Immigration, “100 times”, that his age was recorded incorrectly, and the reason for it, but they would not listen. He does not look older than 17 currently, and I am sure would have looked much younger over two years ago. …”
Leave aside the misery and degradation in Manus; leave aside the fact that we are holding innocent people there and treating them with conspicuous cruelty, on the logic of hanging a dead fox on the fence. The fact is that he is a child. If we have to lock up children, it should not be on Manus.
But we should not be locking up people who have committed no offence anyway. We need to be conscious of the harm we are inflicting, especially at Christmas time.
Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) use-of-force policies are once again under a microscope after a new report written by former Baltimore police commissioner and Justice Department official Thomas Frazier, was released.
First reported by the Center for Investigative Journalism’s Reveal, Frazier’s scathing review of CBP policy was done at the request of the family of José Alfredo Yañez Reyes, who was shot and killed by a Border Patrol Agent in June 2011 after he and another man tried to flee from agents into Mexico.
In reviewing CBP’s previous and updated policy on rock throwing, Frazier stated, it is “inherently suspect” for a law enforcement officer to use deadly force in response to rock throwing. ... [American Immigration Council - 11/3/16]
A shocking glimpse inside America’s privatized detention facilities for immigrants [Think Progress - 10/3/16]:
… The growth of the industry has also helped create a lucrative market for private prison companies, which have welcomed the immigration crackdown as an opportunity for profit. Now, 62 percent of all ICE immigration detention beds are operated by for-profit prison corporations, compared to 49 percent in 2009.
The nation’s two largest private prison companies, CCA and GEO Group, have benefited from the surge in particular. Together, they run eight of the country’s 10 largest detention centers, and operate 72 percent of the private immigrant detention industry. Unsurprisingly, both companies reported surging profits in their quarterly earnings this summer and have more than doubled their revenues since 2005. In 2014, CCA earned $195,022,000 in net revenue, compared to $133,373,000 in 2007.
Of course, this isn’t coincidental. The industry’s major players have a vested interest in the expansion of the detention system and have pushed hard to protect their bottom lines. Over the past decade, the nation’s three largest private prison companies have spent upwards of 45 million dollars on campaign contributions and lobbyists to push legislation at the state and federal level. Between 2008 and 2014, CCA alone spent $10,560,000 lobbying as it advocated on issues related to immigrant detention and immigration reform.
This cozy relationship may help illuminate legislation like Arizona’s controversial “show me your papers law,” which allows police officers to check the immigration status of undocumented immigrants and was projected to increase the number of people in detention centers.
Of the bill’s 36 co-sponsors, 30 received campaign contributions from private prison lobbyists and companies, including CCA and GEO.
13 March 2016