Reality and Dreams: The leader of the Cuban Revolution insists that we will never stop struggling for peace and the well-being of all human beings, for every inhabitant on the planet regardless of skin color or national origin. ... Fidel Castro Ruz [ICH - 13/8/15]
The New Rulers Of The World [John Pilger - 2001]
"Malaysia" again tells UNHCR that refugees in South East Asia must be stopped
The who's who have descended on the Broome Cup, including Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
Image: @thewest_com_au [15/8/15]
Channel News Asia [15/8/15]:
The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia has been urged to stop issuing refugee cards without the consent of the Malaysian government.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim said the UNHCR should consult the Home Ministry and the Immigration Department before issuing the cards.
"The UNHCR office is doing it wrong by issuing the (refugee) cards without informing the Home Ministry and the Immigration Department.
"They (UNHCR) have no diplomatic status and should stop issuing the card immediately. I want the police to investigate how the card can be issued like that," he told reporters after opening the Alor Setar UMNO divisional delegates meeting here on Saturday.
He said Malaysia was not among the countries which signed the 1951 Convention on the Refugee Status or the 1967 Protocol.
Foreigners wanting to apply for refugee status have to go through procedures as required by the laws in the country, he added.
Shahidan said Malaysia was currently flooded with 130,000 holders of the refugee card issued by the UNHCR office in Kuala Lumpur. We do not want foreigners involved in crime in their respective country of origin to come to Malaysia and be given the UNHCR card through a simple interview, he added.
He also mentioned a case of illegal occupation of state land by 150 refugee families in Rompin and the matter had been reported to the Pahang government. Malaysia could no longer accommodate foreigners and those caught breaking the law should be deported to their countries of origin immediately, he added.
... Malaysia was the intended destination of more than 3,000 boat people who scrambled onto beaches around South-East Asia in May, abandoned by their traffickers after a government crackdown blocked commonly used routes across Thailand. Many were Rohingyas, attracted not just by Malaysia’s wealth but also its Islamic heritage.
Yet life is tough for the 100,000 or so Rohingyas thought to have arrived there since the 1970s. Malaysia has not signed the UN’s convention on refugees, and makes no distinction between asylum-seekers and migrants who sneak in to find work. Rohingyas may not legally hold a job and have no right to health care or schooling. They are far more likely than locals to suffer beatings, rape or murder. They are commonly hassled by police, who see them as an easy source of bribes.
A refugee card, supplied by the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), provides some protection from deportation. Obtaining one is an early priority for Rohingyas, many of whom have never owned any kind of ID. Yet the agency has struggled to cope with the growing influx, particularly as its modest resources are sapped by migrant emergencies in north Africa.
Asylum seekers can wait two to three years to have their refugee status confirmed. Service is swifter for those languishing in Malaysian detention centres, for whom refugee status often enables release. But the average time they must wait behind bars has also been growing, and in some cases is longer than a year. ... The long wait [The Economist – 15/6/15]
‘What is UNHCR doing?’ [Free Malaysia Today [25/8/11]
Which country on this map of South East Asia is supposedly a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention?
Australia stopped accepting UNHCR refugees in October 2014.
New Zealand: Thousands turn out to protest TPP
Thousands of people around the country have protested against the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Protest rallies against New Zealand signing the TPP were held in 21 cities and towns.
In Auckland, about 2500 people listened to speakers against the TPP at Aotea Square before marching down Queen Street, where they gathered to chant outside the United States Consulate General at the Citigroup Centre.
The US Consulate this week emailed American citizens urging them to avoid the march, saying even peaceful demonstrations could turn confrontational.
However, Auckland police said they were assured by the organisers that the rally would be family-oriented.
In central Wellington, traffic came to a standstill as 3,000 people marched from Midland Park on Parliament.
Some of the demonstrators briefly breached security at the Beehive entrance and were removed by security guards.
Before the march in Christchurch Donna Miles-Mojab told supporters this was not an ordinary protest, but the beginning of a movement.
Ms Miles-Mojab said today was a watershed moment in New Zealand's history and the TPP was not about free trade, but about protecting the interests of international corporations.
She said the Government was ignoring its citizens, who did not want the TPP to go ahead.
In Dunedin, about 1500 people marched up the city's main strip, George Street, and filled the Upper Octagon for speeches and musical performances.
They heard speakers such as the Greens co-leader Metiria Turei talk about why they opposed the TPP.
An organiser of the anti-TPP protest there said the tide of public opinion was turning.
Jen Olsen said this was the fourth protest they had held, and was by the far the biggest.
Ms Olsen said the main message was to call for the Government to walk away from the multi-national trade deal, and she believed that could now happen.
"If the tide of political and public opinion turns against the TPP, the National Party are likely to think that this could be a very unpopular thing for them," she said. "Very unpopular come the next election, once people find out the consequences."
Ms Olsen said no-one who found out what the TPP was would think it was a good idea, except the one percent of the population who would benefit.
And a protester at the Dunedin anti-TPP rally called the trade deal a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Cameron Wood was holding a sign of a Kiwi in a hangman's noose.
He said the TPP would be a disaster for New Zealand.
"It's a wolf in sheep's clothing. And I think that is why there hasn't been any transparency around it, why they're happy to keep it secret up until the last minute, and why they don't - I believe - intend to give any of this information away," Mr Wood said.
"Because if they did, I think the majority of New Zealanders, no matter how they leaned or what they voted for, would turn around and say 'this is ridiculous, we're selling our future down the river."
Mr Wood said the Government must protect New Zealand's interests much better or walk away entirely.
Protests were also held from Kaitaia to Invercargill.
IMF calls for Greek debt relief after bailout approved [BBC - 15/8/15]
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faced the widest rebellion yet from his leftist lawmakers as parliament approved a new bailout program on Friday, forcing him to consider a confidence vote that could pave the way for early elections.
After lawmakers bickered through the night on procedural matters, Tsipras comfortably won the vote on the country's third financial rescue by foreign creditors in five years thanks to support from pro-euro opposition parties. That clears the way for euro zone ministers to approve the deal later on Friday.
But the vote laid bare the depth of anger within Tsipras's leftist Syriza party at austerity measures in exchange for 85 billion euros in aid, as 43 lawmakers - or nearly a third of Syriza deputies - voted against or abstained.
The unexpectedly large contingent of dissenters, including former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, heaped new pressure on Tsipras to swiftly clear the rebels from his party and call early elections to lock in popular support. ... [Reuters - 14/8/15]
GE expected to win EU approval for $14 billion Alstom deal
[Reuters - 14/8/15]
Cambodia: Opposition Senator arrested for Facebook post
Cambodia Daily [15/8/15]:
Police arrested opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour in Phnom Penh on Saturday morning, two days after Prime Minister Hun Sen accused him of treason for posting a fake border treaty to his Facebook page.
Eng Sorphea, chief of the municipal police’s serious crimes bureau, confirmed the arrest and said police were now questioning the senator.
“We arrested Hong Sok Hour at 6 a.m. in Phnom Penh Thmei commune at someone’s residence,” he said.
“We are questioning him now,” he added. “We are in the process of investigating.”
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy posted photographs to his own Facebook page at 7 a.m. that show Mr. Sok Hour, dressed in a suit and tie, being apprehended by heavily armed police.
In his speech on Thursday, Mr. Hun Sen accused the opposition senator of treason for posting a fake treaty that purported to show Heng Samrin, as Cambodia’s head of state in 1979, pledging to dissolve the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.
“There is a post on Facebook concerning a fake treaty, which cannot be pardoned and needs action taken,” the prime minister said.
Mr. Hun Sen said that Mr. Sok Hour’s immunity as a senator could easily be removed by the CPP’s majority in the Senate, and that the senator had been caught committing a “red-handed crime.
“Pochentong [Phnom Penh International Airport] and all the other checkpoints have been blocked. So arrest this person, and do not let him run into a foreign embassy,” he said.
On Friday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that Mr. Sok Hour, a French citizen, was at the French Embassy in the hours after the prime minister’s speech, but that he had left by noon on Thursday.
Acting CNRP spokesman Ou Chanrith said on Friday that Mr. Sok Hour had gone into hiding as the opposition attempted to negotiate with the government to prevent his arrest.
On Saturday, Mr. Chanrith said police had surrounded a house in Sen Sok district where Mr. Sok Hour was hiding overnight before making the arrest at 6:05 a.m.
“It violates the law because he is a senator and has Senate immunity, and generally if [the crime] is not red-handed, they need to remove his immunity first before arresting or detaining him,” Mr. Chanrith said.
Mr. Sok Hour, a senator for the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP)—a legacy opposition party that exists for legal reasons—has played a central role in the CNRP’s recent campaign to uncover Vietnamese encroachments into Cambodia.
Mr. Chanrith said Mr. Sok Hour’s arrest was yet another warning from the government to the opposition and its supporters.
“It is to threaten and intimidate people who stand up to speak the truth about society,” he said.
Thousands rally in support of Bill Shorten in Melbourne
[The Age -
600 rally in support of Penny Wong in Adelaide [ABC - 15/8/15]
Five insurgents killed in southeast Bangladesh: Police [Ahram – 15/8/15]
Death toll rose to 85 as of Friday night, including 21 firemen, from the massive warehouse explosions hitting north China's Tianjin City Wednesday night, the rescue headquarters said Saturday.
Meanwhile, 721 others were hospitalized, including 25 critically wounded and 33 in serious condition. Residents in a relocation site of the blasts have been evacuated in fear of chemical pollutants in the air. ... [Xinhua - 15/8/15]
A series of explosions rocked an oil filed chemical supply company north of Houston on Friday, setting off a fire that sent a broad, dense column of thick, black smoke towering into the otherwise blue skies. ... [Click 2 Houston - 14/8/15]
Officials confirm that 19 people were killed and 7 injured in a violent spree in Brazil on Thursday night.
The string of shootings reportedly occurred in Osasco and other neighborhoods of northwest São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and financial capital.
Some initial evidence suggests police involvement in the killings.
Osasco Mayor Jorge Lapas says that security camera footage recovered from a bar where some of the murders occurred supports that theory, according to the AFP .
If true, it would mean that the masked men pictured in the video are police, possibly carrying out series of revenge murders.
Officials are actively investigating that and other hypotheses to explain the massacre and track down suspects in the case. ... [Latin Times - 14/8/15]
Brazil must address prison overcrowding and implement measures against torture – UN expert [Media Release - 14/8/15]
Acoustic cannon sales to US police surge after Black Lives Matter protests [The Intercept - 15/8/15]
UNHCR concern about return of Nigerians, shrinking humanitarian space [Media Release - 14/8/15]
Gunmen release 10 abducted Hazaras in Afghanistan [Press TV – 15/8/15]
Afghanistan: Militants torch hospital construction site, Badakhshan [Pajhwok – 14/8/15]
US drone crashes in northeast Afghanistan [Press TV – 14/8/15]
Six people were killed and eight wounded on Friday as violence between Kurdish militants and Turkish soldiers flared up again in Turkey's southeast, security sources and the military said.
Fighting between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the military has broken out almost daily over the last month. The PKK has been hitting military targets after Ankara resumed air strikes on PKK camps in northern Iraq in what it calls a "synchronised war on terror".
Ankara has said its military campaign is also designed to tackle Islamic State militants in neighbouring northern Syria. However, it has so far focused on the PKK, raising suspicions among Kurds that the main aim is to check Kurdish territorial ambitions rather than to rout the Islamist insurgents. ... [Ahram - 14/8/15]
Saudi warplanes bombard southern Yemen, kill four women [Press TV – 14/8/15]
Israeli cluster bombs in Lebanon continue to kill and maim civilians
[Ya Libnan - 14/8/15]
Israel's government said on Thursday it had reached a deal with a U.S.-Israeli consortium on the development of the huge Leviathan gas field and two other offshore wells.
After weeks of talks over the government's initial proposal in June, the controversial deal will allow Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel's Delek Group to keep ownership of the largest offshore field, Leviathan. They are required to sell off other assets, including stakes in another large deposit called Tamar. ... [CNBC - 13/8/15]
Palestinian hunger striker loses consciousness after 60 days [Yahoo – 14/8/15]
The administration of President Barack Obama urged a federal judge on Friday not to order the release of a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay who has been on hunger strike for more than eight years and is described by his lawyers as being at risk of imminent death.
Justice Department lawyers argued against the immediate release of Yemeni prisoner Tariq Ba Odah in a sealed court filing delivered to a court in Washington just ahead of a deadline. ... [Washington Post - 14/8/15]
UN experts call on Iran to release Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian as he awaits verdict [UN Media Release - 14/8/15]
Iraqi authorities faced pressure to take a clear stance against torture on Friday as a UN rights committee called for them to close secret detention centres.
Covering violations dating back to 2011, the UN Committee Against Torture said Iraq's judiciary needed to punish offenders – and come up with a firm definition of what constituted torture.
Allegations that 40,000 people have been held in detention centres for many years needed to be verified, Committee member Alessio Bruni told Daniel Johnson. [UN Radio - 14/8/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [14/8/15]:
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.
Airstrikes in Syria
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL bunker.
-- Near Aleppo, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL recoilless rifles, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Raqqah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units.
-- Near Kobani, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter, fighter-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 23 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the government of Iraq:
-- Near Huwayjah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Beiji, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL resupply caches.
-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL anti-aircraft artillery piece and an ISIL weapons cache.
-- Near Habbaniyah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and terrain features denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroyed three ISIL buildings.
-- Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL bunker.
-- Near Makhmur, an airstrike struck an ISIL mortar firing position.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Ramadi, six airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and an ISIL fighting position and destroyed three ISIL buildings, two ISIL roadside bombs, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL recoilless rifle.
-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions and four ISIL light machine guns.
-- Near Tal Afar, six airstrikes struck four ISIL staging areas and destroyed an ISIL anti-aircraft artillery piece and an ISIL vehicle bomb.
-- Near Tuz, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [14/8/15]:
The militias assassinated 19 civilians after they were disappeared and threw their dead bodies in Diyala River,it is worth mentioning that they were kidnapped after Hiwedir blast in Abi Seida nahiya in Muqdadiya district in Diyala............................
Australian trapped in Iraqi refugee camp under threat pleads with government for help [ABC - 15/8/15]:
... "What we're asking for is the provision of a passport, or failing that, the provision of a temporary travel document so he can fly from Iraq to safety in Australia," she [Mr Lelikan's lawyer, Jessie Smith]
"If there needs to be further investigation at that point, about his political allegiances, as a journalist, that can take place in Australia subject to Australian law.
"Mr Lelikan is Kurdish by ethnicity, he is someone who has had a long dedication to the Kurdish political cause, peacefully as a journalist.
"Having journalists on the ground, reporting the suffering of Iraqi refugees in a conflict zone shouldn't been seen as a problematic endeavour, it should be applauded.
"That's what he's been doing for a number of years, but it's got to the point where his health is at risk, his safety is at risk, and he should be allowed to return home.
"It would be at no expense to the taxpayer. All he's asking for is a temporary travel document to facilitate that journey."
Turkey border guards accused of shooting Syrian refugees [Al Jazeera - 14/8/15]
Defected Colonel Abdullah Hussein al-Rifai, the so-called leader of the Free Syrian Army in Arsal and its outskirts, was shot dead Friday in the Lebanese border town.
State-run National News Agency said the shooting occurred in the town's square.
Citing official “security reports”, MTV said four unknown gunmen opened fire around 6:00 pm at Rifai's tinted-glass black Kia. ... [Naharnet - 14/8/15]
IS battles rival gunmen in Libya's Sirte [Naharnet - 14/8/15]
Egyptian police have used tear gas to disperse small demonstrations in Cairo by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi on the second anniversary of the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces.
Police were deployed at the capital's main intersections and outside government buildings on Friday.
They fired tear gas at three rallies in which dozens of demonstrators took part in western Cairo, police officials said. ... [Al Jazeera - 14/8/15]
Woman who posted video of officer punching a suspect becomes target of Miami police union [Washington Post - 14/8/15]:
... Video recordings by bystanders have been at the center of several cases in which officers have been accused of using excessive force in their interactions with the public — black men in particular.
A New York police officer was recorded using a chokehold to arrest Eric Garner, a black man from Staten Island, who died.
That officer was not charged with Garner’s death. But the man who recorded the video, Ramsey Orta, has said that since then, he has been harassed by police. ...
... nobody gets on an overcrowded boat so that they can have a bigger TV ...
"tweeted" by @MSF_Sea [14/8/15]
A Greek coast guard boat provides assistance to drifting dinghy with refugees off Kos island. [REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis - 12/8/15]
The Greek government has chartered a cruise ship to help deal with the refugee crisis on Kos, a day after more than 2,000 mainly Syrian refugees were locked inside a stadium on the island for more than a day with limited access to water.
The vessel, which can fit up to 2,500 people, will function as a floating registration centre. Officials hope its presence will speed up the processing of about 7,000 refugees who are stranded on Kos after making the short boat journey from Turkey, and to whom the authorities have been previously unable to provide paperwork or housing. ... [Guardian - 14/8/15]
They include nurses, mechanics, accountants, electricians, truck drivers, businessmen, hairdressers, students, and welders.
They are aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, children, and babies.
For better or worse, they are just like us and our family members.
August 5th and 6th, 2015, Simon Bryant, MSF:
.... These few pictures and words address only a few moments of 1,003 life-stories mercifully still in progress.
From my work on the Phoenix this year, I know that these people are fleeing a litany of intolerable conditions such as Ebola-destroyed economies and lives, forced conscription in Eritrea, inhumane virtual slavery in Libya, systematic religious persecution, random violence and the breakdown of civil order in many areas, and outright war in Syria, South Sudan, and Yemen.
They include nurses, mechanics, accountants, electricians, truck drivers, businessmen, hairdressers, students, and welders. They are aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, children, and babies. For better or worse, they are just like us and our family members.
Sadly, August 5th marked the end of far too many lives in the southern Mediterranean. They are unlikely to be the last to pass that way, as over 2,000 already have this year. This wasn’t a natural disaster. Restrictive policies, desperation, and unscrupulous people made it happen. Only people can prevent its repetition.
As long as there are overcrowded and unseaworthy boats packed with human lives, adequate search and rescue capability in the Mediterranean is obviously and morally imperative.
But search and rescue is not a sufficient intervention for this historic problem.
There has to be some better way, some safe passage to some safe place, some coordinated, effective, and humane international response.
It is not too much to ask, and expect. (Please write to your elected representatives, make a donation, open a conversation, and stay informed.)
What has been said must never be allowed to happen again, is happening now.
Rescued refugee families describe sea capsize ordeal [Irish Times - 14/8/15]:
... Syrian couple Mohammed and Alea, who cannot give their full names due to fears of repercussions, were among over 370 survivors.
Along with Syrians, there were 150 Bangladeshis along with sub-Saharan Africans and Eritreans on board, with estimates that up to 250 were crammed into the hold. Those who could afford to pay more were on deck.
The Syrian couple described to MSF how they had initially fled to Libya due to the conflict in their home country.
However, Alea was concerned about her pregnancy and couldn’t get access to healthcare in Libya as she is not of Libyan nationality.
Neither she nor her husband could afford private treatment, and she had not felt her baby moving for almost a week before they put to sea.
“I was inside the ship when it started sinking,”she said.
Her husband Mohammed had dived down and pulled his wife to the surface, she said.
“I was sure that was the end of me. He saved my life,” Alea said.
A 17-year-old family friend from Damascus, named Dana, who had fled Syria with her 65-year-old father, was also rescued.
She was able to translate questions put to Alea by a midwife on board the MSF rescue vessel, Dignity 1. To Alea’s intense relief, her baby’s heartbeat was detected in the ship’s hospital.
Palestinian couple Mohammed (35) and Diana, who had been travelling with their one-year-old daughter Azeelin, believe they were “seconds away” from losing their child.
“The boat was having problems after we left Libya, and we had to get rid of the water in the engine room,”they said.
“ Afterwards things seemed to go better, and the sea was calm. Then, suddenly, the boat started moving and rocking and we realised we were sinking,”they said.
“I can swim, but she can’t… and how could I grab her from the water when all the other people were trying to stay afloat…?” Mohammed said, recalling his reaction when the boat capsized.
The couple and their daughter were transferred by the LÉ Niamh crew to the MSF vessel, as Diana is on dialysis for her kidneys and required urgent medical attention.
The couple said they were “treated like a worse kind of humans in Libya and people abused us”, and this influenced their decision to risk their lives on the sea passage.
... If the current American and British-backed Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen continues, expect Yemeni refugees to join the region’s exodus in the months to come. So the first longer term contribution Britain and its allies could make to staunching the flow of refugees would be to stop waging open and covert wars in the Middle East and north Africa. That is actual marauding. ... Seumas Milne [Guardian - 13/8/15]
I don’t really know, I don’t understand how it feels: to live in a rich European country, which is rich mainly because it has been directly plundering many poor nations around the world. Or it has been plundering by association, through its membership in some extremist organization like NATO. To live there, refusing to acknowledge why it is rich, how it became rich.
Palaces, theatres, railroads, hospitals and parks in that rich country are built on broken skeletons and restless specters, on lakes of blood and shameless theft.
Then, when one looted country after another begins to sink, when there is nothing left there, when children begin dying from hunger and when men commence fighting each other over tiny boulders and dirty pieces of turf, pathetic boats, or dinghies, begin crossing the waterways, bringing half starved, half-mad refugees to the European sea-fronts decorated with marble.
Even the plight of Rohingya people in Burma could be traced to the monstrous “divide and rule” of the British Empire in Asia.
For decades and centuries, the West kept overthrowing progressive governments, one after another. It has been murdering great political leaders like Patrice Lumumba, liquidating all attempts to build decent, socialist societies.
Then it would say: “Those niggers cannot govern their own countries… All their people want is to come to us, stealing our jobs, straining our social systems.” ... Andre Vltchek, Counterpunch - 14/8/15]
Woodside Petroleum CEO on Strategy for Myanmar [VIDEO - Bloomberg - 7/6/15]
Myanmar: Maungdaw South village Rohingyas forced to register for Green Card
Burma Times [15/8/15]:
Hlun Htein forces entered the village tract of Sommoinna in Maungdaw South on Thursday and abused villagers for not registering for the green card.
Sources say a Hlun Htein commander has recently been assigned to the area for forcing Rohingyas to register for the green card by ‘hook or by crook’.
The commander identified by some villagers as Aung Min Thwe appears determined to make sure Rohingyas sign up for the green card as fast as possible.
During the raid, the Hlun Htein asked some community leaders to turn up. When they came, they were shouted at and verbally abused for turning up late.
One of the men, Selim Ullah was physically assaulted and locked up. He was further beaten up in custody thus getting multiple injuries throughout his body.
Later his family members showed up and said they were ready to register for the green card. Selim was released at around midnight.
Many more Rohingyas in the area signed up for the green card fearing torture from Hlu Htein forces.
Security forces and Lawaka officials have intensified their presence at check points in Maungdaw and Buthidaung.
Northern Arakan, home of the Rohingyas is dotted with numerous check points on the roads to scrutinise Rohingya movement. ... [Burma Times - 15/8/15]
22 arrested in Thailand for human trafficking [New Straits Times - 14/8/15]
Myanmar Floods Situation Report No. 4 [United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)]:
More than 1.3 million people have been critically affected by monsoonal floods and landslides during July and August.
A cumulative number of almost 300,000 households have been or remain displaced.
There is a need for additional information on the nutrition situation in some flood affected areas where no nutrition organizations are currently operating.
Ongoing inter-agency assessments will provide information on needs.
There is a lack of funding for preventative nutrition services, such as blanket supplementary feeding in flood affected areas. ...
Protection gaps remain particularly in Ayeyarwady Region with few protection organizations operational.
Partners have experienced difficulties in securing funding for activities.
Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue
Foreign Minister Media Release [14/8/15]:
... Australia is supporting Vietnam’s efforts to strengthen its legal framework through the Human Rights Technical Cooperation (HRTC) program.
This program is making an important contribution to strengthening Vietnam’s gender equality law, ethnic minority rights law, labour law and human trafficking law. ...
… As the questions were thrown over to the media… we asked out first question to Dutton:
BuzzFeed News: “Can we ask you about the boatload of asylum seekers that are currently off the coast of Dampier in WA, does it exist? And if you’re going to say “on water matters” as the reason why you won’t, why don’t you think the Australian public deserve an explanation of what’s going on, off the coast?”
Dutton: “Just a bit of context here. We know that 50,000 people arrived when Labor was in government, 1,200 people tragically lost their lives at sea. We’ve been able to stop the boats since we’ve been in government…” (continues to waffle for several more minutes).
BuzzFeed: “If there is a boat do you not concede that ‘stop the boats’ is not a line you could use, as a successfully policy proposition?”
Dutton: “So the point that I’m making is that we make comment in relation to operational matters when it’s appropriate to do so. I’m not going to put lives of our personnel at risk. I’m not going to put the lives of people who try to come to Australia by boat at risk…”
BuzzFeed: “What’s going to happen with those Vietnamese asylum seekers though? Are they going to be taken to Nauru? Or are they going to be sent back to Vietnam? Or Indonesia? Where are they going to be sent to?”
Dutton: “…The other point that I would make is that we settle 13,500 refugees a year through the humanitarian program which makes us one of the most generous countries in the world and I think people need to recognize that and be reminded by it. Because we welcome people who come here the right way but we don’t want to see people smugglers back in business. Now we turn back boats where it’s safe to do so. We have good bilateral relations with countries including Vietnam and elsewhere, where if it’s safe to do so, we’ve met our international obligations and we don’t owe people protection, those people will go back to their country of origin. People who seek an economc outcome are not true refugees and just because someone is on a boat doesn’t mean someone is a refugee. People understandably would seek a better life for their kids if they’re on a low income in a country somewhere within our region, but we settle people through the right way and we settle them in record numbers. That number of 13,750 rose to 18,750 within a couple of years.” [Australia stopped accepting UNHCR refugees in October 2014]
BuzzFeed: “How can the government with a straight face say that you’ve stopped the boats when there are actually boats arriving, you just won’t talk about them?”
Dutton: “Well if there are other questions I’m willing to come back to you…”
BuzzFeed: “Why won’t you answer that question though?”
Dutton: “I’m happy to come back to that but there are others who might have questions.”
BuzzFeed: “It doesn’t seem like there are any other questions.”
Dutton: “Are there any other questions?”
There were other questions, to be fair. Dutton was clearly pissed off. After several more questions… we tried again:
BuzzFeed: “Do you think that Australian taxpayers deserve an explanation about the Vietnamese asylum seekers that are off the coast of WA?”
Dutton: “If there are any other questions, I’ll take those and I’m happy to come back to you.”
Dutton was leaning on this tactic of giving other reporters a chance. Again, a few other questions were asked. But we went back there:
BuzzFeed: “What’s going to happen to the Vietnamese asylum seekers that are currently off the coast of WA?”
Dutton: “Well I don’t have any comment to make when it comes to operational matters. But the long standing obligation of the Australian government, is that if we owe protection to somebody we’ll meet our international obligations in affording that person protection. If people are here because they’re seeking a better life then they’re not true refugees. They’re economic refugees, then they won’t be coming to our country. I’ve been very clear that screening takes place, if people need to be afforded protection, they’ll be afforded that protection. If it is deemed they are not to be afforded that protection then we will make arrangements to return them back to their country of origin. That is the way that the law has operated for a long period of time and nothing changes today or into the future.”
Maybe by talking about “economic refugees” he was actually speaking about those on board the boat. Worth having another ask:
BuzzFeed: “Are they economic refugees, the Vietnamese asylum seekers?
Dutton: “I don’t have any comment to make in relation to that.”
That was it. Press conference over. After repeated questions we were no clearer about the existence of the asylum seeker boat or where it was being towed by the Australian navy.
You think politicians and human rights advocates who are silent about the torture and forced return of refugees care about you?
They're frauds, and are assisting in a coverup.
Mother and 4 daughters 15,13,10 and 3 years forced back to #Nauru yesterday from Villawood
"tweeted" by @pamelacurr - detention rights advocate [12/8/15]
Vinnies is the only Australian charity to speak out [ICN - 13/8/15]:
The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia says the country's political leaders are putting the safety of the most vulnerable people at risk by their support for punitive and degrading policies.
Recent changes to the Border Force Act have exacerbated the secrecy and uncertainty that surrounds mandatory detention of refugees and asylum seekers in on shore and off shore centres.
And the decision by Labor last month to support turning back boat policies has revealed the callous politics and lack of compassion that lies at the heart of immigration policies.
Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said: "These developments are deeply concerning to our members and supporters, many of who work directly with refugees and asylum seekers. It is time for Australia to abandon the politics of cruelty towards women, men and children seeking refuge. They have already suffered enough! People seeking asylum only want what all of us want: a place to live and feel safe; a place to work; a place to learn and a place to heal."
"Provisions in the Border Force Act to forbid detention centre workers from speaking publicly about abuses of human rights or face two years in jail are disgraceful and fly in the face of basic child protection standards. We also condemn all turning back the boat policies and reiterate our opposition to long term mandatory detention on the basis that both policies vilify the very people we should be trying to help under our international obligations," Dr Falzon said.
St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Graham West, called on the federal government to abide by child protection laws and to lead by example in having a zero tolerance policy towards child and human-rights abuse.
"To think that our Government has created one set of laws for children living free in our community, while eroding the rights of children held in detention facilities is unfathomable.
"We call on the Government to reverse these provisions in the Act and uphold Article 1 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights that states: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
Australian guards jest about shooting refugee ‘c*nts’ and ‘f*ckers’ on Nauru [RT - 14/8/15]
Moonlighting Australian soldiers use Manus Island and Nauru refugee concentration camps as recreational facilities ----> ... A former employee for Transfield subcontractor Wilson Security told Guardian Australia the guards’ online posts provided a glimpse of the mindset of ex-defence force personnel who “frequently referred to asylum seekers in their care as ‘the enemy’”. ... [Guardian - 14/4/15]
Solidarity Australian style: Everyone playing their small (but important) roles in coverups and censorship
See the MEAA's response (or rather total lack of response) to Reporters Without Borders statement that Australia is suppressing coverage of refugees on national security grounds here.
Why hasn't the AMA been more vocal that the President has been blocked from visiting Nauru? [The Saturday Paper - 15/8/15]:
… For psychiatrist Peter Young, the former director of mental health services at IHMS, the Border Force Act is “the final nail in the coffin of the possibility of being able to do anything ethical or useful” by working within the detention centres.
“You can either advise people to break the law, which is an unjust law, or you can say, ‘This law now makes it untenable to work within a system, where it goes against the medical ethical guidelines and the capacity to do your job effectively.’
I think we’ve reached that point,” he says.
“Ideally, the people in detention centres do need treatment and do need to be seeing doctors, but those doctors do need to be able to operate ethically and to be able to speak out and be independent and not be under the control of the Immigration Department. If they can’t do those things, they become less helpers and more enablers of a system which is deliberately designed to cause harm.”
15 August 2015