Take a bow political, media and human rights establishment: Refugees trying to reach Australia are now officially people smugglers (tomorrow they'll be terrorists as well)
And in all the racist, exceptionalist sound and fury not one Australian media outlet has considered the welfare of the 65 refouled refugees - still detained in Indonesia. [Times of Malta - VIDEO - 13/6/15]
... A UN representative in Indonesia said they met with the group, 52 of whom were registered as refugees. [RNZI - 13/6/15]
West Australian [15/6/15]:
Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla says if Australia "bribed" people smugglers it was unethical and it could be considered a party to trafficking.
The claims that Australian officials paid thousands of dollars in cash to members of a boat crew to turn back to Indonesia are only allegations and still being investigated, Mr Kalla said.
But if true, he said, what Australia did was unethical. "It was bribing, right?" he told reporters in Jakarta on Monday, as quoted by local website detik.com.
"People who bribe, that is already wrong. "Wow, a state bribing, that certainly doesn't fit with the correct ethics in state relations."
Mr Kalla said it was arguable that Australia itself was acting like a smuggler. "Yes, that could turn out to be human trafficking as well, right?" Mr Kalla said, as reported by republika.co.id.
He also defended the job Indonesia's agencies were performing in securing the "very huge" border area with Australia.
Jakarta Post [15/6/15]:
A professor of international law from the University of Indonesia (UI), Hikmahanto Juwana, has said Indonesia needs to ensure that Australia can change its policy of expelling asylum seekers.
He says such a policy contradicts a Transnational Organized Crimes’ protocol, namely the “Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air” the Australian government ratified in 2004.
“Indonesia should ascertain Australia changes its asylum seeker expulsion policy, which uses money as it is not only against the protocol but also a corruptive behavior,” said Hikmahanto as quoted by Antara in Jakarta on Monday.
The law expert was speaking in response to widespread reports saying that Australian authorities had allegedly paid ship crew members to reroute asylum seekers they were carrying to Indonesia.
Hikmahanto urged the Indonesian government to request the Australian government bring the officials to justice.
“Without taking legal action against the officials, it means Australia has neglected asylum seekers by using money,” he said.
By allowing such practices, the expert said, Australia could be considered to have allowed human trafficking.
Hikmahanto said Indonesia could carry out diplomatic protests or take other diplomatic options to ensure that Australia punish the officials allegedly involved in the expulsion of asylum seekers.
... 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]
"I think he was just hungry to be honest, because he grabbed some food... some meat and some bread."
WA Today [15/6/15]:
Police are questioning a boy who threatened people with two knives and a plastic handgun at a Ballajura shopping centre on Monday morning.
WA Police spokeswoman Susan Usher said police responded to the incident at Ballajura Central on Belleffin Drive at 9.40am.
She said they arrived to find the 12-year-old armed with the two knives and plastic gun, threatening staff and members of the public.
"Midland Detectives took the boy into custody and Regional Investigations Unit officers are currently speaking with him," she said.
Earlier, a witness to the incident, Travis, told Radio 6PR he was walking into Woolworths at Ballajura Central, when he saw a child on a scooter wearing a Darth Vader mask holding something in a towel.
"I wasn't really taking any notice but when I went to pay at the self service counter, all the ladies in the Woolworths shop just freaked out and started running," he said.
"This kid was wielding like a plastic gun and he just started threatening people and jumping counters.
"He then dropped the scooter and started wielding kitchen knives. Then one of the female workers got [a male colleague's] attention and went over and asked the kid to put whatever he had down.
"[The boy] ended up throwing a knife at one of them."
Travis said many of the customers tried to hide as the boy chased a couple of men to the back of the shop with knives.
"He had a whole set of kitchen knives in his pocket and a shopping bag and knives kept falling out," he said.
"The kid just walked around and grabbed some food and grabbed some other stuff and attempted to rob some ladies purses and stuff, but they just freaked out and ran away.
"I think he was just hungry to be honest, because he grabbed some food... some meat and some bread."
He said the shop then was quickly evacuated.
Travis said when the young boy tried to exit a police officer tackled him to the ground.
"Police told him to drop what was in hands and take his mask off," he said.
"He was just a kid – he was like a 12-year-old kid."
Mother-of-seven becomes the second person to die as a result of Queensland cafe explosion
Nine MSN [15/6/15]:
An 82-year-old woman has become the second person to die after an out-of-control car hit a Ravenshoe cafe, triggering an explosion.
Silver Valley woman Margaret Clark was transported to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in a critical condition on Tuesday but died around 9pm last night.
The mother-of-seven was the eldest victim of the Ravenshoe cafe explosion and the second person to die from injuries sustained in the incident.
The 38-year-old daughter of the cafe's owners, Nicole Nyholt, also died from injuries sustained in the blast, and died on Friday.
Four women and three men remain in hospital in a critical condition as the Far North Queensland community struggles to come to terms with the incident, which is one of the biggest burns crises in Queensland history.
The driver of the ute involved in the crash remains in a serious condition in a Cairns Hospital as police investigate whether a medical condition cause him to lose control and plough into the busy cafe.
Boy, 8, comes to mum's rescue after farming accident
When Graham Hopper's mum Rose screamed for him to help her after a farming accident, the eight-year-old didn't hesitate.
His actions have earned him a hero title, and more than a few hugs from a grateful mum.
Rose Hopper was feeding the horses on her farm at Nobby when she got her hand caught in spreading forks on a tractor.
While not critical, the injury was enough to make her nauseous and almost pass out and therefore unable to drive back to the homestead.
But a quick call to her son Graham solved the problem, with her eldest boy swinging into action and racing to be by her side.
The humble hero thinks nothing of his actions.
"Mum jammed her fingers in the forks in the tractor," Graham said.
"I thought she had been kicked in the stomach by a horse.
"I was in the house, she called crying, and I rushed down and opened the bale."
Despite cutting himself opening the bale, Graham helped his mother onto the tractor who then drove it into the shed.
... Several police cars raced to the scene after calls from concerned residents, but luckily, there was no weapon-wielding psychopath or deranged Daniel-san greeting responding officers.
A police media spokesman confirmed officers had simply found a person fine-tuning their martial arts routines in the front yard of a Torumbee Dr, Mooloolaba home at about 7.20pm, which had sparked the calls from worried residents. ... [Sunshine Coast Daily - 15/6/15]
Two witnessess in extortion committal hearing say they were coerced by police
Two witnesses in a bikie extortion committal hearing in Brisbane have withdrawn their statements and say they were coerced by police into making a formal complaint.
The witnesses appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court where 10 former Bandidos gang members are facing committal charged with a variety of offences, including extortion, assault occasioning bodily harm and affray.
The men were arrested in 2014 after a police investigation into the gang's West End and Centro chapters, codenamed Operation Lima Corona.
Witnesses Tony King and Alexander Hyland told the court on Monday they were harassed by police and threatened with criminal charges and imprisonment unless they made a formal complaint against two men, former Bandidos Joshua Vosuqa and Brett Pechey.
Under cross examination by the accused duo's barrister, 25-year-old Mr King agreed his March 2014 statement came after months of police harassing him at his home and over the phone.
"You provided that statement at Morningside police station and that was only after that they'd threatened you with charges of contempt and perjury?" asked barrister Damien Gates, for Vosuqa and Pechey.
"Yes, a minimum six months (jail)," Mr King replied.
"So that's the only reason that you signed that statement wasn't it?"
"Yep," Mr King said.
"So the truth is that you were never threatened or extorted at any time by Mr Vosuqa or Mr Pechey?" Mr Gates said.
"Yep," Mr King replied.
Likewise Mr Hyland, 25, said he "not once" approached police but was coerced into making his statement after a 10-month police campaign of harassment.
Pechey is the former president of the gang's West End chapter who surrendered to police at Brisbane Airport earlier this year after returning from Thailand.
Among the others facing court are former Brisbane Centro chapter president George Bejat, ex-Centro sergeant-at-arms Zivko Stojakovic, former West End chapter president Brett Pechey, and Bosko Cuic, the brother of murder suspect Bogdan Cuic, who was recently arrested in Serbia.
Earlier on Monday, a third witness, Brisbane hairdresser Fadi Haddad, said he'd tried to withdraw his initial complaint when harassment by police and subsequent media attention became worse than the actual visits from debt collectors he said he'd been subject too.
The hearing is due to continue on Tuesday.
As part of ongoing enforcement action against criminal gangs and their networks, detectives from Task Force Maxima conducted a statewide deployment executing search warrants and road policing operations in close cooperation with officers from the Moreton, Wide Bay Burnett, Capricornia, Mackay, South West, Mount Isa, Townsville and Far North Police Districts.
This deployment which occurred from June 2 to June 9, saw the execution of search warrants at addresses in Monkland, Bundaberg, Bucca, Avoca, Koongal, Emerald, Cannonvale, Flametree, Bowen, Mackay, Blackriver, Kirwan, Alligator Creek, Townsville, Oonoonba, Mt Low, Mossman, Miallo, Cooktown, Atherton, Cairns, Smithfield, Cloncurry, Normanton, Esk, Mitchell, Injune and Roma. ... [QPS Media - 15/6/15]
Serious assault police charge, Camira [QPS Media – 15/6/15]
Two Brisbane police cars involved in crashes linked to stolen car pursuit in Wacol
A stolen car has rammed a police dog squad vehicle in Brisbane's south-west, while a second police car on its way to help has been involved in a separate crash.
Just before 9:00pm on Sunday night, the dog squad car spotted a stolen vehicle in an industrial area at Wacol.
Senior Sergeant Robert Campbell said the driver of the stolen car rammed the police vehicle and then drove away.
The driver abandoned the car a short distance away and remains on the run.
"Police were performing patrols of the Wacol area in relation to stolen vehicles, and a dog squad unit located one of the vehicles in a side street in Wacol, attempted to intercept that vehicle and was rammed by the vehicle," Senior Sergeant Campbell said.
"A police dog was able to locate the vehicle but not the occupants.
"Arising out of the incident police have been unable to locate the driver of the stolen vehicle."
He said a second police car responding to a call for help with the stolen car crashed into a ute at Richlands.
"There's been no serious injuries arising from the traffic crash, or both traffic crashes," he said.
"The four occupants of the police vehicle and the member of the public were taken to hospital for examination but all have been released with just minor injuries."
Sunshine Coast police officer fined $2000 for driving his 4WD in close pursuit of a 13-year-old boy
Sunshine Coast Daily [15/6/15]:
A Sunshine Coast police officer has been fined $2000 for driving his four-wheel-drive in close pursuit of a 13-year-old boy who was riding a motorcycle.
Anthony Scott Dark, 44, pleaded guilty in Maroochydore Magistrates Court this morning to dangerous operation of a vehicle in Nambour on the morning of August 1 last year.
Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant David Bradley said Dark was off duty and had his daughter as a passenger when he saw the boy riding a mini trail bike on Spring Myrtle Ave.
Snr Sgt Bradley said Dark followed the boy closely until the boy stopped, when Dark identified himself as a police officer.
The boy then fled, with Dark driving behind him very closely at a speed of about 60kmh.
The chase ended when the boy stopped in the front yard of a Kearns Ct home.
That section of the chase was filmed by a member of the public and the footage played to the court as part of the prosecution.
A collision occurred and the motorcycle ended up wedged under Dark's four-wheel-drive.
Snr Sgt Bradley highlighted the boy was unskilled to be driving on a public road and had poor judgement.
"The pursuit was persistent and relatively protracted with several points where it could have and should have stopped," Snr Sgt Bradley said.
He said Dark showed a "come what may" attitude in regards to the safety of the boy.
Defence for Dark stated the police officer had been suspended without pay shortly after the incident and had been working as a scaffolder.
The magistrate noted Dark's future in the police force would be up for question.
Dark was fined $2000 and disqualified from driving for six months.
A conviction was not recorded.
Update: Dangerous operation of a vehicle charge, Nerang [QPS Media - 14/6/15]:
Police have charged a 28-year-old man following their investigations into the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle at Nerang on June 12.
Around 1.20pm a police officer attempted to speak with the driver and occupants of a vehicle parked on Price Street.
As the officer opened the door of the vehicle, the man who police will allege was the driver, accelerated, knocking the officer to the ground. The man then sped off from the scene in the vehicle.
A short time later the vehicle was allegedly involved in a hit and run traffic crash on Beaudesert Nerang Road.
No one was injured in the crash.
The vehicle was reported as stolen.
The officer received minor injuries and he is expected to make a full recovery.
A 28-year-old Bethania man has been charge with one count each of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, serious assault of a police officer causing bodily harm, possessing explosives (ammunition) and unlicensed driving. He is scheduled to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court tomorrow morning.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Man charged after woman held captive and tortured, Kingaroy
A man has been charged after a woman was held captive, tortured and sexually assaulted northwest of Brisbane.
Police say the 22-year-old woman was detained against her will at a Kingaroy property from Friday night until Saturday morning.
She managed to escape and fled to a hospital where she was treated for multiple stab wounds.
A 24-year-old man, known to the woman, has now been charged with numerous offences including unlawful wounding, deprivation of liberty, torture and sexual assault.
He'll appear in Kingaroy Magistrates Court on Monday.
Deprivation of liberty and firearms charges, Thornlands
QPS Media [15/6/15]:
A man has been charged following an incident that occurred overnight at an address in Thornlands.
Police were called to a residence on Acacia Ridge Street around 5pm following reports of a man who was allegedly armed with a firearm.
It will further be alleged that the man has held a woman at the address against her will and threatened her with a shotgun.
A man was taken into custody without incident a short time later.
The woman wasn’t physically injured as a result of the incident.
A 57-year-old Thornlands man has been charged with one count of deprivation of liberty, dangerous conduct with a weapon and three charges of unlawful possession of a weapon.
He is due to appear in the Cleveland Magistrates Court today.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should
contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au
24hrs a day.
Assault charges, Slacks Creek
QPS Media [15/6/15]:
Police have charged two men following an incident that occurred in Slacks Creek yesterday afternoon.
Around 5.10pm, a man was walking on Argonaut Place when he was approached by two men in a car.
One of the men allegedly assaulted him and a female child that he had in his arms was flung in the air and landed on the road.
It will be further alleged that the two men then took the child and the man’s bag and fled the scene.
The child has been transported to the Lady Cilento Hospital with suspected serious head injuries.
A 26-year-old man and a 48-year-old man, both from Slacks Creek, have been charged with two counts each of assault occasioning bodily harm and are due to appear in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on July 9.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Assault charge, Mooloolaba [QPS Media - 15/6/15]
A man has been charged after investigations into the alleged assault of a two people in Proserpine yesterday. ... [QPS Media - 15/6/15]
Hit and run traffic crash, Mooroobool
QPS Media [15/6/15]:
A 72-year-old local woman is currently in Cairns Hospital with critical injuries after she was struck by a car at Mooroobool this morning.
Preliminary investigations indicate the woman was walking along Beatrice Street, near the intersection with Irene Street, when a passing car struck her around 8.30am.
The car stopped for a short period of time before the vehicle left the scene.
The vehicle is described as a yellow sedan.
Police are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact them and investigations by the Cairns Forensic Crash Unit and Cairns Criminal Investigation Branch continue
Students injured after car ploughs through fence at Blackburn Secondary College [ABC - 15/6/15]
Toowoomba: Car crashes into pharmacy at Northpoint shopping centre [Chronicle - 14/6/15]
Man suffers minor injuries after crash in Sarina [Daily Mercury - 15/6/15]
Sydney CBD attack leaves man critically injured [Sydney Morning Herald – 14/6/15]:
A 26-year-old man is fighting for his life in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital after being seriously assaulted by up to five men in the Sydney CBD on Sunday morning.
Emergency services were called to George Street, near Goulburn Street, where the victim collapsed in a pool of blood at 4am.
According to police, an argument reportedly broke out between two groups at a bar on Goulburn Street.
The argument spilled out on to the street when one group of patrons left the venue.
Up to five men in the group then "ganged up" on the victim, who fled before collapsing, Channel Seven reported.
As he escaped from his attackers, the man left a trail of blood 20 metres long, the Seven report said.
The man was taken by paramedics to RPA. Investigations into precisely where the assault occurred are ongoing.
Channel Seven reported that the investigation into the incident may be obstructed by a localised power outage in the area on Saturday night that disabled security cameras.
The man was in a critical condition on Sunday night, a Royal Prince Alfred spokeswoman said.
She said the hospital was unable to communicate with the victim's family as they did not speak English, and that a Thai interpreter would be available on Monday.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Rachel Antonio inquest: Former boyfriend Robert Hytch refuses to answer questions [ABC - 15/6/15]
A dead kangaroo was stabbed in the head to mimic a gun shot wound before "disturbing" photographs were circulated online, the ACT Government vet says.
A Territory and Municipal Services spokesman said an autopsy of the kangaroo, found under fencing at Gungaderra Grasslands in Crace, by the ACT Government Vet revealed it had died after being hit by a car before it had been attacked in the head with an "implement such as a knife" to make it look like it had been shot. ... [Canberra Times - 15/6/15]
Wildlife catchers are desperately trying to corner a male kangaroo which has been living with an arrow through its head for three days.
The male roo has dodged both RSPCA and Australia Zoo rescue teams since Saturday morning after it was spotted along the foreshore at Toorbul, north of Caboolture.
The kangaroo has enduring the slow and painful experience for days now. ... [Sunshine Coast Daily - 15/6/15]
26-year-old Victorian man charged with wilful damage for vandalism of Toowoomba mosque
QPS Media [15/6/15]:
Toowoomba Detectives investigating the alleged wilful damage of a mosque in Toowoomba have charged a man.
Police will allege that on May 16 around 5pm graffiti was sprayed on the outside of the building.
A 26-year-old Victorian man has been charged with one count of wilful damage and is due to appear in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court tomorrow.
Detectives continue to investigate two suspicious fires which occurred at the premises on January 23rd and April 17th and encourage anyone with information to contact Crimestoppers.
Explosives located, Annandale
QPS Media [15/6/15]:
Police have charged a 35-year-old Townsville man following an investigation in Annandale overnight.
At around 1am this morning, a vehicle was intercepted by officers on William Angliss Drive for the purpose of a roadside breath test.
A subsequent search of the vehicle allegedly located three shotguns, ammunition, explosives, fireworks, a portable drug laboratory, knives, dangerous drugs and drug utensils.
Police closed the street whilst the explosives were removed from the location.
The 35-year-old has been charged with one count each of unlawful possession of a (category D/H/R) weapon, unlawful possession of a category (A/B or M) weapon, unauthorised transport of explosives, not being the holder of an authority required to possess explosives, possession of a knife and possession of shortened firearms.
He is scheduled to appear before the Townsville Magistrates Court today, June 15.
Police have charged a man following the robbery of a fast food store and assault of a taxi driver in Brisbane this morning. ... [QPS Media -15/6/15]
Armed robbery, Annerley [QPS Media – 14/6/15]
Boy charged, with robbery, Mount Ommaney [QPS Media – 14/6/15]
Man charged after clandestine laboratory located, Ballard [QPS Media – 15//15]
Firefighting recruits were put in danger when the Country Fire Authority added bacteria to try to clean up contaminated water at a training centre, a former instructor says.
Mick Tisbury, a Metropolitan Fire Brigade firefighter for 26 years, says the CFA was aware of contamination in the dams as early as 1988 and failed to act, except by adding bacteria Pseudomonas Aeruginosa to try and remove poisonous hydrocarbons from the water. ... [West Australian - 15/6/15]
Serco denies prison transport failures [West Australian – 15/6/15]
Bus and freight train collide in Cairns, 17 injured [ABC – 15/6/15]
The Port of Brisbane has defended a decision to ban a security guard over an anti-coal industry sign on her car, arguing it would stop her doing her job properly, court documents show.
Kym Garrick's employer, Corporate Protection Australia Group, fired her from her job at the port in August last year because she displayed a sign that read "coal dust free Brisbane".
Her lawyers alleged the Port of Brisbane and her employer discriminated against her on the basis of her political beliefs. … [ABC – 15/6/15]
The clock is ticking for the Palaszczuk government to make good on a commitment to repeal laws extending sand mining on North Stradbroke Island, native title holders say. ... [Yahoo - 15/6/15]
Kathy Jackson makes last-minute attempt to stop HSU civil case [ABC - 15/6/15]
Controversial unionist Kathy Jackson has revealed she is attempting to transfer her $1.3 million house to her de facto partner, Fair Work Commission vice-president Michael Lawler, as her former union seeks to freeze her assets. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 15/6/15]
Australia child abuse inquiry to focus on entertainment industry
West Australian [15/6/15]:
A wide-ranging Australian inquiry into child sex abuse on Monday said it plans to put the spotlight on the entertainment industry, urging anyone who has suffered to come forward.
It follows revelations of abuse by a number of high-profile entertainers across the world, including Australian Rolf Harris who is in jail in Britain for a string of sex assaults against girls.
Philip Reed, head of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, said he wants to hear from anyone who has experienced, or has information about, abuse in the industry.
Institutions under the spotlight include television networks, production companies, dance, drama and performing arts schools, casting agencies or any other company involved in entertainment.
"Anyone thinking of coming forward should be rest assured that the confidentiality of their information will be protected," Reed said, adding that advertisements would be run in Sydney and Melbourne newspapers and industry publications.
The government-backed commission was called after a decade of pressure to investigate numerous allegations of paedophilia in Australia, and has so far heard harrowing claims of child abuse involving places of worship, orphanages, community groups and schools.
Most recently it heard allegations this month that Vatican finance chief George Pell, formerly Australia's top Catholic official, tried to bribe an abuse victim to keep him quiet.
Pell denied the claims but was summoned to give evidence in person to the inquiry when it next meets, at a date to be determined.
No start date was given for when the inquiry would begin to look into the entertainment industry.
Harris is one of the highest-profile people to be prosecuted in Britain as part of Operation Yewtree, which was set up in the wake of revelations that TV presenter Jimmy Savile was a prolific abuser.
The 85-year-old television star, artist and songwriter was jailed for five years and nine months in July last year after being found guilty of indecently assaulting four victims between 1969 and 1986.
He sparked further outrage Sunday when a British newspaper reported that he was writing a song about money-grabbing accusers.
In Australia Robert Hughes, the popular former star of hit Australian TV series 'Hey Dad', was jailed for at least six years in 2014 on 10 charges of sexual and indecent assault against girls dating back to the 1980s.
How BHP Billiton tricked villagers of Maruwei in Central Kalimantan out of their land
Jakarta Globe [15/6/15]:
Residents of the village of Maruwei in Central Kalimantan claim they were tricked and intimidated in relation to BHP Billiton’s acquisition of an area of their land for the first stage of the IndoMet coal project a decade ago.
According to Maruwei village secretary Timor Banafi, villagers started clearing small trees and shrubs from an area of their customary forest which was to be compulsorily acquired for the mine because they believed they would be entitled to compensation for it if there was evidence the land was being cultivated.
Then at a meeting in 2005 a BHP Billiton community relations officer gave them the impression the company would pay more for land that was also cleared of trees.
Although the company representative did not explicitly mention payment and in fact told villagers he was not advising them to cut down trees on the land, which would be illegal, he said BHP would be “more appreciative” of land that was logged, which would “make things easier” for the company, Banafi told the Jakarta Globe last year.
After the meeting, more than 70 Maruwei families spent months cutting trees and clearing vegetation from a total area of 1,600 hectares, according to Banafi, and while BHP was aware of the land-clearing going on, the company did nothing for several months, after which it reported the activity to government authorities.
When village leaders were finally called to a meeting with government and company representatives to discuss payment, they were informed that the land they had cleared was technically state forest and that BHP would make only “goodwill payments” of Rp 1 million ($103 at the exchange rate back then) per hectare for it.
There are differing accounts of the sequence of events that led to most villagers whose land was acquired signing the compensation agreement, but several people said they only accepted the deal because police came to the village and threatened them with arrest.
“The company asked us to cut the trees and clear the land and said they would buy it with a good price,” Eren Frid, the former head of the Maruwei village assembly, told the Globe. “But in fact when it was cut and cleared the price was only Rp 100 per square meter.
“Many people didn’t want to sell the land at that price but the government came with police and told us we had to sell it to the company because if not we would be arrested,” he added.
Eren passed away recently.
“We were afraid not to sell the land because the police came,” Maruwei residents Regina and Arayati said, “and many people said ‘It’s state land and you have to sell it.’”
Some villagers claimed several people who expressed opposition to the compensation price were picked up by police and held in jail for a short time for illegal logging.
There were also allegations that several leaders received payments of Rp 30 million each from BHP after the majority of villagers whose customary land was acquired by the company had signed the agreement.
BHP Billiton has said its activities in relation to land acquisitions in the area were “at all times undertaken in accordance with legal and ethical business practices” and that decisions were made “transparently and based on consensus decision making by landowners.”
Compensation payments were guided by government-based guidelines, the company said in a statement, “in a manner consistent with BHP Billiton’s commitment to ethics and integrity.”
The company did not address specific allegations put to it about payments made to leaders and the actions of its community relations officer.
The loss of forests for hunting and land for cultivation due to the operations of mining companies in the area has had significant impacts on people’s livelihoods in Maruwei, where many live in relative poverty.
Queensland misses out on $554m of royalties from mining companies [Gladstone Observer -15/6/15]
What legal battle? Adani orders 55 dump trucks for mine [Daily Mercury - 15/6/15]
EU action over GE-Alstom deal a 'very ordinary event' - commissioner
The European Commission's statement of objections to General Electric's plan to buy Alstom's power turbines arm is a "very ordinary event", European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said on Monday during a visit to Paris.
Shares in Alstom fell sharply last week on news of the commission's move which could result in GE having to sell parts of the business or make other concessions on antitrust grounds.
GE said it was working with the commission to find potential remedies.
Murdoch Exclusive: Protected and unaccountable Foreign Minister says Indonesia to blame for Australia's repudiation of the UN Refugee Convention
Imaginary journalist to Julie Bishop: Why not just withdraw Australia from the UN Refugee Convention since you obviously have no intention of adhering to it?
Daily Star [15/6/15]:
... Bishop suggested in an interview with The Australian "newspaper" that Indonesia was to blame for failing to properly manage its borders.
"I look forward to hearing the full results of Indonesia's investigation of the people-smuggling crimes committed in Indonesia," she said.
This, she added, should include "any breaches of passport and visa laws, and establishing whether the captains and crews of these boats are part of people-smuggling syndicates or are paid by them."
"The best way for Indonesia to resolve any concerns it has about Operation Sovereign Borders is for Indonesia to enforce sovereignty over its borders," Bishop said, referring to Australia's anti-people smuggling policy.
"Operation Sovereign Borders is necessary because Indonesian boats with Indonesian crews are leaving Indonesia with the express intention of breaching our sovereignty, facilitated by illegal people-smuggling syndicates."
Agus Barnas, a spokesman for Indonesia's security ministry, said Bishop was wrong to simply blame his country and warned that if the payment allegations were true it "will drive Indonesian crew and fishermen to race among themselves for extra money."
"Indonesian waters are vast and we have limited manpower," he told AFP.
"And we are not talking about one or two migrant boats, but many. They are run by syndicates and they enter illegally so we cannot deal with this matter on our own.
"The migrant issue must involve cooperation among source, transit and destination countries. Do not just blame Indonesia."
Change the system from within: It goes something like this ....
ALPHack1: Some of the rank and file want us to change our refugee policy.
ALPHack2: [Yawn] Yeah yeah. Tell them we'll raise it at the next conference.
ALPHack1: But we've been doing that that for years ... and ...
ALPHack2: Works every time - any of them threatening to leave the party yet?
ALPHack1: Well, no.
ALPHack2: See? True believers will support us no matter what we do. Besides, they help us with our "Abbott Would Be Worse" tactic. Anyway, tell em to keep writing letters and lobbying ALP MPs - keeps them busy - we don't want them going off and acting independently - that might have an effect.
Email Labor Members of Parliament [RAR Bellingen and Nambucca - 11/6/15]:
I understand from press reports that the Labor Party will discuss the Party’s policy on asylum seekers when it holds its conference in July. I welcome that, and I earnestly hope that the ALP will adopt a principled policy stance which reflects our international obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and which recognises the immense harm that the current Coalition policy, largely supported by the ALP, is inflicting on innocent people, many of them children.
I do hope, therefore, that the ALP, with your support, will listen to those voices within its ranks who are advocating a change in policy; a policy which is rooted in sound principles, international law and common humanity. ...
ABC, AM [16/9/14]:
... CHRIS UHLMANN: Now some of the same people in the left are concerned about your border protection policies. Is there any likelihood you'll abandon your commitment to offshore processing?
BILL SHORTEN: No.
CHRIS UHLMANN: That's a firm rolled gold commitment; you're not going to abandon it?
BILL SHORTEN: No.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Will it be changed in any way?
BILL SHORTEN: No, we support regional resettlement. And we support the offshore processing.
Israel Cabinet Approves Bill to Force Feed Prisoners
Israeli ministers approved a bill Sunday that would allow prisoners on hunger strike to be force fed if their life is in danger, sparking criticism from health experts and rights groups.
The cabinet's endorsement of the controversial bill was led by Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who said that prisoners observing a hunger strike, namely Palestinians, pose a "threat" to Israel.
"Alongside attempts to boycott and delegitimize Israel, hunger strikes of terrorists in prisons have become a means to threaten Israel," Erdan said on his Facebook page.
The same bill was approved by the Israeli government last year and sent to parliament for debate but the Knesset was dissolved before it could start deliberating.
The bill was initially approved in June 2014 at the height of a mass hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners during which 80 were hospitalized.
Chairman of the Israeli Medical Association, Leonid Eidelman, slammed the bill, saying force feeding prisoners against their will is "unethical."
In a letter addressed to Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Eidelman also insisted that the IMA would "order doctors to act solely according to the rules of ethics, and not feed or nourish hunger strikers against their will."
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel stressed that force feeding was forbidden.
"Any decision on medical procedure, including feeding or nourishing a person, should be made by an independent medical team and in according to the legal rights of the patient," which include the need for consent, ACRI said in a statement.
"Hunger strikes for prisoners are a legitimate means of objection," ACRI said.
The majority of prisoners who go on hunger strike in Israel are Palestinians in administrative detention, under which they held for renewable six-month periods without charge, ACRI said.
The Palestinian government last week warned Israel it was responsible for the health of Khadar Adnan, a detainee on hunger strike for over 40 days.
A spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service told AFP that besides Adnan, one other Palestinian prisoner was on hunger strike, for approximately one week.
Palestinian militant group Hamas on Sunday called for the immediate release of Adnan and Islam Hamad, a prisoner of the Palestinian Authority who has reportedly been on hunger strike for 63 days.
A Palestinian man who was killed by Israeli forces on Sunday in Kufr Malik village near Ramallah was left under an Israeli military Jeep for three hours before he died, an eyewitness said. ... [Maan - 14/6/15]
What happens when international opprobrium gets too loud. [Al Jazeera - 15/6/15]:
South Africa's high court is set to continue the case of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir who was prevented from leaving the country until Monday, when it will decide whether to send him to the International Criminal Court.
The hearing at the court in Pretoria was due to start at 08:00 GMT, sources told Al Jazeera. Bashir was prevented from leaving South Africa pending an application for his arrest. ...
Islamic militants raid army base and village in Kenya [Ahram - 14/6/15]
Afghanistan: Security forces kill 83 militants in newest military operations across the country [Khaama - 15/6/15]
At least two civilians were killed and three others wounded in Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers mortar shelling in the Qarabagh district in southern Ghazni province, an official said on Sunday.
Deputy Governor Mohammad Ali Ahmadi told Pajhwok Afghan News fight took place between security forces and Taliban.
A mortar shell believed to be fired by ANA left a woman and a man dead and two women and a child injured, he said.
He said that investigations had been launched to know who fired the mortar shells. Ismatullah Jamradwal, provincial council member, told Pajhwok Afghan News two women were killed and four others including a woman wounded in the incident.
He accused ANA for targeting civilian population. Rahimullah, a resident of the locality, said: “When fighting between security forces and militants ended, ANA soldiers fired mortars on our area which left two women dead while four others including a woman wounded.”
Baz Mohammad Himat, director civil hospital confirmed receiving two dead bodies of women and three wounded including two women and a child.
ANA officials in Ghazni, however, did not comment on the incident.
Yemenis have taken to the streets of the capital Sana’a to protest the relentless Saudi aggression against the country. The protest comes as Saudi jets continue targeting different parts of the country killing civilians mostly women and children. [VIDEO - Press TV - 15/6/15]
Saudi stock market opens to foreigners [France 24 - 15/6/15]
The thousands of Syrian refugees waiting to cross the Turkish border finally started trickling in early Sunday evening as Turkey reopened its border with Syria several days after having closed it, an AFP photographer reported.
Refugees began amassing at the border crossing as Kurdish forces advanced on the Daesh-held area of Tal Abyad in northern Syria earlier this week.
Turkey had closed the border crossing following the Kurdish offensive, saying that it would only reopen to refugees in the event of a humanitarian tragedy.
Amid the chaos at the border crossing, Syrians managed to push through the border fences away from the actual crossing to cross illegally into Turkey. The Turkish army responded with a water cannon and tear gas to control the crowd, AFP reported.
AFP added that Turkish authorities reopened the border early Sunday evening, and the refugees began to cross in an orderly fashion.
Turkish officials said before the closure last week that Turkey had already taken in over 13,500 refugees escaping the violence in Tal Abyad, AFP reported.
Ten people have reportedly died in a bomb blast in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
According to police officials the car bomb, which left at least 20 other people injured, went off after it hit a market and shops in the city's Qahira neighbourhood this evening.
Nobody has claimed immediate responsibility for the attacks. [ITV - 14/6/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [14/6/15]:
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, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Fighter aircraft conducted an airstrike near Aleppo, which struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter and bomber aircraft conducted 12 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Baghdadi, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL staging position.
-- Near Beiji, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Fallujah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
-- Near Makhmur, one airstrike struck an ISIL mortar positon.
-- Near Mosul, three airstrikes struck two ISIL staging areas and land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage.
-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, destroying two ISIL excavators, two ISIL buildings, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL rocket-propelled grenade and an ISIL tunnel system.
-- Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes struck an ISIL rocket firing position and land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage.
Libya's "internationally recognised government" allows the US to bomb to death an "uncatchable" man [Reuters - 14/6/15]:
... Belmokhtar has been reported killed several times, including in 2013 when he was believed to have died in fighting in Mali. He has earned a reputation as one of the most elusive jihadi leaders in the region. ...
Federal appeals court overturns conviction of former al Qaeda media director [Jurist – 13/6/15]
The Sunday Times’ Snowden Story is Journalism at its Worst — and Filled with Falsehoods, Glenn Greenwald [The Intercept - 14/6/15]:
... The Sunday Times article is even worse because it protects the officials they’re serving with anonymity. The beauty of this tactic is that the accusations can’t be challenged. The official accusers are being hidden by the journalists so nobody can confront them or hold them accountable when it turns out to be false. The evidence can’t be analyzed or dissected because there literally is none: they just make the accusation and, because they’re state officials, their media-servants will publish it with no evidence needed. And as is always true, there is no way to prove the negative. It’s like being smeared by a ghost with a substance that you can’t touch.
This is the very opposite of journalism. Ponder how dumb someone has to be at this point to read an anonymous government accusation, made with zero evidence, and accept it as true.
But it works. Other news agencies mindlessly repeated the Sunday Times claims far and wide. I watched last night as American and British journalists of all kinds reacted to the report on Twitter: by questioning none of it. They did the opposite: they immediately assumed it to be true, then spent hours engaged in somber, self-serious discussions with one another over what the geopolitical implications are, how the breach happened, what it means for Snowden, etc. This is the formula that shapes their brains: anonymous self-serving government assertions = Truth.
By definition, authoritarians reflexively believe official claims – no matter how dubious or obviously self-serving, even when made while hiding behind anonymity – because that’s how their submission functions.
Journalists who practice this sort of primitive reporting – I uncritically print what government officials tell me, and give them anonymity so they have no accountability for any it – do so out of a similar authoritarianism, or uber-nationalism, or laziness, or careerism. Whatever the motives, the results are the same: government officials know they can propagandize the public at any time because subservient journalists will give them anonymity to do so and will uncritically disseminate and accept their claims.
At this point, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that journalists want it this way. It’s impossible that they don’t know better. The exact kinds of accusations laundered in the Sunday Times today are made – and then disproven – in every case where someone leaks unflattering information about government officials. ...
Foxtel takes 15pc stake in Ten Network [Sydney Morning Herald - 15/6/15]
Clinton's New York speech: believers, skeptics and gatecrashers [Deutsche Welle - 14/6/15]:
... But others weren't persuaded by Clinton's efforts to tug on liberal heartstrings. Just outside Roosevelt Park, protester Marni Halasa was listening in. She saw the speech as an effort to take on the mantle of Elizabeth Warren - the Massachusetts Senator and banker-baiting darling of the Democrats' liberal wing.
"She's talking to Elizabeth Warren and asking, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, how are you getting people to love you? Well, because Elizabeth Warren is more real than she is."
Marni told DW this sitting by the side of the road, overheating in an elaborate Hillary-pig-costume covered with hundred-dollar bills. For all the theatrics, her criticism is one that has dogged Clinton for years: that she is somehow not "real."
It's a criticism that has resurfaced in this year's campaign. When her launch video hailed "everyday Americans," skeptics asked what she knew of everyday American life. By her own admission she hasn't driven a car since 1996, and until recently she has commanded fees of over $200,000 (178,000 euros) a pop on the lecture circuit.
More worryingly for the Clinton campaign, a recent poll found that 57 percent of respondents said she was not "honest and trustworthy," in the wake of the controversies over her email system and foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation.
Pro-democracy campaigners took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday (Jun 14), but in far smaller numbers than expected, before a vote on a political reform package that has divided the city and sparked mass protests. ... [Channel News Asia - 14/6/15]
Banners were held high and chanting filled the streets of Port Moresby this morning as more than 3000 people took part in the 9th Sir Anthony Siaguru Walk Against Corruption. ... [PNG Loop - 14/6/15]
Britain should take its fair share of refugees, UN representative says
Britain should take in its fair share of migrants stranded after crossing the Mediterranean, a United Nations representative on immigration has said in a critical intervention.
Peter Sutherland, UN special representative of the secretary-general for international migration, said the UK was taking far less refugees caught in the boat migration crisis than Germany or Sweden.
He warned against creating “xenophobia and racism” by failing to engage positively with the problem and said British politicians have not made the case for letting in migrants.
It comes after the Foreign Office announced last year the government was removing its support of search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean.
Since the crisis escalated Britain has sent HMS Bulwark, which has helped save the lives of thousands of migrants fleeing North Africa.
But the government plans to fight a new European Commission quota that would more than double the numbers of people accepted by the UK to over 60,000 a year.
David Cameron has been under pressure over whether Britain is doing enough to help those caught in the Mediterranean migrant crisis
Speaking in an interview on BBC Radio Four, Mr Sutherland said those travelling across the Mediterranean should be granted asylum as they were escaping persecution at home.
“In the case of Eritreia or for that matter in the case of Syira perhaps nearly all of those who have left are people who are persecuted or facing persecution and therefore entitled to remain in the country of destination that they end up in in Europe,” Mr Sutherland said.
“At the moment there is a huge disparity in the numbers that different countries are taking. On any basis the Germans and the Swedes are taking far more per capita than the United Kingdom and a fair settlement of this issue on the basis of objective criteria – population, GDP, unemployment, whatever issues you think may be appropriate – seems to be a reasonable way of dealing with this.
He said there is a “greater degree of negativity” towards migration in Britain than elsewhere and put it down to the fact that “the case has never been properly explained”.
Mr Sutherland said in Britain 79 per cent of migrants are working, with a lower unemployment rate than the rest of society, and their contribution “sometimes seems to be ignored”.
“Migration is something which won’t go away, it is something that we have to constructively engage with and not something that we should fear or that should create xenophobia and racism as it does in many societies around the world,” he warned.
It comes Raquel Rolnik, the UN's special investigator on housing, drew a backlash from Conservative MPs after heavily criticising David Cameron’s so-called bedroom tax last year.
Her report on UK housing, published in February 2014, said people renting homes had “very few rights and little security” and called for better protections for tenants.
A few months later UN special rapporteur Rashida Manjoo made headlines by claiming the UK has a "boys' club sexist culture" and a “more visible presence of sexist portrayals of women and girls” than elsewhere.
It comes after Italian police in riot gear reportedly dispersed around 200 migrants who were staging a sit-in at a border crossing with France after French police refused to let them enter the country.
The police are believed to have pushed the migrants back towards the town of Ventimiglia, 5km from the border, triggering some claims the authorities had acted too aggressively.
South East Asia: Myanmar Buddhists renew anti-Rohingya protests. Australian political, media and human rights establishment keeps its head firmly wedged up its bum. [Bangkok Post - 15/6/15]:
Buddhist hardliners backed by monks launched new anti-Rohingya demonstrations in Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state Sunday to protest against help being offered to desperate migrants found adrift on boats in the Bay of Bengal.
Around 500 people, backed by dozens of monks, gathered under heavy rain in the state capital Sittwe. They chanted slogans, according to a witness, who spoke by telephone from the town.
The protest disbanded voluntarily after two hours. No violence was reported.
The witness' account was confirmed by a protest leader who said simultaneous demonstrations would take place in 10 townships across the state.
"We are protesting against Bengalis that were sent to Rakhine State," said Aung Htay, a protest leader in Sittwe.
Most Myanmar nationals, including the government, use the term "Bengali" to describe Rohingya, many of whom have lived in the region for generations.
Most of the country's estimated 1.3 million Rohingya are refused citizenship and face a raft of restrictions on their movement, family size and access to jobs.
In Maungdaw, the town closest to where the rescued migrants are being held, protest organiser Tin Maung Than said he expected 200 people to turn out.
"We are gathering people to protest against Bengali boat people here," he said.
A flyer promoting protest plans seen by AFP called on people to "protect the future of Rakhine" and also referred to migrants as "Kalar", a commonly-used racist epithet used to describe Myanmar's Muslims throughout the nation.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the rise across Myanmar in recent years with radical monks accused of stoking religious tensions with fiery warnings that Buddhism is under threat from Islam.
Neither the government nor opposition parties have shown much appetite to confront communal tensions for fear of alienating Buddhist voters ahead of crunch elections slated for later this year.
Rakhine, one of Myanmar's poorest states, is a tinderbox of tension between its Buddhist majority and a persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority, many of whom live in displacement camps after deadly unrest erupted there in 2012.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled Rakhine in recent years, joined increasingly by economic migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, mainly headed for Malaysia and Indonesia.
The exodus was largely ignored until a crackdown on the people-smuggling trade in Thailand last month caused chaos as gangmasters abandoned their human cargos on land and sea.
Some 4,500 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants have since washed ashore in the region while the UN estimates around 2,000 others are still trapped at sea.
After mounting international pressure Myanmar's navy rescued more than 900 migrants who were brought to Rakhine.
Some 150 have since been repatriated to Bangladesh.
But the rest are being held in border camps while Bangladesh and Myanmar decide their original nationality.
The rescues have infuriated Buddhist hardliners who want the Rohingya - one of the world's most persecuted minorities - expelled from Myanmar altogether and say the central government should not help those stranded in the Bay of Bengal.
Australian politicians, human rights establishment launch "I'm not racist but" book:
... The book was officially launched by former Liberal federal minister the Hon Fred Chaney AO at an event in Sydney on Thursday 11 June. Mr Chaney played an important role in the passage of the Racial Discrimination Bill through Parliament forty years ago. ...
The Power Index: biz directors, Michael Chaney at #3 [Crikey - 12/12/12]: ... But it’s not just boardroom influence — ideas have always coursed through the Chaney household. He’s the son of Menzies government minister Sir Fred Chaney and the brother of former Liberal Party deputy leader Fred Chaney Jr (a WA senator and member for the federal seat of Pearce). Another brother, John, is a WA Supreme Court Judge. ...
Address by Chairman Michael Chaney and CEO and Managing Director Peter Coleman Woodside Petroleum Ltd. 2015 Annual General Meeting [16/4/15]:
... In Myanmar, we’re now the leading acreage holder in the underexplored Rakhine Basin. We’ve consolidated and built a strong position across the Atlantic margin play, with acreage in Nova Scotia, Ireland and Morocco. ...
Half a million in need of critical aid in Myanmar [UN Media Release – 12/6/15]
Australian media, human rights establishment continues falsely applying the phrase "payments to people smugglers".
Read the headline and the first few pars: Any payments to people smugglers 'may have broken Australian law' [Guardian -15/6/15]
Then read what the legal expert actually said: ... “On the face of it someone who pays thousands of dollars to an Indonesian mariner to take refugees back to Indonesia so as to breach Indonesian laws of entry may be breaching the Criminal Code ” ...
“People-smugglers’ business-model” – Watch for concern-trolls. #OnWaterGate [15/6/15]:
... Secondly, anti-“people-smuggling” campaigns are exercises in concern-trolling. They manipulate genuine concerns for those who are exploited into practical support for measures that are directed against those same people. There is no way to distinguish between those who steer the boats and those who travel on them, but the sleight of hand is important because it transfers the explicitly racist demonisation of asylum seekers to “people-smugglers,” and politicians can pretend they’re not whipping up a racist frenzy, while in practice the consequences are much the same. ...
Indonesia still waiting for answers from Australia on refugee boat 'payment' [UCA News - 15/6/16]
Reclaim the language!
Force the ALP, LNP and their media mates to use the correct terminology and not demonise refugees with their "people smugglers" rhetoric
Greens Media Release [15/6/15]:
The Australian Greens have today written to the Australian Federal Police asking them to investigate if any payments have been made to crews of boats carrying asylum seekers and if so what laws have been violated.
An Order to Produce Documents motion will also be moved in the Senate today for the government to release all documents relating to any payments made.
"I have written to the Australian Federal Police today asking them to investigate if the government has violated Australian laws on people trafficking, people smuggling and money laundering," Greens spokesperson for Immigration Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
"The allegations must be dealt with immediately and the Greens will use whatever means it can, including the powers of the Senate to force the Government to come clean.
"The Greens will also move an Order to Produce Documents today in the Senate, forcing the Government to reveal what has occurred out on the high seas and whether tax payer funds were spent paying off the crews of asylum seeker boats.
"Paying cash bribes to boat crews amounts to people trafficking. The Government does not have a mandate to break the law or a blank cheque to allow handing over wads of cash in the middle of the ocean.
Refugee Week 2015: Today the Australian Senate resumes "debate" on the "beat asylum seekers to death" bill - which the ALP support
In one of the Senate hearings the committee was told that a former soldier (now guard on Nauru) asked a refugee where she was from.
When she replied "Iraq", he said he'd been deployed there.
"They killed my friends, so I killed 30 of them," he told her.
A former Victorian supreme court judge says new powers proposed for guards in immigration detention centres would in effect authorise them “to beat asylum seekers to death”.
In extraordinary evidence to a Senate hearing on Thursday, Stephen Charles SC said the migration amendment (maintaining the good order of immigration detention facilities) bill 2015 would substantially expand the powers granted to guards in detention centres in a way that would “inevitably encourage violence by guards against asylum seekers”.
The new powers would allow immigration officers – which may include private contractors – to use “reasonable force against any person” if the officer believes it is necessary to protect the life, health or safety of people in detention or to maintain the good order, peace or security of a detention centre.
Such powers potentially give staff with a low level of training a greater level of immunity than that granted to state and federal police forces.
Charles, who sat on the Victorian court of appeal until 2006, said the standard proposed in the bill would introduce a similar test to those that have been considered in the US, and drew parallels with the recent shooting of Walter Scott by the police officer Michael Slager.
“Time and again police in the United States have been acquitted in circumstances such as these,” Charles said.
“These amendments to the Migration Act will in effect authorise guards to beat asylum seekers to death on the basis they reasonably believe it is necessary … to do so.”
He said the fact there would be “no effective way to take proceedings against the commonwealth” would further encourage guards to use excessive force in detention centres, and described the training requirements proposed in the explanatory memorandum of the bill as a “joke in extremely bad taste”.
The bill will give the commonwealth, private companies and guards immunity from civil and criminal liability unless it could be demonstrated that the use of force was not in good faith.
The president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, said the bar on proceedings would make it “virtually impossible” to bring forward an action, because of the difficulty of demonstrating bad faith in legal proceedings.
“Senior courts have ... explained the very high threshold that you must prove to demonstrate bad faith. It’s very hard to show a subjective intent of bad faith of a serving officer acting in the course of their employment,” Triggs said.
She said the language in the bill surrounding the scope of the powers “need to be significantly tightened up.”
Triggs added that if the powers were to be included into the Migration Act then the limits to the exercise of the power should also be clearly spelt out.
Gabrielle Appleby, associate professor at UNSW, said “the individuals authorised under this bill are not department officers, they are contractors”.
Appleby raised concerns about the training requirements for guards, which are not expressly set out in the bill and will instead be left up to the minister. The explanatory memorandum suggests the standards will be a certificate II in security operations, which are a base level training requirement for security operations.
“The determination by the minister is not a disallowable instrument. This means it’s not subject to parliamentary scrutiny,” she said.
The Senate inquiry follows reports of unrest at the Wickham Point detention centre in Darwin on Wednesday.
Refugee exiled by Australia still in hiding on Manus Island after being exploited by Transfield for a propaganda campaign [PNG Loop - 14/6/15]
Manus Island: Australia's Guantanamo [BBC - 12/6/15]:
... He now lives in a heavily guarded "resettlement centre."
Ahmed is allowed out and about in the day time; many of the refugees can be seen jogging or cycling along the roadside to pass the time.
But he is not allowed to work, and he has to stick to a strict curfew between 6pm and 6am.
Like many of the asylum seekers he is well educated, with a degree and a professional qualification.
"There are doctors, teachers, engineers, carpet makers. They are intelligent people. We could use their skills," one of the security guards on Manus told us.
He didn't want to give his name for fear of losing his job.
"I feel sorry for them. They're human beings. They want their freedom." ...
Refugee children and babies are still being deported and exiled to Nauru where the Australian government allows them to be subjected to sexual abuse.
Refugees (and citizens of) Nauru still have no access to Facebook. The blackout has been imposed for nearly a month and a half. [NZ Herald - 5/5/15]
In light of South East Asia's humanitarian crisis, we should help all refugees more, Thanh Tan [Seattle Times – 14/6/15]:
... In a North Seattle group home, Ismail Bin Abdul Zawill, 32, is far removed from Myanmar’s tightly controlled camps for Rohingya Muslims.
With no prospects of work or going to school, he escaped to Thailand by boat and crossed the border into Malaysia, where he eked out a living as a laborer.
One night, he was robbed and stabbed in the spine. The United Nations expedited his paperwork and sent him to Seattle in late 2012 for surgery.
At first, he was suicidal. Over time, he met other refugees who helped him adjust to living with paralysis. He can no longer walk and uses a wheelchair, but he tells me, in English, that he feels free. For the first time, Zawill is even thinking about going to school. ...
Inside Story [14/4/15]:
... At the end of 2014, 4270 refugees and 6916 asylum seekers were registered with the Jakarta office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, an organisation whose resources have been stretched, worldwide, by the largest number of people in refugee-like situations since relevant data started being collected. UNHCR’s Jakarta office is chronically underfunded and Australia’s policy changes have added to the pressure by reducing the exit options for refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia either by boat or via resettlement. ...
"Paying people smugglers" is a refugee dehumanising, anti-intellectual ALP talking point that deflects the real issue.
Australians want to know when our government is going to adhere to the spirit of the UN Refugee Convention, and stop treating refugees inhumanely - whether through bribes, using military force to repel boats, or incarcerating them in concentration camps.
The Indonesians are waiting for an explanation on the bribe paid to a refugee boat crew.
South China Morning Post [14/6/15]:
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused again on Sunday (June 14) to deny allegations an official paid thousands of dollars to turn back a boatload of asylum-seekers, despite calls from Indonesia for answers.
The claims - that the captain and five crew of the boat were each paid US$5,000 (S$6,719) by an Australian immigration official to turn back to Indonesia - were made to Indonesian police on Rote island in the country's east.
... "They all looked so wet and cold," Mr Semuel said.
"I said: 'Don't worry about returning the clothes because God will pay us back."
Mr Semuel's wife cooked noodles, fish and rice but some of the asylum seekers were too petrified to eat.
One of the Bangladeshi men, who spoke broken Indonesian, said they were scared the police would come and shoot them.
"I calmed them down and said: 'Don't worry, the Indonesian police are very kind'," Mr Semuel said. ...
[Sydney Morning Herald - 14/6/15]
52 of the 65 people refouled by Australia and incarcerated in Indonesia are registered refugees. [RNZI - 7/6/15]
15 June 2015