@JenniferTeerman [17/2/16]: Tonight outside Children Hospital in Brisbane. My 10 y.o. son says #LetThemStay Out of the mouths of babes..
Protesters continue their demand for the government to let Asha stay during candlelight vigil at Lady Cilento [VIDEO - Yahoo - 17/2/16]
Australian Christian leaders have been arrested after holding a prayer vigil at the office of the Minister for Justice, a result described as ironic by theologian and campaigner Jarrod McKenna.
The nine leaders from different Church traditions were protesting the deportation of 267 men, women and children to detention camps on the Pacific island of Nauru. ... [Christian Today - 17/2/16]
Mothers and children stand in solidarity with Lady Cilento Hospital staff [Indian Times – 17/2/16]:
Australian mothers and children will tomorrow join church groups, health workers, unions and many others supporting the stand taken by doctors at Lady Cilento Hospital not to discharge the 12 month old baby, known as Asha, and her parents if they would face forced deportation to Nauru.
On Thursday 18 February from 10.30am – 12.00pm, a group of mothers, fathers and children, coordinated by Mums 4 Refugees, will join the vigil at Lady Cilento Hospital, and all parents, children and other supporters are actively encouraged to join them.
The vigil, which has been running since Friday evening, also supports the broader #LetThemStay campaign asking the Australian government to let 267 asylum seekers facing removal to offshore detention stay in Australia and to end offshore detention of asylum seekers.
Convener of Mums 4 Refugees Brisbane working group, Sally Dodds, said “off shore processing is not a deterrent to people smugglers, it is government sanctioned cruelty which damages the lives of men, women and children as well as babies like Asha. We are asking for all offshore processing centres to be closed and the people held there to be brought to safety in Australia”.
MUMS AND BUBS SOLIDARITY ACTION
Thursday 18 February, 10.30am – 12.00pm
Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
Bombs continue raining down upon Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [17/2/16]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
Attack, ground-attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight strikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, four ISIL buildings and an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Hawl, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL buildings and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, two strikes cratered a road ISIL uses.
Strikes in Iraq
Fighter, attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Albu Hayat, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL mortar system.
-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL supply cache and suppressing an ISIL mortar position.
-- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL beddown locations, an ISIL command and control node, two ISIL-used bridges, and an ISIL vehicle-bomb facility.
-- Near Sinjar, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
-- Near Tal Afar, a strike destroyed an ISIL tunnel.
Aircraft of Russia’s aviation group in Syria have made 444 sorties in the period from February 10 to 16, delivering strikes on almost 1,600 terrorist facilities in the country, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told journalists on Tuesday. ... [TASS - 16/2/16]
Today, 17 February 2016, WikiLeaks is releasing the classified report about the first six month of Operation SOPHIA, the EU military intervention against "refugee boats" in Libya and the Mediterranean.
The report, dated 29 January 2016, is written by the Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino of the Italian Navy, for the European Union Military Committee and the Political and Security Committee of the EU.
It gives refugee flow statistics and outlines the performed and planned operation phases (1, 2A, 2B and 3), the corresponding activities of the joint EU forces operating in the Mediterranean and the future strategies for the operation. ... [WikiLeaks - 17/2/16]
Austria announced it would step up controls along its southern borders, edging closer to Eastern countries in their defiance of Germany's push for a European solution to the migrant crisis.
The measures will be implemented at 12 existing checkpoints along frontiers with Italy, Slovenia and Hungary to slow down the influx, Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said. ... [Yahoo - 17/2/16]
Juncker: Shutting down Greece border would be illegal and unacceptable [17/2/16]
The Greek government is rushing to complete the refugee registration centers and hospitality camps in order to stop pressure from certain European Union states that call for border closing. ... [Greek Reporter - 17/2/16]
How many refugee and asylum seeker boats did the Australian "Fuck your mothers ... fuck your family ..." Navy push back and/or abandon in the last 24 hours?@guardiacostiera [16/2/16]: #CentraleOperativa #GuardiaCostiera coordina soccorsi nel #CanalediSicilia: 99 #migranti a bordo di un gommone salvati da un mercantile
US flies four F-22 stealth jets in South Korea [BBC - 17/2/16]
China urged Australia on Wednesday to take into account the feelings of Asian countries as Sydney contemplates buying a fleet of submarines from Japan in a deal worth as much as A$40 billion ($29 billion).
In some of his strongest remarks on the possible deal, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters Australia should consider the context of Japan's role in the Second World War in developing its military relationship with Tokyo.
Wang made the remarks to journalists during a joint briefing with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. ... [Reuters - 17/2/16]
Obama-ASEAN talks focus on South China Sea tensions [VOA News - 16/2/16]
Khmer Rouge Tribunal hearings resume [Phnom Penh Post - 17/2/16]
Prime Minister Hun Sen gets a photo-op with Obama as Cambodian-Americans protest [Phnom Penh Post - 17/2/16]
… Who cares for the little children?
You may slice with no conviction
Blind revenge on a blameless victim ...
'Being Boiled', The Human League 
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is meeting with his New Zealand counterpart on Friday amid news that, on average, every day a New Zealand citizen is being stripped of his or her Australian visa.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will meet with Mr Turnbull in Sydney for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders' Meeting, where "discussions on the movement of citizens" is on the agenda.
The meeting will come less than a fortnight after immigration officials outlined the impact of changes to section 501 of the Migration Act, which has seen hundreds of New Zealand citizens stripped of their visas.
The amended legislation increased the power given to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to revoke visas, primarily based on character grounds and whether they had spent more than 12 months in jail.
Since it came into effect in December 2014, 561 New Zealand nationals have had their visas cancelled, a Senate estimates committee has heard.
Peta Dunn, from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, said the majority (533) were cancelled under "mandatory cancellation provisions".
The committee also heard that of the 183 New Zealand citizens in onshore detention facilities, 174 were there due to a visa cancellation on "character reasons".
Department secretary Michael Pezzullo told the committee that visa holders from New Zealand were the largest number of people affected by the legislative changes, "simply as a function of absolute numbers present in Australia at any one time".
The ABC had previously questioned the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on the impact of the legislative change on New Zealand citizens, but was denied access to the figures.
The fate of a group of 267 asylum seekers currently in Australia is also set to be discussed, amid local debate over their potential deportation.
The group, which includes more than 30 babies, could be sent back to Nauru after the High Court threw out a challenge to the Government's offshore detention network earlier this month.
Mr Key said this week it was "potentially possible" for New Zealand to take in some of the asylum seekers, citing an agreement made with the former Gillard government in 2013.
"That offer is there," he said. "Historically the Australians have said no, but it is part of the 750 allocation that we have.
"If they wanted us to take people, then subject to them meeting the criteria, New Zealand would be obliged to do that."
But Mr Turnbull refused to be drawn on the issue today, despite confirming it was on the agenda.
He said he did not want to "foreshadow any changes to our policy".
"It is a very tough policy issue to deal with," he said.
"We are dealing with it. We have stopped the boats. We recognise that the most important thing we have to do is not at any point give any encouragement or say or do anything that the people smugglers will use for their marketing."
Mr Turnbull said the Government would manage the issue "with compassion but with a very, very clear head".
United to End Genocide, a U.S. based human rights advocacy group, today called on President Obama to use the upcoming U.S.-ASEAN summit to demand an end to the attacks against Burma’s ethnic minority Rohingya.
Last year, tens of thousands of desperate Rohingya fled Burma in rickety boats and were stranded at sea off the shore of ASEAN countries. Many Rohingya perished. ASEAN governments met to address the crisis but failed to address the root causes of the mass exodus from Burma that still exists today – the systematic persecution and the march to genocide against the Rohingya. ... [Media Release - 12/2/16]
More natural gas found offshore Myanmar [UPI - 12/2/16]:
With a strong portfolio in Myanmar, Australian energy company Woodside Petroleum said it was gaining traction after making its second gas discovery.
Woodside ran through 200 net feet of natural gas while drilling in the deepwaters about 60 miles off the western coast of Myanmar, confirming a discovery in the Bay of Bengal.
It's the second since a January discovery was made by Woodside on the opposite end of the Rakhine basin offshore Myanmar.
Woodside CEO Peter Coleman said finding more gas is encouraging given the company's footprint in the region. ...
Woodside profit plunges 99 per cent on oil price slump [ABC - 17/2/16]
... Human Rights Watch got a rare invite, and during the inevitable brainstorming, I asked “Where is Australia, why aren’t they here?”
Eyes lowered and heads shook ever so slightly around the room. Talking like a friend has fallen off the wagon, one diplomat said “We’re not sure of them anymore. They’re going a different way.” ...
Eroding human rights in Australian foreign policy, one asylum seeker at a time, Phil Robertson - Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch [Guardian - 17/2/16]:
... Australia is rarely pushing for rights-respecting solutions these days – and more than that, is too often part of the problem. Politicians trapped in the refugee policy dialogue in Canberra frequently fail to recognise that Australia’s boat push-back policies, and offshoring asylum seekers into abusive conditions of detention in Nauru and on Manus Island, are seen as a green-light by Asian governments to do the same: send asylum seekers and refugees back into harm’s way or lock them up in indefinite detention.
For example, during the south-east Asia boat people crisis in May 2015, the Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian navies played a cruel game of “human ping-pong” by pushing away boats of starving and sick Rohingya. At a time when the governments were prepared to let these people float around waiting to die, then prime minister Tony Abbott did the unconscionable by justifying those tactics, saying “if other countries choose to do that, frankly that is almost certainly absolutely necessary if the scourge of people smuggling is to be beaten.” It suddenly became much harder for non-governmental organisations, governments, and UN agencies to persuade those three countries to bring the Rohingya to shore.
By soliciting governments to help stop boats, Australia also ends up looking the other way on other rights abuses. By cooperating with Australia to take back boats of their nationals, both Sri Lanka and Vietnam know they could count on Australia not to publicly raise concerns about the rights abuses that drove those people into the boats in the first place. Push backs by other countries are also met with silent acquiescence from Canberra. Australia said nothing when Thailand sent back 109 ethnic Uighurs in July to China to face torture in custody and long prison terms, and has kept silent as Beijing pursues its dissidents in Bangkok. China arrests and sends fleeing North Koreans back to the brutal regime of dictator Kim Jong-Un, and is met by deafening silence from down under.
Australia has praised Cambodia for signing the September 2014 Cambodia-Australia deal to resettle refugees from Nauru to Phnom Penh. Prime minister Hun Sen told Australia that Cambodia was safe for refugees to resettle – but don’t tell that to ethnic Montagnards fleeing political and religious persecution in Vietnam who Cambodia hunted down in the border forests of Ratanakiri province and forced back into Hanoi’s hands, all after the Australia deal was signed.
Meanwhile, Cambodia is laughing all the way to the bank with at least $55m of Australia’s taxpayer dollars for taking just five refugees so far from Nauru. All this for a deal that the UN high commissioner for refugees termed “a worrying departure from international norms” of refugee protection. ...
ALP and LNP vote against Greens Senate motion to save Rohingya [Senate Hansard - 24/6/15]:
Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (15:39): I move:
That the Senate—
(a) expresses concern at the disturbing reports aired on the Four Corners television program on 22 June 2015;
(i) that only 412 Rohingyans have been resettled in Australia through Australia's humanitarian program since 2008, and
(ii) the Government's recent refusal to provide assistance or resettlement for Rohingyans currently in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and stranded at sea off these three countries; and
(c) urges the Government to:
(i) contribute to the search and rescue mission for thousands of migrants, including Rohingyans, currently stranded at sea,
(ii) resettle some of the Rohingyan migrants rescued by Indonesia and Malaysia, and
(iii) resettle an increased number of Rohingyans in the 2015 humanitarian program, increasing the number of the program if necessary.
The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion be agreed to.
The Senate divided [15:39]
(The President—Senator Parry)
Ayes ...................... 13
Noes ...................... 33
Majority ................. 20
Di Natale, R
Siewert, R (teller)
McEwen, A (teller)
Wellingtonians protest Australia's refugee policies [Stuff.co.nz - 17/2/16]:
If staff from the Australian High Commission in Wellington heard the protest outside its walls this morning, there was barely any sign of it.
A smile here, a sly thumbs-up there – from staff going in and out of the Commission's gates – were the only clues that protesters' calls for the Australian government to close its "inhumane" refugee camps were being heard.
The protest marked two years since Iranian refugee Reza Barati was allegedly murdered at the Australian detention centre for refugees on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.
One police officer stood by and watched as about 25 activists turned out to remember Barati and to urge the Australian government to close the camps.
The protest was organised by Doing Our Bit spokesperson Murdoch Stephens, who said they also wanted the New Zealand government to take a "strong stand" against Australia's camps.
"We want to show our support for all the strong and committed activists in Australia standing up against the 'deplorable Pacific Alcatrazes', as Toby Manhire recently put it," Stephens said.
"These detention centres are inhumane and must be closed down."
Amnesty International campaign director Meg de Ronde also appealed to the New Zealand government to "stand up for people fleeing war and persecution".
"You must say to your Australian counterpart 'Enough is enough'. We will not stand by while people are held in camps, are tortured, killed, murdered while they should be protected."
@RachelP36798582 [16/2/16]: Seeking asylum is a human right. #LetThemStay #LadyCilento
Watermelon is nice but where is the clearly articulated political opposition to bipartisan cruelty, and the definitive support for the ethical and principled actions of Lady Cilento Hospital health professionals?:
@mandymcn [16/2/16]: Greens Senator @larissawaters stopped by at Lady Cilento to support the vigil, with provisions! #LetThemStay
@bradcoath [14/2/16]: #LoveMakesAWay vigil outside office of @billshortenmp - c'mon Bill, tell govt to #LetThemStay #StandByYourDan
Why do they appear to be resiling from their earlier, authentic position? #LetThemStay is not a "start". Offshore processing was torture then, and it is torture now ---> 2014: Churches call for end to offshore processing [ABC, PM - 20/2/14]
@peter_berner [14/2/16]: Saw this on the back of a car on Nauru...
If we CLOSE THE CAMPS we can LET THEM STAY and BRING THEM HERE.
Protest LNP AND ALP politicians - it is their anti refugee policies which are creating this human rights catastrophe.
Divest from detention.
2 years after Barati's murder people are still supporting the detention industry that killed him. ...
Image: @end_md [17/2/16]
Letter for Reza from men incarcerated on Manus [via Refugee Rights Action Network WA – 17/2/15]:
Hello dear Reza,
how are you?
Are you in a good place?
Everyone is here and they are saying hi to you.
I'm sure you remember Mustafa! He is saying to you, "let's play cards!"
Ali is saying, "do you remember you would always get 6-6 whenever we played backgammon?"
Hussain is saying, "do you remember whenever we played soccer, you would always be the goal keeper because you were tall?"
Behrouz is saying,"my mother goes to your mother every day and they cry together". Hassan is saying, " forgive me, when you departed, there was a bit of displeasure between us".
Reza! Do you know anything about Hamid Khazaei?
Are you together?
Please say hi to him and say to him that we miss him.
Reza! It was hard to believe you had departed, we can't believe it now either.
We would never think that they would kill the strong stocky Reza Barati, unjustly under stroke with their hand. Reza, no court of law has been established for you yet!
Your murderers and their masters are walking freely and they are showing off, blocking the way which your blood is beside it.
Reza I don't know if you know what they have done to us in this year that you weren't here. It's been really hard. Reza, they shed the blood of those like you and Hamid Khazaei in the name of human rights and they did not even care.
Do you know what Scott Morrison said after your death? He said " the way to stop these deaths is to stop the boats". It is shameful.
Reza, they are more ruthless that the dictators of our own countries. They kill people at once there but here, they kill slowly and by torture.
They killed Hamid ruthlessly as well, maybe he's told you himself or maybe his pride hasn't let him to tell you that, how they did treat him ruthlessly. He died slowly slowly in front of our eyes in less than a week.
Reza, this is end of the world, no one helps us. They completed their racist confrontation by killing you and Hamid to show how mean they are.
But you don't know that great people amongst them in Australia honoured you after your death. We can remember in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and many other places. Thousands of people shed tears for you and they condemned their government and that is your actual court.
You don't know but thousands of kind people lit candles for you and sit in streets. They showed humanity has not died yet and the account of Australian people is separate from their racist government. Today, we are hopeful in the aid of these people with their great souls to achieve our freedom.
You are closer to God there, so pray to God that we will be freed from this prison very soon. Reza, I know freedom was nothing more than a dream for you and Hamid, an unachievable dream that you did not achieve here but now you are completely free, so rest in peace!
Dear Reza, I don't want to keep you busy for a long time, but you will be in our hearts and souls forever. If the tree of our freedom gives fruit, we will not forget the blood of you and Hamid by it.
We love you both!
A film by Lukas Schrank - WINNER: Best Short Documentary, Melbourne International Film Festival 2015
... In July 2013, the Australian Government introduced a controversial immigration policy, transferring asylum seekers arriving by boat to remote offshore detention centres on foreign Pacific islands.
Seven months later, the Manus Island centre erupted in violence when police and guards put down protests with sticks, machetes and guns, and 23 year-old asylum seeker Reza Barati was killed.
We spoke to Behrouz and Omar, who are currently detained on Manus Island.
This film contains recordings of these conversations. ...
Embassy of the United States, Port Moresby [27/2/14]:
U.S. Congressman Jason Chaffetz visited Port Moresby on Saturday, February 15 to see the progress of the new U.S. embassy construction in Harbour City, Port Moresby.
Congressman Chaffetz met and thanked Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for his support for American investments, such as the ExxonMobil LNG project.
Congressman Chaffetz also met with Papua New Guinean Ambassador to the United States Rupa Mulina and Acting Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lucy Bogari, to highlight the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the United States.
The U.S. Embassy community was happy to welcome Congressman Chaffetz and his staff to showcase how the U.S. Mission is helping Papua New Guinea grow its economy in a way that is inclusive, sustainable, and transparent.
Republican Congressman Chaffetz was elected in 2008 to represent the State of Utah’s Third Congressional District.
He grew up in California, Arizona, and Colorado. He played American football for Brigham Young University in Utah and earned a degree in communications. Now in his third term in office, he serves as the chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on National Security.
Melbourne now: "There is blood on the hands of our successive governments." #ripREZA #ShutDownManus
Image: @akaCoggo [17/2/15]
'Close Nauru' written in the skies over Parliament House
Image: @KJBar - Karen Barlow, Canberra correspondent SBS news [17/2/15]
Lady Cilento Hospital: Day Six, 8AM Grateful for the cloud cover but a storm might be coming ...
Image: @DonSinnamon [17/2/16]
The Coalition and Labor have joined forces to vote down a motion to grant amnesty to almost 270 asylum seekers currently in Australia.
The 267 people, including 37 babies, are facing the prospect of being sent to Nauru in the wake of yesterday's High Court judgement which upheld offshore immigration detention.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young today moved a motion in the Senate, asking for the Federal Government to allow the asylum seekers to remain onshore.
In full, the motion read: "the Senate calls on the Turnbull Government to grant amnesty to the 267 men, women and children in Australia as part of the M68 High Court challenge, and allow them to stay."
It was defeated 10-40, with independent senator John Madigan siding with the Greens.
ALP helps Coalition lock in offshore detention [ABC - 24/6/15]
Labor will be supporting this legislation because it is our policy.: "Opposition" Leader, Bill Shorten speaking on the Migration Amendment (Regional Processing Arrangements) Bill 2015 [House of Representatives Hansard - 24/6/15]
How much longer can Australia get away with stopping people from seeking asylum?
The politics are complex but the ethics are clear.
Khanh Hoang, Associate Lecturer, ANU College of Law - Migration Law Program, Australian National University [Brisbane Times - 17/2/16]:
… The standoff between the doctors and the government raises a number of ethical and legal questions.
So, how might this play out?
Under the Migration Act, a person who arrives in Australia by boat is deemed to be an “unauthorised maritime arrival” (UMA) and must be transferred to an offshore processing centre.
In 2014, the Migration Act was amended, with retrospective effect, to provide that any child born in Australia to UMAs is deemed also to be a UMA. Unless the government intervenes, baby Asha must be removed from Australia once she no longer requires medical treatment.
The amendment had the support of both major political parties. The government’s rationale for these laws was that if children born in Australia to boat arrivals were not subject to offshore processing:
… then this may undermine the government‘s offshore processing policies, both in respect of the children and the children‘s family members … it is important to maintain consistency within the family unit and ensure families are not separated by the operation of the Migration Act.
The act offers no exceptions to this rule on compassionate grounds. If the parents are subject to offshore processing, so too is the child.
As this case demonstrates, removal provisions do not sit well with doctors' duty of care to their patients under common law or their ethical obligations under the Hippocratic oath. Nonetheless, it remains the case that statute law trumps common law to the extent of any inconsistency.
Further, to the extent that the Commonwealth legislation conflicts with any other state legislation that may govern the administration of hospital services, the Australian Constitution requires that the Commonwealth legislation prevails to the extent of any inconsistency.
So it appears that government can forcibly remove baby Asha to Nauru. But whether it should is another matter.
Women begin pilgrimage ahead of Pope Francis’ Visit to US-Mexico border [American Immigration Council - 16/2/16]
17 February 2016