[noun] movable model of a person or animal that is typically moved either by strings controlled from above or by a hand inside it ...
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets with troops during breakfast at Camp Baird in the Middle East ahead of his visit to Iraq to meet with troops involved in Operation Okra (VIDEO - AAP - 16/1/16]
... The Australian troops have been training the Iraqi recruits since April last year as part of an overall contribution to the US-led military intervention against Islamic State.
Mr Turnbull said the forces were "making a vital difference" in defeating IS.
"And that will be so important not just for Iraq but for the whole world," Mr Turnbull added.
"What you are doing is having a global impact. It's making the world safe, it's making our homes in Australia and New Zealand safer." ... [ABC - 17/1/16]
Obama’s immigration raids are turning Latino communities into ghost towns [ThinkProgress – 14/1/16]:
... Even though the raids have so far been concentrated in Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia, there has been a ripple effect across the country. Latino immigrants in other states — afraid of becoming the next individuals arrested in what they perceive to be random targetings — are resorting to hiding in their homes, keeping their children home from school, and calling on legal residents to do their grocery shopping for them.
Now, scared customers call Bonilla before they leave their homes. “Since the beginning of the year, people will call and tell me that they’re not sure if they’ll stop by my business,” Bonilla told ThinkProgress.
“Even though nothing has happened — when people see the police, they think of immigration and this is causing a lot of problems even to small kids who were born here. They’re worried about their parents.”
“I feel like this is terrorism against our people,” Bonilla added.
“They feel so harassed — they’re so uncomfortable. I spoke with a client yesterday who said she hasn’t bought food because she’s so afraid to go out.”
Some 180 of the nearly 8,000 Cuban migrants who were stranded in Costa Rica for months entered Mexico by bus under a deal to help them reach the United States.
Four buses carrying the Cubans crossed the Mexico-Guatemala border in Ciudad Hidalgo, many looking exhausted as they lugged backpacks and suitcases to an immigration office.
Migration agents gave them 20-day visas to make their way to the border with the United States, which has a policy dating to the Cold War allowing entry to Cubans fleeing their Communist-ruled island. ... [Yahoo - 13/1/16]
Chief Executive Leung chun-ying has said that, if necessary, the government may quit a United Nations convention on torture to block “fake” refugees from coming to Hong Kong. Leung was speaking at a press conference on Wednesday following his 2016 Policy Address.
China is a signatory of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), meaning Hong Kong is bound by it as well. Over the years, the number of non-refoulement claims – suspected refugees asking not to be sent back to their home country – has risen to over 10,000 in Hong Kong. However, the screening process to review their claims has been slow.
Wednesday’s Policy Address stated: “The Government will conduct a comprehensive review of the strategy of handling non-refoulement claims, including a review of the Immigration Ordinance. We will expedite screening of claims to address various acute problems such as illegal immigration and overstaying.”
The announcement follows a backlash in the local media against refugees in the city. ... [HKFP - 14/1/16]
Shunned by the west, 10,000 refugees seek asylum in Hong Kong [Shadowproof - 12/1/16]:
... David explains that while he is grateful for the relative safety he has been afforded in Hong Kong, he ultimately hopes to one day return to Zimbabwe. “I think people tend to forget that nobody chooses to be a refugee — that is nonsense. I don’t know why people think like that … It’s so difficult being one, after all.”
For the time being, however, he is preparing for his final interview with Hong Kong’s United Screening Mechanism, which will ultimately determine whether or not he will be granted asylum status.
“The first outcome is rejection. If they reject you, you can appeal. If that appeal is successful, then you can stay. But if the appeal doesn’t work, then they deport the person.”
For Peter Maina, his case is still ongoing. He explains,
I have tried to write to Australia, to Canada, to many European countries, but they say you need to get status from the government of Hong Kong, and then the UN will be able to resettle you … I am still waiting, but there is nothing else I can do. If I could get to another country, I would.
On 28 December 2015, The Age said "It's time to set the refugees free".
So why aren't they following up on their powerful editorial by directly challenging Turnbull's anti refugee ideology?
... We have some asylum seekers, but that’s pretty much stopped.
We have stopped the boats with our policies, which are regarded as cruel by many people.
But I have to say again, our policy on border protection is harsh, but it has been absolutely demonstrated that it is better than any other alternative. ...
Israel and Australia: A conversation with Turnbull [Jewish Journal - 25/8/15]
The Age [28/12/15]:
... The Age believes strongly, and we will say this until the policy ends, that the strategy of turning back boats carrying asylum seekers is ignoble. It demonstrates a paucity of imagination.
It has been ruthlessly executed, without proper regard for the asylum claims of those people intercepted. And it has brought this nation into disrepute around the world.
The asylum seekers who arrive here have not broken the law. We will say it again: they are not "illegals". They have used the avenues allowed to anyone under international law – under the United Nations covenants to which Australia subscribes – to seek refuge from all forms of persecution.
It is time to call an amnesty, to end the imprisonment of people who came here seeking help and a better life. It is time to recognise that jailing people in detention facilities for years on end, denying them hope or any alternative, and treating them without compassion, is the most inhumane thing that we could do – short of shipping them back to the situation that they fear in their own countries.
No good can possibly be served by detaining people a day longer in camps in Third World nations. No good is served by denying refugees who are living in Australia the right to work. No good comes from demonising refugees, by ostracising them from the mainstream community. ...
How many refugee boats did the Australian "Fuck your mothers ... fuck your family ..." Navy - with the support of the political, media and human rights establishment - push back in the last 24 hours? -----> @AFP [16/1/16]: A Syrian woman cries out during a rescue off the Greek island of Agathonisi in the southeast Aegean ...
Jail for boat crew paid by Australian official to turn back [Sydney Morning Herald - 17/1/16]:
The captain of an asylum seeker boat who said he was paid thousands of dollars by an Australian official to return to Indonesia has been sentenced to five years and eight months' jail on people smuggling charges.
The panel of judges also ordered Yohanis Humiang, 35, to pay 700 million rupiah ($70,000) or serve an additional five months in prison.
The remaining five crew members were sentenced to five years and six months' jail and a fine of 500 million rupiah or an extra three months' prison time.
The asylum seekers remain in limbo in Indonesia.
Kandiha Kayuran and his wife, who gave birth in December, are still in immigration detention in Kupang.
He told Fairfax Media they had no idea what the future held.
"No one cares, New Zealand is not listening, and Australia too, even after the Amnesty report came out. Please help us."
Canberra Times [17/6/15]:
... The Kanak was shifting on the reef, and he was worried they would be cast adrift with no food or fuel.
Most of the 65 asylum seekers from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka [52 are registered as refugees] were already swimming ashore, but Mr Kayuran had stayed on board with his pregnant wife V. Nadhiya, and a handful of other women and young children.
The women were crying with fear. They tried to call for help but couldn't go outside because the ship was tilting sideways.
The Navy warship HMAS Wollongong and an Australian customs trip had transferred the asylum seekers onto two small boats, which they say was woefully inadequate.
"All we had was a small chocolate and water," Mr Kayuran said.
"It was not enough. If we had been stranded on an uninhabited island we would have died."
There were also no toilets: Ms Nadhiya, three months pregnant, had to use a box while Mr Kayuran covered her with a bed sheet.
The fuel on one boat, the Jasmine, had run out and almost 70 people had been forced to cram into the Kanak. Then it hit a reef.
When the villagers came to their rescue, Mr Kayuran discovered that far from being cannibals they were incredibly kind.
"They eat chicken and pigs," he says.
The people of Landu are mostly subsistence fishers and seaweed farmers, whose livelihoods were severely impacted by the Montara oil spill six years ago, which killed fish and turned seaweed yellow.
Despite their poverty they were incredibly generous, cooking and providing clothes for the asylum seekers.
Mr Kayaran, is now being processed at the immigration hostel, Inaboi, in Kupang. He has already eked out an existence in Malaysia for nine years, working illegally part time when possible.
"If I have to spend another 10 years here, it would be easier to die." All he wants, he says, is a peaceful life in New Zealand, where he can work legally and start again with their new baby.
Many of the asylum seekers Fairfax Media spoke to at Inaboi can't understand why the Australian navy and customs ships sent them back to Indonesia when they were still in international waters.
They say they had no intention of going to Australia, which they knew closed its borders in 2013, but had read on the internet that New Zealand had a refugee quota program which offers 750 places per year.
Bangladeshis Nazmul Hassan and Muhammad Habib were among those who allege they saw an Australian official called "Agus" give envelopes of money to the captain, Yohanis Humiang and crew.
"We saw the crew put it inside his pocket. It was inside a white envelope," Mr Hassan said.
"Yohanis said we have to go back to Indonesia and Australia wants to pay for that."
The asylum seekers recall the mysterious "Mr Agus" as a man who worked for the Australians, spoke fluent Indonesian and wore jeans and a black T-shirt with sunglasses pushed up on his head.
Bangladeshi Mohammad Belayer Hossain paid people smugglers $US4000 ($5190) to take him to New Zealand. Now he is back in Indonesia. "I'm very sad - my money has finished," he says.
"I don't know why Australia stopped us. They should have let us go. They caught us, they turned us back and now they don't want anything to do with us."
Refugees on boat at centre of turn-back payment allegations ask why they were intercepted in international waters [ABC - 17/6/15]
… Mr Yohanis said the boats were unseaworthy, had limited fuel, no toilets and no navigational system other than a GPS, which was "of no help because it won't tell reef conditions".
The interview took place under oath on Rote island on Wednesday.
Mr Yohanis also claimed the Australian authorities "didn't care" when one of the wooden boats, Jasmine, ran out of fuel on the way back to Indonesia.
"Panic ensued among the passengers onboard, it was like in an emergency situation, they were going to kill each other," Mr Yohanis said. "At the time I was scared: What to do?"
General Endang asked Mr Yohanis if the Australian Navy and customs ships were still there when Jasmine's engine stopped.
"They were in the back, they already said: 'OK you just head [to Rote Island]," Mr Yohanis said.
"So they ignored you?" General Endang asked.
"Yes, after we were let go, they don't care any more," Mr Yohanis said.
Mr Yohanis said he was offered 150 million rupiah ($AUD15,000) by a people smuggling agent to take 65 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar to New Zealand.
The Navy warship HMAS Wollongong and an Australian Customs ship intercepted the asylum seeker boat, the Andika, on about May 19.
Mr Yohanis told the Australian official, Agus, they had no right to stop the boat, which had just passed Timor Leste, because it was still in international waters. ... [Canberra Times - 17/6/15]
Read the letter sent to the New Zealand government by the refugees via [RNZI - 7/6/15]
... Communication Studies majors Goh Chiew Tong, Jade Han Hui Jing and Clarissa Sih are working together on a documentary named Peumulia Jamee, which means "Honouring your Guests" in Acehnese, for their final-year project.
"When we read about the ‘human ping pong’ that went on between some of the South-East Asian countries, and how Aceh was an exception when its fishermen immediately saved the Rohingya that were stranded at sea, we felt that that was a story worth telling," said Ms Goh, the documentary's director.
The trio, who are funding the documentary themselves and via a crowdfunding campaign, have spent time in Aceh meeting with both the local Acehnese and the Rohingya refugees to better understand the situation.
They found that the Acehnese welcomed the Rohingya refugees into their country, even putting themselves at risk to ensure their guests would be safe.
“Their main priority was to rescue them from their boats, and they did so without knowing where the refugees came from, if they were Christian, Buddhist, Muslim; or even if they carried any diseases or weapons with them. They just wanted to save the refugees and bring them to shore. Once they brought them to shore, they offered them food and drink, this despite themselves having so little,” said Ms Sih, the project’s director of photography.
When they arrived, the Rohingya refugees were severely malnourished and dehydrated after being on the smuggler boats for at least three months, surviving on half a glass of water and a handful of rice a day, said Ms Goh.
"Many of us in Singapore know little or nothing about something that is happening so close to our shores. We as Singaporeans are very protected, and we need to step out of our very comfortable shells and understand what's going on around us and there are segments in the region that desperately need our help," said Ms Sih.
"This issue spans across various countries in the region, and we all need to work together to solve it. But first, we need to educate people and let them know that there is this issue happening." ... [Channel News Asia - 17/1/16]
For a generation of Rohingya, Malaysia's their only home [Malaysiakini – 17/1/16]
Rakhine villagers flee Tatmadaw attacks [Myanmar Times - 14/1/16]
Sri Lanka soldiers prevented Tamils from accessing a temple where a special pooja was being held to celebrate Thai Pongal earlier today, whilst Tamil journalists attempting to cover the event were harassed and faced extensive security checks.
After the ceremony, whilst media from the South were provided transport to the Veerasingham hall in Jaffna town where British Minister Hugo Swire was due to speak, the Tamil journalists were left to make their way to the venue by foot. As they walked out of the High Security Zone, the journalists were once again held by Sri Lankan troops who interrogated them further. Once at the Veerasingham Hall, they were further impeded by the security forces, with members of the Presidential Security Division following the journalists at all times. ... [Tamil Guardian - 15/1/16]
'What we actually have now is a humanitarian crisis, and as various nations continue to violate their international obligations, more will continue to die at sea'
... Nations stating the Rohingya is not their problem are violating international law, especially if they are signatories to the United Nations Refugee Convention. Those who are not signatories, however, still have a legal obligation under customary international law to prevent the return of people at risk of serious rights abuses. Saying “no” to asylum seekers does nothing to address the dangers, which force people to flee and demeans the power of international law.
As long as persecution continues, people will continue to seek asylum. The real crisis is not people smuggling or human trafficking. What we actually have now is a humanitarian crisis, and as various nations continue to violate their international obligations or refuse to co-operate for domestic political gains, more will continue to die at sea.
Of course, the root problem is state sanctioned persecution and discrimination in Burma. The Rohingya is a distinct Muslim ethnic minority group in Burma who are not afforded any basic rights or citizenship status. This needs to be addressed in order to control the Rohingya from leaving, although this is a long-term strategy.
The short-term strategy is for nations to step up and provide humanitarian aid and temporary refuge to the Rohingya asylum seekers while their cases are being processed. Much like what the Philippines did when thousands of Vietnamese asylum seekers arrived their shores in the 1970s in areas such as Bataan and Palawan, and very much like what Malaysia did when my parents ventured on their harrowing and long journey to a better life before being granted asylum in Australia.
As I write this article, I question where my parents would be today if they were not resettled. Where would I be today if my parents’ boat had been pushed back to the nation that persecuted them? Where would many former Vietnamese asylum seekers be if sovereignty was the main priority?
Australia's refugee policy breaches humanitarian and international law, tortures and kills. ALP fascists concerned about cost of medals [The Age - 16/1/16]
Peter Dutton remains protected and unaccountable as "refugee advocates" dress up as witches to defend a Murdoch propagandist [VIDEO - 16/1/16]
Nazanin’s family brought to Australia.
Close the Camps.
Free the refugees.
Royal Commission into Operation Sovereign Borders.
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [17/1/16]:
In May, 2015, Nazanin, a 23 year-old Iranian asylum seeker was raped on Nauru.
It took three months and a medical emergency for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to finally medivac her from Nauru to Australia in August 2015.
At the time, the Department said that Nazanin’s mother and brother would also be brought to Australia to provide critical family support. But the Department reneged on that promise.
For six months, the Department has ignored advice from its own medical service provider, IHMS, on Nauru and the advice of Nazanin’s treating doctors and psychiatrists in Australia that she be re-united with her mother and brother. Requests for the transfer of her mother and brother were over-ridden ‘by Border Force in Canberra’.
Last Thursday, 14 January, with 30 minutes notice, Nazanin’s brother and mother were told they were being sent to Australia.
Thankfully, the separation of Nazanin from her family, enforced by the Department, has finally ended, but it has taken a terrible toll on Nazanin and her family.
But the belated transfer of the family to Australia raises the wider question of the contempt exhibited by the Minister and the Immigration Department, the Nauru government and the Nauruan police for the victims of sexual assault on Nauru.
There were at least two other victims of sexual assault brought to Australia from Nauru on that flight last Thursday. But other victims have been left suffering on Nauru.
“The transfer of more victims of sexual assault from Nauru is a tacit admission that Nauru is unsafe. But the begrudging response reveals the official policy to cover-up the scale of the abuse on Nauru,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“As a matter of urgency, all the victims of rape and sexual assault on Nauru should be immediately brought to Australia; some victims have been unable to leave their accommodation for months for fear of more harassment. The government’s offshore policy has left asylum seekers and refugees vulnerable to attack. Nauru must be closed.
“The department’s contempt doesn’t end on Nauru. Victims of sexual assault who have been brought to Australia have been left for months in detention, treated as criminals and isolated from the support that they need. They should be released into the community.”
... It is his fourth birthday in one of our detention camps.
It is the first birthday he will spend separated from his beloved sister Nazanin.
Omid and his mother remain imprisoned in our detention camp on Nauru.
Nazanin remains imprisoned in a detention camp in Australia. ... via Janet Galbraith [25/12/15]
Sydney Morning Herald [25/5/15]:
...The 23-year-old asylum seeker has told Fairfax Media that she was leaving the detention centre on a day release last Saturday when she claims that someone jumped out from behind her, put his hand on her mouth and forcefully pulled down her top.
She said she was then forced to give violent oral sex for over an hour as her assailant bit her breasts and shoulders.
After her attacker fled, the naked, distressed and disorientated woman managed to find a local police unit who put her in the back of their truck.
"They didn't take me back to the police station, they decided to take me with them to watch the fireworks for Nauru's constitution day," she said in a statement.
"It was not until hours later that the police asked for an interpreter".
She claims that she was asked to repeat the story of her assault three times without receiving medical attention.
Last week Nauruan police said that there was no suggestion that anyone had assaulted her.
In a statement they said the woman was found walking in a nearby street naked after failing to return to the the detention centre on Saturday night.
"There is no injury to her or any sign of other physical force or trauma," the Nauru Police Force said.
In an about face last week, the police force have since launched an investigation and promised to "find the person who did this".
Nauru: mother of alleged gang-rape victim attempts suicide [Guardian – 7/10/15]:
... Workers on the island have told Guardian Australia camp managers resisted moving Nazanin to Australia even as she went into organ failure, but came under sustained pressure from doctors who warned she would die if she was not moved. ...
End the torture of Nauru rape victim Nazanin's mother - bring her to her daughter's side [PETITION]
Brother of alleged rape victim claims he was urinated on by guards in Nauru [The Age – 9/9/15]
PNG police stabbed me then urinated in my mouth – victim’s aunt [PNG Loop – 29/11/15]
... The children told their lawyer Masalhah that the IDF soldier did not give them water and food, and when they asked for water, the IDF urinated over their faces and ordered them to open their mouths to drink. They then forced them to drink the water in the toilet seat and took some pictures. ... [Occupied Palestine - 10/12/10]
More Kiwis to be deported via Australia's concentration camp on Christmas Island [Stuff.co.nz - 15/1/16]:
More Kiwis are being moved to Australia's controversial Christmas Island detention centre, according to an advocacy group.
Hundreds of Kiwis are currently in Australian detention centres awaiting deportation to New Zealand, after a tightening of the country's visa cancellation process put many in breach of the new rules.
The Christmas Island facility, just south of Indonesia and which has held a number of Kiwi detainees, has come under particular scrutiny for its poor conditions and remote location.
Iwi n Aus advocacy group founder Erina Anderson-Morunga said she knew of at least six Kiwis at mainland detention centres who had been moved to Christmas Island this week.
Detainees were not told why they were being moved to Christmas Island, and given no advance warning, she said.
"That's what really adds to anxiety of being in detention, you could be next to go to Christmas Island but you don't know that.
"It's a very cruel process: it's like your name is drawn out of a hat, or so it seems anyway."
The transfer of the detainees was "heart wrenching" for other Kiwis in the mainland detention centres, with some of reportedly in tears over their move to Christmas Island.
"The boys that are going are not troublemakers, that's why we want to stand up for them," Anderson-Morunga said she was told by one of the detainees.
Seven Kiwis were flown off Christmas Island after allegedly leading rioting at the detention centre last November.
The riots followed the death of Iranian Kurd Fazel Chegeni, whose body was found outside the facility's wall after he attempted to escape.
Anderson-Morunga said conditions at Christmas Island were still "absolutely awful", with detainees on near-24-hour lockdown, non-operational security cameras, and no cleaning products allowed for facilities.
The Iwi n Aus group was planning a protest hikoi for later this year to draw attention to the issue.
A spokesman for Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection said it would not comment on whether any New Zealanders had been moved to Christmas Island or why.
The department has disputed concerns about the conditions at Christmas Island, saying detainees "continue to receive services at least equal to, and often above, those available to many Australians".
Government duty minister Nikki Kaye said New Zealand was involved in "ongoing discussions" with Australia about the management of its detention centres and the removal of detainees.
Kaye said issues with the transfer of individual detainees was a matter for the Australian government to answer.
Kiwi detainees handcuffed for 20 hours [RNZI – 17/1/16]
Maurice Blackburn calls for Christmas Island witnesses to come forward [Canberra Times - 16/1/16]
17 January 2016