''Australia is a very strange situation.''
Former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres addressing UNHCR-NGO consultations in Geneva, June 2014 [Sydney Morning Herald]
It was great to meet with @RefugeesChief Filippo Grandi in Geneva today
Image: @PeterDutton_MP [29/3/16]
That the UNHCR are only calling for the "immediate movement" of refugees (not genuine resettlement), and rather than urging Australia to immediately close its illegal, offshore concentration camps, and resume meeting its international obligations under the refugee convention, is telling.
... The refugees will be repatriated to their countries of origin or to third party countries for resettlement.
The decision was arrived at in November 2013, when Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR signed a Tripartite Agreement setting grounds for repatriation of Somali refugees.
There has been very slow progress on the implementation of the agreement.
As part of concluding this arrangement, Kenya is committed to close Dadaab refugee complex.
This decision has been made by Government reflecting the fact the camps have become hosting grounds for Al Shabaab as well as centres for smuggling and contraband trade besides being enablers of illicit weapons proliferation.
We are seeking to anchor our humanitarian character, which is recognised all over the world, in considerations that put the security of our country first.
We will not be the first to do so; this is the standard practice worldwide.
For example in Europe, rich prosperous and democratic countries are turning away refugees from Syria, one of the worst war zones since World War Two. ...
... Prior to taking up this assignment in early 2014, Mr. Albrecht served as Head of the UNHCR Regional Support Hub in Nairobi, which, in close collaboration with the Organization’s Headquarters, works with offices in the East and Horn of Africa as well as the Great Lakes Region to ensure strategic coherence, programme quality and results, management effectiveness and financial due diligence and accountability for UNHCR's operations.
From 2005 to 2009, Mr. Albrecht served as Deputy Regional Representative at the UNHCR Regional Representation for the United States of America and the Caribbean, located in Washington ... Thomas Albrecht UNHCR’s Regional Representative for Refugees for Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific [Kaldor Centre - UNSW]
UNHCR exhibition provides insight into refugee camps around the world by Genevieve Jacobs [ABC - 18/6/14]:
Twenty years ago, Thomas Albrecht was in East Africa dealing with the crisis in Somalia for UNHCR.
Deployed to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, he saw the tide of human misery that washes up when a country falls into violent chaos.
Two decades later, he was back at Dadaab where the children he’d seen were still in camp and had become parents themselves. ...
Perhaps Genevieve Jacobs could interview Mr Albrecht again, and - among other things - ask him how many of the refugees he repatriated from Ghana he thinks are still alive? [UNHCR starts repatriation to Liberia; first refugees arrive on convoy, airlift - 1/10/04]:
... "On this occasion, we want to yet again express our sincere gratitude to the country and the people of Ghana, who in such an exemplary way have given refugees the protection, safety and respect they deserve – and who continue to do so. This hospitality will remain in the memory of every Liberian," said UNHCR's Representative in Ghana, Thomas Albrecht, bidding farewell to the refugees at Accra's Kotoka International Airport.
"The refugees leaving on this first voluntary repatriation flight are all too aware of the many difficulties and challenges they will face while trying to rebuild their lives in their home country," added Albrecht.
"More progress is still needed in Liberia to make it possible for all traumatised refugees to return in safety and dignity to their homes in all the different parts of the country. But as we witness today the departure of the first refugees on their journey to Liberia, which they so dearly missed, we wish them all the very, very best." ...
Day 59 refugee protests, Nauru
Image: @InsurrectNews [17/5/16]
"WE ARE WAITING AND WAITING. THERE IS NOTHING." @Mums4Refugees [17/5/16]
@Mums4Refugees [17/5/16]: The refugee children on Nauru protesting today - Where are the Helpful Hands? ...
"OUR FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS. TOGETHER WE CAN BE THE CHANGE." @Mums4Refugees [17/5/16]
Australia is in dire need of human rights standards.
Lawyer for forcibly returned asylum seekers says Australia violated the UN refugee convention, as LNP and ALP lies about "people smugglers" go unchallenged [ABC - 17/5/16]:
... EMILY BOURKE: Lakshan Dias is a refugee lawyer in Sri Lanka who's representing some of the 12 men, women and children who reached the Cocos Keeling Islands earlier this month and were sent back to Colombo.
Two of the group are in a remand prison awaiting court proceedings, which could be months away.
Lakshan Dias is critical of the way the group was handled by Australian authorities. He says his clients claim they weren't given time to explain their situation.
LAKSHAN DIAS: The moment they were intercepted by the navy, they have taken them to a ship in mid sea nearly 20 kilometres offshore. They were given, this is where the violation comes, they were given only 20 minutes to talk to immigration officers, with Sinhalese interpretation, and there was no time for them to tell story, tell their grievances, tell their well-founded fear, just asked two things including name and address, and so on and they were not allowed to talk.
EMILY BOURKE: He argues the treatment of his clients is a breach of Australia's international obligations to the Refugee Convention.
LAKSHAN DIAS: Throughout the whole episode, they have requested assistance of lawyers, which was not given and, they said they cannot go back, they have a well-founded fear, nothing was seriously considered. So I feel this is a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and all human rights norms by Australia. Australia is in dire need of human rights standards.
EMILY BOURKE: What legal recourse is there?
LAKSHAN DIAS: There’s a limited space and scope challenging it legally but we must try to challenge it and get (inaudible) refugees to exhaust available legal remedies in Australia. ...
... “Given Sri Lanka’s strategic position in the Indian Ocean, it is a key player in regional efforts to ensure maritime security, respond to natural disasters, and protect freedom of navigation,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Atul Keshap. ... Major General Steven R. Rudder, Director of Strategic Planning and Policy for US Pacific Command visits Sri Lanka [US Embassy Sri Lanka & Maldives - 15/5/16]
... You can check out any time you like
but you can never leave ...
'Hotel California', Eagles 
Sydney teenager charged with thought crime after previously attempting to leave Australia [Nine MSN - 17/5/16]:
... Tamim Khaja, 18, was arrested at Macquarie Park in Sydney's north-west this morning.
"We are satisfied that this individual was acting alone," Acting Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan said.
"We will allege that this individual was looking at possible sites in Sydney to undertake a terrorist attack and was making arrangements to acquire a firearm.
"This young person's life changed today."
The teenager has links to others who are already before the courts on terror-related charges, Mr Gaughan said.
Khaja was prevented from leaving the country in February by police who intercepted him at Sydney Airport.
It's alleged he planned to travel to Syria but was unable to do so because his passport had been cancelled.
He is expected to face Parramatta Local Court on Tuesday afternoon. ...
Enough is Enough: Protest Rally for Rakib - 12.30 - 20 May 2016 [Canberra Refugee Action Committee]:
Rakib was a 24-year-old refugee persecuted in Bangladesh for his sexuality.
On Wednesday, he died of a suspected heart attack on Nauru, but reports indicate that his death may have been a suicide.
His death was the second on Nauru in a fortnight.
Since Omid’s tragic self-immolation leading to his death just weeks ago, a young woman has set herself alight, suffering burns to 70% of her body.
Another young woman, Naima, underwent an emergency caesarean section on Nauru, and was transferred to Brisbane hospital in a critical condition.
A federal court has found that Dutton breached his duty of care to another pregnant woman, who was raped on Nauru and denied an abortion.
Meanwhile, running protests on Nauru have reached their 59th day and no ACT federal parliamentarian has said a word.
Enough is enough.
In response to Rakib’s death, the ongoing situation of refugees fighting for their lives in hospitals and fighting for their freedom on Nauru and Manus, RAC is calling on the community to bring the noise to our local Federal members this Friday.
We will be protesting outside the offices of our federal representatives in turn, demanding that they act to end the cruelty they endorse on Manus and Nauru.
Starting at Zed Seselja's office, we will march first to Andrew Leigh's office and finally to Katy Gallagher's office.
We hope you will join us to demand we close the camps and bring them here.
... On Wednesday a 26-year-old Bangladeshi man died of suspected heart failure in the Nauru hospital before he could be evacuated to Australia.
He had checked himself into the hospital two days earlier after – according to reports from Nauru – he ingested a large number of pills including Panadol.
A statement written by the young man to support his refugee claim said he fled Bangladesh after locals threatened to kill him and his boyfriend for having a homosexual relationship.
“The locals forced us to go to the local mosque, a five-minute walk away, and started to beat us in public in front of the mosque,” he said.
“[My boyfriend] and I were pleading with everyone to forgive us but they would not stop beating us. They said words to the effect of ‘if you rectify your actions we will not kill you. However if we catch you again we will kill you’.”
The couple were treated for injuries, but attacked several times again, he claimed.
He was threatened with dismemberment and blinding, and his parents disowned him.
He and his partner fled separately and never made contact again, he said. ... [Guardian - 13/5/16]
Three weeks since Australia's refugee concentration camp on Manus Island was ruled ILLEGAL.
Who gets to tell the PNG Supreme Court to go fuck itself?
Maybe opinionators like Michael Gordon and Lenore Taylor can tell us?
And how many gruesome docos/book launches, partisan speeches, dinners and award ceremonies until the supposed third party and human rights establishment acts, or even just explains to the hoi polloi why this is wrong?
"tweeted" by @PearsonElaine - Australia Director Human Rights Watch [17/5/16]
Image: @cathywilcox1 [30/4/16]
Beware a government and media who degrade human beings
... If a person receives a double positive decision, which means, at the first stage he is recognized a refugee and at the second stage the Papua New Guinea accepts his resettlement in the country, his weekly points are cut.
These refugees who are, at the moment, 450 people are loath to leave the prison and resettle in this country. They do not want to risk their lives in PNG as all they have seen, experienced and been taught so far is that this country has a tribe-like atmosphere where kinship ties demand allegiances that exclude ‘others’ and where safety is at its lowest possible level.
This policy precludes people from buying cigarettes and telephone cards; and also causes them to experience blatant discrimination and additional pressure.
The other point is, according to this policy this group of people has practically become dependent on the others. In order to force refugees to live in PNG, the authorities make them reliant upon other prisoners.
Another vital question to ask is why Broadspectrum (Transfield) turns a blind eye to the catastrophic consequences of this policy.
The response is crystal clear: With this policy, Transfield kills two birds with one stone.
On the one hand, the company exerts mounting pressure on the refugees to make them resettle in the island; and on the other hand, this policy yields an excess economic profit for the company since there is a close correlation between the economic profit and the number of people attending various classes and engaging in sports activities.
To clarify, if a person participates more often in activities, he can buy more cigarettes. A kind of direct relationship has formed between cigarettes and the activities in the prison. This relationship has caused classes to be busier, and the dirty ground of the prison full of people who are forced to run for a few minutes everyday to receive points and eventually, cigarettes.
As a result of an increase in numbers of people engaging in the activities, Transfield has recruited dozens of teachers and trainers these days that bring about a business boom for this company.
In fact, if the refugees decide to impose a sanction against all the activities one day, the first loser will be the Transfield company; the company which develops its business more than before through cutting the weekly points of 450 people.
In this scenario, Transfield will be compelled to dismiss its employees, similar to what occurred during the big hunger strike in January last year, when the company sustained heavy financial losses. ...
How the void left by Australian media censorship, the silence of human rights groups (and refusal to give refugees a voice and/or right of reply) allows Murdoch propagandists to incite violence [Huffington Post - 17/5/16]:
Independent Queensland Senator Glenn Lazarus has waded into the refugee debate, claiming those asylum seekers on Manus Island were being "treated like kings".
Lazarus was responding to a News Corp report claiming refugees detained on Manus Island were trading cigarettes for "alcohol, electronics and marijuana" at local markets.
He wrote on his Facebook page that "The RUBBISH needs to STOP". ...
... A stand and deliver moment against 20 guards knowing they were going to smash me.
Image: @nampix Nick Moir [22/2/14]
... it is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners. ... [eg Clinton and Shorten, along with Trump and Turnbull] Remembering Michael Ratner, pioneering lawyer who fought for justice from Attica to Guantánamo [Democracy Now - 12/5/16]
... In hindsight, we can see that we were wrong to allow our trust in Clinton and his election promise to dictate legal strategy.
Clinton sorely disappointed us, and our belief in him caused our clients to spend more time in the inhuman camp conditions.
But for our belief in Clinton, we could have tried the case four of five months earlier and ended the horror of the camp that much sooner.
If there ever is a next time and I am faced with a similar situation and must choose a legal strategy, I will disregard the promises of politicians.
Clinton's promises and our reliance on them seriously jeopardized our relationships with our clients.
We wrongly believed and persuaded our clients to believe that Clinton would change their circumstances.
Regaining the trust of our clients was not easy. ... How We Closed the Guantanamo HIV Camp: The Intersection of Politics and Litigation, Michael Ratner
... For Myanmar’s neighbors, preparations for wider persecution of the Rohingya should be made.
As the violence and injustice escalate, refugees will increase, placing a burden on neighboring states, particularly Thailand.
It is important for these states to focus on the cause rather than the consequences of this predictable tragedy, and focus on the foreign-funded, hypocritical nature of the NLD regime.
Failure to confront and confound Western aspirations in Myanmar will invite similar scenarios to unfold elsewhere across Southeast Asia. [Mint Press News - 16/5/16]
Myanmar military chief: there are no Rohingyas [ELEVEN - 15/5/16]
... Foreign Minister Steven Smith later approached us privately to assure us that Australia would press for the AHG mechanism to "be invoked soon to deal with the Rohingyas." ... BALI PROCESS REINVIGORATED, SEEKS ANSWERS TO ROHINGYA CRISIS [17/4/09]
Exploring for hydrocarbons in frontier deepwater basins in developing countries can pose significant challenges but overcoming these makes success all the more gratifying.
Woodside’s first two exploration wells in Myanmar’s Rakhine Basin both found hydrocarbons – a result that was warmly welcomed in Woodside and Myanmar. ...
@Andrew_Day1982 [15/5/16]: #CallMeRohingya Demonstration in UNHCR refugee camp in #Bangladesh via @rohingyablogger
“If you don’t like refugees coming to your country, stop voting for politicians who love to bomb the shit out of them.”
Our delegation from CODEPINK: Women for Peace saw this written on a tent at the Idomeni refugee camp in on the Greek-Macedonian border. ... [ICH/Consortium News - 16/5/16]
Boycotting PNG University students remove Gandhi’s bust [ONE PNG - 16/5/16]
... "It should shut down already. As soon as the court decision was handed down. Immediate. It is of immediate effect," said Mr Namah. ...
People are being tortured and are dying.
Why are refugee advocates playing with people's lives by encouraging them to engage with Murdoch propagandists?
@petermichaelNQ an Iranian journo detained on #Manus, Behrouz Boochani, would like to talk to you. Could you please follow so I can DM you
"tweeted" by @shanebazzi [16/5/16]
Maybe you could give them a voice? At the moment they are in the slimy grip of a Murdoch propagandist ---> @NickMcCallum7 [17/5/16]: Showing concern for 2000 asylum seekers effectively in indefinite detention on Manus, Nauru is a "political liability". What have we become?
... We are asking the world’s people, human rights organizations and independent media to hear our voice, to publicise our voice and think deeply about this inhumane policy that Australia is doing. ... From Kurdish Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani [Autonomous Action Radio - 14/5/16]
You can't "change the conversation" until you challenge the LIES. PEOPLE ARE BEING ILLEGALLY DETAINED, TORTURED AND ARE DYING AS YOU PONTIFICATE FROM YOUR IVORY TOWER, Claire Higgins, Research Associate, Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW Australia [The Conversation - 17/5/16]
... Prior to taking up this assignment in early 2014, Mr. Albrecht served as Head of the UNHCR Regional Support Hub in Nairobi ... [UNSW Kaldor Centre]
Australia stopped accepting refugees in July 2014.
The sham Bali Process has condemned 1,000s of refugees in our region to indefinite detention, refoulement and genocide ---> UNHCR leadership pins hopes on democracy in Myanmar and "repatriation" - calls on Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia to sign refugee convention, while turning a blind eye to Australia's human rights atrocities [23/3/16]
UNHCR Regional Representative visits UQ to discuss Migrant Smuggling [Media Release - 10/6/15]
A case filed at the Supreme Court involving detainees at the Regional Processing Centre in Manus and PNG Migration will return to court for hearing this Thursday.
The matter came for directions hearing today in Waigani where parties agreed to have counsel acting for Chief Migration Office, Mataio Rabura, move an application seeking leave of the court to introduce fresh evidence into the case. ... [PNG Loop -16/5/16]
Armed police have moved in on the University of Papua New Guinea's campus in Port Moresby as student protests enter a third week.
The entire student body has been boycotting classes in protest at Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's refusal to step down from office amid a corruption scandal. ... [RNZI - 17/5/16]
Madang CSO Forum support stand by uni students [PNG Loop - 17/5/16]
Immigration authorities tried unsuccessfully on Tuesday to get permission to force-feed a man on a 3-week hunger strike at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia.
In a case that once again shines a spotlight on the isolated facility where a major protest broke out in September, a federal judge denied immigration authorities’ request to restrain Alaa Ismail Yasin and feed him intravenously or through a nasal tube.
Contending that he qualifies for release, the 27-year-old Palestinian began refusing food on April 17 and says he won’t eat again until Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials let him go.
ICE, in turn, says that if Yasin were to die as a result of the hunger strike, authorities would lose control of the detention center.
Parsonage [Yasin's attorney] says her client was put in solitary confinement for signing a document that protested conditions at Stewart.
The facility is run as a for-profit enterprise by the Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest private prison contractor. ... [Huffington Post - 16/5/16]
Texas Judge continues to delay the licensing of Texas detention facilities as childcare facilities [American Immigration Council - 16/5/16]
Court orders Mississippi town to desegregate schools after 50-year fight [Reuters -16/5/16]:
... "Six decades after the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education declared that 'separate but equal has no place' in public schools, this decision serves as a reminder to districts that delaying desegregation obligations is both unacceptable and unconstitutional," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. ...
The shock and awe cycle: How apathy to abuse is hidden by blaming black communities [New Matilda - 24/3/16]:
... The media campaign by The Courier Mail [and amplified by Queensland's "polite" white supremacist media outlets] ultimately aimed to paint a picture of dysfunction of Aboriginal people in Aurukun, at the expense of the extraordinary strength they have displayed in the face of a horrendous history of state sanctioned violence.
This doesn’t mean concealing the extent of the problem, but no one has denied that there are problems.
What was denied is the cause of those problems, largely because it involves confronting the sordid history of the racism that Queensland is built upon and refuses to own up to.
It involves confronting how trauma was transferred and compounded, expressed in differing displays of devastation in each generation.
The young offending population of Aurukun is a testament to this generational inheritance and the solutions can only be found within the community, not outside of it.
In the world’s largest study of its type, scientists from The University of Queensland have helped identify 74 genes that may play a role in how long a person stays at school, or whether they go to university.
The genome-wide study analysed genetic information from 300,000 people to determine any link to educational attainment. ... [UQ News - 12/5/16]
Palestinian injured by Israeli bullet to the head while trying to cross separation wall [Maan - 16/5/16]
Activists in Egypt are calling on companies and agencies in the country to end contracts with G4S, the multinational private security and incarceration firm that profits from Israeli military occupation in Palestine.
BDS Egypt launched the campaign on 14 May at a conference in Cairo that also marked Nakba Day, the annual commemoration of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist militias.
The conference was held at the headquarters of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, an endorser of BDS Egypt. ... [Electronic Intifada - 16/5/16]
GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson to throw millions behind Trump [Democracy Now- 16/5/16]
Police have launched counter-terrorism raids in Melbourne's northern and north-western suburbs as part of an operation that led to the arrest of five people in Queensland last week [after they tried to flee Australia].
The raids are not linked to any increased threat or danger to the community, a Victoria Police statement said.
They are part of Operation Middleham, which
led to the arrest of five Melbourne men in Cape York in northern Queensland.
Campbell Newman defamation case: taxpayers cover $525,000 payout [Guardian – 16/5/16]
Skynet satellite ground station opens in Adelaide to aid UK military communications [ABC – 16/5/16]
Mobil has been fined $288,000 for an oil spill in the Tauranga Harbour. ... [RNZI - 16/5/16]
Thousands of demonstrators from Afghanistan's Hazara minority marched in protest through Kabul on Monday saying that they are missing out on a multi-million dollar power transmission line, posing a major challenge to the government of President Ashraf Ghani.
The transmission line, intended to provide secure power to 10 provinces, is part of the wider TUTAP project backed by the Asian Development Bank to link the energy-rich Central Asia republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with Afghanistan and Pakistan. ... [Reuters - 16/5/16]
The Border - Idomeni : A glimpse of the quietly devastating impacts of border closures- and reflections of some of those in Idomeni, Greece, seeking refuge and lives of less precarity.
17 May 2016