A world first?: Asylum seekers seek asylum from torture and death in the country in which they initially sought asylum
Manus Island protest escalates, up to 700 detainees on hunger strike [The Age - 18/1/15]
... "They want the United Nations to intervene."
The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.
Pleas from #ManusProtest ...
Image: @rranwa [16/1/15]
All of Australia needs to know this [18/1/15]:
On Manus Island, approximately 500 men are on a hunger strike. Many of them are refusing water. I have been communicating with one of them, and have read statements made by others.
They are not demanding to be brought to Australia. They are asking to be either handed over to the UN or to be allowed to die in peace.
They have been held arbitrarily in squalid conditions for 18 months, without being given a date for their freedom. Many were beaten by staff and PNG locals in a riot last February, and one man died as a result.
There is no access to adequate medical care, and one man has died of medical neglect.
They are constantly told by PNG locals that they will be murdered if released.
They came to Australia to ask for protection from persecution - protection from torture and execution - but Australia has spent billions of dollars treating them like non-humans instead of upholding international law.
They are losing their minds, their strength and the will to live. Some have resorted to swallowing detergents and razor blades. While many people are desperately trying, it appears to be impossible to encourage them to change their minds.
What hope is there to offer them?
They will never be given freedom in safety, and they will never be reunited with their families, under current government policy. They are completely broken men.
This is your country, Australians.
@rranwa: "We undertook a dangerous journey to escape torment & murder..only to find more suffering & trauma" [18/1/15]
Hey Warren Truss. Stop bombing innocent civilians and there won't be any refugees you utter deadshit.
Image: @IraqiSpringMC - Iraqi Spring Media Center [17/1/15]
... An urgent petition to the UN special rapporteurs on human rights, seen by Guardian Australia, was lodged overnight by refugee advocates.
It describes multiple reports from staff and detainees who say the men were taken to Chauka.
It urges the special rapporteurs intervene and raise the matter with the Australian government.
The France-based International Federation for Human Rights has also been contacted.
Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said “there needs to be urgent discussions about possible third country resettlement”.
“The asylum seekers are asking for the UNHCR to be involved with resettlement discussions. The ball is in the minister’s court. He can keep pretending that the protests aren’t happening or he can act to prevent the unfolding disaster.”
The United Nations could defuse this atrocity.
A Senate Inquiry recommended UN access to Manus - why isn't this happening?
"we are hostages of Australian government"
"Stop torturing us. ... Hand us to UN"
Where are the Greens and Human Rights Commission? Why aren't they reiterating calls for the UN to access the Manus centre? Gillian Triggs, Greens accuse government of pulling strings to deny UN [Sydney Morning Herald - 9/4/14]
Imaginary Australian journalist to Australian politician: Don't you think refugees are human beings who deserve to speak with the UN you creepy fascist stooge?
... The MP for Manus Island, Ronnie Knight, urged Australia not to keep the men there indefinitely. “Some of them have been there for nearly two years now and they are human beings,” he said. [Independent - 18/1/15]
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [18/1/15]:
In an attempt to break up the hunger strike protest, Transfield officers have begun rounding up asylum seekers’ compound leaders.
At least four leaders of different nationalities – one from Mike, one from Oscar, and two from Foxtrot – have been seized and taken to the high security Chauka isolation unit.
Up to 40 Transfield riot squad officers raided the Foxtrot compound around 1.00am this morning (Sunday 18 January), looking for other community leaders.
The riot squad also attempted to force water down the throat of two unconscious asylum seekers in the compound.
They also threatened that a special forces unit will come from Port Moresby ‘to deal with you’ unless the hunger strike was ended by this morning.
Foxtrot asylum seekers have sent another letter explaining that PNG is not safe and appealing to the Minister to halt the forced transfers of asylum seekers on 22 January (photos attached).
“Taking leaders hostage or using the riot squad won’t stop the hunger strike protest,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition. “The tactics are eerily similar to those that ended in tragedy in February last year.
“The Minister has said he supports ‘discussion and negotiations’. He must act urgently to prevent a tragedy on Manus Island.”
Sydney Morning Herald [4/9/14]:
... Several weeks ago, two of the asylum seekers who were housed in Mike compound had never heard of Chauka.
One of them was an eyewitness to the murder of Reza Barati during the night of violence that engulfed the centre in February.
All that changed when they voiced their opposition to changes to the detention centre policy covering phone and internet access, insisting the changes made it almost impossible to talk to family members in the Middle East.
In a graphic account subsequently posted on Facebook, the Iranian who witnessed Barati's murder said he had been taken to Chauka, fed bread and water for three days and made to sleep on the muddy ground. ...
Are Australia's political and media establishment (and human rights organisations) ALL corrupt fascists?
Sure it's the weekend, but NOT ONE Australian politician or human rights organisation will show leadership?
The United Nations could de-escalate the human rights atrocity on Manus Island.
Shorten perfectly OK with Australia's refugee death camps but concerned about "culture of secrecy" [ABC - 18/1/15]
Imaginary Australian journalist to Bill Shorten: If you are so concerned about the secrecy of Australia's refugee death camp on Manus Island, why not insist on UN access? Also, do you think the Italians have the right policy by rescuing refugees, you pointless fascist?
Nave Libra #MarinaMilitare inserita in #Triton ha ultimato sbarco migranti ad #Augusta
Image: @ItalianNavy [17/1/15]
@ItalianNavy: Nave Sirio #MarinaMilitare con 417 migranti a bordo arriverà in serata in porto a Reggio Calabria [17/1/15]
... Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International's research director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said Sunday's executions marked "a seriously regressive move and a very sad day.
"The new administration has taken office on the back of promises to make human rights a priority, but the execution of six people flies in the face of these commitments." He called on the government to halt plans for future executions. Authorities previously said that 20 were scheduled for this year. ... [Indonesia executes 5 foreigners, one citizen for drugs offences - West Australian - 18/1/15]
Saudi Arabia publicly beheads woman in holy Mecca as blogger lashings are postponed [Independent – 16/1/15]:
Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, a Burmese woman who resided in Saudi Arabia, was executed by sword on Monday after being dragged through the street and held down by four police officers.
She was convicted of the sexual abuse and murder of her seven-year-old step-daughter.
A video showed how it took three blows to complete the execution, while the woman screamed “I did not kill. I did not kill.” It has now been removed by YouTube as part of its policy on “shocking and disgusting content”. ...
Mother sentenced for failing to protect daughters from sexual abuse by their father [ABC - 17/1/15]:
... The offences came to light when the middle daughter went to police in 2013.
The woman's lawyer, William Chesnutt, said his client was in a "hopeless and helpless situation ... trapped in an isolated place, in an abusive relationship with a domineering husband".
"She was helpless and unable to do anything," he said.
Police arrest husband of woman found dead in shopping centre car park [Sydney Morning Herald - 17/1/15]
United States continue bombing Iraq and Syria
Daily Star [17/1/15]:
The United States and its allies conducted 29 airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq in a 24-hour period, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement on Saturday.
Sixteen strikes around seven Iraqi cities destroyed vehicles, buildings, equipment and fighting positions, as well as hitting units belonging to ISIS, which is trying to establish a caliphate in the Middle East, the task force said.
In Syria, 11 airstrikes were carried out near the city of Kobani, destroying a tank and fighting positions, while others focused on targets near Abu Kamal and Deir al-Zor.
The strikes took place between Friday and Saturday mornings, the task force statement said.
Islamic State in Iraq free 350 Yazidis [BBC – 17/1/15]
Husband injures wife, kills man, self in Florida mall [Yahoo – 17/1/15]
US drone strike kills 3 in eastern Afghanistan
Press TV [17/1/15]:
At least three people have been killed in the latest US assassination drone strike in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.
Provincial officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified one of the victims as a young boy who was watching over a herd of sheep, adding that the Saturday attack also targeted two members of the Taliban militant group.
The Taliban have made no comments on the incident, yet.
Journalists in several provinces on Saturday strongly condemned the killing of their colleague by unknown gunmen in eastern Nangarhar province and called for the murder to be thoroughly investigated.
Aqeel Mohammad Waqar, who worked for local radio station “Spin Ghar”, was shot dead on Friday night when he was attending a marriage ceremony in the Batikot district.
Another person was injured in the incident.
Several wounded in bombing at Algerian embassy in Libya
France 24 [17/1/15]:
Three security guards have been injured after a bomb attack on the Algerian embassy in Tripoli, officials said Saturday, a day after Libya’s warring factions agreed on working towards a unity government.
The bomb was hurled from a passing car, striking the embassy’s guard station, according to a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The assault comes a day after Libya’s warring factions agreed on creating a roadmap towards forming a unity government. The European Union on Saturday welcomed the UN-brokered accord, but warned that the country “still has a long way to go”.
Attack on UN camp in Mali kills peacekeeper
Gunmen have launched an attack on a UN camp in Mali, killing a UN peacekeeper, residents and eyewitnesses say.
The attack took place at about 06:00 in the northern town of Kidal. Residents said at least two suicide bombers were involved and a car bomb was detonated.
A soldier from Chad was killed and at least one other was injured.
A 9,000-strong UN force has been responsible for peacekeeping operations in Mali since July 2013. It regularly comes under attack from militants.
An official from the UN force, known as Minusma, confirmed the attack to Reuters news agency, but did not provide further details.
French and African troops intervened in Mali in January 2013 to stop the southern advance of al-Qaeda-linked fighters on the capital, Bamako.
The insurgents were expelled from the northern towns but have continued attacks against Minusma, which took over responsibility for security in the country from the French.
Troops take to Belgian streets to guard against attacks [Reuters – 17/1/1/15]
French flags torched as Charlie Hebdo protests erupt from Algiers to Zinder [France 24 – 17/1/15]
Niger death toll rises after cartoon protests [Al Jazeera – 18/1/15]
Two killed in xenophobic attacks in Europe [Al Akhbar – 17/1/15]:
A French Muslim man was stabbed to death in his own home in southern France in what a Muslim group called a "horrible Islamophobic" attack the week after France was rocked by the Charlie Hebdo killings.
The attack came a day after Eritrean asylum seeker Khaled Idris Bahray was killed in Germany, in a suspected hate crime case.
@BrianNewCBS: Nearly 200 protesters in #Garland have already gathered. Muslim event still nearly three hours away. [17/1/15]
Garland police are preparing for protests outside a Muslim conference happening on Saturday. Sound Vision, an Islamic organization, is hosting the event at the Curtis Culwell Center.
The facility is operated by Garland Independent School District. ... [NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - 17/1/15]
Mosque blaze among two suspicious fires in Melbourne [ABC - 17/1/15]:
UK: Man in court over arson attacks
A man has appeared in court accused of arson following a series of fires in Oxfordshire, including one that caused major damage to council headquarters.
Andrew Main, of Rokemarsh Farm, Rokemarsh, is charged with two counts of arson with intent to endanger life and two counts of arson reckless as to whether life was endangered.
The 47-year-old nodded three times to confirm his details but did not speak.
He was remanded in custody to appear at Oxford Crown Court on 30 January.
OSCE identifies direction of deadly Donbass bus rocket
The OSCE mission in Ukraine has found that the deadly shelling blamed for the killing of 12 bus passengers in Donbass came from a different direction than initially thought. Both Kiev forces and militia control territories in the northeastern direction.
On Tuesday, 12 people were killed and 18 others injured when a bus was attacked close to a Ukrainian military checkpoint near the town of Volnovakha, in the eastern Donetsk region.
During its third fact-finding visit, the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the OSCE concluded that the attack was “caused by rockets fired from a north-north-eastern direction.”
The comprehensive examination of the accident site on Saturday focused on five craters caused by the explosions.
“The investigation included comprehensive crater analysis of two specific blast craters, including the crater located 10 meters from the side of the passenger bus. In the SMM’s assessment all craters examined were caused by rockets fired from a north-north-eastern direction,” OSCE reported.
The observers stopped short of identifying the type of rockets used, or pointing fingers at any party of the conflict. In its first report, the SMM cited Ukrainian officials as “confirming” that it was a “Grad rocket” that struck near the bus, although some experts still believe the damage to the bus is also consistent with a landmine explosion.
Russia’s permanent representative to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, said the new findings contradict initial statements from Kiev, which, following the tragic incident, swiftly blamed Donetsk militia of carrying out the attack. Donetsk Republic have rebuked the accusations, calling it a provocation by Kiev to justify a new round of mobilization.
Kiev’s narrative was quickly backed by Washington, with the US State Department immediately drawing conclusions and accusing eastern Ukrainian forces.
The bus shelling became “the latest egregious violation of the commitments made by the Russia-backed separatists,” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said.
The OSCE announced it will continue to monitor the situation and gather evidence in parallel with an investigation launched by the Joint Centre for Control & Coordination (JCCC) and representatives of Eastern Ukraine. At the same time, Kiev and the Donetsk Prosecutor’s Office have launched separate investigation into the shelling, which is being labeled a terrorist act.
China boat capsize on Yangtze river kills 22
Twenty-two people have been confirmed dead after a tugboat capsized on the Yangtze river in eastern China, state media report.
The boat, with 25 people on board, overturned on Thursday while it was conducting tests near Zhangjiagang, in Jiangsu province.
Eight foreigners were among those on board, including Singaporean, Indian, Malaysian and Japanese nationals.
Three people have been rescued, and the boat has been hauled out of the water.
The foreigners on board were four Singaporeans, one Malaysian, one Indonesian, one Indian and one Japanese, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
The three people rescued were all Chinese, Xinhua added.
The tugboat, the 30-metre (98-foot) long Wanshenzhou 67, was undergoing tests, with the ship's owner and a team of engineers on board.
The Wanshenzhou 67 was registered in Singapore.
One survivor who was rescued early on Friday, Wang Chenhua, said they had been taking the vessel for a trial voyage.
Mr Wang, who was in the cockpit with a 60-year-old Japanese engineer acting as his translator, said that soon after they had conducted a load test for the boat's main engine, the boat "suddenly turned over" to the left.
He said water rushed into the cockpit which was fully flooded "within 20 seconds". He survived by holding onto a hydraulic pump that was not submerged.
Mr Wang added that he had tried to hold on to the Japanese engineer, but they were separated as the boat sank further.
The boat was constructed in China's Anhui province last October. Local officials told Xinhua the boat had not properly reported its route and work plans to the port authorities.
US Condemns ICC invesstigation into Israeli war crimes
Al Akhbar [17/1/15]:
The United States joined Israel in condemning the International Criminal Court decision to open a preliminary probe Friday into possible war crimes committed against Palestinians, blasting it as a "tragic irony."
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her office would conduct an "analysis in full independence and impartiality" into alleged war crimes by Israel, including those committed during its latest Gaza offensive.
Her decision comes after the Palestinian Authority formally joined the ICC earlier this month, allowing it to lodge war crimes and crimes against humanity complaints against Israel as of April.
At least 2,300 Palestinians, an estimated 70 percent of them civilians, and 72 Israelis, 66 of them soldiers, were killed during last summer's war in Gaza.
The US criticized the decision late Friday, saying it opposed actions against Israel at the ICC as "counterproductive to the cause of peace."
"It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC," US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement.
President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau [White House – 17/1/15]
Seventieth Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz
The Russian President is not going to take part in the ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation in Poland, but considers all such memorial events extremely important, Vladimir Putin’s press-secretary has said.
“There is no trip on the president’s schedule,” the Interfax news agency quoted Aleksey Peskov as saying on Tuesday. The press secretary added that Vladimir Putin hadn’t received a personal invitation to the event.
Turkey invites Armenian president to 100th anniversary of Gallipoli War [Hurriyet Daily News - 16/1/15]:
Speaking to daily Hürriyet, a government official recalled that along with the many other ethnic groups who fought in the ranks of the Ottoman military, the Armenians also fought at Gallipoli. “We fought together in Gallipoli. That’s why we have extended the invitation to Sargsyan as well,” the official added.
However, April 24, 1915 is also the date of the Ottoman government’s signing the Deportation Law that led to the deaths of up to a million Armenians in their long march south from eastern Anatolia. Armenia and the Armenian diaspora mark the day as the “anniversary of genocide” committed by the Ottoman Empire, and are planning to hold massive ceremonies on the centenary of the mass killings of their ancestors.
[President] Sargsyan has invited world leaders to Yerevan on the same day, and neither Sargsyan nor Obama are expected to accept Turkey’s invitation to attend the ceremonies in Turkey.
Germany's Ambassador to Cambodia slams National Military Police Commander's Hitler remarks
Cambodia Daily [17/1/15]:
Germany’s ambassador to Cambodia on Friday slammed National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha for holding up the tactics of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler as an example of how to maintain social order, saying that “nobody in his right mind would ever want to refer to Hitler as a role model.”
Joachim Baron von Marschall, who was appointed ambassador to Cambodia in 2013, also implored the government to approach national and public security in a manner “in line with democratic principles and contrary to the way the Nazis handled security matters.”
Speaking at an annual meeting of Phnom Penh’s military police on Thursday, General Sokha said he drew inspiration from the rise of Germany under Hitler in the 1930s.
“Speaking frankly, I learned from Hitler,” Gen. Sokha said. “Germany, after World War I, was not allowed by the international community to have more than 100,000 soldiers, but the Nazis and Hitler did whatever so they could wage World War II.”
Contacted on Friday, Mr. Baron von Marschall said he was “shocked” that anyone would look to the leader of the murderous Nazi regime—which oversaw the deaths of some 6 million Jews in the Holocaust and also killed millions of homosexuals, communists, Gypsies, prisoners of war and disabled people in the 1930s and 1940s —for guidance.
“I must admit that I was quite shocked about these remarks as I would have thought that nobody in his right mind would ever want to refer to Hitler as a role model,” he said in an email.
“The only explanation I can muster is that there is a profound lack of understanding for the dimension of brutality which the Nazi regime applied against anybody who they felt was standing in their way,” he said.
Senior opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua said she was “totally, totally appalled” by Gen. Sokha’s comments and called for him to be removed from his position.
“I’m more than appalled,” she said. “I’m terrified about the consequences that protesters would have to bear if this man continues to be the military police commander of Cambodia,” she said.
Ms. Sochua said Gen. Sokha’s words were especially disturbing because Cambodia and Germany shared a history of genocide.
“He has to realize the consequences of his words as a commander in this country, and especially for Cambodia, a country that has gone through genocide. And to now hear that a commander is inspired by Hitler is a sad day for Cambodia,” she said.
Gen. Sokha could not be reached Friday. A man claiming to be the general’s bodyguard answered his telephone and said his boss was in a meeting.
National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito, however, said that Gen. Sokha mentioned a number of famous world leaders in his speech on Thursday, but did not mean for his audience to see them as role models.
“After he spoke, he sent a message [to those present] not to take his words for interpretation,” Brigadier General Tito said.
Imaginary Australian journalist to Senator Penny Wright: The Senate Inquiry into last year's attacks - which you chaired - recommended allowing the United Nations, the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, journalists and lawyers access to the Manus centre.
The hunger striking refugees say the Australan government is holding them hostage and they want to be handed to the United Nations.
Why is this not happening?
Hunger striking Manus refugees: "Stop torturing us. ... Hand us to UN" via @rranwa
Letter to UNHCR, UN Committee Against Torture, Amnesty, Australian Human Rights Commission: "we are hostages of Australian government" via @shanebazzi
Hunger strike in Australian refugee detention camp on Manus Island, Will Morrow [WSWS - 17/1/15]:
... The situation on Manus Island is an indictment of the criminal anti-refugee policies of the Australian state. Under a regime imposed by the former Greens-backed Labor government, and then continued under the Abbott Liberal-National government, all refugees who travel to Australia by boat are automatically detained and incarcerated in hell-hole prisons on Christmas Island, Manus Island, and Nauru.
Even those who manage to meet the extremely narrow United Nations criteria for refugee status are denied any ability to settle in Australia. To “deter” asylum seekers, the Labor government ruled that they could only settle in PNG, one of the poorest and least developed countries on earth, or return to where they came from. Last September, Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that he made an equally barbaric arrangement with the Cambodian government, allowing refugees to be transferred and dumped in that country as well.
As part of its “Operation Sovereign Border,” which is shrouded in military secrecy, the Abbott government has towed boatloads of asylum seekers back to Indonesia. It has also returned asylum seekers to the countries they sought to escape, such as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. The Abbott government has codified into law its flagrant violation of the international Refugee Convention prohibiting the “refoulement” of refugees. Every aspect of Australia’s refugee regime is blatantly illegal. It was erected by Labor and has been maintained by Abbott in a crude attempt to divert class and social tensions into the xenophobic vilification of asylum seekers. ...
Australia's detention of refugees is forbidden by international law: UN Committee Against Torture [Sydney Morning Herald - 29/11/14]
UN Committee against Torture: Concluding observations on the fourth and fifth periodic reports of Australia [28/11/14]:
AUSTRALIA: Violence against women; trafficking in persons; indigenous people in the criminal justice system; compliance with non-refoulement obligations under the Convention; mandatory immigration detention for unauthorised arrivals, including children; offshore processing of asylum seekers claims; work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; anti terror legislation.
A United Nations hearing into Australia’s record as a signatory to its anti-torture convention has been dominated by concerns that asylum seekers are being sent to inhumane conditions in the detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island. ... [Guardian - 11/11/14]
Monash Memo [25/6/02]:
... Leading Australian performance artist Mike Parr cut a surreal and controversial figure at his performance, 'Close the concentration camps', at the Monash University Museum of Art recently. ...
ExxonMobil PNG Limited, operator of the PNG LNG Project, and the government of Papua New Guinea have reached an agreement to supply up to 20 million cubic feet a day of domestic natural gas for 20 years to support government plans to improve the capacity and reliability of the country’s power supply. ... [PNG Facts - 17/1/15]
It will give you hope: Snowden's Great Escape 
Hey Brisbane! RT documentary about MH17 shows disgraceful state of Australian media
(feat. Des Houghton)
Reflections on MH17
The tragedy of MH17 in which 298 people lost their lives made the conflict in Ukraine real for many other countries. While the international community awaits the outcome of the crash investigation, speculation in the media continues to fuel the blame game. RTD travels far and wide to interview international experts on what has hindered the investigation, what procedures were needed to collect vital evidence and what might have brought down the ill-fated Boeing 777.
Pissweak --> Senator Hanson-Young calls for "independent inspection" of Manus refugee death camp.
What about the UN?
... Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has renewed calls for an independent inspection of the facility.
"There does need to be a proper independent investigation into what is going on at the asylum-seeker centre," she said. ...
Still Palmer's view? Or are they as pissweak as every other politician in this fascist hole?
Close the Camps: Clive Palmer [Media Release – 20/8/14]:
Palmer United Party federal leader and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, has called for the immediate closure of immigration detention camps because of their huge human and financial cost.
“Australia needs to move quickly to close these detention centres and implement a scheme to deal with the issue in a better way,’’ Mr Palmer said.
“The human and financial cost is too great if we are to continue with the Government’s current policy. Now is the time to make the change,’’ he said.
“On top of the very worrying human rights issues, the financial burden of running these centres is unjustifiable at a time when the government is cutting back its support to single mothers, families and pensioners.”
“I am calling on the Immigration Minister to find a better way and show leadership on this issue,’’ Mr Palmer said.
More lies from the Australian government [Sydney Morning Herald -17/1/15]:
... "The department has advised the government that while some transferees engaged in disruptive behaviour late [on Friday], claims reported by some media outlets [on Saturday] that transferees were violently engaged by guards last night at the centre are not correct." ...
Imaginary Australian television network broadcasts this image.
Highlights sadism of ALP and LNP refugee policy.
#UltimOra Nave Libra #MarinaMilitare inserita in #Triton ad #Augusta. I due bambini nati ieri con team sanitario MM
Image: @ItalianNavy [17/1/15]
@ItalianNavy #SAR Nave Sirio #MarinaMilitare nella notte ha recuperato 417 migranti dal natante in difficoltà tra cui 4 donne [17/1/15]
That's right. The Italians are still rescuing refugees despite EU bastardry. What's going on Aussie Aussie Aussie? [VIDEO - The Italian Solution - ABC - 14/10/14]
... "If for example you want to go to medical, you need a doctor, you need to go to hospital, they just refuse you, they say 'no, no, no you OK, you don't want anything, you don't need anything'," he said in the interview recorded at the Wickham Point Detention Centre on Thursday.
"But after three days they say 'oh you have a very bad feeling', you are sent to hospital." ... [Hunger-striking asylum seeker paints grim picture of life in Darwin detention centre - ABC – 17/1/15]
This situation requires leadership from Australia and the United Nations.
These refugees need hope
Photo from #Manus: we are on a peaceful hunger strike. Please RT.
Image: @shanebazzi [17/1/15]
*GRAPHIC* Most of these images have just been sent to me in the last few minutes direct from Manus. The rest were sent last night. … [17/1/15]
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Please help us. please help us. We are scared here."
"We close the gate for safe. Now 100% in hunger strike" - Manus asylum seeker reporting all calm this morning
Image: @HRP [17/1/15]
Is Transfield Services' $1.22 billion contract value for our money? [Sydney Morning Herald - 10/3/14]
Transfield Services working to eradicate Malaria on Manus [Media Release - 24/11/14]
MARK DENBEAUX [Professor at Seton Hall University School of Law]: ... General Dunleavy has, under oath, said that he got his marching orders directly from the president of the United States requiring him to meet in person once a week with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Dunleavy and his successor General Miller have both repeatedly characterized Guantánamo as America’s battle lab.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what does that mean?
MARK DENBEAUX: Well, the best thing that we have been able to figure out when we started looking — that phrase caught everyone’s attention. And so, the first thing that we looked into was, what were the experiments there? And we were able to find and discover some of the laboratory experiments were there, including giving them drugs that would cause psychotic breaks for up to 30 days as soon as they arrived, and a variety of other things that were given to them over a long period of time.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Which had never been used in any context before.
MARK DENBEAUX: The drug they used, they claim, was to used to help with malaria. However, there is no malaria in Guantánamo, there is no malaria in Cuba and every person who was brought there had already had a medical examination in Afghanistan and was proven to have no contagious diseases. So, it was a psychotic, really, inducing drug, which had been used for considerable period of time by other sources in order to break down the state of mind of the people. ... [Did Gitmo "Suicides" Cover Up Murder? U.S. Sgt. Speaks Out on Deaths & Prison’s Secret CIA Site [Democracy Now - 15/1/15]
... Recently the Xanax tablets prescribed to get him through the nights were abruptly withheld, "causing me more physical and mental troubles". Densis Nihill, IOM's Regional Director says from Canberra: "His conditions are quite good. The staff eat the same food and the food menu is designed by a nutritionist". Nihill says a Defence Force doctor is available when required. ... [No man's land, Andra Jackson The Age - 26/2/04 - via Project SafeCom]
If the IOM have such a significant role on Manus Island, why weren't they asked to appear at last year's Senate Inquiry?
US Embassy in Port Moresby awards two new grants totalling US$1 million to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) [PNG Loop - 15/12/14]
Kuve Canteen opens on Manus [Media Release - 20/8/14]
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [17/1/15]:
Tensions remain high on Manus Island following attempts by Transfield’s “riot squad” to enter Delta Compound yesterday afternoon.
Asylum seekers in both Delta and Oscar compounds have now barricaded the gates to their compound to prevent any further attempts to attack the protest.
In retribution, no food has delivered to either compound since yesterday afternoon, meaning even those not on hunger strike are being collectively punished for the protest.
To make matters worse, there is no running water in the compounds again.
Bottled water also ran out at Delta Compound.
Shamefully, Transfield refused to distribute the water that was stockpiled just outside the compound’s fence, after asylum seekers refused to open the gate to allow a forklift to enter.
Asylum seekers were forced to reach underneath the fence to try to retrieve the water.
Yesterday’s attempt to break up the protest came after threats from Transfield management that unless the protest was ended and asylum seekers co-operated, the protest would be forcibly broken.
As the hunger strike entered the fifth day, scores of asylum seekers are being treated in the medical clinic after collapsing in their compounds.
More medical staff reinforcements are expected to arrive on Manus Island today.
Asylum seekers are demanding that the immigration department halts the forced transfer, scheduled for 22 January, of those found to be refugees to insecure temporary housing in the Lorengau settlement.
“Yesterday, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, claimed, ‘We’re happy to negotiate and discuss the situation,’ but there have been no attempts to discuss or negotiate – only threats,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“The asylum seekers are terrified of a repeat of the February attacks last year. They have good reason. Just this morning, Wilson security guards made more threats that refugees will die as soon as they move out of the detention centre.
“One of them said, ‘You should keep on hunger strike and die here, because you will be killed as soon as you are outside.’
“The government should halt the forced transfer of the refugees on 22 January. The ad hoc transit accommodation on Manus is no solution. Refugees cannot work and cannot stay on Manus Island.
“The stark fact is that the refugees cannot be safely resettled in PNG. The new Immigration Minister will have to face up to the gaping hole in the government’s offshore processing policy.”
Asylum Seekers On Hunger Strike Urge Australia For UN Turnover [International Business Times – 16/1/15]
British media: Peaceful hunger strike on Manus Island continues, Australian politicians remain unaccountable for human rights atrocities [Guardian - 17/1/15]
... It is the committee's view that, by giving the impression that events primarily occurred outside the centre, and that PNG police were not involved in the violence that occurred in the centre, the Minister sought to unfairly apportion blame to the asylum seekers themselves for the violence that was done to them on the night of 17 February 2014. The Minister was clearly selective in the facts he chose to use in his initial statements on the incident, and should have more quickly acknowledged that the violence occurred inside the centre. The Minister also failed to correct his initial statements with regards to the involvement of PNG police, despite clear evidence from quite soon after the events that they had entered the centre and been involved in the violence that occurred. At the very least, the Minister should have exercised greater care while events were still unclear before apportioning blame. ...
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Recommendations re "Incident at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 February to 18 February 2014" [December 2014]:
8.26 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure an adequate and effective investigation into the criminal assaults perpetrated against individuals detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre during the events of 16 to 18 February 2014, including by assisting the Papua New Guinea authorities in any ongoing investigations and facilitating the taking of witness testimony from individuals present at the incident who are now in Australian territory.
8.35 The committee recommends that the Australian Government acknowledge its responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of individuals detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.
8.39 The committee recommends that, in accordance with the right to an effective remedy and right to health in international human rights law, the Australian Government:
• acknowledge and take responsibility for violations of human rights in relation to the incident at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014; and
• provide compensation to those who have suffered human rights violations, including to Mr Reza Barati's family and to asylum seekers who were injured during the incident.
8.40 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure that all asylum seekers injured in the violence at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014 receive adequate professional assistance, including medical treatment, full rehabilitation and mental health services, as well as independent legal advice.
8.49 The committee recommends that, in the interests of transparency and accountability, the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea take measures to facilitate appropriate access to the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, including:
• allowing United Nations representatives full access to the centre and transferees;
• permitting qualified lawyers, including lawyers certified to practice in Australia, access to the centre in order to meet with transferees and provide legal assistance;
• allowing the Australian Human Rights Commission to regularly inspect the centre and meet with centre staff and transferees; and
• permitting journalists to visit the centre and speak freely with centre staff and transferees.
8.52 The committee recommends that Transfield Services and the Australian Government ensure that service provider staff employed at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre be provided with sufficient workplace training to perform their roles, in line with the standards applicable to employees working in detention environments in Australia, and accounting for the particular difficulties associated with working in remote conditions.
1.8 On account of the committee's inability to make a site visit to the centre under its own powers, the committee sought the support and assistance of the Commonwealth Government to do so.
On 28 April 2014, the committee wrote to the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, as well as the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, seeking the government's approval and assistance.
1.9 The committee did not receive any response.
4.70 In specific evidence about actual incidents of encouragement to return home, a former employee of Playfair suggested that staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were 'speaking to transferees, trying to convince them of the benefits of returning home'.
4.71 In contrast, government representatives re-confirmed their view that any returns from Manus Island RPC were strictly voluntary. For example Lieutenant General Campbell stated that '[i]t is really important to note these are voluntary returns'.
4.72 In terms of the number of returns from the Manus Island RPC, the department provided information that:
As at 1 August 2014, 203 transferees have been voluntarily returned from an Offshore Processing Centre (OPC) and 174 transferees from the Manus OPC since 18 February 2014 with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
6.57 Other evidence presented to the committee contested the claim that no individuals involved in assaults on asylum seekers were now employed at the centre.
Humanitarian Research Partners (HRP) contended that 'at least two of the alleged 17 February assailants are now back working in the centre and terrifying their victims by their mere presence'.
Mr Ben Pynt, Director of Human Rights Advocacy at HRP, told the committee that asylum seekers at the centre had reported to him on multiple occasions that perpetrators were still working at the centre.
Mr Pynt expanded:
[The transferees] do not feel that they are being adequately protected by the guards that are employed at the centre. In fact, they feel threatened by a number of the guards at the centre. I know of one story that chilled me to the bone. An asylum seeker contacted me shortly after he had been to medical. He was in Mike compound. From Mike compound you get in the back of a ute and they take you through to IHMS, because you are not meant to walk through. He got into the ute, screamed, and got out of the ute, because the person driving the ute was one of the people who attacked him. This is happening all the time. The mental harm that is created simply by having the attackers remain at the centre is unbelievable and unconscionable.
Miss Judge [who worked on Manus Island] continued:
The attacks on asylum seekers [in February 2014] were not unpredictable and unforeseen. The attacks were not due to asylum seekers insulting PNG nationals in February or asylum seekers feeling discontent with their processing time frames. The attacks were due to the entire system. The attacks were due to the lack of due care for asylum seekers' safety and wellbeing, the acceptance by staff that PNG was just a dangerous place and that there was nothing we could do to change that. With reports going unheard and incidents being covered up, with no-one really to report to and the threat of danger being from outside, I am unsure of how anyone can guarantee the asylum seekers' safety. Regardless of how high fences are built around the centre, how many CCTV cameras are installed or how many extra guards are employed, I do not believe anything can change the fact that the key threat to the asylum seekers safety is, in fact, simply being detained on Manus Island.
Drop ethics, hippocratic oath if you want $900 million contract to provide medical services in Australia's refugee concentration camps
Are the AMA, psychological/social workers associations and nurses unions warning members about possible future liability for crimes against humanity?
... Among the long list of complaints, the department said: "IHMS are seen to be risk averse and advocating for transferees beyond the services IHMS is contracted to deliver".
"The procedures being recommended were excessive and outside of the contract requirements," the report said.
The report also revealed the department was frustrated by IHMS medical advice to transfer detainees to the mainland.
IHMS often recommended transferring detainees to Australia, which "places the department in a difficult position as it is very difficult to reverse a medical recommendation once made".
"Discussion ensued on whether this is the result of IHMS advocating or being overly conservative."
To address the problem, the department said: "IHMS should recruit people who are able to follow the government requirements in the contract".
"IHMS need to ensure medical staff who do reviews are not against Offshore Processing Centres (OPCs)," the report said.
The department pointed to an example of a psychologist who "regularly deemed transferees were not fit to return to an OPC".
The Doctors Trial: The Medical Case of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]:
On December 9, 1946, an American military tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 leading German physicians and administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
United States continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On Jan. 15, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using bomber and fighter aircraft to conduct six airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted five airstrikes in Iraq, using attack and fighter aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Jan. 15, and 8 a.m., Jan. 16, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
* Near Kobani, six airstrikes destroyed two ISIL staging positions and nine ISIL fighting positions.
* Near Ramadi, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL barge and four ISIL boats.
* Near Al Qaim, an airstrike struck an ISIL building.
* Near Al Asad, an airstrike struck two ISIL mortar firing positions.
* Near Mosul, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL mortar firing position and an ISIL fighting position.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Syria training to involve 1,000-plus US troops [Daily Star – 17/1/15]
The U.S. military will send more than 400 troops to train Syrian rebel forces as part of a long-planned effort to build up a moderate opposition to take on the Islamist State group, the Pentagon said Friday.
The training will take place Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar and is expected to start in the "early spring," said spokeswoman Commander Elissa Smith. ... [Naharnet - 16/1/15]
Al Akhbar [16/1/15]:
UN aid workers have begun delivering food to tens of thousands of people trapped in a besieged district of Homs city in Syria following negotiations with the parties at war, officials said on Friday.
In the absence of a nationwide peace deal, relief groups have tried to get localized agreements with fighters on all sides of the conflict to get convoys through to people in battle zones.
The UN peace envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has said he wants to start focusing on brokering "freeze zones," or local truces, in the northern city of Aleppo rather than pushing for a peace plan for the whole country. ...
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [16/1/15]:
Anbar: The government's forces and militia swarms have shelled by mortars and missiles the civilian homes in south and the middle of Fallujah from Hayakil Ajame'a side ..........
Fallujah Hospital has received 5 wounded civilians - a child and two women included-in missiles ,heavy artillery and mortars shelling.....
Jubeil .Shuhada, and Risala neighborhoods in Fallujah have been shelled by missiles ...........
Separated neighborhoods in Fallujah have been targeted by mortars and missiles and services have been cut completely......
Afghanistan: Senior police officials killed following an explosion in Faryab
Two senior police officials were killed following an explosion in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan late on Thursday afternoon.
According to local government officials, the incident took place around 5:30 pm local time in Almar district.
The district administrative chief, Mohammad Saleh Saleh, said police chief of Almar along with the Criminal Investigation Department (CIED) chief were killed following the blast.
Saleh further added the incident took place after the vehicle of the two senior police officials struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
He said another policeman was also injured following the blast who was taken to hospital for treatment.
No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.
Faryab is among the relatively volatile provinces in northern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in a number of its remote districts and often carry out insurgency activities.
SIGAR: $500,000 US Training Center in Afghanistan is ‘Melting’ [Khaama - 16/1/15]
Pakistan in a state of war and military courts have been approved for a limited time: Nawaz [Pak Tribune - 16/1/15]
US drone strike kills at least five in Pakistan [Reuters – 15/1/15]
Suicide blast hits Nigeria marketplace
Al Jazeera [16/1/15]:
A suicide bomber has blown himself up at a market in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe, killing at least six people and wounding 10, emergency workers on the scene said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, Reuters news agency reported.
Fighters from the group have killed thousands in gun and bomb attacks during five years of an armed uprising in Africa's biggest economy, especially in the northeast, where Gombe lies.
"Our workers have evacuated six bodies and 10 injured, and we believe there could more bodies because the market is usually populated," Umar Shittu, spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency for Gombe said by telephone.
ICC to investigate war crimes in Palestine
Al Jazeera [16/1/15]:
Prosecutors at the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) will open a preliminary inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, the first formal step that could lead to charges against officials there and in Israel, the court has said.
They will determine whether preliminary findings merit a full investigation into alleged atrocities, which could result in charges against individuals on either the Israeli or Palestinian side.
"A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation pursuant to the criteria established by the Rome Statute," the court's statement said on Friday.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman condemned the ICC’s decision as "scandalous".
In a statement, Lieberman said that the sole purpose of the preliminary examination was to "try to harm Israel's right to defend itself from terror".
He said the decision was "solely motivated by political anti-Israel considerations," adding that he would recommend against cooperating with the probe.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Ramallah, Ammar Hijazi, a Palestinian foreign ministry official, said the Palestinian Authority believed that all necessary aspects were featured in the case.
"The gravity aspect is there, as civilians were targeted [in the war in Gaza]," he said.
"Palestine is ready to fully cooperate if there are any violations commited during the war by the Palestinian side as well."
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki told the AFP news agency: "Everything is going according to plan, no state and nobody can now stop this action we requested. In the end, a full investigation will follow the preliminary one."
2014 was the deadliest ever for journalists working in the Palestinian territories, a Gaza-based watchdog said on Thursday, months after a bloody war in the besieged enclave claimed the lives of more than 2,310 Gazans.
Meanwhile, a UN senior official on Thursday called on Israel to “immediately” unlock millions of dollars in taxes owed to the Palestinian Authority (PA) that were withheld after it decided to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the late December. ... [Al Akhbar - 16/1/15]
Obama, Cameron announce global pogram, censorship and increased surveillance
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed on Friday to take on "the poisonous ideology" of Islamic extremists and said intelligence agencies must be allowed to track militants online despite privacy concerns.
Obama and Cameron held two days of White House talks amid increasing concern in Europe about the threat posed by extremists after 17 people were killed in Paris attacks and Belgian authorities engaged in a firefight with terror suspects.
"We face a poisonous and fanatical ideology that wants to pervert one of the world's major religions, Islam, and create conflict, terror and death. With our allies, we will confront it wherever it appears," Cameron told a joint White House news conference with Obama after their talks.
Obama said he and Cameron accepted that intelligence and military force alone would not solve the problem, and they would work together on "strategies to counter violent extremism that radicalizes recruits and mobilizes people, especially young people, to engage in terrorism."
The extremists' ability to communicate online and spread recruitment propaganda on the Internet have presented a challenge to authorities.
Obama and Cameron expressed concerns about new encryption products that could prevent governments from tracking extremists poised to attack.
Technology companies became alarmed with surveillance techniques after former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified details about how the government harvests data from companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AT&T and Verizon.
"We're not asking for back doors" to access electronic communications, Cameron said. "We believe in very clear front doors through legal processes that should help to keep our country safe."
Obama said debate from civil libertarians and privacy groups has been "useful" in the debate, but said legal safeguards are in place to prevent government from "Big Brother" scenarios.
Obama said the U.S. government has been working with technology companies to deal with privacy concerns without preventing investigations.
"Social media and the Internet is the primary way in which these terrorist organizations are communicating," Obama said.
"We're still going to have to find ways to make sure that if an Al Qaeda affiliate is operating in Great Britain or in the United States, that we can try to prevent real tragedy," he said.
Obama and Cameron also agreed to conduct cybersecurity war games and establish a joint "cyber cell" to prepare for and share intelligence on malicious hacking, weeks after Sony Entertainment was hacked in an incident the FBI has blamed on North Korea.
A top House Democrat on Thursday condemned suggestions from conservative websites that Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), a Muslim, should not have been appointed to the House Intelligence Committee. ... [The Hill - 15/1/15]
European authorities arrest dozens in anti-terror raids [France 24 – 16/1/15]
Belgium raid on alleged terror group kills two
Belgian police shot dead two alleged militants in a gun battle during a huge operation to foil what they called an imminent terrorist plot, raising fresh alarm for Europe days after 17 people were killed in Paris.
A third person was arrested after the bloody shootout in the eastern town of Verviers, near the German border, involving people who had returned from jihad in Syria.
Police also conducted around a dozen searches in Brussels and its suburbs in a sweep that came on the heels of last week's Islamist attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris.
"This operational cell of about 10 people, some of whom had returned from Syria, was on the point of launching significant terrorist attacks in Belgium," Thierry Werts of the Belgian federal prosecutor's office told a press conference in Brussels.
"During the search, certain suspects immediately opened fire at special forces of the police with automatic weapons. They opened fire for several minutes. Two suspects were killed and a third was arrested."
After an emergency meeting with his security chiefs, Prime Minister Charles Michel said the raid showed Belgium's "determination to fight those who want to spread terror".
Belgian authorities raised the security alert for official buildings to its second highest level, saying that the thwarted attack had intended to target police.
The prosecutor's office said operations were still under way after 00:30 Friday (23:30 GMT Thursday) and arrests were still expected.
Democratic senator says still backs more Iran sanctions
A Democratic co-sponsor of a bill to impose new sanctions on Iran if there is no agreement on its nuclear program by July said on Friday he stood by the legislation in the face of warnings that it could torpedo international negotiations.
"All I'm saying is let us put in prospective sanctions that don't get imposed until July," Senator Robert Menendez said.
Menendez was asked about Iran during an event in his home state of New Jersey after a joint news conference at the White House earlier on Friday at which President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron urged members of Congress to be patient and hold off on any legislation calling for further sanctions now.
Obama warned lawmakers not to impose new sanctions, saying such a move would upset diplomatic talks and increase the likelihood of a military conflict with Tehran.
Some lawmakers reacted angrily to those comments. Republican House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he was "offended" by Obama's remarks, saying they seemed to insinuate that lawmakers' concerns about Iran were driven by political considerations.
In a statement, McCarthy called on Obama to work with Congress to increase pressure on Iran.
Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a longtime backer of tough sanctions on Iran, said he had a "fundamental disagreement" with the White House on the issue.
Arguing that Iran did not yet seem willing to make significant concessions after 18 months of negotiations, he suggested that new sanctions legislation might help convince them.
The bill Menendez is working on with Senator
Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, would impose sanctions if there is no nuclear
agreement by a June 30 deadline, but also includes a provision that would allow
Obama to put them off for 30 days if an agreement were imminent.
Kirk also backed action in Congress.
"If anything can stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, it is maintaining the united bipartisan front in Congress to end Iran's uranium enrichment and plutonium paths to the bomb," he said in a statement.
Most US officials knew of CIA anti-Iran mission: Ex-manager [Press TV – 16/1/15]
Libya parties agree to more talks; two factions call ceasefire
Libyan factions vying for control of the country have agreed to continue United Nations-backed talks in Geneva next week over ending the political crisis, although one main group has so far refused to participate.
Nearly four years after a NATO-backed revolt ousted Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is in turmoil with two rival governments and two parliaments backed by armed factions who Western governments fear may drag the country into civil war.
Key representatives from a self-declared government based in Tripoli stayed away from this week's talks. But in a possible sign of progress, its main armed groups battling forces of the internationally recognised government declared a ceasefire.
That government, under Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, and the elected House of Representatives have operated out of the east after one faction, Libya Dawn, took over Tripoli in the summer, set up its own government and reinstated the old parliament known as the GNC.
A delegation from the House of Representatives and parties allied to Tripoli attended this week's talks in Geneva, but major representatives from Libya Dawn and the GNC parliament refused to join, casting doubt over efforts to form a unity administration.
"Participants agreed to return to Geneva next week for a new round of dialogue after holding the necessary consultations," the U.N. said in a statement late on Thursday.
"The mission and the participants expressed their hope that all the invited representatives, including those who did not attend this round, would take part in the talks next week."
Although it didn't attend, Libya Dawn, which is battling Thinni's troops on several fronts, and an allied group which has been trying to seize two eastern oil ports declared a ceasefire, said Ahmed Hadia, spokesman of a Misrata-based armed group called Central Shield.
"We are also seeking now to open safe corridors for aid in different conflict areas," he said.
Libya's conflict involves a myriad of loosely allied militias, factions and armed groups whose loyalties are often more to local or regional leaders, making any ceasefire fragile.
One faction guarding oil facilities warned it would not accept a ceasefire even if Libya Dawn forces retreated to the city of Misrata, which is a key part of the Tripoli government.
Making progress in the Geneva talks will also depend on bringing the Tripoli faction on board and also ensuring the buy in from armed factions who are fighting on the ground.
Delegates from the city council of Misrata went to the Geneva talks despite Tripoli's objections, a sign of potential divisions within the Tripoli government.
E. Ukrainian rebels say they now control Donetsk airport
The militias in southeastern Ukraine say they’ve taken control over the strategic Donetsk airport, following an exhausting standoff with government forces.
The airport has been a scene of violent fighting since last May.
“The airport is under our full control now,” Valentin Motuzenko, an advisor to the head of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, told Rossiya TV channel.
The current spike of violence at the airport was provoked by “rouge” units within the ranks of Kiev troops, which “don’t obey the Defense Ministry of Ukraine, the country’s president, or anybody else,” he stressed.
According to the adviser, Ukrainian forces again opened fire on the militias at the airport without any warning on Wednesday.
“One of our units was shelled by heavy mortars, with its ammunition load being hit. There was a massive explosion. Our people, our warriors have died and we just had no moral right to turn a blind eye to what has happened,” he said.
Motuzenko stressed that before coming up with any counter-measures, the militias provided a green corridor for the Kiev troops to retreat.
“The majority of them [Ukrainian soldiers] denied the offer, but some used the corridor and left. Those, who stayed were eliminated,” he said.
No more than half a dozen Kiev troops remain in hiding at the airport at the moment. Militias are searching for them, the advisor said.
The People’s Republic of Donetsk now plans “to invite the international observers so that they could see the violations and atrocities committed at the airport by the Ukrainian state and its military,” he concluded.
Ukrainian security forces did not confirm Motuzenko’s words, saying that Kiev still remains in control of the airport’s new terminal.
“Judging by the rhetoric and the questions that I’m being asked today, I get the feeling that some journalists are openly waiting for us to announce that we’ve given up the Donetsk airport. We have no plans to give up the Donetsk airport,” Roman Turovets, who heads the press center of Kiev’s military operation, told 112 Ukraine TV channel.
The Donetsk airport became the venue for several large-scale battles between May and late September, in which over 70 people died.
As a result, the international airport that used to handle some five million passengers annually is now lying in ruins.
The Ukrainian military launched an operation in the country’s southeast last April, after the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions refused to recognized the new, coup-imposed authorities in Kiev.
The death toll in the Ukraine conflict has exceeded 4,700 people. Over 10,000 have been injured, according to UN estimations.
Saudi Arabia Refers Blogger Flogging Case to Supreme Court Amidst Criticism
Al Akhbar [16/1/15]:
The case of a Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, which has been widely criticized by rights groups, has been referred to the Supreme Court by the King's office, the BBC reported on Friday.
The news came hours after Saudi Arabia postponed a weekly flogging of 50 lashes for Raif Badawi due to his ailing health.
Badawi, who set up a website called "Free Saudi Liberals," was sentenced to receive 1,000 lashes over an extended period of time. He received 50 lashes after Friday prayers last week, and he was expected to be submitted to a second round on Friday.
Badawi is expected to undergo 20 more weekly beatings until his punishment is complete.
In a brief newsbreak without quotes, the BBC said Badawi's wife had told it the decision had given the blogger hope that the authorities want to end his punishment.
"The prison doctor saw (Raif) Badawi's health does not allow his flogging today," Ensaf Haidar, Badawi's wife, had said earlier on Friday, speaking to AFP by telephone from Canada, where she has sought asylum with her three children.
Nave Libra #MarinaMilitare inserita in #Triton con 490 migranti a bordo ed il neonato dirige verso le coste italiane
Image: @ItalianNavy [16/1/15]
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [16/1/15]:
Security guards including PNG locals began attacking peaceful protests in Oscar and Delta Compounds on Manus Island around 4pm Manus Island time – see photos.
Only fours hours ago, the Immigration Minister told a press conference that he wanted to “deal with the issues peacefully”, and stated that, “We’re happy to negotiate and discuss the situation.”
But the action of Transfield’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) has put the lie to the Minister’s statement. There was no discussion and no warning before the security guards began attacking and beating protesters.
“It is this kind of attack that the asylum seekers have feared all along,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson from the Refugee Action Coalition.
“This is exactly the way that the attacks on asylum seekers began in February last year. It was the ERT that was responsible for vicious attacks on peaceful protests asylum seekers on 16 February 2013, the day before Reza Barati was killed.
“It is very clear that the minority responsible for the violence on Manus is the security force itself. It is shocking brutality against people already weakened from two days of fasting.”
Yesterday’s attempts to force asylum seekers in Oscar, Delta and Foxtrot compounds out of the shelters and back into their rooms, failed.
“It was the threat of using force to move refugees out of the detention centres and into insecure housing at Lorengau that precipitated the peaceful protests and hunger strike”, said Rintoul.
“The actions of the ERT are likely to inflame the situation even further. The Minister has just proved what the asylum seekers have been saying all along – they are not safe inside or outside the detention centre.”
Imaginary Australian journalist to the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton: Manus refugees were peacefully protesting because they want to be handed to the United Nations. Why are they being attacked?
Do you seriously believe that your victim blaming media mates spinning this attack as "volatile", "tensions", "lockdown", a "clash", "confrontation" or "riot" will stop you from ending up in The Hague?
Imaginary Australian journalist to every Australian politician: Why are you silent? Do you support attacks on peacefully protesting refugees?
Imaginary Australian journalist to the UNHCR: Why are you silent? Do you support attacks on peacefully protesting refugees?
Imaginary Australian journalist to PNG's Foreign Affairs Minister: Did you or the Australian government order the attacks on peacefully protesting Manus refugees?
PNG Loop [16/1/15]:
Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato says the peaceful protest by some asylum seekers at Australia’s Lombrum processing center in Manus will not delay the settlement of genuine refugees in PNG.
Pato says he is aware that a number of asylum seekers are dissatisfied and have been trying to force others to take part in the protest.
He believes the protest is a misguided attempt to change the policies of the governments of PNG and Australia.
“Policies agreed by the two governments are working: maritime people smuggling has stopped, refuges claims are being processed, genuine refugees are receiving visas and are commencing settlement, non-refugees are going home. These policies will not change,” Pato says.
He says the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority has started issuing visas and refugees will soon be moved to a refugee transit centre.
He says at this center refugees will receive training and preparations that will enable them to live in communities in Papua New Guinea.
17 January 2015