“History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
― Mark Twain
Kevin Rudd's vile band of people smugglers [Project Safecom Inc.]:
Another year, another round of asylum vilification - but with a crack in the people smuggling debate?
It's May 2009, and the year has seen a number of small boats arriving on our shores, some in rapid succession. It seemed we had another round of vilification. The howls of 'being overrun by boatpeople' came rapidly, and predictable, from the usual camps of sensationalist reporters and shock-jocks.
Remarkably though, the storm lasted just two weeks. While the Liberal-National coalition frontbenchers tried to get traction for silly suggestions of re-introducing Temporary Protection Visas and the Pacific Solution (warehousing asylum seekers on remote islands), the backbenchers, who had pushed so hard for policy changes, came to the fore, berated their party, and the storm becalmed.
The ultimate credit of this early 2009 period surely must go to the remarks by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who opined that 'people smugglers' are 'evil' and 'vile' and 'scum of the earth' and the Hon Rudd wanted them to 'rot in hell'.
Kevin Rudd, with his media remarks, had escalated the issue of people smuggling, and remarkably, a crack appeared in their vileness. For the first time in Australian history, media opinion started to turn against his line, and reporters and opinion writers started to open the issue and, almost unaware of it, started to 'humanise' people smugglers. Thank you, Prime Minister!
This page brings together some of the media reports and opinion around this issue. And, to give a complete picture of our country, we cannot exclude the tripe brought to us by our National Newspaper The Australian, whose editor on April 29 brought all hell and condemnation together and unleashed it on the newspaper's 'fictional left' and the long-vanished 'latte set': David Marr, A Just Australia, the evil lefties of the ABC's Four Corners and South Australia's feisty and furious advocate Marilyn Shepherd.
For your dietary balance we include a 'leaked' internal Memo about asylum seeker reporting standards from the ABC's National Programs Chief Alan Sunderland.
Enjoy your reading!
Australia yet to clarify bribery allegations: Indonesian MFA spokesperson
Australia has yet to respond to Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno L. P. Marsudis request for clarification regarding an allegation that Canberra had bribed human smugglers to turn their boat back to Indonesian waters.
"We have not received a clarification yet," Spokesman for the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Arrmanatha Nasir told journalists here on Thursday when asked about the subject.
Indonesia's request for a clarification from Australia about the cash payment issue is warranted in accordance with the Bali Process agreement.
Under this deal, countries in the region that face human smuggling and human trafficking problems agreed to comprehensively handling them, he pointed out.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott looked reluctant to admit or deny the bribery allegations.
In addition, instead of clarifying the issue, Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop urged Jakarta to secure the sovereignty of its territorial waters.
Nasir stated that he was surprised to hear the Australian government's comment as reflected in Bishop's statement.
"We are a bit surprised to hear Australia's response. We see this as an attempt to deflect the real issue," he remarked.
In coping with the human smuggling and human trafficking problems, Nasir noted that Indonesia was serious about securing and defending its territorial waters.
Jakarta emphasizes the importance of identifying a comprehensive solution to the smuggling and trafficking of people by involving the country of origin as well as the transit and destination countries, he said.
When questioned about the Australian government's clarification, which they have yet to receive, Nasir affirmed that the law enforcement processes of the six suspects involved in the smuggling of the refugees to Australia were ongoing.
"Australia's clarification is not needed to carry out the legal processes because there are other pieces of evidence that can be used for investigation and other legal processes," the ministry spokesman pointed out.
The Indonesian police in East Nusa Tenggara provinces Rote Island had recently apprehended six crew members of a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers, comprising 54 Sri Lankans, ten Bangladeshis, and one Myanmarese national.
The suspects told the police that they were bribed by personnel of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service to turn their boat back to Indonesian waters.
Each crew member received AU$5,000 and the vessels skipper got AU$6,000.
"Evidence has been gathered, and Rote Island's police will continue with their investigation into this case," Nasir affirmed.
Too many of us cling to the security and prosperity of our very comfortable lives, anxious that the appeals of the poor and vulnerable of the world will somehow jeopardize our own well-being.
Jesuit Refugee Service Australia [12/6/15]:
Following the decisions by Indonesia and Malaysia to provide temporary refuge for 7,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi forced migrants pending “resettlement and repatriation” by the international community, Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s response to the question of resettlement of some of these people in Australia was “nope, nope, nope.”
He categorized the stateless and persecuted Rohingya trying to find safety as people trying to get to Australia by “the back door.” Letting them in, he said, would only be “encouragement.”
“If you want a new life, you come through the front door,” said Mr Abbott.
He and other politicians on both sides of Australia’s political spectrum frequently and consistently show a willful ignorance about the reality of refugee situations.
Refugees such as the Rohingya flee from persecution and look for safety where they can, using whatever methods work for them.
The Burmese nationality law does not recognise Rohingyas as one of the 135 legally recognised ethnic groups of Myanmar, thus denying citizenship to the majority of these people.
For those with no access to identity papers, which is the case for most Rohingya, there is no “front door.” They cannot get to another country by plane or through land borders, because they do not have passports.
The sea route, which Mr Abbott regards as a “back door”, and the often dangerous choice to rely on smugglers, are the only ways for many to seek refuge.
Any door will do when your life is in grave danger.
Australia’s refusal to grant protection to anyone trying to arrive by boat is a violation of its obligations under the UN refugee convention.
This country’s doors are firmly shut and bolted, yet unfortunately many vulnerable people cannot find protection anywhere else in the region because of the paucity of Refugee Convention signatories in the Asia-Pacific region.
If there is going to be a change in the way politicians address these issues, the hearts of ordinary Australians also have to be opened.
Too many of us cling to the security and prosperity of our very comfortable lives, anxious that the appeals of the poor and vulnerable of the world will somehow jeopardize our own well-being.
From the perspective of the Catholic Social Teaching, the real and authentic quality of our lives is to be measured not only by our security and prosperity, but by the extent to which we live in solidarity with those who have the least.
Fr Aloysious Mowe SJ, Director Jesuit Refugee Service Australia
Rohingyas finding ways to flee Myanmar despite dangers [Channel News Asia - 18/6/15]:
Rohingyas living mainly in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state continue to find ways to leave the country despite the risks of being abandoned at sea and tighter border controls.
Startling images of migrants stranded at sea drew the attention of the international community to their plight and more than 4,000 of those rescued are said to have been housed temporarily in Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar.
Some monitoring agencies suggest that another 2,000 people might still be out at sea. For many Rohingyas, a new life can only be achieved by risking everything.
Many in Myanmar claim to be aware of the dangers of travelling with human traffickers but in taking the risk they are at least offered a glimmer of hope.
“Our lives will be worse if we stay here. We leave because we can expect a more comfortable life elsewhere,” said Eleias, a Rohingya in Rakhine State.
“The authorities threaten us saying that we don’t belong here, we cannot stay here, we are intruders. They are threatening us many times, including threats to our village leader. Our daily life is difficult for us.”
Eleias highlighted how the Rohingyas live every day in fear, saying Rakhine people burned down a Rohingya shop.
“There are security forces in front of the market. They are looking but don’t catch the Rakhine people. They know it, they’re seeing what they did and they set the fire and steal all the goods from ten other shops, nothing was left.”
Eleias’ interview was short and sharp as he was concerned he would be seen; such is the fear instilled in Maungdaw's Rohingya residents, even though they make up the majority of the town's population.
But his accusations were completely rejected by Rakhine's Chief Minister Maung Ohn.
“It doesn’t make sense, I don’t accept it. In Maungdaw, about 97 percent population are Bengalis. Only 3 percent are Rakhine people. You have to ask why the majority would be afraid of the Rakhine minority,” he said. “My question is who should really be afraid?”
The Government maintains that if the Rohingyas insist on identifying themselves as that, and not as Bengalis, the term used by Myanmar officials, it will be difficult for both sides to ever agree on rights of citizenship.
They are the very rights that have been identified as a root cause of the migrant crisis.
France to add thousands of housing units for asylum seekers
France 24 [17/6/15]:
France unveiled plans on Wednesday to add 10,500 additional housing spots for migrants as European nations grapple with how to handle a wave of people crossing the Mediterranean.
The government plans 5,000 housing units for people granted asylum in France, 4,000 for asylum seekers and 1,500 emergency slots for illegal immigrants.
In seven years, the number of asylum seekers has nearly doubled in France to reach more than 66,000 cases in 2013.
As a result, there is a severe lack of housing facilities and half of all asylum seekers have to fend for themselves, resorting to living in slums, squats or sleeping rough.
Processing these asylum requests takes an average of two years, and legislation proposed in July aimed to shorten the wait to nine months by 2017, giving authorities dealing with the cases more funding and staff.
The managing director of France Terre d'Asile, a group representing asylum seekers, greeted the news cautiously.
"It is a sweeping plan of a type that has never been put into place until now," said Pierre Henry.
He added the increase in housing would require close vigilance as the plan will involve a variety of players from around the country.
The announcement comes as Italy has been increasingly applying pressure to other European Union nations to take in their share of the waves of migrants arriving on its shores.
But at a meeting Tuesday in Luxembourg, European interior ministers failed to reach an agreement on carrying out proposals by the European Commission for quotas to redistribute migrants throughout the bloc.
European leaders swore action after an estimated 800 migrants died in a shipwreck in April, the worst disaster yet in the Mediterranean in a year in which a total of 1,800 people have died trying to reach Europe.
More than 100,000 migrants have arrived in Europe this year, 60,000 through Italy alone, according to the EU's border agency Frontex.
Nauru landowners threaten hotel closure if government continues ignoring their concerns
Landowners on Nauru are threatening to shut down a main hotel on their land if the government continues to ignore their concerns.
The people of Menen district were at the centre of this week's protests over the exclusion of their two MPs from parliament for more than 13 months.
Squire Jeremiah and Sprent Dabwido are among a group of five who have been shut out of parliament since May last year.
A Menen businessman, Lockley Denuga, says the landowners in the district are increasingly concerned at their lack of representation in the parliament and are now threatening to shut down government entities, such as the Menen Hotel.
"So now because some of their installations are on our land, in our district, we are going to use that as our next plan of action for our voice to be heard. And during the protest they sacked a lot of our boys from work in a lot of the [government] entities like the Menen Hotel."
Lockley Denuga says they will want these people to be given their jobs back.
The Menen Hotel is the main hotel on Nauru and houses many of the hundreds of Australians running the asylum seeker detention camps.
PNG: Former Police Commissioner guilty of contempt for disobeying court order to execute arrest warrant on Prime Minister
The National [18/6/15]:
Forner Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki has been found guilty of contempt for disobeying a court order to execute an arrest warrant on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia found Vaki guilty on two of the three contempt charges brought against him in the National Court in Waigani.
The arrest warrant was issued by Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim in the Waigani District Court on June 12, last year.
The contempt proceedings were initiated by the Director of the Police national fraud and anti-corruption directorate Chief Superintendent Matthew Damaru and his assistant Chief Inspector Timothy Gitua.
Sir Salamo ruled that the warrant of arrest issued by the chief magistrate was a court order which Vaki had knowledge of and disobeyed.
Sir Salamo said Vaki’s actions would have raised questions in the mind of the public of the role of the police commissioner.
He said Vaki’s actions amounted to interfering with the due administration of justice, saying the warrant was clear and unambiguous and directed to all members of the police force, including the commissioner. Vaki is out on bail on his own recognisance.
The case returns to court on June 25 to hear submissions on the penalty to be imposed.
The contempt charges relate to allegations that Vaki had prevented or frustrated the execution of the warrant of arrest on O’Neill last year.
Vaki had pleaded not guilty and argued that he was not given the investigation files into O’Neill’s alleged involvement in the payment of legal fees to a law firm.
Hong Kong vetoes China-backed electoral reform proposal
Hong Kong's legislature on Thursday vetoed a China-vetted electoral reform package criticized by opposition pro-democracy lawmakers and activists as undemocratic, easing for now the prospect of fresh mass protests in the financial hub.
The rejection had been expected and will likely appease some activists who had demanded a veto of what they call a "fake" democratic model for how the Chinese-controlled territory chooses its next leader in 2017.
It will, however, be a blow to Beijing's Communist leaders, who had pressured and cajoled the city's pro-democracy lawmakers to back the blueprint that would have allowed a direct vote for the city's chief executive, but with only pre-screened, pro-Beijing candidates on the ballot.
"This veto has helped Hong Kong people send a clear message to Beijing...that we want a genuine choice, a real election," said pan-democratic lawmaker Alan Leong.
"This is not the end of the democratic movement," he said. "This is a new beginning."
The vote came earlier than expected, with only 37 of the legislature's 70 lawmakers present. Of these, 28 legislators voted against the blueprint and eight voted in favor, while one did not cast their vote.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang indicated that Beijing was disappointed.
"This result - that in 2017 there is not to be universal suffrage for the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region - is not something that we wished to see," Lu said.
Democratic lawmakers, all 27 of whom voted against the plan, marched to the front of the chamber immediately after the veto and unfurled a sign calling for genuine universal suffrage and for Hong Kongers not to give up.
Some carried the yellow umbrellas that became a symbol of the mass protest movement that brought parts of the former British colony to a standstill last year.
Cliff Collapse Kills at Least Five at Yogyakarta Beach
Jakarta Globe [18/6/15]:
At least five people were killed on Wednesday when part of cliff collapsed at Sadranan beach in Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, burying a total of 11 people.
A volunteer who joined the search and rescue efforts, Kuwat Slamet, said five people had been found dead after being buried under large pieces of rock on Wednesday afternoon, adding that two others had been rescued and four people were still being searched for.
Kuwat said the rescue efforts had to be halted on Wednesday night because of high waves. The rescue effort — with heavy equipment — was resumed on Thursday morning.
“The evacuation efforts, to save victims stuck under the rocks, are underway,” Kuwat said on Thursday. “Backhoe machines are being used to break the rocks.”
Indah Lestari, who witnessed the collapse, said she was playing on the beach with her niece when it happened.
Indah said she suddenly heard a thundering noise and then the cliff started to collapse.
It was not immediately clear whether rescuers thought the four people still unaccounted for were still alive.
Ukrainian soldiers confess to cold-blooded murder of 2 women ‘suspected of separatism’
Two Ukrainian servicemen have confessed to the murder of a mother and daughter in the Kiev-controlled portion of eastern Ukraine, the local prosecutor’s office reported on Wednesday.
The soldiers shot the women in the head with a machine gun.
The two residents of the Luganskoe village in the Donetsk region, a 77-year old woman and her 45-year old daughter, were killed on Monday, the statement from the press service of the prosecutor’s office in Donetsk region said. The women died of bullet wounds to the head.
An investigation was launched by the local prosecutor’s office, which is under the jurisdiction of the Kiev authorities, and two Ukrainian Armed Forces servicemen were detained. The soldiers, both in their twenties, have confessed to the murder.
“It has been established that on June 15 the soldiers entered the house of the victims, whom they suspected of separatist sympathies, and killed them with machinegun fire,” the official statement said.
The two men have been charged with premeditated murder. If found guilty, they face a jail sentence between seven years and life in prison.
The rare public case by pro-Kiev authorities against their own troops comes in the wake of international rights groups’ condemnation of both sides’ alleged use of torture and other intimidation tactics in the 14-month war, AFP reported.
Since April 2014, the conflict between Kiev and rebels in Ukraine’s south-east has claimed the lives of nearly 6,500 people, according to latest UN estimates.
A ceasefire agreement was signed by a contact group in Minsk in February, but fighting has sporadically continued in the region. On Wednesday, the defense ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said Ukrainian forces had violated the ceasefire seven times in that day alone, TASS reported. Both small arms and rocket launchers were used in the alleged attacks by Kiev forces.
On Wednesday, the Lugansk militia claimed that more than 500 civilians had been killed in Donbass since the ceasefire was agreed upon in February. According to the rebels’ statement, cited by RIA Novosti, Ukrainian forces have violated the ceasefire 9,000 times since mid-February, with some 1,200 reported shellings of residential areas.
NATO implementing biggest aggressive reinforcement since Cold War [Deutsche Welle - 18/6/15]
The suspected mastermind of an attack on a Paris Jewish restaurant in 1982 that left six people dead and 22 injured was arrested in Jordan on Wednesday then released on bail. ... [France 24 - 17/6/15]
An Al Jazeera investigation has uncovered how three Danish Muslims ended up in some of the Middle East's most notorious prisons following the alleged cooperation between Danish and Lebanese intelligence services.
Two of the men of Arab origin have revealed in an exclusive interview that when they refused offers to work for the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), they were arrested and tortured in Lebanon.
They allege Lebanon was acting on Danish orders in a new form of rendition - the practice of sending foreign suspects covertly to be interrogated in a country with less rigorous regulations for humane treatment - or an outsourcing of torture. ... [Al Jazeera - 17/6/15]
Egypt has granted presidential pardons to 165 people jailed under a controversial law governing the right to protest, a statement from the presidency said on Wednesday.
However, the list does not include any figures from the 2011 revolt that drove Hosni Mubarak from power and who were imprisoned under the law in a move that caused uproar among international human rights groups. ... [Naharnet - 17/6/15]
Egypt court confirms ousted President Morsi's death sentence [RUDAW - 16/6/15]
Former Australian soldier questions government's obsequiousness to the US and imminent rehearsal for war in Shoalwater Bay
Morning Bulletin [18/6/15]:
Tomorrow one of the world's largest warships, the USS George Washington, docks in Brisbane ahead of the 2015 Exercise Talisman Sabre at Shoalwater Bay.
The nuclear-powered warship and its 6000 sailors will join with Australian, New Zealand and Japanese troops for the joint training exercises from July 4.
Along with the troops come the protesters, on a mission to slow down and disrupt the international war exercises.
Activist Greg Rolles, a former soldier and the holder of a Master's Degree in International Relations, flies in the face of the stereotype peace protester.
Mr Rolles says he is not opposed to a trained military, but to the US Alliance and the wars the alliance has dragged Australia into.
"Wars like Afghanistan and Iraq have come at a huge personal and financial cost into the billions of dollars," Mr Rolles said.
"In 2003 we were involved in a huge scale support of Iraq that killed 1.3 million civilians and left the place in tatters.
"My first concern is the victims of war, the Australian soldiers and innocent people being killed… we need to step back for a moment and think what the best response is.
"It's an issue that isn't talked about much in Australia, but it sucks so much of our social and economic capital."
Mr Rolles joined the Australian Army in 2000. He was in basic training and preparing to move into electronic warfare on September 11, 2001.
"I started to question when it was morally right to kill someone," he said.
"Individually, a lot of officer cadets would talk to me about why we were killing all these people, but in a group everyone towed the line."
He left the army in 2003 and says the transition to peace activist was "an evolution".
Mr Rolles believes the best response to the current threat from Islamic State is to encourage an arms embargo and to stop buying oil from ISIS.
"The Syrian government is buying oil from ISIS and that's what funds a lot of their operations… they control the oil fields," he said.
"The Pro Shiite militia in Western Iraq, the Al Nusra Front operating in Syria or the Free Syrian Army have all been accused of human rights abuses as bad as ISIS, but they don't advertise it on video and social media.
"ISIS is looking for a response from the West, for military engagement.
"Lots of powers are flooding arms into the region, but there's no talk between US, Russia and Europe about how many weapons are being sold and who is selling them.
"That's one way you could use the United Nations... Germany has proposed an arms embargo.
"As it is, complex factions are fighting each other with cheap weapons.
"What else do you do when people are bombing your family? These people are desperate."
Mr Rolles and his friends operate under the principles of non-violence, though not necessarily the law.
He says it would be great if people contacted their local members to protest, but activists are planning to trespass on Shoalwater Bay.
"I understand why people are reluctant to engage with us, but I think we need to talk a bit deeper about the actual cost and what these war exercises are all about.
"Community, communication and peace-building is how we build a just, secure peace."
275 Killed across Iraq; Ramadi Operations Stalled [Antiwar - 16/6/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
... High risk children, dogs of war ...
'US Forces', Midnight Oil 
US Department of Defense [17/6/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted four airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL antenna arrays and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Aleppo, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Kobani, one airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Baghdadi, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL resupply vehicle and an ISIL weapons cache.
-- Near Huwayjah, one airstrike struck an ISIL staging area.
-- Near Beiji, one airstrike destroyed two ISIL armored vehicles.
-- Near Mosul, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar firing positon, destroying an ISIL structure.
-- Near Sinjar, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns, three ISIL fighting positons, three ISIL tunnel entrances, an ISIL structure and an ISIL rocket propelled grenade.
US Marine found guilty at retrial in 2006 murder of Iraqi civilian [Reuters - 17/6/15]:
A U.S. Marine was found guilty on Wednesday of murder in the 2006 slaying of a disabled Iraqi civilian, a killing that prosecutors said was motivated by a desire to send a message to a resistant Iraqi village, a Marine Corps official said.
Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins III was initially convicted of murder, larceny and making false statements over the killing of the civilian. His conviction was later overturned. The official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Hutchins was convicted again on Wednesday on three out of four counts, including murder.
Prosecutors have said Hutchins led a squad of Marines who planned a mission aimed at stopping militants' use of improvised bombs in the Iraqi village of Hamdania in the early morning hours of April 26, 2006.
When they could not find the suspected bomber, they went to a nearby house and took a disabled former police officer who was not a suspect, witnesses said in Hutchins' previous trial.
Hutchins and other Marines shot 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad, a father of 11 and grandfather of four, and placed an AK-47 and a shovel next to the corpse to suggest he had been planting a bomb, the witnesses said.
An attorney for Hutchins could not immediately be reached for comment.
Press TV [18/6/15]:
Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement says the recent ISIL bomb attacks in the impoverished Arab country may be another strategy by the Saudi regime to derail the intra-Yemeni peace talks, Press TV reports.
“Maybe Saudi Arabia started to use another strategy” to deal a blow to the ongoing negotiations between different Yemeni groups in the Swiss city of Geneva, Ali al-Emad, a member of the Houthi delegation in the Geneva talks, told the Press TV correspondent on Wednesday.
We will certainly adopt necessary measures to deal with Riyadh’s strategy, he stressed.
The remarks came hours after multiple bombings targeted the political office of the Houthi Ansarullah movement as well as three mosques in the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a, leaving at least 31 people killed. The ISIL Takfiri terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The Houthi official also touched upon the rising threat of al-Qaeda in Yemen, saying there would be no all-out solution to the Yemeni crisis unless the menace of terrorist group is contained.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Emad also rejected reports that the number of Houthi representatives in the Geneva talks is turning into an obstacle on the way of peace negotiations, saying all groups which oppose Yemen’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, have the right to be represented in the UN-sponsored intra-Yemeni dialogue.
Different political groups “came [to Geneva] because the UN asked them to come. They didn’t come by themselves,” he noted, adding that it is their unalienable right to be part of the peace talks.
Hassan Zaid, the leader of the al-Haq Party, also confirmed Emad’s account, saying the number of delegates was not discussed in Wednesday's meetings.
Emad also welcomed the UN’s initiative for a humanitarian pause in the Arab country in a bid to protect civilians against the Saudi aggression.
Meanwhile, reports said that Hamzeh al-Houthi, the head of the Ansarullah delegation, is scheduled to take part in a forum called “Human Rights Situation in Yemen and UN Responsibility” on the sidelines of the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The UN-backed peace talks aimed at finding a solution to the deadly crisis in Yemen will reportedly continue until Saturday.
This is while Saudi Arabia is still pushing ahead with its military campaign against Yemen.
On March 26, the Saudi regime started its aggression against the impoverished Arab country with an aim to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and bring Hadi back to power.
The United Nations says over 2,600 people have been killed and 11,000 others injured due to the conflict in Yemen since March 19.
High numbers of New Zealand bred lambs on a controversial demonstration farm in the Saudi Arabian desert have died soon after birth. ... [RNZI - 18/6/15]
As UN-backed talks continue, Security Council calls for political solution to Libyan crisis [Media Release – 17/6/15]
USA TODAY [18/6/15]:
Nine people have died in a shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., police said early Thursday morning.
"I do believe this was a hate crime," Police Chief Gregory Mullen said.
Eight people died on the scene at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and one person was pronounced dead at a hospital, Mullen said.
@TheKingCenter [18/6/15]: Dr. King at #EmanuelAME. #HistoricBlackChurch #CivilRightsMovement #CharlestonShooting
ASBURY PARK, N.J. -- A recently divorced off-duty police officer chased down and fatally shot his ex-wife on Tuesday, then put the gun to his head and held police at bay before he surrendered, authorities said.
Authorities say Neptune Township police Sgt. Phil Seidle had his 7-year-old daughter in the front seat of his vehicle while he chased after a car driven by his ex-wife, Tamara, shortly before 11:30 a.m. Authorities say moments after the chase ended, he got out and fired his .40-caliber Glock service weapon several times into her vehicle. ... [ABC7 - 17/6/15]
A U.S. soldier attached to an intelligence battalion in Japan has died during training exercises in South Korea, the U.S. military said in a statement on Thursday. ... [Yahoo - 17/6/15]
Worldwide displacement hits all-time high as war and persecution increase [UNHCR Media Release - 18/6/15]:
Wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people than at any other time in history to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere, according to a new report from the UN refugee agency.
The Global Trends report detailed that in 2014 alone 13.9 million people became newly displaced – four times the number of the previous year.
Worldwide there were 19.5 million refugees (up from 16.7 million in 2013), 38.2 million were displaced inside their own countries (up from 33.3 million in 2013), and 1.8 million people were awaiting the outcome of claims for asylum (against 1.2 million in 2013).
Most alarmingly, however, it showed that over half the world's refugees are children.
"With huge shortages of funding and wide gaps in the global regime for protecting victims of war, people in need of compassion, aid and refuge are being abandoned," warned Guterres.
"For an age of unprecedented mass displacement, we need an unprecedented humanitarian response and a renewed global commitment to tolerance and protection for people fleeing conflict and persecution."
Long one of the world's major displacement producing regions, the number of refugees and internally displaced people in Asia grew by 31 per cent in 2014 to 9 million people. Continuing displacement was also seen in and from Myanmar in 2014, including of Rohingya from Rakhine state and in the Kachin and Northern Shan regions. Iran and Pakistan remained two of the world's top four refugee hosting countries.
Palestinian refugee crisis a ‘time bomb’ for Middle East region, warns
UN official [Media Release – 17/6/15]:
The stark conditions afflicting millions of displaced Palestinians across the Middle East risk destabilizing the region and plunging it into a deeper humanitarian and security crisis, the head of the United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees has warned.
“The isolation, exclusion and dispossession of Palestine refugees in Syria, Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon represent a time-bomb for the Middle East region,” Pierre Krähenbühl, the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), said yesterday at a meeting of the agency’s Advisory Commission of major donors and host governments, held in Amman, Jordan.
Amid an explosive conflict in Syria and ongoing tensions across Gaza and the West Bank, Mr. Krähenbühl told delegates in attendance that more than five million Palestinian refugees currently face “an existential crisis on many fronts,” ultimately resulting in “a denial of dignity and rights that must be addressed.”
The situation afflicting the Palestinians across the Middle East region is, in fact, quite dramatic, according to the latest UN data. Gaza today is home of the highest unemployment in the world, with more than 60 per cent of young people not working.
Meanwhile, some 60,000 Palestine refugees from Syria have fled to Lebanon and Jordan, putting pressure on host communities. From Syria’s Yarmouk and Jordan’s camps to the West Bank, the lives of Palestine refugees are constrained, with poverty and deprivation overflowing in overcrowded camps and the needs of the communities continuing to grow resources.
At the same time, a recent UNRWA situation report from mid-May warned that the vulnerability of civilians in Yarmouk remains of the highest severity. The UN agency has repeatedly voiced its deep concern that without access, the most basic humanitarian needs of up to 18,000 Palestinian and Syrian civilians, including 3,500 children, continue to be left unmet.
“Being a Palestine refugee in Gaza means being a victim of a blockade that affects every aspect of one’s life and being dependent on food aid while being educated and wishing to be self-sufficient. Being a Palestine refugee in Aida camp near Bethlehem means living under the fear of daily incursions and detentions, as well as the anguish of denied access to opportunities. Being a Palestine refugee in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus means being a resident trapped by a merciless siege and bombardments and violence, deprived of regular access to water, food, electricity and basic health,” Mr. Krähenbühl declared.
Adding to the UNRWA head’s list of concerns was the dire situation facing the agency’s emergency funding which, for the Syria appeal, currently stands at only 27 per cent met. The Gaza reconstruction appeal is similarly underfunded with only $216 million in pledges received out of a total $720 million needed.
“Currently, UNRWA confronts a funding shortfall for core activities – such as schools for half a million children – to cover the year 2015 of USD101 million,” he continued. “UNRWA at present could pay salaries and cover activities only into September.”
Mr. Krähenbühl explained that his agency would organize a special
consultation with host governments within the next ten days to exchange further
views on the critical situation facing UNRWA’s efforts and the conditions of
Integrated global approach needed to ease plight of Roma – UN rights expert [Media Release – 17/6/15]
Dominican Republic’s "Ethnic Purging": Edwidge Danticat on Mass Deportation of Haitian Families [Democracy Now – 17/6/15]:
The Dominican Republic is set to begin what some are calling "ethnic purging," placing the fate of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent into limbo.
Half a million legally stateless people could be sent to Haiti this week, including those who have never stepped foot in Haiti and don’t speak the language. In 2013, a Dominican constitutional court ruling stripped the citizenship of children born to Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic as far back as 1929, retroactively leaving tens of thousands without citizenship.
Today marks the deadline for undocumented workers to register their presence in the Dominican Republic or risk mass deportation. However, only 300 of the 250,000 Dominican Haitians applying for permits have reportedly received them.
Many have actively resisted registering as foreigners, saying they are Dominican by birth and deserve full rights.
Dominican authorities have apparently organized a fleet of buses and set up processing centers on the border with Haiti, creating widespread fears of mass roundups. The Dominican Republic’s decision to denationalize hundreds of thousands of people has sparked international outcry.
We are joined by the acclaimed Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat.
AMY GOODMAN: What are you calling for? I mean, you’ve joined together with other writers in fiercely condemning what is happening. What do you think needs to happen now?
EDWIDGE DANTICAT: I think what needs to happen now is, first of all, awareness. I thank you for covering it, because the general U.S. media, in general, has been very silent about it. And so, for people to really inform themselves about what’s happening, to write to your congresspeople. And also, we are subsidizing, as Americans, the sugar industry in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic gets the largest ration of sugar subsidies, and [inaudible] to the U.S. So, you are—we are all implicated in this. So, make sure that this—that your voice is heard. Make sure you call your congresspeople, because lives depend on it.
Amnesty Australia calls for an independent inquiry into the government's payments to repel refugee boats
(framed with derogatory terminology)
Is the human rights establishment (and certain media outlets') persistent "people smuggler" framing of the payments careless, ignorant or deliberate?
Australia allegedly complicit in people-smuggling [Amnesty Australia Media Release - 18/6/15]:
Amnesty International is deeply concerned at recent allegations that Australian officials paid people-smugglers tens of thousands of dollars to return a boat carrying 65 asylum-seekers to Indonesia. If true, these actions would be in blatant violation of Australia’s international legal obligations.
The alleged events are detailed in documents provided to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) by the Head of Public Relations at the East Nusa Tenggara province police headquarters commissioner Ronalzie Agus. Indonesian authorities based this information on interviews with six witnesses as well as the captain and crew of the boat.
In May 2015, 65 asylum-seekers (10 Bangladeshis, 54 Sri Lankans, and one passenger from Myanmar) boarded a boat and attempted to reach New Zealand. After being intercepted twice by Australian authorities and taken to Australian waters, an Australian customs official allegedly paid a total of USD 31,000 to Captain Yohanis Humiang and his crew, to take the asylum-seekers back to Indonesia. Australian officials also reportedly provided the two wooden boats used to transport these people.
Eventually one of the boats was abandoned when it ran out of fuel, and the single vessel containing all the asylum-seekers and crew crashed on Landu Island in East Nusa Tenggara province on 31 May 2015, where local villagers rescued them. According to ABC, the crew are now in custody and the asylum-seekers are being held by Indonesian immigration authorities in a hotel in Kupang, the capital of East Nusa Tenggara.
Indonesian officials have reacted angrily to the reported incident, and Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused to deny these extremely serious allegations.
If Australia was indeed complicit in people-smuggling, it will have breached a range of binding international legal obligations. Smuggling of persons is a transnational organized criminal activity. As a signatory to the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, Australia has committed to combatting smuggling, which is defined at Article 3 as “the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.” At Article 6, the Protocol sets out other ways in which a person can be found guilty of people-smuggling, such as participating as an accomplice, or organizing or directing others to commit this offence.
The Protocol also requires states parties to protect the human rights of smuggled migrants. Among these fundamental entitlements are the right to seek asylum, the ban on torture, and the protection against being sent to a place where one is at risk of serious human rights violations. These are protected by international human rights instruments that Australia has ratified, such as the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention), the Convention Against Torture, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Additionally, the Refugee Convention forbids states parties from punishing asylum-seekers for the manner of their arrival to a country.
As a matter of urgency, Amnesty International is calling on the Australian government to immediately launch an independent inquiry into these events, and if the allegations are proven, to hold accountable those responsible and ensure that the incident does not recur.
Independent of this alleged incident, the way Australia treats asylum seekers already falls far short of its international obligations, and exposes people to grave danger. All asylum-seekers who arrive by boat are automatically detained in offshore processing centres including Nauru and Papua New Guinea (PNG). In recent years there have been reports of sexual violence against women and children on Nauru, and two asylum seekers held on Manus Island in PNG have been killed or died of treatable medical conditions.
Amnesty International also urges Australia to follow the eight recommendations aimed at the entire international community – as outlined in the organisation’s June 2015 report on the global refugee crisis, which has seen over 50 million people displaced from their homes.
Sixty years ago Australia helped draft the Refugee Convention, and was one of the first countries to sign it. Rather than looking to shirk its responsibilities, Australia needs to once more show leadership, contributing to a global response that prioritises not only protection, but human life and human dignity.
Quick everyone - let's talk about the media in Myanmar as thousands of Rohingya are being persecuted and rendered stateless ----> ... “The international community also has a key role to play in pushing the Myanmar authorities to end the repression of media. [Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific - 17/6/15]
ABC, Media Report [18/5/15]:
After more than half a century of military rule, Myanmar is transitioning to democracy and a free press is slowly emerging from the old system of threats and censorship. Andrew Dodd reports on the media landscape in the South East Asian nation. ...
Myanmar’s government is currently progressing an extensive and formidable reform program which is intended to cover economic, agricultural, health and education sectors. Government spokespeople consistently state that political will is strong and there is no turning back.
While barriers to increased investment in and trade with Myanmar remain, including the prevalence of outdated policies and regulations as well as dysfunctional institutions, the potential for mutual gain from partnerships between Australia and Myanmar is substantial. Importantly, such partnerships have great potential to assist in the building of Myanmar’s domestic capacity.
The success of the “Asialink Conversations, Myanmar” in January 2012, the “Asialink Business Mission” in May 2012 and the hosting in Sydney and Melbourne of a Parliamentary delegation from Myanmar led by the Speaker of the Lower House The Hon Thura U Shwe Mann in September 2012, demonstrates Asialink’s ability to foster extensive networks and expertise in Myanmar, as well as its capacity to facilitate key opportunities for Australia Myanmar engagement. ... [AsiaLink]
Religious extremism looms over Myanmar, David Scott Mathieson [CNN – 16/6/15]:
The impact of Myanmar's repressive policy toward Rohingya Muslims was made clear in recent weeks with scenes of desperate people crammed into boats, an escalation of a miserable maritime flight in which an estimated 90,000 people have fallen prey to smugglers and traffickers since early 2014. The United Nations estimates that around 1,000 people have died on the way.
The root cause is the long-term reprehensible treatment of the Rohingya in Myanmar (also known as Burma) -- stateless, officially and socially reviled, with severe curbs on their rights to work, travel, get health care and education, and practice their religion.
Yet even as this anguishing exodus has gripped international attention, it has obscured a connected and equally troubling pattern of rising religious extremism in Myanmar. At the height of the boat drama, parliament passed the "population control law," which permits the government to identify areas in Myanmar that could be subject to repressive birth control measures.
The law was inspired by Buddhist extremists whose stated agenda is opposition not just to Rohingya, but to all of Myanmar's sizable Muslim minority. The law was sharply criticized by many activists in Myanmar and opposed by the opposition National League for Democracy, but passed a joint parliamentary vote, 530 to 443, with 39 abstentions.
The population control law is one element of a package of four "race and religion protection" bills. The other elements are an interfaith marriage bill, which grants government oversight of any marriage between a Buddhist and non-Buddhist; a religious conversion law, which requires government permission to change one's religion; and a monogamy law, which could limit the rights of people living in unmarried relationships and potentially target Muslims.
These laws were proposed by the increasingly influential Race and Religion Protection Association, known by its Burmese acronym, Ma Ba Tha, consisting of prominent Buddhist abbots. The problem is that Ma Ba Tha has tapped into a deep and divisive strain of ethnic Burmese ultranationalism and a belief in Buddhist religious supremacy that has contributed to vexed and violent relations with scores of ethnic minorities since independence from the British in 1948. U Wirathu, Myanmar's most vitriolic Buddhist monk, infuses his regular public rallies with populist paranoia over a nonexistent Islamic takeover of Myanmar.
To push for passage of these discriminatory laws, the Ma Ba Tha staged public events throughout Myanmar and collected nearly 1.5 million signatures. The purportedly reformist government of President Thein Sein, pandering to Ma Ba Tha's agenda, then drafted similar pieces of legislation and submitted them to parliament.
There are fears that the three remaining draft laws will pass in this final parliamentary sitting ahead of the first ostensibly free national elections in decades later this year -- and possibly fuel anti-Muslim violence during what will be a very tense period. After all, a surge of violence in 2012, which amounted to ethnic cleansing, displaced about 140,000 Rohingya, who languish in squalid camps. At the same time, security restrictions on the estimated 1 million Rohingya in areas abutting the Bangladeshi border have been tightened. Several incidents of anti-Muslim violence in the past two years have caused dozens of deaths.
Last month, local authorities and Thein Sein's office denied permission to hold a Union Muslims Nationwide Conference in Yangon, citing its potential for instability. On June 2, a court in upper Myanmar sentenced a writer and former National League for Democracy official to two years in jail with hard labor for "insulting religion," over a 2014 speech defending the purity of Buddhism from Ma Ba Tha's political distortion.
Diplomats in the country realize that the race and religion laws could spark not only attacks on Muslims but justifications for government crackdowns. The United States, European Union and numerous United Nations officials have therefore conveyed their deep concern, although Burmese officials have rejected this out of hand.
Meanwhile, many Muslims see the laws as just one part of a long-term plan to extirpate the Rohingya and other Muslims from the country, and there is a danger that all this could lead to the collapse of the nascent political reforms over the past four years that have led to the beginnings of economic development, increased international assistance and direct foreign investment that are crucial to help pull Myanmar from the hole dug by 50 years of dictatorial military rule.
By mining the darker nature of Myanmar's Buddhists, religious
extremists and the political opportunists who seek to profit from them are
thwarting the aspirations of generations who have struggled for democracy and
openness. Sadly, the extremism reflected in the laws suggests a future of even
greater violence and division.
Washington Post [16/6/15]:
... What’s the source of it in your country? Why are we seeing it now?
[Aung San Suu Kyi] Well, I wonder, too. But of course, if you’re talking about the [western state of] Rakhine, these problems have existed for many, many decades. They’ve been simmering for quite some time, and the government has not done enough to lessen the tension and to remove the sources of the conflict.
Do you think the Rohingya should have citizenship?
The government is now verifying the citizenship status under the 1982 citizenship law. I think they should go about it very quickly and very transparently and then decide what the next steps in the process should be.
What do you say to your friends outside the country who say you should have been speaking more about the plight of the Rohingya and other minorities?
We have many minorities in this country, and I’m always talking up for the right of minorities and peace and harmony, and for equality and so on and so on, all the democratic values that the NLD and others have been fighting for for three decades now. We have been subjected to tremendous human rights violations all these years, and so have others, and many, many of our ethnic minorities took up arms because their rights have not been protected.
The protection of rights of minorities is an issue which should be addressed very, very carefully and as quickly and effectively as possible, and I’m not sure the government is doing enough about it. Well, in fact, I don’t think they’re doing enough about it.
What do you mean by “very, very carefully”?
It just means that it is such a sensitive issue, and there are so many racial and religious groups, that whatever we do to one group may have an impact on other groups as well. So this is an extremely complex situation, and not something that can be resolved overnight.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to China [New Mandala - 11/6/15]:
... Since 2011, however, the nature of China-Myanmar relations has changed considerably. Since early 2014, China has been operating twin oil and gas pipelines between Rakhine State in Myanmar’s northwest and Yunnan Province in China’s southeast. This is by far the most significant strategic commitment China has ever made to a new all-important oil and gas supplies for its rapidly growing economy.
It means that China can no longer afford miscalculations and mistakes in its relations with Myanmar. China will certainly want to protect – diplomatically – these new strategic energy security arrangements, and may want to find out first-hand how Suu Kyi and the NLD view these arrangements. Since the suspension of its Myitsone dam in 2011, China has been busy re-calibrating its relations with Myanmar, even engaging in new “public diplomacy” programs to overcome its negative image in Myanmar, while reaffirming the “strategic partnership” it developed under the previous Myanmar military regime. But, at the same time, China may have been concerned that the re-appearance of the United States, after years of sanctions, might have resulted in Myanmar tilting unnecessarily towards Washington.
For her part, Aung San Suu Kyi will want to reassure the Chinese about their ongoing strategic interests in Myanmar, which are intrinsically and uniquely beneficial for Myanmar. ...
Woodside takes up more acreage in Myanmar with BG [Australian Financial Review - 23/3/15]
Time to reign in corporate colonisation, Nathan Willis [30/1/15]:
... My thoughts on the topic are informed by my own research in Rakhine State, Myanmar, where the following facts are notable:
1. the Australian company, Woodside Petroleum, has an interest in gas reserves off the coast of Rakhine state;
2. a gas and oil pipeline has been laid from that location to Yunnan province in China;
3. gas has begun flowing through this pipeline;
4. land has been confiscated from local communities in order to facilitate this process; and
5. Rohingya refugees are fleeing the region. While the violence that they are fleeing is traced by most commentators to ethnic and religious conflicts, these conflicts have been fuelled by the land confiscations just mentioned. A further fact worth noting is that many of these refugees are now incarcerated in detention centres such as Manus Island that are run under agreement with the Australian government and at great expense to the Australian people.
Are we observing criminal behaviour, or activity that constitutes a serious breach of human rights, in this case? While many individuals along with corporate interests are profiting from the gas and oil pipeline that runs through Rakhine State, it is premature at this point to conclude that their investment in Myanmar in itself amounts to criminal behaviour.
Prosecutor cancels Assange meeting
I have now been detained without charge for 1650 days.
This afternoon, the Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny cancelled a prospective appointment to take my statement today.
We proposed the dates and Ny accepted them. Prosecutor Ny led my lawyers to believe that the appointment was proceeding.
My lawyers had booked tickets and I have been put to considerable expense.
Last year, the Swedish court of appeal found that prosecutor Ny had breached her duty because she had refused to take my statement for four and a half years.
The prosecutor waited another seven months before finally accepting my offer to take my statement in London. Today I learned that the Swedish legal application to Ecuador, which is likely to take weeks, was only sent to Ecuador two days ago.
To behave in such a way seems reckless and it is hard to imagine that it was more than a public relations exercise.
It is impossible to maintain confidence in this prosecutor under such circumstances.
Ex-News of the World deputy editor ‘misled over David Blunkett scoop’ [Guardian - 18/6/15]
Greeks rally against austerity ahead of bailout talks
Thousands of people have rallied in Athens against Greece's international creditors amid warnings that the debt-ridden country's future in the EU is at risk.
Some 3,000 Greeks of all ages gathered outside the Greek parliament to back the leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who has resisted the EU-IMF creditors' push for more austerity measures.
The protesters called on the international creditors to respect the mandate the Greek people gave to the leftist Syriza party which won the January parliamentary elections on an anti-austerity plank.
The protesters used colorful banners in front of the parliament reading "Our lives don't belong to the lenders" and chanted "the red lines must be respected", referring to the government's red lines in the strenuous talks that have dragged for over five months.
Greece's Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis who joined the protesters repeated the governments' commitment to end austerity, as European finance ministers meet on Thursday in the last ditch effort to strike a deal.
"We are pleased because the people are sending their own message to our partner creditors, that the proposals they have submitted are not generous and will further lead the country to a dead end," said Voutsis.
No breakthrough expected at Eurogroup despite Faymann visit, Juncker call [ekathimerini.com - 17/6/15]
Greek Parliamentary Debt Committee Declares All Debt Illegal [The Automatic Earth - 17/6/15]
Bigots who were suspended after their bigotry was exposed return to jobs torturing refugees at Australia's concentration camp on Nauru
A group of Wilson Security guards on Nauru who promoted Facebook posts of the Reclaim Australia movement which were hostile to Muslims have returned to work at the detention centre, sparking protests from asylum seekers.
In April eight members of the “emergency response team” (ERT) at the Australian-run Nauru detention centre were stood down, following a report by Guardian Australia.
They were suspended for posting anti-Islamic sentiments on Facebook pending an investigation, while others promoted posts by the Reclaim Australia movement. At the time a spokesman for Transfield Services, which subcontracts security to Wilson Security on the island, said the posts were “very concerning and not at all what we expect from our staff”.
But Guardian Australia has learned that some of the guards have now returned to the centre.
A spokeswoman for Wilson Security confirmed one of the employees’ contracts had been terminated, but that seven others have been counselled and have returned to work. They have not been permitted to engage in emergency response activities.
In one of the Senate hearings [April this year] into the Maintaining The Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities "Beat Asylum Seekers to Death" Bill, the committee was told that a former soldier (now guard on Nauru) asked a refugee where she was from.
When she replied "Iraq", he said he'd been deployed there.
"They killed my friends, so I killed 30 of them," he told her.
Suspended Nauru opposition MP to appear in court.
Australian government maintains its silence.
A suspended Nauru MP and former justice minister, Mathew Batsiua, is expected to appear in court shortly after spending the last two nights in custody.
Mr Batsiua was arrested on Tuesday during a protest outside Parliament over the continued suspension of him and four other Opposition MPs.
The Nauru government had claimed he was disrupting the work of Parliament.
Another of the five MPs, Roland Kun, yesterday had his passport confiscated and he was also refused a renewal of his passport.
Mr Kun spends most of his time in Wellington in New Zealand because his Australian-born wife has been denied a Nauru visa.
No explanation has been given and the phone is never answered when Radio New Zealand International tries to reach Nauru government officials to discuss various issues raised by this week's events.
New Zealand refuses to assist 65 refouled refugees.
Won't say if Australian authorities advised them the boat was headed their way.
A refugee group is welcoming an assurance the Government has not closed the door on raising the refugee quota.
The Green Party is calling for an increase in New Zealand's annual refugee intake from 750 to 1000.
Green Party immigration spokesperson Denise Roche launched a Member's Bill today, which would cost $19 million over the next three years.
Ms Roche said New Zealand is not pulling its weight internationally, especially as there are more refugees now than after the Second World War.
"It's about priorities and if we can spend $26 million on a flag referendum, if we can spend the millions that we are on sending personnel to a war zone then we can surely spend you know a tiny proportion of our budget in offering a safe haven for 250 displaced people," she said.
Prime Minister John Key has previously ruled out an increase from the current 750, but the Immigration Minister today said it was quite possible the number would rise rise.
Michael Woodhouse said the Government still had an open mind on an increase.
He told Morning Report the Government would want to consider how well its new resettlement programme had been working during the past two years before it makes a decision.
"If it's true we are able to settle the 750 and their associated family reunification refugees better and more effectively it is quite possible we could increase the number," said Mr Woodhouse.
"The Government has an open mind on that and we'll be taking advice early next year."
The minister said there was little advice to Government yet on the issue, but that simply reflected the fact that the decision wa still some months away.
General manager of the Auckland Refugee Community Coalition, Abann Yor, says that was a positive move, and the time was right for an increase.
But he said there must be a good transition so that refugees are settled well.
Mr Yor said there had been improvements to that process, so it would not be a big challenge to raise the quota.
Catch 22 remains unresolved [RNZI - 13/6/15]
Read the letter sent to the New Zealand Government by the refugees via [RNZI - 7/6/15]
As long as you don't try to get here by boat: Canberra to be declared a "refugee welcome zone" [Canberra Times - 17/6/15] <---- This is a sick joke, right?
Attempts to differentiate between how Howard, Gillard, Rudd and Abbott repelled refugee boats misses the point and perpetuates inhumanity.
The major parties hold the UN Refugee Convention in contempt.
Until the duopoly stranglehold is dismantled, the draconian legislation and anti rights laws will continue to be passed.
Gillard defends her government's non-compliance with the UN Refugee Convention. Refuses to explain what "major disruptive activities aimed at 'people smugglers'" is [VIDEO - BBC - 17/6/15]:
The former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has defended the immigration policy of her government and insisted that the crews of migrant boats were never paid to turn back.
It follows claims in the last few days that an Australian navy ship paid the crew of a migrant boat to turn back to Indonesia.
There have also been suggestions the practise is not new.
Ms Gillard told Stephen Sackur her government had never authorised any such payments.
She also defended her own government's record on immigration, during which time detention centres were re-opened to cope with the rising numbers of people trying to get into the country.
Any politician who supports legislation that repels refugees (and opposes parliamentary motions seeking adherance to the UN Refugee Convention), then makes speeches about how they care about refugees, should not be protected from scrutiny.
They should be exposed as the hypocrites they are.
House of Representatives Hansard [17/6/15]:
Mr FEENEY (Batman) (13:56): Last week Australia saw yet another example of this government's irresponsible exploits when it comes to asylum seekers, with the Prime Minister refusing to deny that people smugglers had been payed to ship people back to Indonesia. This most recent incident follows the Prime Minister extolling the virtues of his 'turn back the boats' policy in relation to the Rohingya humanitarian crises.
It was deeply irresponsible for the Prime Minister to liken the week-long journey from Java to Australia, where boats are turned back to a transit country, to a situation in the Indian Ocean where people travelling for weeks in unsafe conditions face the risk of being pushed back into the open ocean to suffer from malnutrition and even starvation.
Even after two damning reports, we are still seeing children languishing indefinitely in detention and we have even seen babies hours-old returned to Nauru. This comes after the government's inexcusable use of detained children as blackmail to pass their temporary protection visa scheme. In 2014 children in detention had been held for an average of 400 days, a shocking statistic when we consider the impact that indefinite detention can have on the mental, physical and developmental wellbeing of these children. In the United Kingdom the maximum period a child can be detained is three days. No-one wants to see children in detention, and we have only seen the length of detention increase under this government. Where children must remain in detention for any length of time, their health, education and wellbeing must be assured by the provision of adequate services and facilities.
Asylum seeker policy should be driven by fairness, compassion and a determination to prevent deaths at sea; instead, what we are getting from this Prime Minister and this government is secrecy, an ignorance—(Time expired)
AUSTRALIAN WEEKLY POLITICAL ROUNDUP 2008-7 [26/9/08]:
... Federal ALP MP Julie Collins (a former ALP Tasmanian State Secretary) also told us recently that the decade-old Tasmanian ALP government is also in trouble, despite a leadership change in May. New ALP Senator David Feeney, one of the party's smartest strategists, noted that these results are more an indication of long-term ALP governments wearing out their political welcome than any trend against the ALP per se (see reftel). Before his election, Feeney was ALP Assistant National Secretary. He was director of the marginal seats campaign for the 2007 election, and was campaign manager for South Australian Premier Mike Rann's prior campaign (which resulted in a big win for Labor). ...
... Feeney, who, along with Marles "hunted as a pack" as young men. ...
House of Representatives Hansard [17/6/15]:
Mr HAYES (Fowler—Chief Opposition Whip) (19:29): This week is Refugee Week, and I would like to use this opportunity to recognise the contribution of refugees in my electorate and across the nation. Many of them have fled horrendous environments, often facing immediate threats to their lives and those of their families. As the representative of the most multicultural electorate[s] in Australia, I am constantly amazed at the resilience of many refugees that I meet, and also at their drive and their determination to create better lives for themselves and their families here in Australia.
The majority of refugees living in my electorate came to Australia following the fall of Saigon 40 years ago this year. Vietnamese refugees were often referred to as our first boat people. In the decades that followed, they have become an integral part of Australian society but have always maintained their proud Vietnamese heritage.
One of the most prominent organisations in my electorate is the Vietnamese Community in Australia, VCA. Since its inception almost 40 years ago, VCA's New South Wales chapter has grown into one of the most significant not-for-profit organisations in south-west Sydney. I have had the opportunity of working very closely with its president, Dr Thang Ha, and his board and have seen first-hand the VCA's efforts to support the community and ensure that the most vulnerable members of the community are not left behind.
Due to the high concentration of refugees and newly arrived immigrants, especially from South-East Asia, my electorate is home to the first Buddhist school in Australia, the Pal Buddhist School. A friend of mine Andrew Giang Nguyen is the school's accountant and is a former Vietnamese refugee himself, while the school's principal, Panha Pais, is a refugee from Cambodia.
The Cambodian refugee story is particularly compelling given their escape from the murderous regime of Pol Pot over 30 years ago. I have had the opportunity to hear many stories over the years, not only of their struggle to survive and their determination to escape such regimes but their drive to contribute to the Australian society. One of the most interesting stories comes from a young woman Lina Tjoeng, who, after escaping the Pol Pot regime, came to Australia, studied, became a local solicitor and is now the President of the Khmer Community of New South Wales.
More recently, Australia has seen a large number of refugees from the Middle East, fleeing the atrocities in Iraq and Syria, arriving in Australia and setting up home here. These refugees are particularly blessed compared to those left behind. Late last year, together with the member for Berowra, I had the opportunity of seeing first-hand the conditions in refugee camps across the Middle East. We visited Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. We know for a fact that those countries are carrying a huge humanitarian load, hosting the majority of refugees fleeing the violence.
During our visit to the camps in these countries, we were told how the camps were established to accommodate a much smaller anticipated number of refugees but only for a period of three months as that was how long the conflict was expected to last. As the conflict continues with no end in sight, these host countries are truly struggling. Children lucky enough to reach a camp were trying to study while sitting on an earthen floor in tent classrooms. There is not much in the way of hope in those camps.
Refugees who have been settled in Australia have made an enormous contribution to this country. Apart from contributing to the professions, to business and to our economy, they have set up religious, educational and cultural organisations that support the settlement of new arrivals. I have had the opportunity to visit a large number of these institutions, particularly in the Liverpool and Fairfield area, and I am impressed with the focus they have in shaping the younger generation to be more productive members of Australian society while maintaining their connection with the culture and traditions of their homeland.
I praise the efforts of refugees in my community and across the nation. They contribute very positively to the rich tapestry of our multicultural community, and in south-west Sydney we are particularly proud to be considered the most diverse community in the country.
Australia's protected and unaccountable
Immigration Minister: Press releases about tourism visas and migration trends
nullify my atrocities against refugees
New pilot visa to boost Australian tourism [Minister for Immigration Media Release - 17/6/15]
Migration Trends report highlights migration growth [Minister for Immigration Media Release - 176/15]:
More than 207,900 migrants settled permanently in Australia in 2013–14.
Australia’s Migration Trends 2013–14 report released today shows that India remained the main source country for migrants with almost 40,000 Indian nationals migrating to Australia in 2013–14.
In the same year almost 30,000 people born in India chose to become Australian citizens.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the report contains a wealth of information about the current trends in migration.
“The report provides a rich and valuable source of information on how immigration is shaping our nation,” Mr Dutton said.
Australia granted 290,000 student visas in 2013-14 – the highest number since the Global Financial Crises.
“This is proof Australia’s Student Visa Programme continues to remain strong and appealing to the overseas market and keeps its place as one of Australia’s major export earners,” Mr Dutton said.
The report provides insights on global economic trends. Tourist numbers from China increased by almost a quarter in 2013–14 reflecting its large and growing middle class.
In 2013–14, the permanent Migration Programme delivered almost 128,600 places under the Skill stream and just over 61,000 places through the Family stream.
“Permanent migration remains a pillar of Australia’s migration programmes providing social and economic benefits through its skilled worker and family reunion programmes, ” Mr Dutton said.
18 June 2015