As Australia makes it impossible for refugees to reach the South East, it is only logical that we are pushing them back to the North West
Austria holds refugee talks as young Hazaras flee persecution to make dangerous journey to Europe [Their ABC - 29/2/16]
Sydney Morning Herald [16/10/15]:
A group of 120 refugees stuck in Pekanbaru, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, have gone on a hunger strike to protest their frustration over delays to their resettlement in a third country.
Ahmad Zaki, a Hazara refugee from Pakistan, said the refugees wanted the UN refugee agency to come to Pekanbaru to discuss their resettlement cases and open an office in the Sumatran city.
"We are waiting for our resettlement process from more than one year," Mr Zaki said. "I want to go to Australia or any other country."
The men, who are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Myanmar, have been found to be genuine refugees by the UNHCR.
Their accommodation, medical care and a living stipend is paid for by the International Organisation of Migration.
"We tried to contact UNHCR many times. They make excuses every time. They reached other cities every two to three months regularly," Mr Zaki said.
About 13,000 asylum seekers and refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Indonesia.
Many found to be genuine refugees remain stranded in the archipelago while the UNHCR tries to find a third country in which to resettle them.
In an interview with Fairfax Media last week, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Indonesia was not a destination country for refugees.
"So we hope that countries like Australia could take more. But of course I understand the domestic situation," she said.
"Shared responsibility, shared burden is very important. I leave it to the UNCHR to have a discussion with destination countries that belong to the Convention [relating to the Status of Refugees]."
... After five days at sea, their boat reached Australian waters, but the engine failed as they struggled to make their way closer to Christmas island.
The Rohingya desperately waved to the crew of a passing Australian Navy vessel, which Mr Abdul said did not respond. ... [The Straits Times - 1/2/16]
Australian media - and human rights establishment - suddenly concerned about European countries closing their borders, pushing away asylum seekers (and the concept of Safe Passage), while totally ignoring the plight of thousands of refugees in our region and those trapped indefinitely in Australian concentration camps.
Which country on this map of South East Asia is a supposedly a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, but hasn't accepted refugees since 2014?
The UN has warned European countries shutting their doors on asylum seekers are defying European regulations and refugee-protection standards.
Europe migrant crisis: Thousands stuck on Greece's northern border after Balkan countries put cap on migrant arrivals [ABC - 28/2/16]:
... On Saturday, some 3,000 people marched in Brussels demanding "safe passage now" for migrants while smaller demonstrations drew hundreds in Paris and other European cities.
Some marchers symbolically wore life jackets and blankets in a bid to highlight the dangers migrants face trying to cross the Aegean Sea to Europe.
Australia's anti refugee policy is creating a flow on regional human rights disaster --> Trapped in Sittwe or rounded up and imprisoned while registering at a UNHCR office in Malaysia [Myanmar Now - 19/2/16]
Rohingya kids in the rain during the rainy season in Sittwe's Muslim Quarter, now effectively a sealed ghetto.
Image: @andreapitzer [16/7/15]
Australia for UNHCR [29/2/16]:
We are pleased to announce that we have launched new services to increase protection for refugee women and children arriving in Europe.
UNHCR and UNICEF together have scaled up 20 "Blue Dots", support centres which provide safe spaces for women and children, health services, family tracing and counselling all in the one location.
Nearly 60% of sea arrivals to Europe were women and children in February - they are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking and violence.
These Blue Dots are a critical step in ensuring the safety of refugees as they flee from violence. ...
@UNrefugees - Australia for UNHCR is dedicated to providing life-changing humanitarian support to refugees, displaced and stateless people [29/2/16]: Refugees Chief Filippo Grandi warns of #refugee bottleneck in Greece ...
@UNHCRCanberra - (UNHCR) Regional Office for Australia, New Zealand, PNG and the Pacific [27/2/16]: Sunrise Incredible report from @AndrewOkeefe_7 and @billyfoster15 on the Syrian #refugee crisis and Australia's role ...
@UNHCRCanberra - (UNHCR) Regional Office for Australia, New Zealand, PNG and the Pacific [29/2/16]: RNZ News New Zealand is showing the first #Syrian #refugee intake a very warm #WelcomeToWellington this week ...
Jail for boat crew paid by Australian official to turn back [Sydney Morning Herald - 17/1/16]:
The captain of an asylum seeker boat who said he was paid thousands of dollars by an Australian official to return to Indonesia has been sentenced to five years and eight months' jail on people smuggling charges.
The panel of judges also ordered Yohanis Humiang, 35, to pay 700 million rupiah ($70,000) or serve an additional five months in prison.
The remaining five crew members were sentenced to five years and six months' jail and a fine of 500 million rupiah or an extra three months' prison time.
The asylum seekers remain in limbo in Indonesia.
Kandiha Kayuran and his wife, who gave birth in December, are still in immigration detention in Kupang.
He told Fairfax Media they had no idea what the future held.
"No one cares, New Zealand is not listening, and Australia too, even after the Amnesty report came out. Please help us."
New Zealand government refers refugees to Australia [RNZI - 13/6/15]:
The Government has told 65 asylum seekers wanting to live in New Zealand to contact United Nations officials in Australia.
The people, from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, say they were heading for New Zealand when they were shipwrecked on an Indonesian reef earlier this month.
In a letter seen by Radio New Zealand, the group made a plea to the Government for asylum, saying it is unsafe for them to return home.
A written reply from the office of the Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, said while New Zealand accepted 750 refugees annually, it could not pick and choose.
It said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra was responsible for inquires dealing with New Zealand and suggested the group approach that office. [The UNHCR Canberra have said nothing - they refer any concerns about atrocities against refugees in our region to the Bangkok office.]
A UN representative in Indonesia said they met with the group, 52 of whom were registered as refugees. [As far as we know, these refugees are still detained in Kupang.]
Myanmar: Incoming NLD government urged to restore Rohingya rights [Jakarta Post - 27/2/16]:
... Thejakartapost.com recently spoke to Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK), which has long been advocating for the restoration of the rights of the people whose situation he said was only growing worse each day.
Tun Khin called for the international community, in particular member countries of ASEAN, of which Myanmar is a member, as well as the UN to come with stronger action to pressure the Myanmarese government, particularly when the National League for Democracy (NLD) government comes in April.
Although he now resides in London, Tun Khin is highly anticipating the transformations expected to be forged by the new government led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, adding that the people of Myanmar have voted for hope, not hate.
However, he voiced disappointment at Suu Kyi, who has so far not provided any evidence in taking action toward addressing the issue of the Rohingya people.
"Actually, it is a very tragic moment for the Rohingya because she is not speaking up. Rohingya people strongly supported her as she is trying to build human rights and democracy. But we have to wait and see, but we are cautiously optimistic," Tun Khin said.
Suu Kyi standing up for the rights of the Rohingya will instill more confidence in democracy and human rights activists to add their voice and push for change in the country, said Tun Khin.
Tun Khin said the NLD should immediately address the issue and lift the restrictions imposed on the Rohingya people. He also urged neighboring countries to be more proactive in restoring the rights of the oppressed population.
Meanwhile, Lilianne Fan, international director of the Geutanyoe Foundation, which provided humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya refugees who arrived in Aceh, said that awareness of the Rohingya issue should be heightened in the region.
She expressed concern that people were more informed about issues of further regions, such as in the Middle East where the Palestinians were stateless, in comparison to the problems that are right at their doorstep.
"For the Rohingyas, this is our Palestine," Lilianne said.
She viewed Indonesia as having shown exemplary leadership in terms of conducting a humanitarian response for the refugee crisis last year where Acehnese fishermen were involved in rescuing 1,807 people from stranded boats.
Indie Spirit Awards 2016: Read the acceptance speech Joshua Oppenheimer didn't get to give [Indie Wire - 27/2/16]:
Oppenheimer won the Spirit Award for best documentary, but was cut off from giving his acceptance speech by the house band.
"So honored that 'The Look of Silence' won a Spirit Award.
We got played off, but here is the speech we meant to give...
'The Indonesian genocide began 50 years ago today, but in a terrible, important way it hasn't ended, because the perpetrators are still in power, and millions of survivors still live in fear.
Nevertheless, I'm deeply honored that our films, the act of killing in the look of silence, have led to a movement for truth, justice, and reconciliation in Indonesia where once there was silence – or even noisy celebration.
Yet the silence in the title also refers to our silence. Because the Indonesian genocide is not just Indonesian history, but American history.
The US provided weapons, money, and training to the death squads, and lists of thousands of names of public figures whom United States wanted killed.
We in the US must do the same work as Indonesians. We must declassify the documents that reveal our role in these crimes, and take responsibility.
We are so honored by the support of the independent film community, because your recognition of our work helps us use the film to make real change.
Right after the Oscars, we will be traveling with indonesia's national human rights commission to Washington, D.C., to meet with White House staff, urging our government to declassify the documents and acknowledge its role in these crimes.
Film, particularly independent film, can hold up a mirror of truth, but only with your help. For that help, we are so grateful.'"
Indonesia: Military involvement in Jakarta red-light-district eviction deplorable says National Commission of Human Rights [Jakarta Post - 29/2/16]:
... The commissioner further said that if the city administration was acting in the spirit of reform, it should not involve TNI personnel in any building demolition activities, such as those currently taking place in Kalijodo.
“Eighteen years ago, we agreed that the TNI should not be involved in such activities anymore,” he said. ...
The parents of a missing LTTE cadre on Monday told the President's Missing Persons Commission in Chavakachcheri their son was one of the LTTE cadres photographed alive under the custody of the Sri Lankan military at the end of the armed conflict.
Pointing to a photograph published by Channel 4 News, the parents identified their son, P Ajinthan, sitting with his hands tied behind his back, surrounded by armed Sri Lankan military soldiers. [Tamil Guardian - 29/2/16]
Australian doctors should boycott working in detention centres, Dr John-Paul Sanggaran [The Age – 19/2/16]:
... We doctors have ample, consistent and ongoing evidence that the treatment of asylum seekers within Australian immigration detention centres is reprehensible.
We have the stories of asylum seekers themselves.
We have our colleagues risking imprisonment to inform us.
We have international condemnation.
We cannot hide behind the excuse of ignorance. We know what is happening. We know it constitutes a form of systematic child abuse. We know it constitutes a form of torture.
The Australian Medical Association's code of ethics states: "Regardless of society's attitudes, ensure that you do not countenance, condone or participate in the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading procedures, whatever the offence of which the victim of such procedures is suspected, accused or convicted."
The code could not speak more clearly or directly. By continuing to work within immigration detention we merely provide legitimacy to those that would lie and mislead the public into believing healthcare of a respectable standard is being delivered. By continuing we maintain and perpetuate suffering and injustice.
Australian Psychological Society calls for bipartisan approach to end offshore processing [Media Release - 5/2/16]:
... Professor Kyrios said: “Remote detention restricts access to mental health and other services, as well as impeding links to community resources and networks and increasing the likelihood of abuse. Of particular concern, the harsh restrictions around information and disclosure make it almost impossible for health professionals to meet their ethical obligations. This is a complex issue that requires input from a range of organisations and disciplines with the right expertise to ensure our obligations to protect people's health and safety are met.”
Candlelight Vigil this Sunday 6 March 7pm #LetThemStay
Image: @EbonySecombe [29/2/16]
If you work in Australia's refugee concentration camp network YOU "risk jail" [ABC, Law Report - 23/2/16]:
Greg Barns [Australian Lawyers Alliance]: ... What we are talking about here is a pretty significant issue, and it's a significant issue in this sense, that is that there is a duty of care to workers and other persons who come onto the site to prevent risks to their safety and health, including psychological health.
If a workplace operator, if it's the Department of Immigration or individuals within the Department take steps which put those duties in jeopardy, they can face substantial fines and, in the case of individuals, can face jail.
There are serious penalties, in fact it's a maximum fine of up to $3 million for government department.
For any particular officer who may have taken steps in addition to the department it can be a fine of between $300,000 and $600,000 and a maximum five years imprisonment.
So we are talking about quite serious laws here, we are not talking about speeding tickets.
Still no coherent explanation why these lawyers did not also send this letter to Shorten [Lawyers Weekly - 26/2/16]:
Legal associations and law firms have called on the government to close offshore detention centres in an open letter to the prime minister.
The letter urges the government to allow the 267 asylum seekers affected by the recent High Court decision to stay in Australia and advocates for the relocation of all asylum seekers and refugees in regional processing centres to Australia.
It was signed by more than 40 law firms, representative bodies, legal associations and jurists.
The letter expresses the signatories’ concerns that offshore processing centres make it difficult for either Australian or local lawyers to act for asylum seekers, thus undermining a key principle of the rule of law – access to justice.
“The Australian government is deliberately transferring these vulnerable individuals to a place where it is difficult to obtain adequate legal advice,” the letter reads.
“Despite our combined advocacy, it remains difficult for Australian lawyers to visit asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru or Manus Island.”
Reports that allegations of sexual assault made by asylum seekers were not being properly investigated are also causes for concern, according to the letter.
“We are gravely concerned about sending women and children to places where the Australian government cannot guarantee their protection under the law from physical violence,” the letter reads.
Signatories to the letter include the Law Institute of Victoria, the Human Rights Law Centre, the National Association of Community Legal Centres, Julian Burnside QC, Alastair Nicholson QC, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and Slater and Gordon Lawyers. Maurice Blackburn, which is representing six of the 267 individuals at risk of being returned to Nauru, initiated the open letter.
“It is clear that Nauru and Manus Island are not appropriate environments to be sending asylum seekers who have sought our protection,” said Maurice Blackburn lawyer Nicki Lees, who led the initiative.
“The urgent need to close regional processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island is a view widely held within the legal community, which the number of signatories to this letter has clearly demonstrated.”
ALP helps Coalition lock in offshore detention [ABC - 24/6/15]
Labor will be supporting this legislation because it is our policy.: "Opposition" Leader, Bill Shorten speaking on the Migration Amendment (Regional Processing Arrangements) Bill 2015 [House of Representatives Hansard - 24/6/15]
The dismissal of the UN Assange decision by Australian refugee advocates and "seen on TV" human rights lawyers is disturbing [UN Victory in Assange Case: Decision has big implications for refugees and whistleblowers [Center for Constitutional Rights - 5/2/16]:
... In our briefs to the WGAD, we argued that someone is effectively detained when they are forced to choose between confinement and running the risk of persecution. That is the precise dilemma faced by Mr. Assange, who would lose the protection of his asylum if he stepped out of the embassy. The risk of extradition is the 'fourth wall' for the now repudiated claim that he is free to leave the embassy. As a result, it has been years since Mr. Assange has had access to proper medical care, sunlight, or the ability to see his family.
The WGAD's decision in Mr. Assange's case sets an important precedent for refugees. In our submissions we analogized the situation faced by Mr. Assange to that of asylum-seekers in detention facilities. States may claim that asylum-seekers held in subhuman conditions are not 'detained' because they are technically free to leave for their home country, but this is a non-choice, since the home country would persecute the asylum seeker.
The WGAD decision could mean that so-called 'open' facilities like the Israeli Holot, deep in an Israeli desert, and the Australian-run center in Nauru are legally equivalent to closed prisons.
This concept of detention builds on arguments already adopted by many sources of international law, including the European Court of Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and WGAD case law.
We expect this decision to be cited in future refugee detention challenges.
The decision is also resounding victory for freedom of expression as it recognizes that whistleblowers and publishers need protection, and acknowledges the coercive effect of an extradition threat. The WGAD announced today that the “Republic of Ecuador granted asylum because of Mr. Assange’s fear that if he was extradited to Sweden, he would be further extradited to the United States where he would face serious criminal charges for the peaceful exercise of his freedoms.”
The decision is a major milestone in the growing international consensus about the need to protect those who promote the publication of truth about government. Last October, the European Parliament voted to protect whistleblower Edward Snowden from extradition to the United States. That same month, the UN envoy charged with safeguarding free speech around the globe issued a report calling on governments to protect whistleblowers and confidential sources rather than punishing them.
Queensland Human Rights Act Public Information Session [QAILS]:
Date Mon 29 Feb 2016
Host Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland
Taking place at Brisbane Square Library
Queenslanders are being given the opportunity to have a say on the possible implementation of a Human Rights Act (Charter of Rights) in Queensland thanks to an inquiry launched by the Queensland Government.
Before you have your say, find out exactly what a Human Rights Act would mean for everyday Queenslanders by attending a free public information session.
The Anti-Discrimination Commission, in partnership with 'A Human Rights Act for Queensland' campaign will explain the benefits of a Human Rights Act, how it might operate in Queensland and who will be protected.
Experts will be on hand to answer your questions about human rights legislation and assist you to make submissions to the inquiry.
This event is taking place 1:30-3pm and again at 6:30-8pm.
To book a space email: email@example.com
Queensland Human Rights Inquiry
Lawyers Weekly [15/2/16]:
... The recent High Court decision on offshore detention of asylum seekers is a prime example of the damage that can be done in the absence of adequate human rights protections, according to Professor Williams. In the current legislative context, “it becomes almost expected that [human rights breaches] will happen as opposed to being something that should be avoided”, he said.
Through his research, which he will share at the upcoming seminar, Professor Williams explores “just how deep the human rights problem goes” in Australia.
“[The problem] actually goes well beyond asylum seekers [and] anti-terror laws and [is] entering all sorts of other areas of law as well,” he said. While Professor Williams is advocating for reform, he said it is unlikely that change will occur federally in the current political climate.
“At the federal level, there's not much on the horizon because really to get that you've got to have political will and at the moment neither party is showing that,” he said.
In fact, the government appears to be travelling in the opposite direction with respect to human rights – with the full blessing of the opposition, he continued.
“We keep lowering the bar on respecting human rights standards and there just hasn't been any political pushback to that,” he said.
“So, in fact, rather than there being strong and vigorous debate in parliament, often these provisions will sail through.
“The combination of lack of legal checks and a political culture that is quite willing to see such law enacted means that we have a very permissive system when it comes to breaching human rights.”
Thanks for numbering every box and putting the LNP last! ----> The Queensland Labor Government must urgently re-introduce a waste management levy to stop Queensland being treated as a dumping ground by other states.
As reported on today, about 10 per cent of Queensland's landfill last year came from other states where waste management levies exist.
"The Labor Government is letting Queensland be treated as a rubbish tip by other states and it stinks," Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens Deputy Leader and environment spokesperson, said. ... [Greens Media Release - 29/2/16]
Lynham’s Mineral Law amendments will weaken landholder rights in Queensland even further [Lock The Gate - 23/2/16]:
The Bill introduced into Queensland Parliament today by the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines improves access to the Land Court and puts some limits on mining near homes and infrastructure, but will even further erode the rights of landholders already being heavied by CSG companies.
Lock the Gate Alliance has called for the Mineral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill to be substantially changed to revoke all of the worst elements that were initially put forward by the Newman Government.
Lock the Gate’s National Campaign Coordinator, Carmel Flint said the amendments were needed to protect farmers from bullying and intimidation by mining giants, and to protect food-growing areas and the health of families forced to live near coal and gas developments and infrastructure.
“The Bill introduced by Minister Lynham today takes the final step in fully reinstating the rights of the community to challenge mining projects through the Land Court, and that is a positive measure,” Ms Flint said.
“It also puts some hard restrictions on mining near homes and infrastructure, but unfortunately the limited distances of the setbacks (from 50m to 200m) are completely inadequate to prevent impacts on families and farming businesses.
“The real concern here is that despite the weak laws that are already putting undue pressure on farmers forced to deal with CSG companies, this Bill dramatically reduces the protections available to them on a number of counts.
“It allows CSG companies to sign landholders up to ‘opt-out agreements’ which would see vulnerable people unknowingly signing away their rights to negotiate a Conduct and Compensation Agreement.
“This is an outrageous step that gives CSG companies even more power over the ordinary folks that are forced to deal with them invading their properties and their communities.
“The Bill also removes existing rights that landholders had to negotiate with CSG companies who sought to conduct activities within 600m of their homes.
“Lock the Gate is staunchly opposed to any law changes that reduce the rights and protections of ordinary Queenslanders up against the power and money of the CSG industry.
“We are astonished that the State Government would propose to erode current protections for landholders when it is clear that the system is already heavily skewed against them.
“We fear for the well-being of farmers who will be caught by a system that is even more damaging then the one that is already causing extreme harm in its current form.
Major parties get arses kicked in Irish election [The Economist - 27/2/16]:
When polling stations closed in Ireland at 10pm on February 26th, Fine Gael and Labour, the two parties that make up the governing coalition, were hoping that the pollsters would be wrong. History, in the form of the surprise victory last May of the Conservative party in Britain after five years of austerity, could be repeated in Ireland, they thought.
But those hopes were soon dashed by two exit polls published overnight, suggesting that the government parties have done even worse than expected. Fine Gael was expecting more than 30% of the vote and to emerge the largest party in the Dáil, Ireland's lower chamber of parliament, by a large margin.
Although the full result may not be known until Tuesday, initial tallies suggest the party may have received as little as 25% of the vote, with second-placed Fianna Fáil, the populist party that dominated Irish politics before the financial crisis, hot on its heels in terms of seats.
And Labour looks as though it will do worse than predicted too. Although Joan Burton, the Labour leader still managed to retain her seat, her party is set to lose the vast majority of its representatives.
In contrast, the opposition, in the form of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin (a left-wing nationalist party), and other smaller left-leaning groupings, look set to make big gains.
Independents are also expected to receive a record share of the vote: as much as a sixth of the total, according to the exit polls.
Symbolically, the first candidate declared elected was Shane Ross, the head of the Independent Alliance, a grouping of non-aligned politicians ...
Wicklow count centre staff locate missing eternity ring [Irish Times - 27/2/16]
In the first installment of this two-part series for teleSUR‘s “Days of Revolt,” host and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges and Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein identified the problem: the “corporate leviathan,” a bought two-party political system.
In this episode, they discuss solutions. There’s been a lot of chatter this campaign season—much of it from unlikely or untrustworthy sources—about how the economy is rigged.
Trying to attack that issue from within the existing framework, however, isn’t going to change anything, according to these two thinkers. ... [VIDEO - Truthdig - 24/2/16]
Twin suicide bombing kills 70 in Baghdad's deadliest attack this year [Reuters – 28/2/16]
29 February 2016