The Saudi military has conducted another combat sortie striking Yemen’s southwest, where at least 10 civilians were killed.
Yemen’s al-Masira television channel reported that the Tuesday airstrike left nine students and a women dead in an area in Ta’izz Province.
Nearly ten others were also injured.
Meanwhile, Yemen's official Saba Net news agency said more than a dozen civilians were killed and five others wounded in similar attacks on homes in the town of Haydan, the northwestern province of Sa’ada.
Saudi warplanes also carried out airstrikes on two areas in the capital, Sana’a. In addition, the provinces of Ma’rib and Jawf were targeted by the Saudi warplanes. ... [Press TV - 19/1/16]
In Yemen, a classroom called home [UNICEF - 18/1/16]
‘Staggering’ civilian death toll in Iraq – UN report [Media Release - 19/1/16]
United Nations humanitarian agencies expressed concern today that an estimated 200,000 people are facing “sharply deteriorating conditions” in the besieged western side of Deir-Ez-Zor city in Syria, while the top UN relief official stressed that the world body continues to act “impartially, neutrally and independently” to reach people in need throughout the country. ... [Media Release - 18/1/16]
Terror attacks continue across Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [19/1/16]:
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, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 10 strikes in Syria:
-- Near Ar Raqqah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL underground facility.
-- Near Al Hasakah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building and wounded an ISIL fighter.
-- Near Ayn Isa, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL mortar system.
-- Near Manbij, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed seven ISIL vehicles and wounded five ISIL fighters.
-- Near Mar’a, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and an ISIL headquarters building.
Strikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 25 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Kisik, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Mosul, 10 strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units, an ISIL communications facility, and an ISIL-used culvert and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL assembly areas, two ISIL weapons caches, and an ISIL excavator.
-- Near Ramadi, eight strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL command and control node, an ISIL building, cratered two ISIL-used roads, and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Sinjar, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Qayyarah, three strikes struck two ISIL-used culverts and denied ISIL access to terrain.
Russia’s warplanes have made 157 sorties over the past four days destroying 579 terrorist targets, Russia’s Defense Ministry's spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday. ... [TASS - 19/1/16]
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [19/1/16]:
Baghdad: A roadside bomb has exploded near a traditional market in Hor Rijab area in Doura south of Baghdad resulted in two deaths and 5 injuries.....
Baghdad: A roadside bomb has targeted a police patrol in Tarmiya district north of Baghdad resulted in death and 4 injuries of policemen....
Baghdad: News agencies: A roadside bomb attached to a car owned by lawyer exploded in Jame'a neighbourhood today evening killing him......
Baghdad: News agencies: A roadside bomb exploded near shops in Amil neighbourhood today evening killing a person and wounding 5...
Defense Secretary Ash Carter joined Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery today before welcoming the prime minister to the Pentagon for a discussion on defense cooperation between the United States and Australia.
In a statement provided by Peter Cook, Pentagon press secretary, Carter and Turnbull discussed recent developments in Iraq and Syria, and the need to continue close collaboration on security issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
Carter expressed appreciation for Australia’s contributions to the counter-ISIL coalition, as well as Australia’s continued support in Afghanistan.
Carter said he looks forward to Australia’s participation in the counter-ISIL coalition meeting Jan. 20, in Paris. [US Department of Defense - 19/1/16]
Defence hit by wave of compensation claims after abuse culture revealed [Brisbane Times - 19/1/16]
Queensland man Shaun Barker's accused killers joked about torturing him and ignored his pleas for help from inside an esky, a court has heard.
A witness has described callous behaviour towards a man locked in an esky by accused murderers Stephen John Armitage, Matthew Leslie Armitage and William Francis Dean at the trio's committal hearing.
Mr Barker was allegedly locked in a commercial esky, tied up in bushland, and had honey smeared on his genitals to attract ants before he was murdered north of Brisbane in December 2013 following a drug dispute. ... [Yahoo - 19/1/16]
Cole Miller: Man charged over alleged assault, Daniel Maxwell, applies for bail [ABC - 19/1/16]
A senior Queensland police officer now faces a single domestic violence-related charge after four others were dismissed over a technicality.
The senior sergeant, who is in his 40s and cannot be named for legal reasons, was charged with five counts of contravening a protection order late last year in relation to alleged emotional and psychological abuse.
The claims relate to alleged incidents on the Gold Coast in November and December, including at a primary school and a police station.
The man, who represented himself, appeared in the Southport Magistrates Court on Tuesday where he questioned why he was facing five charges when he'd been issued with only one notice to appear. ... [Yahoo - 19/1/16]
A Brisbane bikie club house is among a number of properties raided by police as part of an anti-gang [rights] operation. ... [Yahoo - 19/1/16]
A boy, believed to be aged 12, witnessed the fatal shooting inside Quakers Hill police station in Sydney's north-west, police say.
The boy was at the Lalor Road station when a man carrying a large bladed knife came into the foyer and started yelling incomprehensibly, Fairfax Media understands.
It is understood the man, who police say is aged in his 40s, then lunged towards a senior officer before he was shot in the shoulder just after 10.30am on Tuesday.
Police and paramedics tried to revive him but he died a short time later.
A critical investigation is underway, headed by the NSW Police Homicide squad. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 19/1/16]
Demonstrators block San Francisco Bay Bridge in Martin Luther King Day protest [Huffington Post - 18/1/16]:
Protesters linked with the Black Lives Matter movement chained themselves together on the busy San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Monday, blocking rush-hour traffic bound for San Francisco.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day action was to protest police shootings, such as the December San Francisco police killing of Mario Woods, 26, who police said had threatened officers with a knife. Cellphone video appears to show Woods made no sudden movements toward cops. ...
Spike Lee, Pinkett Smith boycott Oscars, Academy promises more diversity [Reuters - 19/1/16]
... We have heard and we have lived with the myth of time. The only answer that I can give to that myth is that time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. And I must honestly say to you that I’m convinced that the forces of ill will have often used time much more effectively than the forces of goodwill. And we may have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around saying, "Wait on time." ...
Newly discovered 1964 Martin Luther King speech on civil rights, segregation and apartheid South Africa [Democracy Now - 18/1/16]:
... I am still convinced that it is love that makes the world go round, and somehow this kind of love can be a powerful force for social change.
I’m not talking about a weak love. I’m not talking about emotional bosh here. I’m not talking about some sentimental quality. I’m not talking about an affectionate response. It would be nonsense to urge oppressed people to love their violent oppressors in an affectionate sense, and I have never advised that.
When Jesus said, "Love your enemies," I’m happy he didn’t say, "Like your enemies." It’s pretty difficult to like some people. But love is greater than like. Love is understanding creative, redemptive goodwill for all men.
Theologians talk about this kind of love with the Greek word agape, which is a sort of overflowing love that seeks nothing in return. And when one develops this, you rise to the position of being able to love the person who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. And I believe that this can be done.
Psychiatrists are telling us now that hatred is a dangerous force, not merely for the hated, but also the hater. Many of the strange things that happen in the subconscious, many of the inner conflicts, are rooted in hate. And so they are saying, "Love or perish." This is why Erich Fromm can write a book entitled The Art of Loving, arguing that love is the supreme unifying force of life.
And so it is wonderful to have a method of struggle where it is possible to stand up against segregation, to stand up against colonialism with all of your might, and yet not hate the perpetrators of these unjust systems.
And I believe firmly that it is through this kind of powerful nonviolent action, this kind of love that organizes itself into mass action, that we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation and the world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. Certainly this is the great challenge facing us.
... "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device" ...
'Hotel California', Eagles 
Surfers Paradise [19/1/16]
There is no protection on Nauru from this behaviour because there is no Rule of Law, just arbitrary, crude and evil behaviour. ...
Nauru Senate Inquiry - Supplementary Submission [Mr Jon Nicholls No. 95.1]:
... Despite what one may find on the internet, at no time has Mr Nichols suggested waterboarding etc was part of some organised intelligence gathering for whomever - he says it occurred in a modern day 'Lord of of the Flies' - 'Stanford Experiment' type situation - the guilty parties did it for mere enjoyment and human nature is what it is.
Nauru Senate Inquiry - Public Hearing, 20 August 2015:
... Mr Nichols: There is a strong culture of what has often be referred to as RAR, Royal Australian Regiment. A lot of the staff over there are ex-military—whether it be the New Zealand Defence Force or the Australian Defence Force—and a lot of them still harbour the hatred towards whom they perceive to be the enemy, which are the people that they are supposed to be providing care for. ...
‘Guards brag openly about waterboarding at Nauru’ – Former immigration centre guard [RT - 21/8/15]
Antimalaria drugs part of secret program to torture detainees at Guantanamo [Kevin Gosztola - 5/4/15]
Asylum seekers on Manus Island are being given a type of anti-malaria medication that detention centre staff have been warned not to take because of serious side effects.
Centre staff were warned not to take Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, because of adverse health effects.
Salvation Army worker Simon Taylor says in a submission to a Senate inquiry that he is aware asylum seekers have been given the drug despite the warnings to staff.
Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration warns that patients with a history of depression, anxiety disorders or other major psychiatric illness should not be prescribed the drug.
It's common for asylum seekers in detention to suffer depression, post traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.
The US military developed the drug in the 1970s and has curbed its use among troops after it was linked to permanent brain damage, suicide, murder and domestic violence.
The United Nations Special Rapportuer on Torture has found that various aspects of Australia’s asylum seeker policies violate the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. ... [Human Rights Law Centre Media Release - 9/3/15]
Australia has taken Guantanamo as its model, and
Guantanamo’s other sordid legacy [The Hill - 18/1/16]:
President Barack Obama repeated in his state of the union address his longstanding promise “to keep working to shut down Guantanamo.” He should, and Congress should work with him to do that.
Guantanamo Bay has come to symbolize indefinite military detention without charge or trial. But the U.S. naval base has another sordid legacy that Obama should take every opportunity to repudiate: its use as a detention facility for asylum seekers. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to Washington, DC on January 18 and 19 is an occasion to do just that.
That’s because Australia’s own offshore detention of asylum seekers draws directly on the U.S. experience at Guantanamo in its earlier incarnation as a refugee camp.
Whether in the Pacific or at Guantanamo, offshore refugee detention is calculated to serve two underhanded purposes—to deter further arrivals of people who might be fleeing persecution and violence, and to create a law-free zone to evade legal scrutiny.
That sordid moment in U.S. immigration policy began when thousands of Haitians fled their county, many on boats bound for the United States, after a military coup deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in September 1991. Fearing an influx in boat arrivals, U.S. authorities intensified a decade-old operation under which the U.S. Coast Guard routinely boarded Haitian-flagged vessels and detained the passengers and crew of any boat thought to be headed for the United States.
Under this “interdiction” operation, Haitians were screened in very brief, onboard interviews, without lawyers or adequate information, to determine if they had refugee claims. Those who passed the screening were supposed to be transferred to the United States to seek asylum, but just a few dozen were until litigation compelled the United States to admit about 10,000 Haitians who had been “screened in.”
But several hundred men, women, and children who had passed these “credible fear” screenings were not sent to the United States. These Haitians were HIV positive, and for that reason alone the United States held them for two years at Guantanamo before admitting them to the mainland as part of a legal settlement.
Even after their departure in 1993, Guantanamo has continued to serve as an offshore detention center to the present day, mostly housing Haitian and Cuban asylum seekers, where they remain in indefinite detention.
Australia has taken Guantanamo as its model, and doubled down.
The Australian government has made immigration detention mandatory for all asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Under policies in effect between 2001 and 2008 and again since 2012, these asylum seekers are forcibly transferred to “processing centers” in the countries of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. And since mid-2013, Australia has insisted that all those who establish that they are refugees will be resettled in one of those countries or a third country, not Australia.
At the end of December, Australia held some 900 asylum seekers on Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea, and 500, including 68 children, in Nauru.
When I visited Manus Island in 2013 on behalf of Amnesty International, I saw people in despair. Many had escaped armed conflict in Afghanistan, Darfur, Syria, and elsewhere; others had fled relentless persecution because of their religion or ethnicity. They worried about what would happen to them if they were resettled in Papua New Guinea, particularly because detention center guards repeatedly told them that they had to be locked up for their own safety.
Worst of all, asylum seekers reported, was the uncertainty they faced. “The main problem here is that they are keeping us in limbo,” a 28-year-old Iranian told me.
Mandatory offshore detention is particularly abusive for children. As reports by the Australian Human Rights Commission and other bodies have found, these children are locked up for long periods of time, sometimes sharing facilities with unrelated adults. Education is irregular, primary health care is inadequate, and mental health services are insufficient, among other shortcomings. Self-harm and thoughts of suicide are far too common.
Obama emphasized “the power of our example” in his State of the Union. That means calling out abusive practices whether they persist at home or are adopted abroad.
Michael Bochenek is senior children’s rights counsel at Human Rights Watch.
... A/S RICHARD: Well thank you for your question. I did meet with Australian colleagues at the May 29th meeting in Bangkok including the Ambassador for People Smuggling -- or Against People Smuggling, I guess. The United States takes a different approach off our shores to people coming toward us in boats.
You know our Coast Guard intercepts the boats and then conducts interviews on its decks to find out if the people, if the boat people in the Caribbean have a credible fear of persecution or not.
And if it is judged that they are economic migrants they’re returned to places from which they’ve come.
But if it’s judged that they may have a case for asylum then they are not returned and that they get follow-on interviews and they may end up being moved as refugees to a new country. So the numbers we’re talking about in the Caribbean are quite small, but this, with this approach of ensuring that people get a chance to express their case is a part of what the US is doing that I think is needed throughout the region. I think that’s mostly on that issue. ...
... Goledzinowski [Australia’s ambassador for people smuggling issues, Andrew Goledzinowski] said resettlement was raised during the Bangkok meeting on 29 May.
“All who spoke on resettlement said that this was not a durable solution for the Rohingya problem and that it would constitute a pull factor,” he told a Senate estimates committee on Wednesday.
“The UNHCR was the most articulate on this point.”
He engaged in bilateral meetings with representatives from some of the other 16 countries in attendance, and is adamant that at least one will seek further briefings on adopting Australia’s key asylum seeker measures.
“We also were able to talk a little bit about our own experiences during operation sovereign borders where we’ve been very successful in disrupting people trafficking and smuggling networks,” Goledzinowski said.
... Anne Richard, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for population, migration and refugees, said resettling all Rohingya refugees in the United States would entice others to leave their homeland.
"The answer to the issue is peace and stability and citizenship for the Rohingyas in Rakhine state, and that is the solution," she said at the end of a three-day visit to Malaysia. ...
Israeli weapons aid potential genocides in Myanmar and Burundi [Electronic Intifada - 18/1/16]
“It has been two years in hell. I don’t care about your policy, I don’t care about your politics. I am tired. I am sick. I just want to get out of this cage. Send me away. Hand me over to the UN. Just let me be free.” ...
A life in limbo: The refugees who fled torture only to end up incarcerated indefinitely by the Australian government on Manus Island [Guardian – 5/9/15]
Are Australia's complicit professional health associations and unions at least warning members about possible future liability for crimes against humanity?
Australia's offshore detention damages asylum seekers because it's supposed to [Guardian - 19/1/16]:
... Bosula The Labor Party has an obligation and responsibility to 'oppose' and question. As a retiree this why I stopped voting for the Labor Party several years ago. Tanya and Bill have failed us.
Copper Yes, enough reason to break a lifelong practice. Time for courage ALP. Find a better way.
Wheelspinner Me too. One thing the ALP could do that might encourage me to vote for them again is to promise a RC into OSB with wide powers and the prospect of subsequent criminal proceedings.
Ben Cantwell Excellent summary of this policy area Most Australians would not kick a dog to make it go away.
In the case of refugees, we do much worse than that to make OTHER REFUGEES go away.
This policy is barbarism - pure and simple. We are scum for implementing it. It is a national disgrace.
Labor needs to commit to a royal commission into all on water and detention matters upon election to government. Light needs to shine into all the dark corners. The Australian people need to see with their own eyes what they are doing to innocent people. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear!
People held in immigration detention have rates of severe mental distress nearly four times the general population in Australia, the government’s detention health services provider has said.
With average detention times at a near-record level of 445 days, International Health and Medical Services has warned the government that detainees’ mental health is deteriorating dramatically the longer they are incarcerated. ... [Guardian - 19/1/16]
The Doctors Trial: The Medical Case of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]:
On December 9, 1946, an American military tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 leading German physicians and administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The only way to end a bipartisan policy of cruelty is through NON partisan opposition to it
... Mr Burke said Australia would not resile from sending unaccompanied children to detention centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, and said asylum seekers would be sent to Nauru soon. ...
[Sydney Morning Herald - 15/8/13]
Sydney Morning Herald [14/3/12]:
The Immigration Department developed its new, highly restrictive policy on media visits to detention centres with reference to US military arrangements governing media access to the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention centre.
Documents released under freedom of information show the ''deed of agreement'' that Immigration insists journalists and media organisations visiting detention centres must sign was ''informed by … the current US Department of Defence media access policy for its detention facility at Guantanamo Bay''.
The department also justified extremely tight media control and censorship to the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, as ''the right balance'' in circumstances that included ''the current climate associated with media ethics, media 'phone hacking' [in Britain]''.
Asylum seekers and refugees are being abused on our watch. It's time to put detention under surveillance, John-Paul Sanggaran [Guardian – 12/9/15]:
... I have spent this year working to gather the concern that exists in the healthcare sector about the lack of transparency in detention. This has centred on the endorsement of a joint statement calling for the government to uphold a bipartisan commitment to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).
The joint standing committee on treaties in 2009 signed Australia up to the OPCAT, which parliament has since failed to ratify.
The OPCAT is a United Nations treaty that would allow for monitoring of detention centres by national and international bodies. Its effect is broader than immigration detention, giving protection to prisons, police lockups, juvenile detention centres, locked psychiatric facilities, and secure disability and aged care facilities.
It is a lot harder to abuse people when you are being watched.
There is no argument of any substance against the OPCAT. It is a mechanism put in place by 78 other countries including the UK and New Zealand. At its heart is transparency.
The OPCAT is a robust way to ensure that the human rights of people in detention are respected in Australia. ...
A motion in the Australian Senate to expedite the ratification of OPCAT didn't even get to a vote because Queensland ALP Senator Claire Moore objected. It was the fastest objection ever!
Senate Hansard [11/8/15]:
Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (15:54): I ask that general business notice of motion No. 782 standing in my name for today, relating to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, be taken as a formal motion.
The PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to this motion being taken as formal?
Senator Moore: Yes.
The PRESIDENT: There is an objection.
Senator WRIGHT: I seek leave to make a short statement.
The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Senator WRIGHT: I am greatly concerned that the government has chosen to deny me a chance to put this important motion to expedite the ratification of OPCAT, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. This OPCAT was voluntarily signed up to by an Australian government in 2009, and since then both Labor and coalition governments have inexplicably dragged their feet in its ratification. OPCAT would ensure independent monitoring and reporting on places of detention in Australia, all those places where some of the most overlooked marginalised and powerless people are kept detained: prisoners in jails and police lockups, patients in psychiatric facilities, young people in juvenile detention, and asylum seekers. With very recent examples of deaths in custody and cruel and inhumane treatment of people detained, it is very disappointing that I have been prevented from putting this motion today. It is crucial to fully ratify the protocol and set clear time frames to implement. Australia's own good standing is at stake.
Senator FIFIELD (Victoria—Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (15:55): I seek leave to make a short statement.
The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Senator FIFIELD: Just for the sake of accuracy, while the government does not support Senator Wright's motion, it was the opposition that denied formality on this occasion.
Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:56): I seek leave to make a short statement.
The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Senator MOORE: Yes, Senator Wright, we did deny formality to this important motion, because it is our longstanding practice. Where we have an issue such as this which is complex and creates a number of complex situations and also determines significant discussions across all states and territories, we believe it is not appropriate to use the notice of motion process for that, and that is our standard practice.
No matter your view on asylum seekers and offshore detention, a prohibition on torture is something we can all support, writes Greens Senator Penny Wright, who will present a motion to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture to Parliament today. ... [Lawyers Weekly - 11/8/15]
Richard Marles reasserts the ALP's support for refoulement, refugee concentration camps, disappearance and exile [House of Representatives Hansard - 2/12/15]:
... So, when history looks to lay the blame for what occurred in the past, it will not be nearly as simple as the minister's description just now. Equally, when history looks to ascribe credit to how we have brought an end to the journey from Java to Christmas Island, it will remember that the regional resettlement arrangement, which was put in place by the then Labor government and resulted in 90 per cent of the vessels from Java to Christmas Island stopping before the current government was ever sworn into office. Yes, there is no doubt that turning around the remaining 10 per cent of those vessels has been a critical step taken by this government, but this government has enjoyed an opposition which has supported it in its endeavours to bring an end to that journey between Java and Christmas Island—an enjoyment that was not shared by the former Labor government in respect of the former coalition opposition. ...
Legal advice from the Solicitor-General, sent to Professor Triggs' office late last week, argued she did not have the jurisdictional power on Manus Island and Nauru to hear the complaints of people kept in offshore processing centres.
She could still hear and consider complaints from Australia but would be unable to verify conditions firsthand.
''The power to inquire into these complaints may only be exercised in Australia, that is by actions taken by the [Human Rights Commission] president in Australia,'' she said in a statement.
Human Rights Commissioner Barred From Manus Nauru Visit Professor Triggs, who first announced her intention to visit Nauru in October, was told she would have to get legal advice about whether she had jurisdiction to hear the complaints at Nauru's processing centre.
But the initial legal advice given to Professor Triggs' office states she has jurisdiction only over people on Australian soil, including asylum seekers kept in mainland detention centres and on Christmas Island, an Australian territory. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 5/3/13]
19 January 2016