You could undertake a full investigation/report into every aspect of government involvement in the Manoora tragedy i.e. housing, family and welfare services, mental health so it never happens again.
Or you could engage
in a media spectacle and eradicate the real issues by demolishing the house.
Presumably prosecution and defence were consulted on the demolition of a crime scene before trial?
Brisbane Times [20/5/15]:
Almost six months after eight children were brutally killed in Cairns just before Christmas last year, the home in which they perished will finally be demolished, to make way for a permanent memorial.
Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday, 37, faces eight murder charges over the deaths of three of her daughters, aged two, 11 and 12, four of her sons, aged five, six, eight and nine, and her 14-year-old niece.
Since the multiple homicide in the Murray Street home in the Cairns suburb of Manoora on December 19, which shocked even the most seasoned of emergency responders, the house has remained standing.
The delay in its demolition was a source of angst in the tight-knit community, but it had been required to remain intact while the legal processes played out.
On Wednesday, Housing and Public Works Minister Leeanne Enoch said the house would finally be demolished in the first week of June.
"It's been important to ensure that all the stakeholders have been consulted at each stage of this process," she said.
"That has included making sure that there were no legal impediments, and I've been advised that those issues have now been resolved.
"At the same time I've asked the department to keep locals informed through the Community Healing Project, and for the families involved to be the priority of everyone involved."
Community Healing Project co-ordinator Michael White said a permanent memorial would be installed at the 34 Murray Street site, which was adjacent to a public park.
"With support of the Mayor and Cairns Regional Council the site will be turfed as a temporary measure while we determine the most fitting tribute to be placed there," he said.
Mr White said the final decision on the future of the site would come from consultation with the families of the children and the communities most affected by the tragedy.
"The house has been a constant reminder of grief and sadness for many residents and the overwhelming desire is for the house to be removed," he said.
"With ongoing conversations and input from the families and community, we hope to create a place of remembrance that will bring a sense of peace and healing to the community.
"We won't be rushing this process. It will take as long as it needs to take to achieve the right outcome."
Cairns MP Rob Pyne said the community would welcome the demolition date.
"While we've been working to finalise a date for the demolition we've also been moving ahead with the other planning that needs to happen around that," he said.
"For example, now both the traditional owners and the family will coordinate the cultural activities they want to occur on site before demolition proceeds."
Allison Baden-Clay's parents ask for privacy as appeal date announced
The parents of murdered Brisbane mother Allison Baden-Clay have asked for privacy after an appeal date was set for her husband, Gerard, who was convicted of killing her.
Queensland's Court of Appeal said yesterday it would begin hearing a challenge against the murder conviction of Gerard Baden-Clay on August 7.
Baden-Clay was last year sentenced to life in jail for killing his wife in April 2012.
Allison's parents, Geoff and Priscilla Dickie, said in a statement today they were "still coming to terms with this horrific crime".
"On behalf of Allison's loving family and friends, we are aware that an appeal date has been set for August 7 in the Queensland Court of Appeal," the statement said.
"We have no comment to make on the matter other than we are waiting for the justice system to complete all relevant processes so we can move forward with our grieving and our lives.
"We still have a long road ahead of us coming to terms with this horrific crime.
"We would ask you all to respect our privacy during this difficult time.
"The family will be making no further comments on the matter. Thank you."
The body of the mother of three was found on the bank of a creek in Brisbane's west 10 days after Gerard Baden-Clay reported Allison missing from their Brookfield home.
He is serving life in prison, with a non-parole period of 15 years.
The former real estate agent has maintained his innocence.
Last July, Baden-Clay's lawyers filed an appeal, claiming his
conviction was unreasonable and the trial judge made errors when dealing with
Morcombe murder appeal returns to court
The result of an appeal by Daniel Morcombe's convicted murderer could be delivered as soon as Thursday.
Lawyers involved in Brett Peter Cowan's case are due to assemble in the Court of Appeal in Brisbane on Thursday afternoon.
It remains to be determined whether a judgment can be delivered on last year's appeal, after Queensland Chief Justice Tim Carmody recently withdrew from the three-judge panel amid bias allegations.
Possible outcomes discussed at a previous hearing include the appeal being decided by two judges or a fresh hearing.
Cowan, 45, is serving life including at least 20 years without parole for 13-year-old Daniel's abduction and murder in 2003.
The repeat child sex offender was arrested in August 2011 after undercover police posing as gangsters tricked him into confessing and revealing the location of Daniel's remains.
He was convicted of indecently treating and murdering Daniel, and interfering with his body, in March last year.
The appeal was heard more than six months ago by Justice Carmody, Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo and Justice Hugh Fraser.
The panel also heard a concurrent appeal of Cowan's non-parole sentence by former attorney-general Jarrod Blejie.
Justice Carmody's controversial withdrawal from the case earlier this month followed allegations of perceived bias and growing tensions on the bench.
The allegations were sparked by an April meeting with child safety advocate Hetty Johnston, who publicly stated Cowan should never be released.
Cowan's lawyers are seeking an acquittal or retrial, and argue that a secretly video-recorded confession was inadmissible at trial.
They also say the jury should have been instructed to consider the possibility someone else told Cowan where Daniel's remains were.
Man accused of killing Eunji Ban unfit for trial, Queensland Mental Health Court judge rules
A Queensland man accused of the bashing murdering South Korean woman Eunji Ban in Brisbane has been declared unfit to stand trial due to a major psychiatric illnesses.
Alex Reuben McEwan, 21, has been in custody since November 24, 2013, when the badly battered body of Ms Ban was found in Wickham Park in Brisbane's CBD.
The 23-year-old had only been in Australia for six weeks when she was allegedly bashed to death on her way to her job as a cleaner.
McEwan's matter was heard in the Queensland Mental Health Court before Justice David Boddice and two assisting psychiatrists.
Justice Boddice ruled last month he was unfit to stand trial, however the matter was unable to be reported for 28 days after the decision was handed down.
During the hearing the court was told McEwan admitted to his mother that he had murdered a woman and confessed in a police interview following his arrest.
While he was under the influence of alcohol and possibly cannabis at the time of the offence, his mental state deteriorated rapidly after his arrest.
McEwan allegedly told police that he had longstanding feelings he would kill somebody, the court heard.
"He described an ability to communicate with God and the devil," Justice Boddice said.
"He also described the television mirroring what he thought."
A psychiatrist diagnosed him with a number of mental health disorders and he has since undergone electroshock therapy.
Three psychiatrist witnesses concluded McEwan was of sound mind at the time of the offence, but that his current medical condition made him unfit to stand trial.
They rejected the possibility he was feigning mental illness to avoid a trial, but believed his unfitness may be of a temporary nature.
Justice Boddice accepted their evidence that McEwan was temporarily unfit for trial.
"It may well be that in time, the defendant's mental illness will become sufficiently controlled, such that he will be fit for trial," he said.
"It is unclear when that situation may occur."
Justice Boddice ordered that McEwan be subject to a forensic order requiring his continuing detention.
Ex-wife of murdered crime boss Carl Williams abandons plan to sue over his death
The Age [20/5/15]:
The ex-wife of murdered gangland boss Carl Williams has decided not to sue the state of Victoria for negligence over his fatal 2010 prison bashing.
Supreme Court Justice Terry Forrest said on Wednesday that Roberta Williams was planning to abandon her claim for a payout.
Carl Williams' father, George, Roberta, and the couple's daughter, Dhakota, had originally filed a statement of claim in September 2012 seeking compensation over the alleged failure of the state, particularly prison officials, to ensure the safety of the convicted murderer and drug trafficker while he was serving life with a minimum 35-years' jail.
But Justice Forrest said a proposed amended statement of claim, which had yet to be filed with the court, indicated Roberta had withdrawn her bid for compensation.
The case, which the judge described as "a complicated piece of litigation", would still go ahead involving George Williams and Dhakota suing for damages and had been set down for trial on July 20.
The Williams' claim that because of the crime boss's murder at the hands of fellow inmate Matthew Johnson, they have been deprived of the financial benefits expected in return for Williams' co-operation with police in a murder investigation.
Their statement of claim alleged authorities knew or ought to have known that housing Johnson with Williams posed a significant risk.
Williams, 39, was repeatedly struck over the head with the metal stem of an exercise bike on April 19, 2010, inside his high-security Acacia Unit at Barwon Prison.
Johnson, one of two inmates he was living with, was convicted in 2011 of his murder.
The notoriously violent Johnson was a member of a gang called Prisoners of War known for assaulting inmates who co-operated with police investigations, as Williams was at the time of his death.
Defence barrister Dyson Hore-Lacey, SC, for George Williams, told the court on Wednesday he was surprised the state coroner Judge Ian Gray had decided not to hold an inquest into Carl Williams' death as there were many unresolved issues, including the dangers he had faced in prison and the need for him to be protected.
Mr Hore-Lacey foreshadowed that a number of prison and police officers could be called to give evidence during the civil trial, which is expected to take up to five weeks.
He indicated former Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer might also be called as a witness after he had found, in a 2012 report to Parliament, that catastrophic failures within Corrections Victoria had led to Williams' murder.
"Corrections Victoria failed in its statutory obligation to protect Mr Williams from real and appreciable danger," Mr Brouwer said.
Justice Forrest adjourned the case for a further directions hearing on June 5.
The state coroner had ruled out holding an inquest into Williams' murder in April 2014, saying it would be an unnecessary duplication of several other investigations already conducted.
Judge Gray said the only reason to hold an inquest would be to investigate management issues at Barwon Prison but he could find no systemic defects that had not already been addressed by other agencies and government bodies.
Queensland's woman's head 'impaled on bracket'
A Queensland woman has been rushed to hospital after becoming impaled on a steel bracket.
The 50-year-old fell at a private residence in Palm Cove, north of Cairns, just before 2.30pm on Wednesday and was taken to Cairns Base Hospital in a stable condition.
The bracket had passed through her head behind the ear and emerged at the jaw, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman told AAP.
Queensland Police Union ex-staffer accused of siphoning off up to $1 million
A former Queensland Police Union financial officer is under investigation for allegedly siphoning off up to $1 million of union funds.
A union executive wrote to members this evening, telling them a police investigation is underway into the loss of large sums of money, in the last six months.
The alleged improper transactions were picked up as part of an annual audit.
A union spokesman said police were called in as soon as the irregularities were discovered and the union is hopeful of full restitution as investigations continue.
He said the matter relates to a civilian former staff member, 27, who worked as a finance officer, not a police officer, senior staff member or an elected official.
Oil spills off California coast after pipeline ruptures
An oil spill in California on Tuesday created a slick in the ocean that stretched for miles near a popular beach.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Dave Zaniboni said the spill began west of Santa Barbara after a pipeline ruptured and has now moved toward Refugio State Beach. The pipeline responsible has been shut off, he said.
A slick stretched for about 4 miles near Refugio Beach, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Twitter.
Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline was identified as the responsible party, the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management said in a statement.
"Plains shut down the flow of oil in the pipeline and has initiated its emergency response plan," the company said in a statement.
"The culvert has been blocked so no additional oil is reaching the water. Plains is working with local officials and first responders on site to begin clean up and remediation efforts."
It said no injuries had been reported.
"Plains deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact. Our focus remains on ensuring the safety of all involved," it said.
Officials first got a report of a smell of gas in the area at 11:42 a.m. (2:42 p.m. ET), Zaniboni said.
Photos from CNN affiliate KTLA showed a dark sheen near the beach.
A Coast Guard photo on Twitter showed what officials said was an aerial view of the spill, with black muck along the coastline.
County emergency crews and teams from the U.S. Coast Guard and California state parks were working to contain and clean up the spill, he said.
CNN's Sonya Hamasaki and Tony Marco contributed to this report.
Japan: 2 dead, 480 hospitalized due to heat exhaustion in one week
Japan Today [19/5/15]:
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday that two people died and 480 were hospitalized for heat exhaustion in the week from May 11 to May 17 as temperatures soared across the nation.
In some parts of Japan, including Tokyo, temperatures topped 30 degrees—the norm for July.
By prefecture, Tokyo had the highest number hospitalized with 39, followed by Saitama (37) and Okinawa (33). Just of half the patients were aged 65 or older. The two deaths were reported in Nagano and Aichi prefectures.
Agency officials said the sudden rise in temperature affects a lot of people because their bodies are not yet accustomed to the heat. They recommend light exercise such as walking, drinking plenty of water and using the air conditioner, if necessary.
Last year, more than 50,000 people were taken to hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion between May and September, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
Woman jailed in Google executive overdose death
A California prostitute charged with killing a Google executive with an overdose of heroin aboard his yacht has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and administering drugs.
A Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge on Tuesday sentenced Alix Tichelman to six years in prison under a plea deal that included reducing a manslaughter charge.
Authorities say Tichelman injected Forrest Timothy Hayes with heroin in November 2013 then left without seeking help when he passed out on the yacht.
Hayes had hired Tichelman several times before and they were doing drugs and having sex the night he died, authorities said.
Defence lawyer Larry Biggam said Tichelman was relieved to have the court proceedings behind her and she is expected to serve only three years. She will be credited for nearly a year already served.
Tichelman agreed to the plea deal in light of the evidence, the lawyer said.
"It was an accidental overdose between two consenting adults," he said.
The high-end call girl was arrested eight months after Hayes' death. A surveillance video at the Santa Cruz harbour showed her gather her belongings, casually step over Hayes' body, finish a glass of wine and lower a blind before leaving the yacht the night before the body was discovered.
Tichelman had been preparing to move out of California when she was arrested, She has wealthy parents and dual citizenship in the US and Canada.
Prosecutor Rafael Vazquez was not immediately available for comment.
After Tichelman was charged in California, police in Milton, Georgia, took another look at the 2013 overdose death of Tichelman's former boyfriend Dean Riopelle, 53, the owner of a popular Atlanta music venue.
Authorities said a panicked Tichelman had called police, saying her boyfriend had overdosed on something and wouldn't respond. Police in Milton did not immediately return a call on Tuesday seeking a possible update on the situation.
Tichelman has not been charged in that death. An autopsy report listed Riopelle's death as an accidental overdose of heroin, oxycodone and alcohol.
Cambodia: At least 18 killed in van crash
Phnom Penh Post [19/5/15]:
At least 18 workers have now died in the wake of a deadly Tuesday morning collision in Svay Rieng that saw a speeding bus collide with a van loaded with garment workers.
Lieutenant Gen. Ron Rothveasna, director of the Ministry of Interior's order department, said that the death toll had grown from 16 after two critically injured passengers had died in hospital. More than 20 were also injured.
Svay Rieng provincial governor Chieng Am said the incident happened at about 7am as the van traveled to the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in Bavet. Sixteen workers were declared dead at the scene, including 14 women and two men.
Am said that eight other workers, six women and two men, had been seriously injured, while 14 others received slight injuries and were taken to the provincial hospital.
“It is the biggest ever accident to happen in my province,” said Am, who added that the bodies of victims had already been claimed by family members. “I think the number of deaths will increase as it hopeless for those in critical condition.”
Am said that the bus driver, employed by the Sun Hour Company, has been arrested and two seriously injured workers sent to Phnom Penh.
According to Am, the provincial Cambodian Red Cross has thus far donated 400,000 riel ($100) to each family of the victims and the provincial hall has contributed another 200,000 riel ($50) each.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony this morning at Koh Pich, Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his condolence to the families of the victims.
“It is huge [traffic] incident, that happened this morning in Svay Rieng,” he said. “I would like to share my condolences to the families of the victims and wish the quick recovery of those injured.”
By law, the Social Security Fund of the Ministry of Labor will cover the cost of the funerals and medical expenses as well as provide compensation to the families of the victims.
NZ radio station destroyed by fire
More than a million dollars worth of broadcasting equipment and buildings have been destroyed in a blaze at a Northland iwi radio station.
Fire Service spokesperson Scott Osmond said about 20 firefighters were called to the Tautoko FM building in Mangamuka last night.
He said the two-storey building was well alight when they arrived, about 7pm, and had been significantly damaged.
Tautoko FM became the first Maori broadcaster in Te Tai Tokerau when it launched in 1988. It hopes to be back on air today.
It is the tribal radio station for the country's largest iwi, Ngāpuhi.
There were no staff in the building at that time as the station was linked in to the iwi radio network.
The station's manager said although the radio station was in cinders he was thankful no-one was hurt.
Hori Chapman said the main job now was to get the station back on air.
"It's absolutely devastating. Our whole operations are at a stand-still at the moment," he said.
"All of our broadcasting equipment has been destroyed in the fire along with all our operations, and our governance side of the organisation has all been destroyed in the fire.
"We're envisaging that we'll be back on air by tomorrow."
Mr Chapman said while Tautoko FM is government funded, it would be relying on the community to help with the rebuild.
He said the equipment and the buildings are valued at more than $1 million.
In the meantime, a technician is travelling from Tauranga to set up a make-shift radio station.
Outside MITA in the rain, standing up for the freedom and human rights of refugees in detention. ...
Image: @racvictoria - Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) [20/5/15]
Stop the boats is a lie.
Resettlement is a lie.
Australia tortures and exiles refugees.
IT'S TIME TO STOP.
IT'S TIME TO JOIN THE WORLD.
Refugees incarcerated in the Australian controlled Manus death camp - who refuse to accept exile in PNG - to be denied access to medical care, internet. [Guardian - 20/5/15]:
Refugees who refuse to move from detention to a transit facility in East Lorengau on Manus island are being threatened with restricted access to medical services, allowances and phone and internet access by the Papua New Guinean government.
Last week refugees on the island began receiving letters from the Papua New Guinea immigration and citizenship authority outlining restrictions on their services.
The Australian government bankrolled a new transit centre in East Lorengau to house refugees once they left the Manus detention centre. But a large number of refugees have refused to leave the detention centre, because they fear for their safety once they leave.
The latest figures from Manus Island show there have now been 506 refugee status determinations issued on Manus island, with 289 positive. Of these positive assessments, just 20 have been given a “positive final determination” and have agreed to move to the East Lorengau facility.
An Iranian man who has a one-year refugee visa for Papua New Guinea has been told he cannot leave Manus Island to look for work on the mainland until a formal resettlement policy is created.
In January, Reza Mollagholipour became one of the first to be granted refugee status, released from the Australian-run detention centre and housed at a transit centre elsewhere on Manus Island.
Keen to move on, the 38-year-old civil engineer arranged three job interviews in Port Moresby on the PNG mainland.
"[Starting] to work means that I can start my life, my real life," he told the ABC.
Mr Mollagholipour borrowed money from a friend in Australia and booked a plane ticket.
In mid-March he wrote to PNG immigration, site manager of the transit centre Wilsons Security, and Transfield Services informing them of his intention to travel on March 28.
Mr Mollagholipour said the night before he was due to fly he had two visits by PNG immigration officials urging him not to leave.
At about 11:00pm (local time) he was given a letter from PNG chief migration officer Mataio Rabura forbidding his travel.
"I am writing to reiterate my directive which I am informed has been communicated to you by PNG immigration staff in Manus that you are not to leave Manus until I give the clearance for you to do so," the letter said.
The letter gave three reasons why Mr Mollagholipour was forbidden to leave Manus Island, beginning with the fact the PNG government had no formal policy about how or where to resettle refugees.
Despite signing the Refugee Resettlement Agreement with Australia in July 2013, the PNG government is yet to approve a resettlement policy and is still holding consultative workshops.
"We are working very hard to ensure this policy is in place within the next month," Mr Rabura wrote on March 27.
Secondly, Mr Rabura said there would be no support offered to any refugee who strikes out on his own.
"Finally and most importantly, as the administrator of the centre I am authorised under the Migration Act to place conditions on your visa," he wrote.
By the time the rejection letter was delivered, it was too late to cancel the plane ticket and so Mr Mollagholipour said he wasted the money he had borrowed.
The Government has banned Australians from travelling to Bougainville, with a government official urging Australia to review its plan to establish a diplomatic mission there.
The ban announced by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato yesterday will not affect Australians already living in Bougainville on work and permanent residency visas.
The ban will apply to all Australian passport holders who intend to visit Bougainville on tourist, business and other short-term entry visas.
It comes after the recent announcement by Australia of its plan to establish a diplomatic post in Bougainville. ... [The National - 19/5/15]
PNG Women in Business president welcomes Digicel backing [PNG Loop - 20/5/15]
Nauru facebook blackout continues.
Cardinal George Pell tried to bribe the nephew of paedophile Gerald Ridsdale to stay quiet about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his uncle, an inquiry has been told. ... [ABC - 20/5/15]
Nauruan police finally admit refugee on day release from Australia's concentration camp was attacked
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [20/5/15]:
Nauruan police have finally admitted that an Iranian asylum seeker was savagely attacked last Saturday night, 16 May.
The 23 year-old female Iranian asylum seeker had been stripped, seriously bashed and robbed. A sexual assault has not been confirmed, and the police have not been able to interview the victim.
But after three days of denials, in the face of growing anger and the women’s protest, the Nauruan police finally back-flipped and admitted the obvious.
A group of police attended yesterday’s protest (Tuesday 19 May) at Beach House, announcing that they did accept that the Iranian woman had been attacked.
“We will find and catch the people who did this,” the police told the protest.
But finally admitting the obvious is cold comfort for refugees. When refugee women asked about their safety – police told them to ‘look after yourselves.’
It is clear that without the protest, there would not have been any police response.
But it was more than the protesters got inside Beach House from the boss of Connect, the Australian funded service providers. Connect had shrugged off the attack, saying all they would do is pass their question to those who are in charge.
“The Connect response was a disgrace and the police admission is a case of too little, too late,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “Too many complaints have been ignored. The attackers act with impunity, knowing they will never be pursued by the police.”
“The Nauruan police are both unwilling and unable to protect refugees from attacks. Indeed the police themselves have been responsible for attacking refugees.”
Meanwhile those responsible for the attacks are free to taunt and terrify the refugees. Nauru is too small for refugees to avoid those who are responsible.
In an attempt to cover-up the abuse of asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru, the government has recently shut down Facebook and introduced laws banning free speech and the right to assembly.
“But the truth is out,” said Rintoul.
“Nauru is unsafe. This attack adds to the revelations that are emerging from the Senate enquiry into the Moss report of sexual and physical abuse on Nauru.”
… The performances of the private contractors varied, but one constant remained; they each stressed that when serious incidents occurred, they documented them. They reported them internally. And they raised them with the immigration department at all times. … [Guardian – 20/5/15]
… The Senate’s Nauru inquiry needs to focus on issues of legal liability. Unlike the victims of Catholic Church abuse – who have been met with legal complexities that make suing the Church difficult – in the case of asylum seekers on Nauru there is no such obstacle.
Any asylum seeker who suffers mental and/or physical harm on Nauru is likely to have a decent chance of a successful claim against the Commonwealth for breach of duty of care. The risk to taxpayers of having to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in successful claims needs to be examined by the Senate committee.
It must also ask Comcare why the hell it is not in Nauru collecting evidence on what, according to first hand reports, appear to be clear breaches of workplace standards by the Commonwealth.
There is a legal price to pay for bipartisan policies of cruelty to asylum seekers and the Australian public needs to be made aware of just how substantial that price is and will be in years to come.
Royal Commission into child sexual abuse to investigate claims Cardinal George Pell dismissed victim report [The Age – 20/5/15]
Malaysia, Indonesia to provide 'temporary shelter' for Rohingya refugees
Time to stop the stop the boats - and deterrence - lie
Channel News Asia [20/5/15]:
Malaysia and Indonesia on Wednesday offered to provide "temporary shelter" to thousands of migrants stranded at sea, provided that they could be resettled or repatriated within a year.
"Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those 7,000 irregular migrants still at sea," Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and his counterpart Retno Marsudi of Indonesia said in a joint statement after talks on the issue.
"We also agreed to offer them temporary shelter provided that the resettlement and repatriation process will be done in one year by the international community."
Australian Greens call on Prime Minister to attend Rohingyan refugee crisis talks
Media Release [20/5/15]:
The Australian Greens call for the Prime Minister to provide regional leadership by attending the Rohingyan refugee crisis talks scheduled to be held in Thailand on May 29.
"I'm calling on the Prime Minister today to show up and do something to help. It's time he provided leadership in the region. It's time to show that Australia does care about the lives of people stranded on these boats and care about our regional neighbours struggling with the influx of people who are fleeing persecution," the Greens immigration spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
"Australia's first priority should be to render search and rescue assistance, provide vital humanitarian aid to save lives, and provide safe haven
"We have a Prime Minister who is more worried about his domestic 'stop the boats' slogan rather than showing any leadership in our neighbourhood. It's time that changed
"Stop sitting on your hands Prime Minister and do something to save the lives of these people stranded out at sea and starving to death.
"The boats haven't stopped. The drownings haven't stopped. They're simply happening in our neighbours waters. The Prime Minister is trashing our international reputation and trashing our relationships with our regional neighbours."
About 400 refugees have been rescued by local fishermen in the Strait of Malacca, off Indonesia's Aceh province, after reportedly being turned away numerous times from the Thai and Malaysian coasts by authorities. ... [Al Jazeera - 20/5/15]
In Vatican mass, Pope Francis speaks of plight of stranded Rohingya refugees [UCA News - 20/5/15]
UN pushes for decolonisation of Pacific territories [RNZI – 20/5/15]
Aboriginal or Australian? Callum Clayton-Dixon [Intercontinenal Cry – 19/5/15]:
… Why would we want to identify with those who’ve taken so much from us? Because we’re conditioned on a daily basis to be like them: to identify with their history, their warmongering traditions, their national symbols, and their xenophobic attitudes towards ethnic minorities.
We call it the ‘dominant’ culture for a reason. From the mainstream media to the education system, settler society uses their cultural hegemony to pressure us into assimilation. We see it every time we watch the television, every time we listen to the radio, and every time we open a newspaper or magazine. We’re constantly bombarded with assimilationist propaganda lulling us into a false sense of security and belonging.
In Australian schools, our children are expected to stand for and sing Australia’s national anthem. We see Australian flags everywhere we go, from car bonnets and boardshorts to universities and fast food restaurants. And each year on the 26th of January, they bribe Aboriginal people with money and awards to prop up and participate in their debauched Australia Day celebrations.
The result is a classic case of what’s commonly referred to as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, whereby the captive (the colonized) begins to bond and identify with their captor (the colonizer).
This psychological condition is prevalent among colonized peoples globally--a condition induced and reinforced by the colonial powers that be. …
Operation Rent Seeking: How the war on terrorism became a business model, Mike Lofgren [Washington Monthly – March 2015]:
… War, of course, is synonymous with waste, as procurement boondoggles stretching back to the War of Independence attest. But the war on terrorism is in a class by itself. Greatly abetted by then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney’s blanket outsourcing of military logistics in 1992, the money spent on war has become a gold rush for private, largely unaccountable contractors.
The same holds true in the intelligence community: about 70 percent of the National Security Agency’s budget is spent on contracts. That, combined with the fact that the revolving door to a corporate board seat beckons senior agency officials, means the pull is always toward waste, fraud, and abuse. Former NSA insider Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on a gold-plated contractor program and was charged under the Espionage Act for his pains, told me last year that his old agency is “literally helpless” without contractors. …
GCHQ’s Rainbow Lights: Exploiting social issues for militarism and imperialism, Glenn Greenwald [The Intercept - 19/5/15]:
... As a general matter, this tactic for Washington is far from new. The U.S. media has long hyped human rights and civil liberties abuses when perpetrated by governments disliked at the moment by the U.S. government, while ignoring far worse ones committed by subservient regimes. That’s why “Pussy Riot” has become a household name among Americans, and why the U.S. media developed an acute interest in the press freedom record of Ecuador as soon as it granted asylum to Julian Assange, but there is almost no interest in hearing about the systematic abuses of the Gulf tyrannies most commonly hailed by the U.S. media as “Our Friends and Partners in the Region.” This is human rights concerns as a cynical propaganda tactic, not anything remotely approaching an actual belief. ...
How an 85-year-old nun, activists infiltrated top US nuclear site, exposing dangers and urging peace
Democracy Now [19/5/15]:
Three peace activists who infiltrated a nuclear weapons site have been freed from prison after their convictions were overturned.
In 2012, the self-described Transform Now Plowshares broke into the Y-12 nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Known as the "Fort Knox of Uranium," the complex holds enough uranium to make 10,000 nuclear bombs.
The activists cut holes in the fence to paint peace slogans and threw blood on the wall, revealing major security flaws at the facility, which processes uranium for hydrogen bombs.
The break-in sparked a series of congressional hearings, with The New York Times describing it as "the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex."
The three were convicted of damaging a national defense site. After two years behind bars, a federal appeals court recently vacated their convictions, saying the prosecution failed to prove the three intended to "injure the national defense."
All three were released this weekend until their resentencing on a remaining charge of damaging government property.
They have likely already served more time than they are set to receive under their new sentencing.
We are joined by two of the activists — Sister Megan Rice, an 85-year-old Catholic nun, and Michael Walli — as well as their attorney, Bill Quigley.
A Japanese court upheld an injunction banning the restart of two nuclear reactors, a report said Tuesday, in a blow to the government's ambitions to return to atomic power generation. … [Naharnet – 19/5/15]
South Sudan rebels say they captured oil refinery in Upper Nile
South Sudan's rebels captured a refinery near a key oilfield in Upper Nile State, where fighting has flared up in recent days, their spokesman said on Tuesday.
The rebel group SPLM/SPLA also told all oil companies operating in Upper Nile state they should shut down and evacuate their staff immediately because of ongoing clashes with government soldiers, spokesman James Gatdet Dak said in a statement.
"In response to the government's full-scale offensive on our positions in the three states of greater Upper Nile region, we have decided to take control of the oilfields and deny Salva Kiir from using the oil revenues to perpetuate the war," he said.
At Security Council, senior UN official warns Middle East status quo ‘not tenable’ [UN Media Release – 19/5/15]:
… “There is a clear moral and humanitarian imperative not just for the United Nations and the international community, but primarily for the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to prevent the implosion of Gaza,” he said.
Beyond that, he underscored the need to support any and all efforts to establish one Palestine which unifies Gaza and the West Bank through legitimate institutions amid a favourable economic climate in which the movement of people and goods is permitted and border crossings are reopened.
“The United Nations has repeatedly warned that maintaining the status quo is not tenable,” Mr. Mladenov concluded. “It will inexorably lead to the continued erosion of living conditions for Palestinians and Israelis alike, and will undermine the security and stability for all.”
Concerning Lebanon, he said that, as of 25 May, the country would
have been without a President for one year, which jeopardized the functioning of
State institutions. With 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees forming the
highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world, he urged the
international community to fulfil existing pledges, and to both increase and
expedite support to Lebanon. ...
Palestinians in the West Bank who commute to Israel to work will from Wednesday be banned from riding the same buses as Israelis to return home, a Defense Ministry official said.
"Under a three-month pilot project, Palestinians who work in Israel will, starting Wednesday, need to return home by the same crossings without taking buses used by [Israeli] residents" of the occupied West Bank, the official told AFP. [Daily Star - 20/5/15]
Kabul blast leaves 4 dead, 40 wounded
At least four persons were killed and 40 more wounded as a huge explosion took place in the parking area of Ministry of Justice in capital Kabul on Tuesday -- a locality close to the Presidential Palace.
The explosion took place at around 4:00pm local time.
Sediq Seddiqi, ministry of interior spokesperson, told Pajhwok Afghan News four persons were killed and 24 were wounded. A source at public health ministry, however, said more than 40 wounded people had been shifted to hospitals.
A driver at ministry of justice, said the explosion took place when the employees of the ministry were preparing to leave for their homes. “The attack took place by a person who was driving a Saracha car. I saw five people who were dead and dozens more wounded.”
Lutfullah, a witness and an employee of justice ministry, told Pajhwok Afghan News the explosion took place in a car at a time that the employees of the ministry were preparing to leave for homes.
He added many persons had been wounded but due to shocks he could not understand how many people were killed.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
The explosion comes a week after two continuous suicide blasts in
Darul Aman locality targeted Attorney General Office (AGO)’s staff, leaving many
dead and wounded.
Fifty students of a local Madrasa “seminary” have been poisoned in northern Samangan province.
Khairullah Anosh, acting governor of Samangan province says that the incident took place in Khuram Sarbagh District yesterday. ... [Khaama – 20/5/15]
11 Afghan police get year in jail over mob killing of woman: Court [Ahram - 19/5/15]:
An Afghan court Tuesday sentenced 11 policemen to one year in prison for failing to protect a woman who was lynched by a mob in Kabul after being falsely accused of blasphemy.
The verdict comes after four Afghan men were sentenced to death and eight others were handed a 16-year jail term earlier this month for the killing of 27-year-old Farkhunda.
"You are sentenced... for negligence of duty to one year in prison," Judge Safiullah Mojaddidi told the 11 defendants, which included senior officers, while eight other policemen were found not guilty.
"This verdict is not final and the defendants have the right to appeal," the judge added.
A furious mob turned on Farkhunda on March 19, beating her in broad daylight and setting her body ablaze on the banks of the Kabul River.
Forty-nine people were arrested, including 19 police officers, some of whom were shown standing by and doing nothing to stop the mob in cellphone videos recorded by bystanders.
The attack came after an amulet seller, whom she had reportedly castigated for peddling superstition, falsely accused her of burning the Koran.
Her killing triggered protests around Afghanistan and drew global attention to the treatment of Afghan women.
No charges for St. Louis officer in shooting death of black teen [Reuters – 19/5/15]
Texas grand jury does not indict policeman for fatal shooting of Mexican [Reuters – 18/5/15]
Israeli chief of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on the Croatian government to stop paying pensions to former soldiers who served in the country’s Nazi-allied armed forces.
Paying pensions to members of the Ustaša armed forces is a "horrific insult to the victims, their families and all Croatians with a sense of morality and integrity," said the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff, in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, as quoted by AFP on Tuesday.
"In view of the horrendous war crimes committed in the so-called Independent State of Croatia (NDH)... such a policy is inherently mistaken," he said.
The Ustaša was an ultranationalist and fascist movement active between 1929 and 1945. After Ustaša came to power in part of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia , the NHD army and the Ustaše militia cooperated with Nazi Germany in the Holocaust, supporting the genocide of Serbs, Jews, Romani people, and anti-fascist Croatians. ... [RT - 19/5/15]
Mortar attack on Russian embassy in Damascus an ‘act of terror’ – Moscow [RT – 19/5/15]:
The Russian embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus was shelled on Tuesday, with Moscow stating that it considers the attack on its diplomatic mission an act of terror.
Two mortar rounds landed on the premises of the Russian Embassy in the afternoon, “one of them fell near the main entrance, the other hit an administrative building," Asiya Turuchiyeva embassy's spokeswoman, told RIA Novosti.
There were no fatalities or injuries as a result of the mortar attack as it happened during the lunch break, the spokeswoman added.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the shells were fired from the Jobar district of Damascus, which is controlled by “illegal armed groups.”
“We treat the incident as terrorist act, aimed against the Russian Embassy. We strongly condemn its perpetrators, organizers and instigators. We reaffirm our solidarity with the Syrian authorities in their efforts to combat the terrorist threat in the territory of Syria,” Aleksandr Lukashevich, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said.
Moscow urged the international community “to give due assessment to the terrorist attack against the Russian diplomatic mission” and demanded “an immediate cessation of such acts” from all parties with influence on the extremists in Syria, he added.
Syrian authorities were quick to respond, promising to boost security and ensure the Russian Embassy’s safety.
The UN Security Council has strongly condemned “the terrorist attack” against the Russian embassy in Damascus, calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.
“The members of the Security Council recall the fundamental principle of inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises and obligations of host governments to take all appropriate steps to protect diplomatic and consular premises against any intrusion or damage,” ambassador and Permanent Representative of Lithuania Raimonda Murmokaite told journalists.
“The members of the Security Council underline the need to bring perpetrators of such acts to justice.”
It’s the second time the Russian embassy in Damascus has been shelled this year. The previous incident occurred in January when a shell hit the roof of the consulate’s building.
Syria has been engulfed in a bloody civil war since March 2011, with government forces of President Bashar Assad fighting various opposition and terrorist groups, including the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and Islamic State.
Over 220,000 people have been killed and around 5 million made refuges during the four-year conflict, according to UN estimations.
Obama set to speed up arms shipments to Iraq tribes after Ramadi defeat [Daily Star - 20/5/15]
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq between 8 a.m., May 18, and 8 a.m., May 19, local time.
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted seven airstrikes using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft.
Separately in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 14 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
"In northern Syria, Daesh continues to cede military capacity, fighters and terrain,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, CJTF-OIR chief of staff. “The Coalition remains committed to targeting Daesh across Iraq and Syria.”
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Al Hasakah, seven airstrikes struck two large and two small ISIL tactical units, destroying seven ISIL vehicles, three ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL armored vehicles and an ISIL shipping container.
Near Al Qaim, one airstrike struck an ISIL checkpoint.
Near Bayji, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL VBIED.
Near Fallujah, two airstrikes struck one large and one small ISIL tactical unit, destroying six ISIL fighting positions.
Near Ramadi, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and an ISIL staging area, destroying an ISIL armored vehicle, an ISIL excavator and an ISIL resupply vehicle.
Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL excavator.
Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL rocket firing position, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL fighting position.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Iraq and global community must protect internally displaced as crisis deepens – UN expert [Media Release - 19/5/15]:
... The expert visited IDPs living in cramped, substandard conditions in collective shelters and unfinished buildings. He noted that a one-off cash payment to families of $700 dollars is insufficient even to cover basic needs including shelter and food.
On another note, at least 100 families had to return from Baghdad to Ramadi where their homes had been damaged when ISIS still controlled much of the city.
Now that the city has reportedly fallen, the Government must allow the newly displaced from Ramadi to freely enter Baghdad.
The Babylon Governorate has refused to admit displaced men between 15 and 50, causing family separation as only women and children are allowed entry.
“While legitimate security concerns exist, including that ISIS may infiltrate IDP communities, the overwhelming majority of IDPs are innocent victims of the conflict and must be treated as such on protection and humanitarian grounds,” the Special Rapporteur concluded.
A Melbourne man accused of links to Islamic State who is seeking to return to Australia claims he never joined the militia group, was taken to its territory inadvertently, and only went to Syria “to use my skills as a nurse and medic to help the Syrian people”.
Adam Brookman, a married father of five in his late 30s, is the real name of “Abu Ibrahim”, one of at least three Australians trying to negotiate their return home to Australia from the four-year Syrian conflict.
Speaking in Turkey, Brookman told the Guardian he had been taken to Isis-held territory in Syria after being injured in an air strike and had been banned from leaving.
Fighting in Aleppo has been particularly fierce over the course of Syria’s four-year civil war and the city is now divided between troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, Free Syrian army forces and Islamist groups. All have been accused of indiscriminate killing of civilians.
Brookman said fighting in the city became so bad by June 2014 “that I was forced to go further west towards a place called Atme”.
“There we had less to do, but used to work with the refugees camps there delivering clothing, and also water transported from Turkey.”
Saudis continue bombing Yemen [Reuters - 19/5/15]
Yemen has asked Indonesia for humanitarian assistance as it struggles to respond to an increasingly dire situation at home. ... [Jakarta Globe - 19/5/15]
The UN refugee agency was able to fly in six planeloads of aid to Sana'a and deliver aid stocks by road to Aden during a just-ended five-day truce in Yemen, but rapid assessment teams found enormous difficulties for thousands of civilians displaced by weeks of conflict.
The temporary pause in hostilities officially ended on Sunday night and came following weeks of fighting since late March that uprooted some 545,000 people. ... [Media Release - 19/5/15]
@ItalianNavy [19/5/15]: A termine soccorso nave Sfinge #MarinaMilitare ha recuperato 92 #migranti tra cui 9 donne ...
72 detained for attempting to cross into Libya [Ahram - 19/5/15]:
Egypt's border police have stopped 72 people, including 24 Sudanese and a Syrian, from illegally crossing into conflict-stricken Libya, state news agency MENA reported.
A report was filed on Monday and it will be presented to the prosecution for investigation.
The Egyptian migrants came from various cities, mostly in Upper Egypt.
They included 11 from Minya, five from Assiut, four from Sohag, and two from Beni Suef, all in Upper Egypt, in addition to nine from Kafr El-Sheikh, eight from Beheira, seven from Dakahliya in the Nile Delta, and one from Alexandria.
Earlier in May, 83 Egyptians, also mainly from the underprivileged area of Upper Egypt, were arrested while trying to cross into Libya.
Meanwhile, back in Libya 194 Egyptian workers fled to the Ras Jadir crossing in Tunisia on Monday night to await a plane to bring them from Jerba airport to Cairo, MENA reported.
Over 45,000 Egyptians working in Libya have fled the country to return to Egypt, either flying from Tunisia or by land.
Over 100 refugees rescued by Indonesia fishermen after four months at sea
Indonesian fishermen have rescued more than 100 migrants who were stranded at sea for more than four months.
The 102 are the latest in a stream of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants stuck on boats off Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
"They were suffering dehydration, they are weak and starving," said Khairul Nove, head of Langsa Search and Rescue Agency in Aceh.
He said there were 26 women and 31 children among those rescued.
The Navy and the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry is scheduled on Wednesday to sink 41 vessels that were caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters, after recently receiving court decisions declaring them guilty of poaching.
“All of the 41 boats will be sunk on May 20 at 10 a.m. The boats originated from Thailand, Vietnam, China, Malaysia and the Philippines,” the ministry's director general for maritime and fisheries resources surveillance Asep Burhanuddin said. ... [Jakarta Post - 19/5/15]
MOAS calls to save lives of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants stranded at sea [Media Release – 20/5/15]
Facebook blackout on Nauru enters 20th day: Digicel Wins Awards For Service Innovation [The Voice - 19/5/15]:
... Commenting on the awards, Digicel Group CEO Colm Delves, said; “Digicel is always looking for innovative ways to make technology really work for the benefit of our customers. As a total communications and solutions provider, we’re all about delivering the best content, services and value to customers on their mobile phone. I want to congratulate the teams who worked hard to deliver these innovative services – their awards are well deserved.” ...
Stop detention not visits
Refugee Action Collective (Victoria):
Wednesday, May 20 at 6:00pm
MITA 120-150 Camp Road Broadmeadows
While we want all asylum seekers and refugees to be released from detention, we recognise that visits can be a lifeline for those cruelly subjected to mandatory detention.
Visits help people in immigration detention to feel like human beings for a few hours a day.
The “enhanced visits process” at MITA in Broadmeadows attempts to cut that lifeline. Under new regulations, visitors now have to phone and book a timeslot more than 24 hours in advance, nominate the people they will visit and be assigned a table number. This process means that visitors are now being turned away, and new arrivals to the centre get no visits.
The government claims that immigration detention is meant to be administrative, not punitive, but the new restrictions turn that claim on its head.
Like asylum seekers and refugees banished to remote detention centres, people in MITA are being cut off from the human connections and solidarity that could undermine the government's brutal policies.
MITA is supposed to be a low security facility where visits of family and friends are regular and easy. These restrictive processes, and the inevitable decrease in visits, have increased anxiety and depression levels within MITA.
We have organised a 'mass visit' of regular visitors and refugee supporters to demand that these changes are scrapped.
Police forcibly remove Priest, Pastors after sit-in at Turnbull's office
Love Makes A Way Media Release [19/5/15]:
Police forcibly remove seven Christians including a Catholic priest and two Reverends from Malcolm Turnbull’s Sydney office after a day long prayer sit-in.
The group is part of the ‘Love Makes a Way’ movement calling for all children to be released from immigration detention, and for the detention centre on Nauru to be shut down.
The participants in today's 8 hour prayer vigil committed to remaining in prayer in Turnbull’s office, appealing to the Minister to make a public commitment to support a moratorium on the transfers of children to Nauru. They were forcibly removed by police around 7pm.
The group who identify with a variety of Christian traditions have extended an invitation to Mr Turnbull’s staff to join the group in prayer and reflection.
“As Christians we stand in a tradition that teaches care for the vulnerable and love for the stranger. We are here today to appeal to Mr Turnbull as a fellow Christian, and as a leader in our nation’s government, to protect children from the abuse they suffer in immigration detention,” said Fr. Claude Mostowik, a Catholic priest involved in the sit-in.
"As long time advocates for the rights of asylum seekers we understand that we risk arrest by praying here today. All formal channels of advocacy have failed to free the children from immigration detention and so we come here today with this act of peaceful civil disobedience, it being the strongest expression of love and resistance we have available to us,” said Fr Mostowik.
The prayer vigil sit-in coincides with the commencement of a Senate Inquiry into immigration detention on Nauru following the release in March of the ‘Moss Review’. The review found evidence of sexual abuse of asylum seekers detained on Nauru.
“The federal government says it accepts the recommendations of the Moss Review which told of shocking allegations of sexual abuse at the immigration detention centre on Nauru. We are calling on the Australian government to take immediate action to remove all children from this unsafe environment,” said Reverend Mary Hurst, pastoral worker with the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand and participant in today's sit-in.
“We know that children are being abused in our immigration detention centres and we know that if any other child in Australia were living in an abusive home we’d act without hesitation to protect that child,” said Reverend Hurst.
“Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the sexual abuse of children is not something we would accept in Australia, but that is precisely what we are accepting as long as we keep children locked up in detention where we know sexual abuse has happened,” she said.
“Last year Mr Turnbull acknowledged that the Coalition’s asylum seeker policy is ‘cruel’ and ‘harsh’. He also said that ‘one child in detention is one child too many’. We encourage him in this spirit to take a stand for the freedom of children in detention,” said Matt Anslow, spokesperson for Love Makes a Way.
“We will not rest until all children are free to have a safe childhood and until love makes a way for all people seeking asylum in Australia,” said Mr Anslow.
Protected and unaccountable Coalition and ALP reassert commitment to brutalising refugees - especially at Australia's torture pedo camp on Nauru.
Rohingya rescue "not our problem".
Minister for Immigration Media Release [19/5/15]:
... In addition to implementing all of the recommendations, the Department has set up a Child Protection Panel to provide independent advice on child protection in immigration detention and RPCs and four additional Australian Federal Police officers have travelled to Nauru to advise local police.
The Department will cooperate fully with the Senate Select Committee although this stunt should be seen for what it is – nothing more than a waste of time and taxpayers' money.
As the Minister, let me state that I have zero tolerance for any form of criminal activity. Sexual assault, particularly involving minors is personally abhorrent to me.
The Department and the Government is committed to supporting the Government of Nauru in providing a safe environment for all asylum seekers and refugees in Nauru, and particularly women and children.
All allegations of serious assault, including sexual assault, that are reported to the Department are referred to the appropriate authorities for investigation. ...
Doorstop: Springwood Central State School- Labor’s plan to create the jobs of the future; Labor’s plan for coding in schools [Bill Shorten - 19/5/15]:
… JOURNALIST: Just a question about Nauru, are we failing asylum seekers in Nauru?
SHORTEN: The Government has a culture of secrecy about the way it’s treating people in the regional resettlement camps in Nauru. I do think the Government just needs to come clean and tell people what’s going on. They’ve got reports from the Human Rights Commission and other bodies which I think the Government needs to start dealing with rather than ignoring. However Labor is completely supported to our approach on regional resettlement and there’s no question in my mind that the Government needs to come clean with Australians about what’s going on and what changes need to be made to make sure people are safe within our care.
JOURNALIST: Should Australia be taking a lead role in the rescue of the Rohingya refuges?
SHORTEN: Well I believe that Labor has always had a good record in terms of accepting refuges into Australia as part of our immigration intake. But there’s no question that the solution to the discrimination of the treatment of Rohingya peoples in Myanmar to make sure that we are part of a regional approach. Australia on its own can’t solve these matters but the Labor Party that I lead strongly believes that we should always have a strong commitment to taking refugees as part of our immigration intake.
JOURNALIST: Should we send ships?
SHORTEN: In terms of the rescue, well look we’d have to see what the regions doing. We’ll certainly ask for an update from the Government. …
And humans? Cattle killed with sledgehammers – strengthens case to end live exports [Greens Media Release - 20/5/15]:
... "People in city and country Australia are distressed over live export cruelty and they want the trade to end*.
“People have lost confidence in the ability of government and industry to ensure the welfare of animals,” Senator Rhiannon said.
It suits powerful interests that protest groups throughout Australia are atomised and there is a stubborn reluctance (mostly evidenced by the so called activist leadership) to reach out and form a unifed movement against government, corporations and the war machine.
Solidarity between different causes might actually threaten the status quo.
Rally for the Future:
Thursday, May 21 at 10:00am
Speakers' Corner, Parliament House, Brisbane
Save our water, air, land, food & communities from invasive mining.
Please consider bringing a chair if you would like to be seated. The event will go for about 1 and a half hours. We have some great speakers that are going to be talking about some very important issues facing the state of Queensland.
Drew Hutton, President of Lock the Gate – MC
Shay Dougall – Hopeland Community Sustainability Group
Senator Glenn Lazarus
Dr Geralyn McCarron
Senator Larissa Waters
The Queensland Sadies
UNHCR says time running out for stranded boat people; urges South East Asian governments to act
UNHCR Media Release [19/5/15]:
The UN refugee agency on Tuesday warned that time was running out for thousands of people in distress at sea and urged governments in the South-east Asia region to urgently rescue and disembark these vulnerable people.
"We estimate that nearly 4,000 people from Myanmar and Bangladesh remain stranded at sea with dwindling supplies on board. This includes some 2,000 men, women and children stranded on at least five boats near the Myanmar-Bangladesh coasts for more than 40 days. Unconfirmed reports suggest the number could be higher," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva on Tuesday.
In Myanmar, several hundred people have abandoned their journeys and returned to Rakhine state after paying smugglers on board an average of 200,000 to 300,000 kyat (US$182-US$273) each for re-entry. Their reports of food shortages, dehydration and violence on board are consistent with reports from arrivals in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Since the weekend there have been no new reports of landings elsewhere in the region. In the last nine days, a total of 1,396 people have landed in Indonesia, 1,107 in Malaysia and 106 in southern Thailand.
Edwards said that in Indonesia's Aceh province, where UNHCR is registering Rohingya arrivals at Langsa, survivors have spoken of being abandoned by the crew and left adrift for days until approached by authorities whom they were unable to identify.
These officials provided food and water before pushing their boat away.
"As supplies ran low, a fight broke out between passengers, resulting in deaths and people being thrown overboard. UNHCR cannot verify these claims, but has sought medical attention for the wounded among this group," the spokesman said.
In Malaysia, some arrivals currently in detention in Kedah state told UNHCR they were kidnapped or lured by false promises to board the smugglers' boats. They knew of other passengers who died at sea as a result of beatings by the crew, starvation and illness.
Given such accounts, as well as disembarking such boats, UNHCR has sought – with the governments in South-east Asia – urgent medical attention, assistance and protection. Those who have returned to Myanmar should be not be punished for irregular departure.
Rescue the Rohingyan Asylum Seekers [Refugee Action Collective, Victoria]:
5:30pm Friday May 22
Bourke St Mall, Bourke St, Melbourne VIC
– Rescue the Rohingya
– End Boat Turn Backs
– Australia resettle Rohingya refugees
Speakers include a Rohingya Community Representative
The Australian government must help to rescue up 8000 Rohingyan asylum seekers stranded in the Malacca Straits – where the Australian Navy patrols close by.
20 May 2015