Cambodia approves the exile of (disappeared) Rohingyan and Iranian refugees from Australia
Cambodia Daily [21/5/15]:
The government has granted final approval to four refugees that Australia had been holding on the South Pacific island of Nauru to be resettled in Cambodia, clearing the way for their transfer to Phnom Penh.
“I have received approval from my government that four people—four refugees—should come to resettle permanently in Cambodia,” Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Thursday afternoon. “The approval comes from Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 20.”
General Sopheak added that Cambodia and Australia were still in talks over exactly when the refugees would arrive.
The four refugees approved for resettlement—a Rohingya man and three Iranians—will be the first to move to Cambodia under a controversial transfer deal Canberra and Phnom Penh signed last year, in which Cambodia agreed to take in an unspecified number of the hundreds of refugees Australia is detaining on Nauru and refusing to resettle itself.
Australia has agreed to cover the expenses of refugees who take up the offer for at least a year and offered Cambodia an additional $31.6 million aid package for agreeing to take them.
An Australian refugee advocacy group claims that the four refugees were transferred to Darwin over a week ago, likely in preparation for their move to Cambodia, but neither Australia nor Cambodia confirmed the report.
The deal has been heavily criticized by rights groups and opposition
lawmakers in both countries, who accuse Australia of shirking its international
obligations for asylum seekers trying to reach its shores by shunting them off
to one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world.
Billy Gordon MP gives maiden speech to Queensland Parliament
Queensland Parliament Hansard [21/5/15]:
… As a parliamentarian in this place, I will work with all those who share a passion for Far North Queensland, regardless of who they are and what political party they support. I reiterate my deep gratitude to the people of Cook for the trust they have bestowed in me. I will work hard for them and ensure that I am worthy of the honour they have given me.
As I come to the end of my speech, I want to mention my immediate family: my mother and father, my brothers and sisters. My older sister, Kerrie, is a hospital liaison officer at Townsville Hospital, my younger sister, Megan, is a firefighter in Ingham and my younger brother is a trade assistant in Goodna. I love them all dearly and I am proud of them, as I know they are proud of me as I stand here today.
I want to mention my five wonderful children. I love them more than anything else in this world and my concern for their future is the reason I am here today. My driving motivation is a desire for their lives to be different from mine. For them I want a Queensland and an Australia where all people have the opportunity to meet their full potential. For them I want a world where poverty, racism and oppression are no longer the things that define so many lives.
To my beautiful partner, Melanie: you have stood by me in these difficult times. I feel so blessed that you are the last person I see when I close my eyes at night and the first person I see when I open them again in the morning.
Finally, I will read a poem from the late great Oodgeroo of the
Noonuccal people and great aunt to the member for Algester, Leeanne Enoch. I
read this in tribute to my grandfather, whose wisdom and love helped shape me
into the man I am today; into the politician I am today. It is titled ‘A Song of
Look up, my people,
The dawn is breaking
The world is waking
To a bright new day
When none defame us
No restriction tame us
Nor colour shame us
Nor sneer dismay.
Now brood no more
On the years behind you
The hope assigned you
Shall the past replace
When a juster justice
Grown wise and stronger
Points the bone no longer
At a darker race.
So long we waited
Bound and frustrated
Till hate be hated
And caste deposed
Now light shall guide us
No goal denied us
And all doors open
That long were closed.
See plain the promise
Night’s nearly over
And though long the climb
New rights will greet us
New mateship meet us
And joy complete us
In our new Dream Time.
To our fathers’ fathers
The pain, the sorrow;
To our children’s children
The glad tomorrow.
Tasered Mt Isa man not guilty of obstruction
North West Star [21/5/15]:
A man stunned by a police officer in Abel Smith Parade on Boxing Day is not guilty of public nuisance and obstructing police, a magistrate decided.
Magistrate Stephen Guttridge said in the Mount Isa Magistrates Court on Tuesday there was not enough proof Desmond Punch shouted obscenities and acted in an aggressive manner which led to a constable’s decision to stun the man.
This is the State of Queensland; this is not some type of Middle Eastern country where police officers are allowed to taser people.- Barrister Michael Hibble
Mr Punch was among a group of more than 80 people crowding around two police officers in Abel Smith Parade at about 2am, December 26.
Constable Tyson Seumanu told the Mount Isa Magistrate’s Court last Monday he stunned Mr Punch because he was frightened of the defendant’s aggressive behaviour.
Mr Punch was alleged to have fists clenched while walking towards the police officer, and also for saying “give me a piece of that little c—t”.
Constable Seumanu said he knew taunts belonged to Mr Punch because he was previously familiar with the defendant - who was older, taller and had a distinguished voice from others in the crowd.
Representing Gun Lawyers, barrister Michael Hibble said the defendant was at a party nearby when he heard the commotion and realised his son was being arrested.
Mr Punch walked to police and asked; “What’s happening, what are you doing with my son?” just before being stunned, the barrister explained.
“He was threatened to be tasered again while effectively on the ground,” Mr Hibble said.
“This is the State of Queensland; this is not some type of Middle Eastern country where police officers are allowed to taser people.”
He believed the Constable escalated the situation by telling the group of indigenous people to “f—k off”.
The magistrate said he watched two pieces of video footage from Constable Seumanu’s camera chest and from the mobile phone belonging to a Pioneer resident many times while determining his decision.
Mr Guttridge said he could not hear the specific phrase Mr Punch was accused of saying, but did hear other threatening language.
The difficulty was that there were more than 40 people shouting around the police officers in a poorly lit area.
Mr Guttridge could not accept Constable Seumanu knew the owner’s voice so well he could pick it out in a crowd at night.
“It’s not possible to attribute the words to the defendant,” the magistrate determined.
Magistrate Guttridge acknowledge the “dangerous and volatile situation” the understaffed police officers were in when surrounded by a large number of people acting aggressively and ignoring orders.
The Constable’s evidence was unreliable even though he “genuinely tried to state what happened”.
The two police witnesses said last week they tried to give Mr Punch first aid after he was stunned, but other people threw rocks and glass bottles.
They said they were frightened for their safety, so drove away in the police car while calling for back-up before returning to check on the defendant and to make further arrests.
Fatal traffic crash, Bundaberg North
QPS Media [21/5/15]:
A man has died as a result of injuries sustained in a traffic crash at Bundaberg North this morning.
The 93-year-old Bundaberg North man passed away at the Bundaberg Base Hospital.
Initial investigations suggest at about 5.50am, the man was walking his dog on Hinkler Avenue and was struck by a van as he was crossing the road.
Investigations are continuing. Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
1yo boy dies in car crash at Armstrong Beach near Mackay
Police are investigating a crash which claimed the life of a one-year-old boy near Mackay in north Queensland.
Police said it appears the car ran off the road at Armstrong Beach, south of Mackay, about 1:30am (AEST) today.
They said it then hit a tree, killing a one-year-old boy.
Acting Senior Sergeant Adrian Geary said the crash happened on a dark stretch of road.
He said the car's driver was taken to the Mackay Base Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
"It's unknown what type of injuries, he had an injury to his left knee area and was in pain but I don't really know what the exact injuries are," he said.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
Brett Peter Cowan loses appeal against his conviction for murder
The man jailed for killing Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe has had his appeal against his conviction dismissed.
Brett Peter Cowan was in 2014 sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 20 years for killing 13-year-old Daniel in 2003.
Cowan abducted Daniel while he waited for a bus on the Sunshine Coast.
His lawyers launched an appeal on six grounds including potential prejudicial media during the trial and that police improperly obtained a confession.
Queensland's former attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie lodged a separate appeal to increase Cowan's non-parole period, which he said was manifestly inadequate and would fail to deter others.
Court of Appeal President Margaret McMurdo delivered the judgment dismissing Cowan's appeal, and also that of the attorney-general's to increase his sentence.
Cowan's lawyer Tim Meehan said he was not overly positive that he could have won.
"He was realistic," Mr Meehan said outside court.
Mr Meehan said he would take instruction from Cowan on whether to pursue an appeal further.
When asked if Cowan was open to taking it further, Mr Meehan replied: "Yes."
"Available to him is a special leave application to the High Court, and that's what we will be pursuing," he said.
"We need to examine the decision of the court, the reasons for their rulings, obtain some instructions in relation to that, give advice to our client in relation to the reasons of the court, and that will determine what we do from here."
Mr Meehan said the heart of an appeal in the High Court would be the undercover police operation, which garnered a confession from Cowan.
"We believe the police officers in this particular operation overstepped the mark and their illegality rendered the admissions inadmissible," he said.
Queensland man injured while cutting tree
A man has suffered head injuries after a branch fell on him while he was cutting down a tree in southern Queensland.
Paramedics were called to the incident at a property at Coondoo, east of Gympie, about 10am, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman said.
The man, aged in his late 60s, has been airlifted to hospital.
We are living in desperate times
These are desperate times my dear ...
'Back To The Wall', Divinyls 
Chris Hurley stood down over Gold Coast police pursuit [Nine MSN - 21/5/15]:
The Queensland police officer cleared of killing an Aboriginal man in custody at Palm Island is now accused of inappropriate use off force during a Gold Coast police chase on Saturday night.
Officers allege they had hammers and tomahawks thrown at them as they tried to get the vehicle to stop.
Supervisors acted cautiously and gave a direction for officers to drop away from [the] 4WD they were following.
However one police car allegedly continued to give chase and at one point collided with the offender's car.
Police fired their weapons with some of the bullets hitting the four wheel drive.
In the adrenaline-charged moment two officers were knocked down as the 28-year-old woman behind the wheel allegedly attempted to escape.
Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley and his partner Barry Wellington were treated at the scene but have now been stood down after a review of the incident.
The pair are accused of engaging in an unauthorised pursuit, driving a police vehicle likely to endanger others and inappropriate use of force.
Senior Sergeant Hurley was at the centre of a manslaughter inquiry in 2004 after Cameron Doomagee died while being moved to a police cell on Palm Island. He was later cleared.
In December last year, 47-year-old Sergeant Hurley was found to have used excessive force after putting a man in a choke-hold at an accident scene.
Police Ethical Standards to investigate Gold Coast police pursuit collisions, shooting [QPS Media - 18/5/15]
Illinois Judge calls police killing of Rekia Boyd "beyond reckless" but acquits police officer on technicality [Democracy Now - 20/5/15]:
… AMY GOODMAN: Martinez Sutton, if you could talk about what happened to your sister, Rekia? The judge dismissed the case against the officer, saying that it shouldn’t have—he shouldn’t have been charged with involuntary manslaughter. He should have been charged with murder?
MARTINEZ SUTTON: Yes. The judge said it should have been murder charges put on the officer, instead of involuntary manslaughter, and also said that he can’t be intentional and reckless at the same time. And we had second-degree murder charges on him at first, before they announced it. But at the last minute, once they found out I talked to the officer, they changed it to involuntary manslaughter to further protect him.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, once you talked to the officer?
MARTINEZ SUTTON: Well, I was doing a documentary for my school, and as we were shooting the documentary, he pulled up in the same car that he killed my sister in. And he gets out the car and said, "Who are you people?" And they said, "This is Martinez Sutton, Rekia Boyd’s brother." And he looked surprised, and he was like, "You’re Rekia’s brother?" I said, "Yes, I am." And he said, "Can I get a hug?" So I stared at him for a sec, and I embraced him. And he started with, "I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to kill your sister. I’m so sorry. Your sister was innocent. But I tried to kill that MFer. Ooh, I wish it was him that I shot in the head, instead of your sister. Ooh, I wish it was him that was dead." Then he went back to "I’m so sorry. Now my heart is clear. I pray to the three Marys across the street every day, every time I leave this alley." How can you wish somebody was dead? How can you wish somebody else’s life was taken? Why do you want to take somebody’s life off this Earth?
Australia's Human Rights Establishment thought today would be an ideal opportunity to antagonize the region about the death penalty?
Rights groups united in calling on Australia to push for global end to death penalty [Human Rights Law Centre Media Release - 21/5/15]:
A group of leading Australian and international human rights organisations are calling for an overhaul to the way the Australian government campaigns to end the death penalty, today launching a new strategy document: ‘Australian Government and the Death Penalty: A Way Forward’
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Law Centre, Reprieve Australia, Australians Detained Abroad, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Civil Liberties Australia and UnitingJustice Australia have joined forces to launch the blueprint. ...
A nation cannot be a regional leader on abolishing the death penalty while pushing refugees out to sea.
Canberra Times [21/5/15]:
Australia has a responsibility to address the humanitarian crisis in the Bay of Bengal because it is a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees, according to the Indonesian government.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused to offer resettlement to Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar on the grounds it would encourage people smuggling.
Asked earlier on Thursday whether the Australian government would help resettle those who have been stranded at sea, Mr Abbott replied "nope, nope, nope".
"I'm sorry. If you want to start a new life, you come through the front door, not through the back door," he said.
But Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said Australia could not ignore the humanitarian crisis.
"My point is this: countries that are parties to the convention on refugees have a responsibility to ensure they believe in what they sign," Mr Nasir said.
Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN convention.
However Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to provide humanitarian assistance to 7000 Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingya refugees still stranded at sea and provide temporary shelter for up to a year.
This was on the provision that the resettlement and repatriation process will be done in one year by the international community.
"I hope all the countries that signed the refugee convention address the issue," Mr Nasir said.
"If you believe it when you sign it, you should act upon it."
Mr Nasir acknowledged there was criminality involved in human trafficking but said you could not simply ignore the humanitarian situation as a result.
He said the Bali process and a meeting with affected countries in the region in Bangkok on May 29 would address the issue of trafficking.
"The issue here is there is trafficking and we have to address it but we can't stop the humanitarian part because we know there is an element of criminality," he said.
Fahri Hamzah, the deputy speaker in the House of Representatives, said Mr Abbott's comments were regrettable.
"Tony Abbott should not put the blame on the asylum seekers. They went on the boats because they were forced to do that. If you look at the map, you'll find out how these people did their journey, they fled from Arakan to the end of its beaches then went down to Thailand, they got rejected and on to Malaysia, got rejected again then more to the south where they were accepted by our Acehnese people," Mr Fahri said.
"Luckily the Aceh people are very generous and helpful."
Hikmahanto Juwana, an expert on international law from the University of Indonesia, said that as a signatory to the convention, Australia was obliged to take in the refugees
"Australia cannot reject helping these people on the waters," he said.
"It is their obligation, unless Australia withdraws from the 1951 convention. So Abbott should not make a statement like that. He should have shown more empathy to countries that are forced to accommodate these asylum seekers, by perhaps saying that Australia will financially help the countries who shelter the asylum seekers while seeking an end to human trafficking."
Professor Hikmahanto said Australia could also use its political influence to put pressure on Myanmar over its treatment of the persecuted Rohingya Muslims.
He said these approaches would have drawn sympathy from Indonesia.
Bilateral relations between the two countries are at a low ebb following the Bali nine executions.
"Indonesia and other countries could have just ignored these people given Australia, who is a signatory country to the UN convention, pushes back the refugees," Professor Hikmahanto said.
"But we didn't do that."
ASHP Sends Letters to UN, Jokowi on Rohingyas Fate [TEMPO.CO - 21/5/15]:
The Acehnese for Solidarity for Humanities and Peace (ASHP) has sent a letter to the UN Security Council on the fate of Rohingya refugees stranded in the province. Similar letters have also been sent to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and President Joko Widodo.
ASHP spokesperson Wirduna Tripa said the letter had been sent via state-owned postal firm PT Pos Indonesia in Banda Aceh to the UN representatives in Jakarta to be forwarded to the Council in New York, the United States.
In the letter, the ASHP called on the UN to urge the Burmese government to stop the crimes against humanity targeting the Rohingyas that had lasted since 1962.
“The UN must actively seek solutions to resolve the minority ethnic Rohingya issues,” Wirduna said on Wednesday, May 20, 2015.
The ASHP also asked Muslim countries across the globe to pressure the UN and the Burmese government to stem the problem.
In its letter to President Jokowi, the ASHP appealed to the president to shelter the Rohingyas on the country’s islands and provide them with similar aid rendered to the refugees of the Vietnam War, which included, among others, education, health services and life protection.
Wirduna said the Rohingya problem would linger on the absence of immediate solutions. In the past 11 days, an estimated 1,300 Rohingyas have reached the shores of Aceh and North Sumatra.
A post-screening discussion of the Armenian genocide has been cancelled after NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian, a senior figure in the Armenian-Australian community, withdrew, allegedly in response to the presence of Turkish "genocide deniers" on the panel. … [Sydney Morning Herald - 21/5/15]
Saudi jets strike UNICEF HQ in Yemen
Press TV [21/5/15]:
Several people have been killed or injured in Yemen as Saudi military aircraft conducted a fresh round of attacks against several areas across the impoverished country.
On Thursday, Saudi fighter jets struck the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) headquarters in the Midi district of Yemen’s northwestern province of Hajjah, located approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of the capital, Sana’a, Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network reported.
No figure has been reported yet for the casualties.
The development came only hours after five Somali nationals lost their lives and two others sustained injuries when Saudi aircraft bombarded the same region.
Saudi warplanes also fired a number of missiles on residential buildings in the Razeh district of the northwestern Yemeni province of Sa’ada on Thursday, though there was no information on casualties.
Earlier in the day, Saudi forces fired more than 50 mortar rounds at the town of al-Malahit, which is also located in Sa’ada Province.
Additionally, a number of houses were leveled as Saudi warplanes launched ten airstrikes against the al-Marwi Village in the same province.
Saudi Arabia’s air campaign against Yemen started on March 26 - without a UN mandate - in a bid to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.
The United Nations says, since March 19, over 1,800 people have been killed and 7,330 injured due to the conflict in Yemen, which was exacerbated by the Saudi airstrikes.
Afghanistan: Civilians, police among 23 dead in fresh bout of violence
At least 18 militants, three civilians and two policemen were killed and four militants wounded in several security incidents in southern Ghazni, central Logar and western provinces, officials said on Thursday.
Shafiq Nang, the spokesman for the Ghazni governor, told Pajhwok Afghan News firefight erupted on Thursday morning between insurgents and security forces.
“A women and her husband were killed when they were on their way to hospital and their son was wounded when they stuck in the battle,” he added.
The wounded boy was shifted to hospital in Andar district who was stated to be in stable condition, he added.
Separately, Nang added 13 militants and a policeman were killed and two local policemen and three civilians wounded when militants attacked security check posts in Qarabagh district.
Separately, Logar police chief Brig. Gen. Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai told Pajhwok Afghan News three rebels were killed and four others wounded during a clearing operation launched in Doshanbi area of Pul-i-Alam city, the provincial capital this morning.
The militants took shelter in a house when security forces’ assaulted them, he said. A policeman was also killed and another wounded in the gun battle.
Azizullah, a resident of the locality, said the fight between rebels and police began around 4: 00 am early this morning and lasted one hour.
He was unaware of casualties but said that Afghan air force was called in to target enemy positions.
Elsewhere, militants stormed several security posts in Herat province this morning, police spokesman said.
Abdul Rauf Ahmadi said the attacks on security posts started in the morning and continued for two hours. Police suffered no casualties but two rebels were killed in retaliatory attack, he added.
Some weapons and ammunitions were also seized from fighters, Ahmadi said.
Taliban, however, did not comment on the incidents.
Al Jazeera [21/5/15]:
Humanitarian agencies are struggling to cope as tens of thousands of Burundian refugees stranded on Kagunga Island in Tanzania face worsening medical conditions.
UNICEF officials told Al Jazeera on Thursday that conditions at Kagunga were "tough" and that a cholera outbreak had made conditions even more dire.
At least 33 people have died, with 27 deaths believed to have been cholera related. The World Health Organization declared cholera a level 1 emergency in the region on Wednesday.
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Tuesday sent representatives to pay condolences to the families of judges killed in Sinai on Saturday, state news agency MENA reported. ... [Ahram - 21/5/15]
Egypt permits private sector to import natural gas [Ahram - 21/5/15]
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 19, and 8 a.m., May 20, local time.
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted nine airstrikes using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft.
Separately in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 16 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
"Our airstrikes struck Daesh elements near along the Euphrates river valley,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, CJTF-OIR chief of public affairs.
“The Coalition applies significant mitigation measures in our targeting process and during the conduct of strike operations to reduce the risks of collateral damage and non-combatant casualties.”
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 two ISIL vehicles, two ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL armored vehicles and an ISIL anti-aircraft artillery system.
Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL fighting positions and two ISIL vehicles.
Near Al Asad, six airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL structures, an ISIL VBIED and an ISIL mortar system.
Near Huwayjah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
Near Bayji, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL structure and an ISIL VBIED.
Near Fallujah, one airstrike struck a large ISIL tactical unit, destroying three ISIL buildings.
Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL weapons manufacturing facility and an ISIL checkpoint.
Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL buildings, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
NZ troops at risk of attack, says New Zealand opposition.
Australian troops, opposition still missing in action [RNZI - 21/5/15]:
New Zealand troops in Iraq will soon be directly in the firing line of fighting against Islamic State (IS), the Labour Party says.
As IS fighters consolidate their hold on the city of Ramadi, Prime Minister John Key has said New Zealand soldiers helping train Iraqi troops will not be withdrawn even if IS reaches Baghdad.
The New Zealanders are based at Camp Taji, about 30 kilometres from Baghdad and an hour's drive from Ramadi.
"Like everything in life, one always assesses the risks that are there but we are confident that the facility that our troops are in is a secure one - as secure as it can be in what is a volatile, difficult country and situation," Mr Key said.
"I can't tell you that it's a particular trigger point but what I can tell you is I'm confident that our guys are in the safest place they can be within Iraq."
Labour's defence spokesperson Phil Goff told Morning Report the soldiers were now at high risk of attack.
"They were sent there for a non-combat role but soon they'll be entrenched in a direct firefight and attack," he said.
"We're putting out people at risk with no benefit to the outcome of what's happening there."
Mr Goff said New Zealand's military presence in Iraq would not help to resolve the conflict.
American officials have said US-led coalition air strikes are targeting IS fighters in Ramadi.
There is, however, no indication that a promised counterattack on Ramadi is imminent.
Government forces backed by Shi'ite militias have been building up at a base near the city as they prepare to retake the city, which is the capital of Iraq's western Sunni-majority province of Anbar.
The IS fighters have taken over tanks and artillery and large amounts of ammunition abandoned by fleeing Iraqi forces.
The Iraqi government said its troops had fought off an overnight attack by IS fighters near Ramadi.
Meanwhile, in Syria, IS fighters have taken near complete control of the city of Palmyra, home to some of the world's most magnificent ancient ruins, speaking fears for the ruins' destruction.
Yemeni Houthis back UN peace talks [Daily Star - 21/5/15]
Two United Nations humanitarian officials with responsibilities in the occupied Palestinian territory have today expressed their grave concern over the Government of Israel’s “rapidly advancing plans” to transfer Palestinian Bedouins in the central West Bank from their current communities. ... [UN Media Release - 20/5/15]
Netanyahu halts ban on Palestinians using settler buses [Maan - 20/5/15]
The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Israel for Joint Direct Attack Munition Tail Kits, munitions, and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.879 billion.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on May 18, 2015. ... [Defense Security Co-operation Agency Media Release - 19/5/15]
@ItalianNavy [20/5/15]: #UltimOra #SAR nave Sfinge ha terminato il trasbordo di 286 #migranti e di una salma #MarinaMilitare
An Italian Navy ship on Wednesday rescued 290 desperate Eritrean migrants from a rickety boat on the Mediterranean, as they attempted to reach safer shores in Europe.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour was onboard the frigate as it conducted the operation, just one of several carried out by the Navy today. … [CNN – 20/5/15]
The father of an eight-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who was found earlier this month trying to cross into the Spanish exclave of Ceuta inside a suitcase was unable to bring him into the country legally because his monthly salary was €41 short. ... [El Pais - 19/5/15]
Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Director Richard Bennett said Wednesday's decision to provide shelter helped those who have come ashore, but "does nothing for the thousands still adrift at sea, with diminishing supplies of food and water, or for any more who may follow them."
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said his country will conduct search and rescue missions for Rohingya migrant boats in the Andaman Sea.
Humanitarian aid would also be delivered by land and sea, he said.
His announcement comes after weeks of authorities rejecting migrant boats and towing them out of Malaysian waters.
Malaysia and Indonesia's foreign ministers are in Myanmar for talks on the migrant crisis. About 7,000 people are believed to be stranded at sea.
The migrants are comprised of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar, as well as Bangladeshis, who are thought to be economic migrants.
Malaysia and Indonesia have said they will temporarily shelter those that land on their territory, but need the international community's help with resettling them.
Mr Najib said on his Twitter account that it was "basic human compassion" to provide aid to the hungry and sick. He added that search and rescue by the country's naval and maritime authorities was needed to "prevent loss of life".
Malaysia was among several in the region that had previously refused to take in the migrants and been towing the boats to other countries' waters, in what observers condemned as a deadly "ping-pong" match.
Malaysia's foreign minister Anifah Aman and Indonesia's Retno Marsudi are holding talks with Myanmar counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin in the Burmese capital Nay Pyi Taw. The US deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken is also due to meet Burmese officials.
Thursday's meeting is seen by some as a breakthrough, as Myanmar has denied responsibility for the crisis and did not attend a meeting of regional foreign ministers on Wednesday, where the deal to provide temporary shelter and no longer turn back boats was reached.
"We are not ignoring the migrant problem, but... we will not accept the allegations by some that Myanmar is the source of the problem," Zaw Htay, director of Myanmar's presidential office, told AP news agency on Saturday.
Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Director Richard Bennett said Wednesday's decision to provide shelter helped those who have come ashore, but "does nothing for the thousands still adrift at sea, with diminishing supplies of food and water, or for any more who may follow them."
Thailand has said it will stop towing boats back to sea, something Malaysian and Indonesian navies have also been doing in recent days, but did not sign the agreement to provide shelter, saying it is already struggling to cope with tens of thousands of refugees from Myanmar.
More than 3,000 have been rescued by locals or come ashore in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Malaysia and Indonesia have appealed for help from other nations to resettle the migrants within a year.
The US State Department said the US was prepared to take in refugees and lead a multi-country effort to resettle them.
Myanmar (also known as Burma) sees the Rohingya as migrants from Bangladesh, though many generations have lived there. It restricts their movements and personal lives, and Rohingya have faced persecution from the majority Buddhist population.
The BBC's Jonah Fisher, who is in Sittwe province where many of the migrants are believed to have come from, says unless the root cause is addressed the migration problem will continue.
Imaginary Australian journalist to Julie Bishop: Karen refugees from Myanmar have been settled in Australia, why not Rohingya? Are you racist?
Victorian town gets $41m benefit from resettling Burmese Karen refugees [Guardian – 23/4/15]:
A small town in Victoria has gained an economic benefit of $41.5m from resettling refugees, a report has found, pointing to the possible gains available to other local communities.
The town of Nhill is nestled halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, and has a population of just under 2,300. Since 2010, 170 Karen refugees from Burma have been resettled in the largely agricultural town.
Let them eat gum leaves. [Guardian -21/5/15]:
Foreign minister Julie Bishop opens Koalamania at Singapore Zoo, which houses four female koalas presented by the Australian government.
The koalas, from Brisbane's Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, have been in quarantine since arriving in April.
Qantas Airways will fly in eucalyptus leaves, the koalas' primary diet, twice weekly from Brisbane.
Australia's protected and unaccountable Foreign Minister forbidden from saying "Rohingya"?
Media Release [20/5/15]:
... It [$6 million] will also undermine the ability of people smugglers to sell the false hope of unsafe boat journeys to neighbouring countries. ...
Interview with Australian MP Luke Simpkins: ‘Myanmar Has a Long Way to Go Before It Is a Really Democratic Nation’ [The Irrawaddy - 6/2/15]:
... Q: The Australian government’s position is that Burma is in democratic transition and the Burmese government is endeavoring to make peace with ethnic armed groups, including those associated with the Karen National Union. What is your opinion after observing the situation on the ground?
A: I understand, from those I spoke to, that using “ceasefire” arrangements allows the Burmese Army to advance further into the ethnic states, reinforce their military bases and I even heard the allegation that foreign aid is being used to build roads that facilitate the conduct of military operations.
Child sex abuse royal commission weighs allegations in Australian immigration concentration camps
The royal commission into child sex abuse has confirmed it is considering allegations of child sex abuse in Australia's immigration detention centres.
Allegations of abuse at the Christmas Island detention centre and several others have been referred to the commission, which is examining abuse in institutional settings.
Greens senator and immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young has written to the commission asking it to investigate those claims and also allegations of abuse on Nauru, detailed in an inquiry carried out by former integrity commissioner Phillip Moss.
"The issue of alleged child sexual abuse in Australia's immigration detention centres is currently being considered by the commissioners," chairman Justice Peter McClellan wrote in a reply to Senator Hanson-Young.
Senator Hanson-Young said she had been told the commission, formally titled the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, were in the initial stages of examining the requests.
"I think this is a very welcome step," she said.
But Justice McClellan said he did not have the jurisdiction to probe allegations of abuse in other countries such as the Nauruan detention centre.
"The commission is of a view that it cannot investigate events that occur within another country," he wrote.
While the commission's work to date has focused largely on historical matters, its terms of reference do not prevent it from investigating more recent concerns.
The Immigration Department has confirmed to the ABC that it had been asked to provide information to the commission on several occasions since 2013.
But in a statement a spokeswoman said the documents the commission had sought were not related to child abuse in immigration detention facilities.
The ABC understands the commission's requests relate to historical cases.
Refugee Council of Australia chief executive Paul Power said there were current allegations of abuse which warranted investigation.
"These allegations of abuse are actually very recent, in fact current in a number of cases," he said.
"So while the royal commission has looked at a whole lot of issues in previous decades, here we have situations of allegations of abuse that are happening right now."
Senator Hanson-Young said the commission's inability to investigate abuse allegations in offshore detention centres raised "serious questions".
"Governments of both persuasions have an extremely poor record of protecting children in detention and have done everything they can to hide what's been going on," she said.
New Matilda [20/5/15]:
... Australia has a brutally hardline anti-asylum seeker approach. Refugees who arrive on our shores seeking asylum are dubbed “boat people” or “economic migrants” in political rhetoric and locked up in mandatory detention facilities — many of these offshore, where there have been known, reported and investigated cases of abuse, neglect and torture.
Much of this information came to light only through information provided by former Immigration staff including workers from the Salvation Army, one of the charities contracted to provide services on Manus Island. Nicola Judge and Simon Taylor, who had been stationed on the island, launched senate submissions after witnessing ongoing, vast mistreatment at the offshore detention centre.
The “secrecy and disclosure” provision of the Australian Border Force bill imposes restrictions threatening freedom of information. Under the new legislation, Judge and Taylor may have faced imprisonment for their disclosure had it been deemed “protected information.”
In the past, an anti-whistleblowing law was used to vilify Save the Children workers, who had brought attention to instances of child self-harm taking place within the detention centre on Nauru. Instead of the facility, it was the whistleblowers who were investigated at the time.
The Australian government’s attempt at constructing an oubliette of both physical and social isolation around asylum seekers is alarming. While we know that people are being grossly mistreated to an inhumane extent, the information is more than likely to be obstructed.
Promotional video for PNG Digicel Cup 2015
21st day of Nauru Facebook blackout.
Urgent message from West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda
Free West Papua Campaign [21/5/15]:
I am making this urgent message to the international community to please look towards the situation in West Papua.
Yesterday all over West Papua and in some Indonesia cities, the people of West Papua peacefully demonstrated and asked the leaders of our fellow Melanesian countries to welcome us into the Melanesian and greater Pacific family, within the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG.) We have put our trust in the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to represent us in the MSG.
Though my people were only demonstrating peacefully, it has been reported that 84 West Papuans, including youths were arrested and some were tortured by the Indonesian authorities. As Melanesians we want to peacefully express our right to come back into the Melanesian family by joining the MSG but we almost every time my people do this, we are arrested and tortured.
Events such as yesterday show to the world and especially our Melanesian leaders that the Melanesian people of West Papua do want to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group through the ULMWP.
These events also show that this is exactly what the Indonesian government does not want.
Why else would they allow for scores of West Papuans getting arrested and some getting tortured, just for asking to come back to the Melanesian family?
The Indonesian government has been trying hard to lobby the leaders of the Melanesian countries and tell them not to support Melanesian West Papuans joining the Melanesian Spearhead Group through our own organisation (the ULMWP). They have been trying hard to tell these Melanesian leaders to support Indonesia itself to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group so as to “represent” West Papuans from there.
However, the truth is being revealed. Thousands of West Papuans have come out on the streets supporting the ULMWP representing us within our Melanesian family of the MSG. We have not seen any demonstrations by West Papuans calling for Indonesia to represent us at the MSG because we want to be represented by ourselves, not our colonial rulers.
I urge the world to look towards this real situation my people are facing as we continue to demonstrate and ask our fellow Melanesian leaders to please accept us back into our rightful place in the Melanesian family, with open arms.
My people will demonstrate all over West Papua again today on 21st May to call once again for MSG membership. Please turn your eyes towards my people and keep them in your hearts and prayers as they risk their lives to express their desires to be free Melanesian people.
I am also holding a demonstration with the Free West Papua Campaign outside the Indonesian Embassy in London on Saturday 23rd May, showing that West Papuans want to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group and calling on the Indonesian government to stop the oppression and illegal occupation of West Papua.
The demonstration will be held from 12:00 to 14:00 outside the Indonesian Embassy at 38, Grosvenor Square. Please join me as we stand together and say
“Stop the oppression! Bring West Papua back to the Melanesian family! Free West Papua!”
Nearly 80 dead in Colombia landslide, 11-month-old baby rescued [UPI.com - 20/5/15]
After exeriencing record heat last week - reaching an unseasonable record of 42C - temperatures are set to plummet across Spain, with the mercury falling especially low in central Spain, as well as the Pyrenees, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. ... [The Local - 20/5/15]
Senators Lazarus & Waters presented with #gasfieldfree declaration #qldpol #rallyforthefuture ...
Image: @earth_warrior [21/5/15]
@x4mediaLtd: ... Speakers' Corner Parl. Qld Drew Hutton mc
@x4mediaLtd: ... Speakers' Corner Parl. Qld Sam Watson acknowledgement of country
@x4mediaLtd: ... Speakers' Corner Parl. Qld knitting nannas front and centre
@x4mediaLtd: ... Speakers' Corner Parl. Qld 'Fracking is Insane'
Senator Glenn Lazarus Media Release:
Senator for Queensland, Glenn Lazarus, will head up a public rally against CSG mining in Brisbane tomorrow morning.
The public rally being organised by Lock the Gate is a joint initiative between Senator Glenn Lazarus and Lock the Gate to raise awareness of the dangers of CSG mining.
“Queensland is experiencing unprecedented growth in the CSG mining sector,” said Senator Glenn Lazarus today.
“I have travelled to rural and regional areas of Queensland affected by CSG mining and am horrified by what I have witnessed.
“Queenslanders are being treated badly and have very few rights, if any, to stop CSG mining companies from undertaking mining on their properties.
“Queenslanders who try to stop CSG mining companies from coming on to their land are bullied and subjected to harassment and other nasty tactics.
“Farmers and Queenslanders affected by CSG mining are experiencing a range of serious issues including health issues, death of livestock, loss of ground water and contamination of water.
“Bores and wells are going dry.
“Animals are losing their hair and dying. Children are suffering from nosebleeds and unexplained ailments.
“Many people have developed chronic illnesses.
“CSG mining has been banned in other countries because of its harmful long term economic, health, social and environmental impacts. It is extremely dangerous and needs to be stopped in Australia.
“If Governments think it is appropriate to put revenue from CSG mining companies ahead of the health, safety and future of our people, then it is up to the people to stand up to Governments and say ‘NO’.
“Every Queenslander should go for a drive to regional Queensland to see the damage, destruction and devastation caused by CSG mining.
“Tomorrow’s rally will bring the reality of CSG mining into the city of Brisbane so more people become aware of the dangers of CSG mining. Hopefully they will join us in telling Governments to stop this form of invasive mining in our country.
“The health of our people and our future should never be put before short term greed.”
Queensland Parlament Hansard [20/5/15]:
Mr KATTER [KAP - Mt Isa]: My question without notice is to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Sport and Racing. Approximately 113 drought concessional loans have been allocated despite 80 per cent of the rural areas of the state having the worst conditions ever recorded in Queensland. This reflects abject policy failure, as endorsed by the cattle producers I interact with. On this basis, will the minister move immediately towards providing a reconstruction board or like mechanism given the recent failing of the federal government to deliver the ARDB.
Mr BYRNE: **** BLURT BLURT BLURT BLAH - NO - BLURT BLURT BLAH BLAH ***
Next stage begins for Abbot Point expansion [Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Media Release – 19/5/15]
BP Oil Spill Responsible for Gulf of Mexico Dolphin Deaths
Scientific American [20/5/15]:
Lesions in the lungs and shrunken adrenal glands distinguish dolphins that washed up dead in the Gulf of Mexico between June 2010 and December 2012 compared with those found in beachings elsewhere. As a result, researchers have linked the mass deaths to BP's oil spill.
"The dolphins have adrenal disease and lung disease consistent with exposure to petroleum products," explains Stephanie Venn-Watson, lead author of the study published in PLoS One and veterinarian at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego.
The researchers did not start out by blaming oil, first considering the most likely possibilities for many dolphins washing ashore dead. That list of suspects includes diseases like morbillivirus, poisoning by blooms of toxin-producing algae or even unusually cold weather.
But BP's blowout in the Gulf of Mexico beginning on April 20, 2010, added oil to this collection. There were three mass strandings of dolphins on the Gulf coast from the Texas–Louisiana border to Florida, more than 1,000 dead dolphins in all, including babies.
Based on the timing and the lack of other discernible causes, scientists had hypothesized that there might be a link between the oil spill and the unusual dolphin deaths.
Now the analysis of tissue from 46 dolphins from the region of the spill compared with 106 dead dolphins from elsewhere—North Carolina, South Carolina and unaffected parts of Florida and Texas—shows that the Gulf dolphins had abnormal adrenal glands and weaker lungs.
This analysis matches the health problems found in a survey of living Gulf dolphins in Barataria Bay, La., in 2011, which showed lung debility and poorly functioning adrenal systems.
This also matches the results from other toxicology experiments, such as feeding mink oil to understand the impacts of exposure. The mink had shrunken adrenal glands, among other lab animals to show such impacts from oil exposure.
The Gulf coast dolphins were also four times more likely to have died from an infectious disease—such as opportunistic bacterial pneumonia—than the dolphins from elsewhere. Without enough of the adrenal hormones like cortisol, which protects against physical stresses, the Gulf dolphins were liable to be more susceptible to infection and cold temperatures.
People who inhale hydrocarbons like those present during the oil spill often contract pneumonia. Dolphins are even more vulnerable to inhaling some of the hydrocarbons that can be present in air during an oil spill, given that a single breath is taken right at the water's surface amidst the oily sheen.
Greens say Australia should take Rohingyan refugees
Media still pushing warped talking points
@chriskkenny - Murdoch staffer [21/5/15]: Fr Rod Bower Wrong-headed Australia hating...all aboard for profiteering people-smugglers and countless more deaths at sea..
Transfield Services says it has improved the quality of services available to refugees on Manus and Nauru islands as it tries to renew a lucrative $1.2 billion management contract. ... [Australian Financial Review - 23/1/15]
... “The Australian Army is aware of members undertaking approved secondary employment in off-duty hours with Wilson Security on Manus Island,” the media unit said in a statement.
“Army, however, has not issued a directive requiring these members to cease their approved leave and return to Australia.
“There have been no changes made to air force policy concerning off-duty employment.” A spokesman for services giant Transfield, which runs the camps on behalf of the federal government, also denied soldiers had been ordered home.
“On behalf of Wilson I can confirm there has been no communication to this effect,” a company spokesman said. ... [Islands Business - 8/5/14]
Serco is failing, but is kept afloat thanks to Australia's refugee policy [Guardian - 11/11/14]
Greens Media Release [21/5/15]:
Greens Leader Richard Di Natale says it's time for Australia to step up and help huge numbers of people fleeing persecution in our region.
"These people are in desperate need of help. They are refugees and they deserve a home in Australia," said Senator Di Natale.
"Instead of turning our backs and turning back the boats, we should welcome these people with open arms.
"They will make an enormous contribution to our nation, as have generations of refugees and other migrants before them.
"Australia can show leadership and compassion, just as it did after the Tiananmen Square massacre and the Vietnam war by authorising special intake of refugees fleeing war and persecution.
"The Abbott government must realise by now that pushing asylum seekers out of sight has not pushed them out of the minds of millions of Australians who care about their fate.
"We're talking about thousands of people who have been caught up in a humanitarian disaster. We'd come to their aid if it was an earthquake or a flood. How can we abandon them now?
"We are a more caring nation than our successive immigration ministers would have the world believe. The government should help us to be at our best by helping these Rohingyan people."
Imaginary Australian journalist to Peter Dutton: So did Uncle Sam's fickle decision to help resettle Rohingya refugees catch you off guard?
Protected, unaccountabe Minister for Immigration continues protecting Australia from having an international reputation for decency with another dogwhistle [Media Release - 21/5/15]:
... “I know that the overwhelming majority of people who visit or migrate here are honest, law abiding and make a valuable contribution to the fabric of our society; but under this Government people convicted of reprehensible and abhorrent crimes such as these are not welcome here.”
“My message to the minority of people who travel to Australia and violate community standards is that they should consider themselves on notice; we will continue to target you by cancelling your visa and will remove you from Australia as soon as possible.”
“There is no place in Australia for foreign criminals.” ...
Abbott talks tough.
Shorten talks weasel words.
Sydney Morning Herald [21/5/15]:
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said "nope, nope, nope" to Australia offering resettlement to any of the thousands of migrants caught up in South East Asia's refugee crisis.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor supports regional resettlement as a general principle.
"But where there is an unfolding humanitarian crisis in South-East Asia, Tony Abbott's 'not my problem' approach is disappointing. There's no doubt there's terrible violence happening in parts which are affecting the Rohingya people.
He called for the government to "engage" on the issue.
The lie is unravelling. Any Australians associated with the detention and exile of refugees (including propagandists) might like to familiarise themselves with this ---> Inside the International Criminal Court [VIDEO]
@xBorderOps: Here's @BernardKeane arguing for offshore detention, pushbacks & the "No Way You Won't Make AU Home" proviso
Rohingya Muslims Offered to Resettle in Gambia [20/5/15]:
... The Government of the Gambia further requests the international community to contribute towards this humanitarian gesture in the form of tents, beddings, household materials, medicinal and other forms of requisite logistical support to set up habitable camps with decent sanitary conditions for the Rohingya.
... The Gambian government’s position on the Rohingya contrasts sharply with the professed disdain of its president, Yahya Jammeh, for the thousands of African migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. ... [Guardian - 21/5/15]
PROTEST! Rescue the Rohingya - end boat turn backs!
Hosted by Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney:
Friday, May 22 at 5:00pm
Sydney Town Hall
- Rescue the Rohingyan refugees
- End Boat Turn Backs
- Australia must resettle refugees from Indonesia
Speakers include a Rohingya community representative, Refugee Action Coalition
US says would consider requests to resettle Rohingya refugees
Australia says "not our problem"
Media keeps protecting Australian politicians and their "stop the boats", "deterrence" lie
The United States is willing to take in Rohingya refugees as part of international efforts to cope with Southeast Asia’s stranded boat people, the State Department said Wednesday.
Spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the U.S. is prepared to take a leading role in any multicountry effort, organized by the United Nations refugee agency, to resettle the most vulnerable refugees.
In the past three weeks, more than 3,000 people — Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladeshis trying to escape poverty — have landed in overcrowded boats on the shores of various Southeast Asian countries. Aid groups say thousands more are stranded at sea after human smugglers abandoned their boats because of a crackdown by authorities.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have been reluctant to let the Rohingya in and have turned boats full of hungry, thirsty people away, because they fear a flood of unwanted migrants. But on Wednesday, they relented.
Harf welcomed the governments’ decision “to uphold their responsibilities under international law and provide humanitarian assistance and shelter to 7,000 vulnerable migrants.” The U.S. would consider requests from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and International Organization for Migration for funds to help receive and screen refugees as they come to shore.
Harf said that since Oct. 1, the U.S. has resettled more than 1,000 Rohingya.
“I think the Malaysians and the Indonesians have requested some help resettling people. We’re taking a careful look at the proposal,” Harf told reporters in Washington.
“It has to be a multicountry effort. We obviously can’t take this all on ourselves. But we are prepared to play a leading role in this effort.”
Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will visit Myanmar on Thursday and urge it to cooperate with Bangladesh to help migrants who are adrift. Harf said he would call for Myanmar to improve conditions inside the country for Rohingya.
“The only sustainable solution to the problem is changing the conditions that let them put their lives at risk at the first place,” Blinken, the second-ranking U.S. diplomat, told reporters in Indonesia.
At least 120,000 minority Muslim Rohingya have fled sectarian violence and apartheid-like conditions in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar in the past three years. Myanmar officials refer to the group as “Bengalis” and insist they have immigrated illegally from Bangladesh, even though most have lived in the country for generations.
UNHCR Statement on Southeast Asia Sea Movements [20/5/15]:
UNHCR welcomes the commitment announced today by the Foreign Ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to resolve the issue of the thousands of refugees and migrants stranded in boats in the Bay of Bengal and off the coast of Southeast Asia. This is an important initial step in the search for solutions to this issue, and vital for the purpose of saving lives.
It is now urgent for people to be brought ashore without delay, and that immediate first aid and other care is provided for all who are in need. We look forward to seeing this happen without delay.
UNHCR agrees with the Ministers that further action will be needed. This includes addressing root causes. It will need to take into account looking properly at the needs of those in need of international protection. As with other regions of the world where we are seeing large movements of people by sea, countries in the region will need to work together for this to be addressed meaningfully and successfully.
UNHCR itself is ready to work with countries in the region to find solutions to the plight of these people. These ultimately may include returning people to their home countries voluntarily and once conditions allow.
Extraordinary take on Australia's shame -----> ... MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Now as we've seen, you have been critical of Australian policies in the past, but isn't it the case that those tough policies are now putting more pressure on the region to take a greater responsibility for this as well and not just act as a transit points? ... [ABC - 21/5/15]
The Bali Process forums go mostly unreported in the Australian press because our political establishment don't take them seriously, and have no genuine intention of acting co-operatively.
Australian journalists attack Indonesian politicians for questioning Australia's illegal refugee policees [Canberra Times - 18/10/14]
"We must ensure that their humanitarian needs are addressed and their human rights are protected and respected, regardless their legal status. Their need for assistance extends beyond the end of their intended journey."
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa delivers his speech during the opening session of the International Workshop for the Protection of Irregular Movement of Persons at Sea at the Foreign Ministry office in Jakarta on April 21, 2014. (Photo / AFP)
Indonesia commenced on Monday a two-day international meeting aimed at increasing global comprehensive and coordinated approach to deal with irregular movement of persons at sea.
The meeting, themed International Workshops on Irregular Movement of Persons At Sea, was to follow suit the Jakarta Declaration on Addressing Irregular Movement of Persons that was agreed in Special Conference on Irregular Movement of Persons held here in Aug. 20 last year.
Inaugurating the event attended by delegates of 16 countries and three international organizations, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said that discussions on seeking comprehensive solutions need to be conducted as incidents at sea involving people in human trafficking, asylum seeking and other illegal activities remain a problem in many parts of the world despite efforts conducted through the Bali Process.
"The cross border and complex nature of irregular movement of persons defies national solution. It demands comprehensive national, regional and global approaches. It was recognition of this reality that laid the foundation of the Bali Process launched a decade ago. It was relevant then and remains relevant today," Marty told the delegates attending the meeting.
Indonesia has been actively involved in Bali Process, an international forum joined by 50 countries and many international organizations that facilitate discussion and information sharing related to people smuggling, human trafficking, trans-national crimes and appropriate responses to those issues.
He added that the workshop serves as a channel to translate the recommendations of the Jakarta Declaration into concrete actions, including the formulation of standard operating procedure in dealing with irregular maritime movements of persons.
The Indonesian foreign minister said that the workshop was highly expected to formulate procedures aimed at ensuring protection for those victimized by such activities.
"We must ensure that their humanitarian needs are addressed and their human rights are protected and respected, regardless their legal status. Their need for assistance extends beyond the end of their intended journey," the minister said.
Marty encouraged workshop participants to enhance the search and rescue operation to avoid loss of lives at sea, develop protection-oriented migration management centers to eliminate possibility of fatalities at sea and mobilize resources towards efficient management of irregular migration and victim protection.
Indonesia has been the stopover point of "illegal" migrants from Middle East and South Asia intending to seek asylum in Australia with illegal and risky boat trips that often ended up with deaths of those people due to mishaps at sea.
Jakarta called on governments Monday to stop "shifting responsibility" for asylum-seekers, in veiled criticism of Australia's hardline policy of towing boatloads of would-be refugees back to Indonesia.
The military-led operation has caused anger in Indonesia, which has been forced to take back seven boatloads of asylum-seekers turned around by the Australian navy since December.
At the opening of an international meeting on asylum-seekers in Jakarta, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said countries should stand by commitments to cooperate on the issue made at a conference last year.
Those commitments "confirmed our shared responsibility -- shared responsibility, not (the) shifting of responsibility. Shared responsibility that requires coordination and cooperation," Natalegawa said at Monday's meeting.
"For Indonesia the message is crystal-clear -- the cross-border and complex nature of irregular movement of persons defies national solution."
Asylum-seekers have for years used Indonesia as a transit point to cross to Australia, usually on rickety fishing boats. More than 1,000 asylum-seekers have died at sea in recent years attempting the perilous journey.
Tony Abbott came to power last year at the head of a conservative government in Australia on the back of a pledge to stem the flow of asylum-seekers, and has implemented the tough border protection policies.
His government says they are working, claiming that no asylum-seekers arriving by boat have set foot on Australian soil since December.
The UN refugee agency said last week the number of asylum-seekers registering in Indonesia had dropped dramatically since December, from around 100 a day to 100 a week.
The Abbott administration retained the policy of the former government of sending all asylum-seekers arriving by boat to Papua New Guinea or Nauru -- for permanent resettlement there if judged to be refugees.
Natalegawa acknowledged Monday the policies may have helped reduce the loss of life at sea between the two countries, but reiterated his opposition to them.
"We need to take the politics out of this whole endeavour," he said, adding there must be alternative ways of stopping the flow of asylum-seekers.
Australia was represented at the meeting by officials from its Jakarta embassy, but they made no comment at the opening.
The two-day International Workshop on the Protection of the Irregular Movement of Persons at Sea, attended by senior officials from 14 countries, is co-chaired by Indonesia and the United Nations refugee agency.
Gold Coast shootings at Worongary, Helensvale linked say police
Police are investigating two shootings on the Gold Coast last night.
They said shots were fired near a residence in San Fernando Drive at Worongary about 7:45pm (AEST).
No-one was in the home at the time.
About two hours later, shots were fired into a vehicle parked outside a home in Sarina Place at Helensvale.
No-one was home there either.
The home was broken into and a vehicle was stolen.
Police said no-one was injured in either incident.
They believe the shootings are linked and are urging anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.
Appeal for public assistance: Serious assault, Surfers Paradise
QPS Media [20/5/15]:
Detectives investigating the serious assault of a 25-year-old man in Surfers Paradise on April 19 have released images of four men who may be able to assist with their investigations.
Police have released images of three men who may be able to assist police with their investigations into an alleged assault in Surfers Paradise on April 19.
Around 6am the man was walking on Surfers Paradise Boulevard before reportedly being approached by a group of men and assaulted.
He suffered a broken jaw and received treatment at the Gold Coast University Hospital.
Police have released CCTV images of four men who they believe may be able to assist with their investigation into the incident.
Anyone who may recognise the man or has any information about the matter is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Man in custody after armed robbery, West Burleigh
QPS Media [20/5/15]:
A man is in police custody after an armed robbery on a chemist at a West Burleigh Road shopping centre at West Burleigh a short time ago.
Around midday a man entered the chemist armed with a knife and made demands from the store employee before fleeing with some items.
Police attended the scene and detained the offender in the carpark of the shopping centre.
Police investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Update – pursuit and armed robbery charges, Gold Coast
QPS Media [20/5/15]:
A Southport woman has been charged in relation to a pursuit on the Gold Coast on Sunday night.
The 28-year-old woman has been charged with armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm, dangerous operation of a vehicle, fail to stop motor vehicle, unlawful use of motor vehicle, wilful damage of police property, wilful damage and six counts of stealing.
She is expected to appear at the Southport Magistrates Court today (May 20).
Investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Woman injured after boom gate smashed through hatchback on Gold Coast
A woman has been lucky to escape with only minor injuries after a boom gate smashed through her small hatchback on the Gold Coast this afternoon.
Paramedics confirmed the 19-year-old woman was driving into Carey Car Park on Marine Pde, Southport at about 12.20pm when the incident occurred.
It is alleged the boom gate swung straight open and went into the windscreen of the small silver Ford Focus.
The woman has been taken to Gold Coast University Hospital in a stable condition.
21 May 2015