crossbencher asks in parliament Question Time:
"How many asylum seekers have come to Australia and been granted refugee status
Imaginary crossbencher asks supplementary in parliament Question Time: "How many immigrants has Australia taken in since 2014"?
Peter "protected and unaccountable" Dutton tells 4BC people are still trying to seek asylum in Australia but Border Force continues pushing them away [SBS- 23/2/16]:
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has admitted that Australian border protection authorities recently turned an asylum seeker boat back to Sri Lanka.
Mr Dutton gave few details beyond saying this occurred in the last couple of weeks.
"We determined that those people aren't refugees and then they go back to their country of origin. We have a good relationship with Sri Lanka as we do with Indonesia," he told Brisbane radio 4BC.
Mr Dutton said just because boat arrivals weren't making the news each night didn't mean the threat had gone away.
"We are dealing with possible ventures regularly," he said.
Mr Dutton said there were 14,000 people waiting in Indonesia to get on boats to Australia if people smugglers saw any relaxation in the current tough policy.
"There are many millions more potentially who would want to get into Europe but can't, and would be happy to make their way up through Malaysia into Indonesia onto boats to come to our country," he said.
Mr Dutton said 1200 people drowned under Labor and people would drown again if people smugglers started risking lives on leaky boats.
Interception-at-sea: Illegal as currently practiced – Hirsi and Others v. Italy [Strasbourg Observers - 1/3/12]
What comes after #LetThemStay? [Overland – 23/2/16]
Dutton and the Murdoch Press LIED - and there is no "opposition" to treating refugees like human trash [Brisbane Times - 23/2/16]:
... The Courier Mail on Tuesday reported that the baby's mother was interviewed by police after a guard claimed she admitted the girl was purposely burnt to get to Australia.
The newspaper reported that the mother refuted the allegations when interviewed by police at the hospital on Friday, and that Queensland Police confirmed the investigation had been finalised.
The allegations against the mother are at odds with Lady Cilento Hospital records stating the child spilt hot water on her chest and that there is "no evidence that the burn injury is non-accidental".
"The injury occurred when [the child] pulled a bowl containing recently boiled water off a table onto herself," states the document, which advocates said the family wanted publicly released.
"[Asha] lives in a tent with no kitchen facilities except for a kettle. [Her] mother boils all the water she consumes to ensure it is safe for drinking."
LNP and ALP vote against Wilkie censure of Immigration Minister - Richard "I'd be worse" Marles says Dutton didn't imply self harm, when clearly he did [VIDEO - 22/2/16]:
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, today sought to censure the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, in the Parliament for implying that baby Asha was deliberately harmed in order to facilitate access to Australia. ...
House of Representatives Hansard [22/2/16]:
... I am not going to preside over a situation where we have people self-harming to come to hospitals in this country because they believe that is the route out into the Australian community for Australian citizenship. ... [Dutton]
... I have looked very closely at the motion and spoke with the minister, briefly, to get his recollection—and I, obviously, have my own recollection of what was said in here.
The motion suggests the minister said something he did not.
There is a principle in all of this that matters: that we get the facts right as we seek to debate this issue, that we be absolutely and forensically and passionately and zealously accurate about it, because we as a country are not going to resolve this issue so long as we make spin a part of how we go about this.
In circumstances where what the minister has said is a matter that is plainly on the record, we are not going to be voting for something that suggests something different. ... [Marles]
Where's the Queensland Law Society and the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties? [Human Rights Law Centre - 23/2/16]:
Last night was the first time in three days that the HRLC legal team had been allowed to speak with our client. HRLC’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, said that it was unusual and unreasonable that access be so restricted.
“It’s been a difficult and confusing few days for this family. For three days straight Asha’s mother had been asking to speak with us and we had been asking to speak with her, but Border Force blocked access without reason.
“It’s a matter of basic fairness and due process under the rule of law in this country that vulnerable people can speak with their lawyers. We hope the government shows greater respect for these principles in the future,” said Mr Webb.
Makes A Way [23/2/16]:
Police have just removed our group of Christian leaders from a prayer vigil inside the Liberal Victoria Office, Melbourne.
The group, part of inter-denominational Christian group ‘Love Makes A Way’, had been inside the office since 12.30 pm and refused to leave until they received an undertaking from Prime Minister Turnbull or Minister Dutton that the group of 267 asylum seekers won’t be sent back to Nauru or Manus Island.
Makes A Way [17/2/16]:
… Christian leaders arrested at Michael Keenan's office following a peaceful sit-in this afternoon.
The peaceful, prayerful vigil was met with dignified and respectful police response.
The same response is not expected for the 267 men, women and children vulnerable to be deported to offshore detention on Nauru.
"We're keeping Guantanamo forever": US Senator Marco Rubio channels LNP and ALP politicians [VIDEO - Mediaite - 17/2/16]
What are crimes against humanity?
International Criminal Court:
“Crimes against humanity” include any of the following acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
deportation or forcible transfer of population;
rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds;
enforced disappearance of persons;
the crime of apartheid;
other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.
Questions linger after mysterious death of wife of Nauru's Justice Minister [ABC - 23/2/16]
... It’s unusual that they [Connect Consortium - who run "settlement" services for refugees exiled on Nauru] haven’t encountered any allegations of rape or sexual assault, because there are many. Such as the story of Beth, a young Ethiopian refugee who was released into the Nauruan community in May.
Allegedly Beth, whose name I have changed, was sitting on the beach with some other Ethiopian women when local men gave her a drink. Beth began to feel woozy, before being dragged into bushes by two or three men and raped.
They then poured fuel on her and set her alight.
I have seen photographs of her after the assault. Her left breast is so badly burnt that the skin has blackened and lifted from the flesh.
As a result of the rape, Beth became pregnant. A solemn Christian, the thought of abortion appalled her but she decided to go through with it. Beth was flown to Brisbane for the termination where, not long after, she attempted to hang herself with a bed sheet. She is now back on Nauru. ... [The Saturday Paper - 22/8/15]
The Doctors Trial: The medical case of the subsequent Nuremberg proceedings [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]:
On December 9, 1946, an American military tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 leading German physicians and administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Even if you think you are providing "health and welfare" services on Manus and Nauru, you should be warned you may be held individually liable for crimes against humanity [The Age - 23/2/16]:
The Salvation Army has effectively urged a Tamil asylum seeker on Manus Island to go home because: "You will never live in Australia".
A Salvation Army risk and compliance officer, who is only identified as "Andrew", wrote to a Tamil man on the charity's letterhead in January 2014 saying: "You can expect to remain in this facility for a very long time whilst this process is undertaken.
"You may be given an opportunity to be re-settled in PNG but I am not sure when or if this may occur. The only other option available to you is to seek repatriation with the assistance to IOM (International Organization for Migration) to your country of origin.
"If you choose not to go home you will spend a very, very long time here. You have been told lies by people smugglers."
The Salvation Army has declared publicly its opposition to offshore detention and received more than $70 million under a contract to provide humanitarian services on Manus Island and Nauru between 2012 and 2014.
A spokesman acknowledged the letter was written by one of its staff "in consultation" with the Immigration Department.
Refugees on Nauru rot as Save the Children workers seek compensation after false detention centre claims [ABC - 22/2/16]
Perth Remembers Reza Barati [VIDEO – Refugee Rights Action Network WA - 17/2/16]:
On February 17, 2016, RRAN members took the story of Reza Barati's murder into public space.
Reza Barati was a 23 year old Kurdish man from Iran who sought asylum in Australia hoping for safety and freedom, but instead he was exiled to the human dumping ground of Manus Island and brutally beaten to death in front of his friends.
Reza was described as a "gentle giant" and was known to be a joker, he tried to keep his mind busy and often helped staff hand out medical and appointment slips to other guys in his compound.
Reza was trained as an architect and hoped to rebuild his life in Australia.
Still, there has been no justice for his murder and Reza's former room mate (and the primary witness in the case) Behnam Satah, has been subject to death threats.
He has faced intimidation and harassment which has resulted in a dramatic decline in both his mental and physical health.
Justice can only exist when witnesses are protected.
A young, pregnant mum, holding her newborn, was struck by police on horseback at Heirisson Island.
Picture: Alex Bainbridge, West Australian [23/3/12]
City of Perth and Western Australian Police destroyed Matargarup's (Herrison Island) Mia Mai and Sacred Fire at the Embassy [Toogar Morrison - 22/3/12]
Refugee Rights Action Network WA [22/2/16]:
In the spirit of solidarity, this afternoon RRAN members went down to Matagarup with some food to thank those who are camped on the island for their support of the #LetThemStay campaign.
Had a yarn with Clinton about the importance of solidarity between struggles and how unity rather than division is how we can change society for the better.
RRAN will continue to stand with those experiencing homelessness and those who are fighting for their right to Country and culture.
Thank you for helping us battle the false dichotomy of supporting the homeless or refugees.
We know it is possible to do both and that demonising one marginalised group of people to supposedly argue for the rights of another is not how social change happens.
No one deserves to be living in tents, whether it's on 'Heirrison Island' or the remote prison island of Nauru.
#LetThemStay #CloseTheCamps #BringThemHere #alwayswasalwayswillbe #solidarity #unity
Government and ALP join to keep cashless welfare card trials alive [Greens Media Release - 23/2/16]
Death in custody – Darwin correctional centre [NT Police Fire and Emergency Services - 22/2/16]:
Northern Territory Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 37-year-old prisoner at the Darwin Correctional Centre on Saturday afternoon.
The man was outside his cell when it is believed he suffered a medical episode.
A brief of evidence will be prepared for the Coroner.
Israeli forces shot and moderately wounded a Palestinian man in the al-Mintar area east of Gaza City on Monday afternoon, medical sources told Ma'an.
The man, who was shot in his foot, was evacuated to al-Shifaa hospital.
The circumstances in which he was shot were not initially clear, although medics said he was with a group of Palestinians when Israeli forces opened fire. ... [Maan - 22/2/16]
Israel returns bodies of 3 Palestinians who were shot dead last week [Maan - 22/2/16]
NSA targets world leaders for US geopolitical interests [WikiLeaks - 23/2/16]
Italy would help Israel mend relations with US:
Intercepted communication between Italian PM Berlusconi and Israeli PM Netanyahu show that Berlusconi promised to assist helping Israel in mending damaged relationship with the U.S.
Activists from London Palestine Action put up these posters criticizing Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians all over London’s underground train network early Sunday morning.
Speaking to The Electronic Intifada, an activist from the group, who did not want to be named, they said that they posted 150 copies around at least four different lines on the network. The activist provided these photos.
These posters are “subvertisements,” political messages designed to look like sanctioned advertising. They were fitted on top of paid ads, the activist said.
The action was timed to coincide with the launch of this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week in the UK Monday.
In a statement sent to The Electronic Intifada, the activists said: “Israel and its supporters are used to having the mainstream media repeat their talking points. Our action’s aim is to shine a spotlight on the support that Israel receives from the UK government and arms industry and UK companies like G4S as well as the one sided reporting which is endemic in the BBC.” ... [Electronic Intifada - 22/2/16]
Sharri Markson defamation suit aims to test boundaries of antisemitism [Guardian - 19/2/16]
After more than 43 years in solitary confinement, Albert Woodfox is a free man and joins us today for his first broadcast interview.
The former Black Panther spent more time in solitary confinement than anyone in the United States, much of it in a six-by-nine cell for 23 hours each day.
Albert Woodfox was released Friday after he entered a plea of no contest to charges of manslaughter and aggravated burglary of a prison guard more than four decades ago. ... [Democracy Now - 22/2/16]
Ban welcomes cessation of hostilities pact in Syria as ‘signal of hope;’ condemns bombings [UN Media Release - 22/2/16]
Syrian rebels see flaws in US-Russian truce plan [Reuters - 22/2/16]:
... The plan allows the Syrian army and allied forces, as well as Syrian opposition fighters, to respond with "proportionate use of force" in self-defense.
It leaves a significant loophole by allowing further attacks, including air strikes, against Islamic State, Nusra and other militant groups. ...
... These are not the gaunt, hanging six-storey blocks of central Hama. They are the suburbs and the surrounding villages where the revolution began almost six years ago and where it metamorphosed from the ‘Free Syrian Army’ of which Dave Cameron still dreams – all 70,000 of them – into the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and then, like a Victorian horror novel, into Isis.
For all of those 30 miles – perhaps 40 if you count some outlying hamlets in the dust-storms that blow across the desert – I saw only feral children, two makeshift sweet stores and a few still-standing homes.
The rest is crumpled concrete, sandwiched roofs, weed-covered and abandoned barricades from wars which no reporter witnessed and of which there is apparently no visual record. They are the homes of the poor, those who had no chance of salvation in their own country. ... [Independent - 21/2/16]
British cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, who filmed the Nazi invasion of Poland and went on to work with Steven Spielberg on the “Indiana Jones” films, has died at the age of 103, his daughter told AFP. ... [Times Of Israel - 23/2/16]
Australians can't imagine ever being a refugee because "history is over": 74th anniversary of Darwin bombing marked [Yahoo - 19/2/16]:
... On Friday, World War II vintage aircraft circled high above Darwin, and howitzers and machine guns were fired in a symbolic re-enactment of the February morning when Japanese bombers flew over the small top end town, killing at least 243 people and injuring up to 400 others.
Twenty military aircraft were destroyed, eight ships at anchor in the harbour were sunk, and most civil and military facilities in Darwin were demolished.
It was only declared a national day of observance four years ago, and Lord Mayor Katrina Fong Lim said many Australians are still unaware that the city was bombed 62 times over 18 months until November 1943.
Remembering the attacks was a way to pass on the story to a new generation, she told several hundred people gathered for the ceremony.
"It is my hope that our young people will value and learn from our history so we can use this knowledge to build a peaceful future," she said.
Bombs continue raining down upon Syria and Iraq
US Department of Defense [21/2/16]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 18 airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, nine strikes struck eight separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, six ISIL buildings, and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Hawl, five strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and two ISIL structures.
-- Near Raqqah, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, two strikes destroyed an ISIL culvert bridge and two ISIL-used logistics routes.
-- Near Manbij, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Coalition forces, using rocket artillery and fighter, attack, and remotely piloted aircraft, conducted 20 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Baghdadi, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL supply caches, an ISIL mortar system, 16 ISIL rocket rails, an ISIL weapons cache, and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Hit, two strikes struck an ISIL weapons production facility and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Mosul, 10 strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL logistical facility, an ISIL fuel storage location, an ISIL mortar booster factory, an ISIL explosive factory, and an ISIL vehicle bomb factory; suppressed an ISIL mortar position and an ISIL heavy machine gun position; and destroyed nine ISIL assembly areas, an ISIL fighting position and two ISIL command and control nodes.
-- Near Qayyarah, two strikes destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL assembly area.
-- Near Ramadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle and two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Sinjar, a strike destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL rocket position.
It's been a year and a half since the United States launched Operation Inherent Resolve, unofficially declaring war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The numbers are already staggering: As of January 31, after 542 days of airstrikes, the cost of the campaign reached $6.2 billion, or about $480,000 for every hour of the campaign. And the expenses are set to grow:
The Pentagon is asking for another $7.5 billion to continue battling ISIS—double the amount requested for 2016.
Beyond the money, the war itself is ramping up, including more airstrikes with fewer restrictions on civilian casualties and more Special Forces troops on the ground. The scope of the battle has also expanded to Afghanistan and Libya (where last Friday airstrikes hit an ISIS camp).
And as plans are being drawn up for major battles to recapture the ISIS strongholds of Raqqa, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq, there are calls for more US troops to be deployed in combat or advisory roles. ... [Mother Jones - 22/2/16]
Lawyers for Assange ask Swedish court to overturn arrest warrant following UN ruling [Reuters - 22/2/16]
Jude Law has called for the British Government to allow children living in the Calais "Jungle" migrant camp to come to the UK if they already have relatives living here.
The 43-year-old actor called for the demolition of the southern part of the camp to be delayed until children are granted protection by French or British authorities. ... [Independent - 22/2/16]
@MSF_Sea [22/2/16]: ... 2200 #people wait at #Idomeni where the latest arbitrary policies are in place,1000 walk to the camp & 54 buses wait at #Polykastro.
@MSF_Sea [22/2/16]: ... It's already a busy day for the @Greenpeace @MSF team in North #Lesvos.
How many refugee and asylum seeker boats did the Australian "Fuck your mothers ... fuck your family ..." Navy push back and/or abandon in the last 24 hours? ----> @ItalianNavy [22/2/16]: #UltimOra Nave Fulgosi #MarinaMilitare ha recuperato 99 migranti da 1 gommone ed è in corso un 2° intervento #SAR
@campsoscar [22/2/16]: Good morning commissioners, we dream of holidays while refugees are rescued at sea. ...
@guardiacostiera [21/2/16]: #CanalediSicilia Centrale Operativa #GuardiaCostiera coordina 8 operazioni di soccorso.Circa 1000 i migranti salvati
Europa. 1945. 2000. 2016.
Image: @Marodriguez1971 [20/2/16]
Image: @MiriamVPerkins [16/2/16]
We are innocent.
930 days in detention.
@WalkingG20 [22/2/16]: Standing ovation for the doctors and nurses of #ladycilento supporting #babyasher #letthemstay
@WalkingG20 [22/2/16]: Pledge to be present to support and make a stand when needed as the #ladycilento #letthemstay vigil concludes
Australia's protected and unaccountable Immigration Minister (with help from his media mates and the "opposition") struts about rebrutalising a refugee family who - until late this afternoon - had no access to a lawyer
Baby Asha’s family allowed to speak with lawyers for first time in three days [Human Rights Law Centre - 22/2/16]
LNP and ALP vote against Wilkie censure of Immigration Minister - Richard "I'd be worse" Marles says Dutton didn't imply self harm, when clearly he did [VIDEO - 22/2/16]:
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, today sought to censure the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, in the Parliament for implying that baby Asha was deliberately harmed in order to facilitate access to Australia.
“The Minister’s comments in Question Time today were appalling,” Mr Wilkie said.
“To suggest that asylum seekers have been deliberately harming themselves or each other, and in particular children, in order to enter Australia is outrageous.
“This is just the latest in the Government’s demonising of people who come here fleeing asylum.
“The fact is that asylum seekers have and continue to suffer serious harm on Nauru and Manus Island as a result of this Government’s callous, cruel and illegal irregular immigration policies. For the Government to now blame these people for the harm that they have suffered is nothing short of disgusting.
“It’s disappointing that Labor didn’t see fit to support my censure motion and in fact only two other Members supported it.” [Cathy McGowan and Adam Bandt]
Dutton [House of Representatives - 22/2/16] :
... I am not going to preside over a situation where we have people self-harming to come to hospitals in this country because they believe that is the route out into the Australian community for Australian citizenship. ...
Dutton introduced the "self harm" dogwhistle at his press conference yesterday [21/2/16]:
... I’m not going to allow a situation where we have people harmed to come to our country to receive medical assistance and then they think there’s a formula for them to be released into the community. That is not going to happen. ...
The Immigration Minister's claims that he is being held to ransom and blackmailed by a one-year-old girl are inexcusable, the Australian Greens have said.
Minister Dutton made these comments in response to a question from Greens Federal Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt in Question Time today. ... [Greens Media Release - 22/2/16]
In the Senate, Brandis continued to use stop the boats/people smuggler lies to fob off Senator Hanson-Young's question about the fate of the 267.
ALP politicians calling on the LNP to do something the ALP wouldn't is DERANGED. FUCK OFF AND FIX YOUR PARTY ---> Anna Burke MP (from pro detention, pro torture, pro boat turnback ALP) calls on Turnbull to #LetThemStay from what appears to be the Federation Chamber [VIDEO - 22/2/16]
... Burke and Parke said they would continue to work for the election of a Shorten-led Labor government at this year’s election. <--- Only a fraud or a fool stays in - and/or supports - a party whose policies they disagree with. [Labor alibi Melissa Parke won't recontest seat - Guardian - 22/1/16]
Baby Asha’s release into community detention a positive step, but further action required [Law Council of Australia Media Release - 22/2/16]:
... "Indefinite detention – particularly in circumstances where the detainee has not committed, let alone been convicted, of any crime – is unacceptable and contrary to the rule of law. Steps must be taken to resolve the future of these detainees immediately. ... [President Stuart Clark AM]
Mr Clark said the Law Council had laid out a range of measures that could be adopted in its detailed Asylum Seeker Policy (2014).
The humble small-town lawyer whose tireless tenacity helped secure the conviction of Sunshine Coast school-boy Daniel Morcombe’s killer has won the coveted 2016 Queensland Law Society’s President’s Medal.
Nambour solicitor Peter Boyce OAM was announced the winner of the prestigious President’s Medal at the annual Legal Profession Dinner – hosted by the Society at Brisbane’s Sofitel Ballroom Le Grand on Friday night.
Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said: "Peter stands as a leader in our profession and is one of countless lawyers who selflessly toil for little or no reward in the pro bono space within their communities." ... [Queensland Law Society Media Release - 22/2/16]
Under what authority are lawyers being stopped from seeing their client?
Where's the Australian Law Society and the Queensland Law Society? [Human Rights Law Centre - 22/2/16]:
Statement regarding Baby Asha
“Today, for the third day running, we have been denied access to our client. It’s a matter of basic fairness and due process that vulnerable people are able to speak with their lawyers, especially when they are involved in a case in the highest court in the country.”
Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre.
... One visit from security officers in 2013 was enough to persuade Lingarajan to make a life-changing decision to take a boat to Australia. As a fisherman, he said he wasn’t afraid of the perilous ocean journey.
The worst part came later, after the Australian coastguard intercepted the boat and sent the passengers to a processing centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea where he was locked up with hundreds of others.
“It was terrible,” Lingarajan said.
“There were people who could not think of anything other than being returned home. They were so scared, they had nightmares.” ...
What happens to people who try to seek asylum in Australia [IRIN - 18/2/16]:
Vaithilingam Lingarajan spent the war years plying the seas off the northern coast of Sri Lanka in his small fishing boat. It was only once the conflict ended that he decided to flee the country, making a failed bid for Australia that has left him destitute and facing possible criminal charges.
Lingarajan is one of more than 1,400 asylum seekers who have returned since 2009 because Australia rejected their applications, according to the Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department. Another 4,310 Sri Lankans who did not apply for refugee status were sent back when the Australian or Sri Lankan navy intercepted their boats before reaching Australian waters.
Many returnees face crippling debt after spending large sums to pay for the journey, and they can be fined 100,000 rupees ($700) for attempting to emigrate illegally. Some left Sri Lanka for economic reasons, while others, like Lingarajan, planned to claim asylum in the dangerous aftermath of the civil war.
In Sri Lanka and other countries, newspaper advertisements and large billboards started appearing, containing messages in local languages such as: “You will not even get a chance to step on to Australia… Think twice before you waste your money. Don’t get fooled by people smugglers.”
Australia also began providing assistance to Sri Lanka’s security forces, including the gift of two patrol boats in July 2014. Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison “commended what he described as ‘very close cooperation’ between Australian authorities and Sri Lanka’s police and navy towards preventing illegal boats carrying asylum seekers,” according to a Sri Lankan government statement at the time.
Of the 53,000 “illegal maritime arrivals” between 2009 and 2013, more than 10,000 said they were Sri Lankan citizens, according to information provided to IRIN by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection via the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka.
“Since OSB began in 2013, every Sri Lankan boat that has attempted to come to Australia illegally has failed,” said the department, which requested that IRIN quote an unnamed “spokesperson”, but provided no rationale for anonymity.
Fishermen in Tamil Nadu on Saturday threatened to "lay siege" to Sri Lanka's Deputy High Commission in Chennai on February 29, in protest at the ongoing arrests and detention of fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy.
The decision came after a meeting between fishermen from Tuticorin, Kanyakumari, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Karaikal, Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Ramanathapuram, PTI reported.
"Seventy eight fishing boats have been seized by Sri Lankan naval personnel in 2015 and had not been released yet. The boats are valued at between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 30 lakh each, depending on their size," the president of the Nagapattinam fishermen's group, Mr Rajendran was quoted by PTI as saying.
"If that agitation also fails to get back the fishermen and boats, we will intensify our agitation statewide," he added. [Tamil Guardian - 20/2/16]
Indonesia not willing to discuss Papua with Melanesian Spearhead Group leader [RNZI - 22/2/16]
'Sounds like fun': Australian diplomats mock reports of Indonesian rape and murder of Timorese [Sydney Morning Herald - 21/2/16]:
... Peter Rodgers, who is named on the memo as a recipient, declined to clarify if he authored any annotations but did offer his views in two brief emails..
"Those in the embassy in 1976 had no more reason to believe Fretilin propaganda than they did to believe Indonesian, UDT [Fretilin's local conservative rivals], Apodeti [a party favouring Indonesian integration] propaganda over the situation in East Timor," he said.
"The commentary was blunt but this was on claims made by one of the protagonists in a messy, propaganda-rich, conflict."
However, the Fretilin "propaganda" was broadly accurate.
The United Nations-sponsored 2500 page report into violence in East Timor during the occupation found thousands of instances of sexual violence, forced starvation, summary executions and torture.
"Rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence were tools used as part of the campaign designed to inflict a deep experience of terror, powerlessness and hopelessness upon pro-independence supporters," the report said.
"It was common practice for members of the Indonesian security forces to keep East Timorese women in detention in military bases.
"These women, who were sometimes detained for many months and sometimes years, were often raped on a daily basis or on demand by the officer who controlled them, and often also by other soldiers."
As many as 180,000 people died between 1975 and 1999, about one-third of East TImor's pre-invasion population.
The peak for death, torture and starvation was between 1975 and 1979.
In 1979, Mr Rodgers – who left the embassy to become a Fairfax correspondent in Jakarta – defied Indonesia's military to publish photos of starving Timorese in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Mr Rodgers received the Australian journalist of the year award. But, while the photos galvanised outrage around the world, Mr Rodgers' reportage later received criticism for downplaying Indonesia's role.
"Deprivation was well established as a way of life long before the war," Mr Rodgers wrote in a series of articles.
"The upheaval in the territory of the past four years should not be confused with deliberate intent on Indonesia's part."
Mr Rodgers, returned to the diplomatic corp and rose to become ambassador to Israel from 1994-1997.
He is now an author on Middle East affairs and academic at the Australian National University.
Democracy Now! turns 20: A freewheeling look back at two decades of independent, unembedded news [19/2/16]:
... AMY GOODMAN: You can go to Democracy Now! to see the whole documentary of "Massacre."
At least 271 Timorese were killed on November 12, 1991.
My colleague Allan Nairn, the Indonesian military fractured his skull, but we were able to leave that country that day.
More than a decade later, May 20th, 2002, East Timor did become, at the time, the newest nation in the world.
Allan Nairn and I returned to the capital, Dili, East Timor, for the celebration.
And then, President Clinton, who was not president at the time—he was representing the United States under President Bush—went to reopen the embassy in a newly independent East Timor. Allan Nairn questioned him. ...
A reporter for local television station MSJ TV was briefly detained and questioned by police on Saturday for allegedly inciting residents who are facing eviction from their riverside homes in Kompong Chhnang City, a journalist and officials said on Sunday.
Ngunly Theara, a news reader for MSJ TV, said he went to Phsar Krom village on Saturday morning to interview residents along with the station’s CEO, Meng Sophorn, and provincial correspondents Sann Bora and Say Sanya.
“When the residents saw we had come to interview them, more residents came to rally …they appealed to us to broadcast their concerns,” he said, adding that he was not at the scene when commune police apprehended his colleague, Mr. Bora, at about 3:30 p.m. ... [Cambodia Daily - 22/2/16]
Thousands surround Diet to protest US base relocation plan [Japan Today - 22/2/16]
Fiji's public broadcaster says the death toll from cyclone Winston now stands at 20, and it is feared that number will rise further when communication is restored to outlying islands.
The most powerful storm in the country's recorded history barrelled into Fiji's main island of Viti Levu and neighbouring smaller islands late on Saturday destroying entire villages, flooding low-lying areas, and wiping out crops.
A New Zealand Defence Force Orion has been helping with aerial surveillance of the outer islands of Koro, Lau, Taveuni and Rabi. ... [RNZI - 22/2/16]
Dozens of mums & kids sitting in at ParliamentHouse #letthemstay #babyasha singing somewhere over a rainbow
... If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?
Image: @Christina_ACT [22/2/16]
@Christina_ACT [22/2/16]: ... parents protesting Labor and Liberal. As the Greens Senate Candidate for ACT I was standing in solidarity.
@Mums4Refugees [22/2/16]: ... dozens of mums and bubs conduct sit in at Parliament to demand #letthemstay
The ALP's red,
The LNP's blue.
Let's not forget,
Who re-opened Nauru.
Why keep helping the ALP with their PR problem by default? Don't Greens supporters expect more from their party? ---> @sarahinthesen8 [22/2/16]: Rock-a-bye-baby. Subjecting children to abuse and harm as a "deterrent" is wrong. #LetThemStay
Not protesting both the LNP and ALP ensures the bipartisan cruelty continues.
It would be deceitful if the people of Brisbane were invited to a rally to thank Lady Cilento doctors, nurses and staff for their courage - as well as celebrate people power - then politicians and unionists from the pro detention pro torture pro boat turnback ALP were allowed to use it to promote themselves. [Refugee Action Collective Queensland]:
... At 5.30pm we are asking people to come down for finally rounding up of the vigil and to celebrate our people's power victory. ...
@DonSinnamon [22/2/16]: 20 ppl gathered #LadyCilento for #babyasha & mum's last day. Now for the rest of the detainees #LetThemStay
@WalkingG20 [22/2/16]: Final day of #LadyCilento vigil slowly wakes #babyasha #LetThemStay
Peter "protected and unaccountable" Dutton tries to pretend that resistance is futile [ABC - 22/2/16]:
The asylum seeker child at the centre of a 10-day protest in Brisbane will be returned to Nauru, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says.
Baby Asha has been transferred from Lady Cilento Children's Hospital to community detention, after being treated by doctors who refused to discharge the one-year-old back into offshore detention.
Mr Dutton today confirmed the child had been moved into community detention, where an officer will remain with the family.
He told the ABC the Government would stick to its policy of returning asylum seekers to offshore detention once medical and legal issues had been resolved.
"People will go back to Nauru," he said.
Bill "I'd be worse" Shorten confirms again that there is no opposition to treating refugees like human trash [Guardian - 22/2/16]:
… Q: Peter Dutton has today said that baby Asha will be sent to Nauru at some point or other, eventually. Do you think that’s appropriate?
What guides Labor are the following principles: when it comes to this little child, we want to make sure that the medical staff and the people who’ve been treating this child, their view should be paramount. The safety of the child has to be paramount.
Shorten goes on to say Labor supports regional processing but the government has to deal with the unacceptable indefinite detention which is occurring to some of the people on Nauru and Manus.
They must take up Labor’s policies of proper oversight. I respect that Papua New Guinea and Nauru are sovereign nations but these people are indirectly in Australia’s care with so we need to make sure they get the highest standard of care. I’m very supportive on a bipartisan basis of this government, if it’s having negotiations with New Zealand or Canada or Philippines or Indonesia, or importantly, Malaysia, if the government can do more to help the regional processing, we will support them 100%. I just wish that the Liberals when they were in opposition had supported Labor’s Malaysia solution, because I’ve got no doubt if they had done that then, there’d be more people alive today.
22 February 2016