Approximately 12 of every 1,000 people who embark on Bay of Bengal do not survive the journey - UNHCR calls for safer alternatives [Media Release - 23/2/16]:
... The toll also includes those killed in a fight over diminishing supplies on a boat that had been prevented from landing on two occasions. Some of these deaths could have been prevented with prompt disembarkation.
Elsewhere in the region, based on media reports, 263 people on nine boats tried to reach Australia and New Zealand in 2015. Departing from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam, these boats carrying passengers from Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam were ultimately prevented from reaching Australia by Australian and Indonesian authorities.
UNHCR believes that unless the root causes of displacement are addressed, people will continue risking their lives on smugglers' boats to seek safety and stability elsewhere.
In 2015 governments in the region indicated an intention to tackle this regional challenge through a number of high-level meetings. There remains an urgent need for affected States to take concrete action to coordinate procedures for rescue at sea, predictable places to disembark passengers safely, as well as adequate reception and screening systems on arrival.
People who fled their homes and cannot return due to an absence of protection should be granted temporary refuge and have access to basic rights and services while longer-term solutions are sought.
To minimize deaths at sea, safe and legal channels including labour migration and family reunification programs must be opened up for people leaving difficult conditions at home. UNHCR hopes that labour migration arrangements could also be put in place for the Rohingya already in labour-importing countries, enabling them to contribute to the economies of their host and home countries.
Next month's Bali Process Ministerial Meeting will be a timely opportunity to make progress on these issues.
How much longer does Australia think it can get away with pushing back asylum seeker boats and detaining and torturing refugees?
... give ear o my good people, my law
incline your ears to the words of my mouth
save me for the trouble
i sink in deep mire i am weary of my crying
mine eyes fail while
i wait for my freedom ...
Ravi [on Nauru - 2013]
From Hell to Hell
The best way to deal with all the emotions, Shanmuganathan Nagaveeran [Garland - Issue #1]
Fears for welfare of hunger striking Perth refugee being held in indefinite detention [Refugee Rights Action Network WA - 24/2/16]:
A 36 year-old Kurdish asylum seeker, Sardar Zahiri, who has been in closed and community detention since 2011, is on the 19 day of a hunger strike at the Perth detention centre.
He was brought from Christmas Island with injured discs in his neck following an attempted suicide, two months ago.
The man has made about 12 other suicide attempts.
Sardar was placed in community detention in 2012. It is believed that Sardar was found to be a refugee in 2012. But he was not granted a visa because of an outstanding court matter regarding an incident in the Darwin detention centre.
Then, in 2013, Sardar, was given an 18 month good behaviour bond as a result of property damage in an incident in Darwin detention centre.
Despite being found to be a refugee, Sardar was taken back into closed detention as a consequence of that conviction.
“We are extremely concerned for the welfare of Sardar. The similarities between his history and treatment at the hands of the Immigration department is chillingly similar to the treatment that led to the death of fellow Kurd, Fezal Chegeni on Christmas Island" said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition.
“Sardar is extremely mentally distressed. He is already very weak from the hunger strike. But it is the only way he can bring attention to his impossible situation.
“The Immigration Minister is holding Sardar in indefinite detention on the basis of a relatively trivial conviction. Such detention is a form of torture and violates any understanding of the normal rules of justice. Sardar has been given a life sentence and has been robbed of his mental and physical health. It was precisely this treatment that led to the death of Fezal.
“Sardar must be released. There must be an urgent review of ALL such cases of people being held in detention on the basis of criminal convictions and breaches of so the so-called code of conduct.
“There must be an urgent review of the Ministerial powers that allow extra-judicial punishment to be inflicted on asylum seekers. It is a disgrace that such a review was not ordered in the aftermath of Fezal‘s death.
“While all eyes are presently focused on the cruelty and lack of safety on Nauru, there is also unconscionable cruelty being inflicted by the Minister in detention centres on the mainland.”
Danish People's Party Antipodean-inspired plan to treat refugees like human trash "crazy" or "probably illegal" say other parties [ABC - 24/2/16]
... Who will cry for the young men? I will. We will together. Aziz [Writing Through Fences - 6/2/16]:
... I wrote this poem after the High Court ruled against us which is very disappointing for all of us.
The refugee activists were carrying out big protests around the cities of Australia which will make us to not lose hope although we have been languishing in detention centre for 31 months and now languish indefinately.
We are in huge conflict with our mental health because of ongoing torture and trauma including harassment from the staff.
I am requesting from all of my friends to keep hope. ...
#LetThemStay shutting down #Brisbane.
Image: @TaytDalzell [24/2/16]
@LaviPo [24/2/16]: Protesters chanting #LetThemStay at Cultural Centre, #brisbane. #babyasha
@paulwdonoughue [24/2/16]: A few #LetThemStay protesters yelling "shut Manus Island, shut Nauru" under The Wheel. Handful of cops looking on.
@TomBramble1960 [24/2/16]: #LetThemStay ... Outside ABC 612 ...
@TomBramble1960 [24/2/16]: ... #WhereIsBabyAsha ...
Where is baby Asha? Where's the "opposition"? Oh, here they are, defending Peter Dutton's lies:
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]
"Opposition" visits Myanmar in the midst of the May 2015 Rohingya boat crisis to affirm ALP support for Australia's current anti refugee policy ---> @RichardMarlesMP [19/5/15]: The people you meet in Yangon - Kieran Gorman-Best of IOM who hails from my hometown of #Geelong.
What did Stephen Smith mean? BALI PROCESS REINVIGORATED, SEEKS ANSWERS TO ROHINGYA CRISIS [17/4/09]:
... We also told the Australian delegation that since the conference did not formally discuss the Rohingyas - originally slated to be the key point of the conference - that the AHG [Ad Hoc Group] mechanism should be pursued quickly to address this pressing issue.
Bringing Burma to the table was a major accomplishment, we acknowledged; however, we cannot wait for Burma to change its policy before discussing the Rohingya crisis. This can be discussed without Burma.
Foreign Minister Steven Smith later approached us privately to assure us that Australia would press for the AHG mechanism to "be invoked soon to deal with the Rohingyas."
Australia announced at the conference its contribution of AD300,000 to care for the Rohingyas in Aceh. IOM said the Dutch are promising a similar donation, perhaps conditional upon a U.S. donation. ...
Senate Hansard [4/2/16]:
Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (19:05): Last month I had the extraordinary privilege of spending a week in Cambodia with five of my parliamentary colleagues from the House of Representatives. The visit was designed for us to visit a wide range of development programs funded by Australian aid.
The visit was organised by Save the Children Australia, funded by the Gates foundation and supported by DFAT. It was my first visit to this amazing nation and it was both a rewarding and an inspiring one on so many levels.
We visited a wide range of urban and rural programs being delivered by many different international organisations, all of which are funded by Australian aid. They included World Vision, CARE, PLAN, Hagar, ChildFund and of course our hosts, Save the Children.
So it is utterly astonishing that this country is rebuilding itself so quickly and harmoniously given not only the anger, bitterness and trauma experienced by those who survived the Pol Pot regime but also the fact that millions of children grew up working on farms, malnourished, without the love, care and support of families and of parents and they received little or no formal education or trade training.
But most amazingly it is this traumatised but forgiving and highly determined generation that is now working hard for reconciliation and to ensure their children are educated and are reconciled with their communities in order to completely rebuild their nation.
It would have been so understandable and so much easier for this generation to have perpetuated and fostered hatred, fostered bitterness and fostered a desire for revenge in the next generation.
Instead, this most extraordinary generation of Cambodians, who survived the most unimaginable horrors, are focusing on educating their own children, on rebuilding their families, on their local communities and most of all on building a new nation.
IOM helps Australia disappear fifth exiled Nauru refugee to Cambodia [Cambodia Daily - 27/11/15]
Nauru Senate Inquiry [Public Hearing - 20/8/15]:
... Senator REYNOLDS: We have heard at least three serious allegations from you of things that initially we had understood from your testimony that you witnessed—waterboarding and zipping. I now understand that you did not witness them, but that you saw what you thought was that, or you had heard second- or third-hand reports about from others. You said that you did not have access to the whistleblowers hotline because you were not aware of it. Given your allegations go back so far, what other steps did you take to report first of all these physical acts?
Mr Nichols [Wilson whistleblower]: I had reported these things to my direct supervisor on the ground there.
Senator REYNOLDS: I know that there are many other oversight agencies that have been there throughout your time there—there has been the Commonwealth Ombudsman, you would have been aware that the Moss review team was there, and there has been a whole range of others. Did you at any time seek to go outside and report these things that you said you found horrific?
Mr Nichols : No, I had not. No.
Senator REYNOLDS: So you had all of these things at that time that you had heard about but you did not report or take any further. But then you have got the allegations where you were in the control room, I understand, and you were given incident reports and you were told to shred them.
Mr Nichols : Yes.
Senator REYNOLDS: How often did that occur?
Mr Nichols : As I previously said, it could be once or twice a shift; it could be once or twice a week.
Senator REYNOLDS: And what was the period? I would imagine—given that you said you did not want to do it—if it was that traumatic, then you would have some recollection of when it started and when it finished.
Mr Nichols : It was the whole period that I worked in that control room.
Senator REYNOLDS: From the first day you were there till the day you left—how long were you in the control room for?
Mr Nichols : Approximately six months.
Senator REYNOLDS: So for six months, day after day, you say that you were asked to do something that you knew was wrong. I am trying to understand why you did not seek to report it to anybody else.
Mr Nichols : It was done at the direction of the Command 3 who, effectively, is your supervisor.
Senator REYNOLDS: I am wondering how you managed to keep doing that. I know, being an Army reservist myself, if you are given an unlawful command the first thing you are taught is you do not abide by it and you report it. Given your service in the Army Reserves, why did you stay there and why did you keep doing it, if it occurred?
Mr Nichols : As I said, I did at the direction of my supervisor. Whether it was right or wrong, I was following what he said. I take on board what you said about an unlawful command, but this is a totally different situation. This is not the military. I did as instructed to fulfil the requirements of my employment—I followed my employer's direction.
Nauru Senate Inquiry - August 2015 - Supplementary Submission [Mr Jon Nicholls No. 95.1]:
... Despite what one may find on the internet, at no time has Mr Nichols suggested waterboarding etc was part of some organised intelligence gathering for whomever - he says it occurred in a modern day 'Lord of of the Flies' - 'Stanford Experiment' type situation - the guilty parties did it for mere enjoyment and human nature is what it is.
There is no protection on Nauru from this behaviour because there is no Rule of Law, just arbitrary, crude and evil behaviour. ...
Key should take refugee babies and give Oz a serve [NZ Herald - 24/2/16] And the refugees detained in Kupang?
Jail for boat crew paid by Australian official to turn back [Sydney Morning Herald - 17/1/16]:
The captain of an asylum seeker boat who said he was paid thousands of dollars by an Australian official to return to Indonesia has been sentenced to five years and eight months' jail on people smuggling charges.
The panel of judges also ordered Yohanis Humiang, 35, to pay 700 million rupiah ($70,000) or serve an additional five months in prison.
The remaining five crew members were sentenced to five years and six months' jail and a fine of 500 million rupiah or an extra three months' prison time.
The asylum seekers remain in limbo in Indonesia.
Kandiha Kayuran and his wife, who gave birth in December, are still in immigration detention in Kupang.
He told Fairfax Media they had no idea what the future held.
"No one cares, New Zealand is not listening, and Australia too, even after the Amnesty report came out. Please help us."
New Zealand government refers refugees to Australia [RNZI - 13/6/15]:
The Government has told 65 asylum seekers wanting to live in New Zealand to contact United Nations officials in Australia.
The people, from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, say they were heading for New Zealand when they were shipwrecked on an Indonesian reef earlier this month.
In a letter seen by Radio New Zealand, the group made a plea to the Government for asylum, saying it is unsafe for them to return home.
A written reply from the office of the Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, said while New Zealand accepted 750 refugees annually, it could not pick and choose.
It said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra was responsible for inquires dealing with New Zealand and suggested the group approach that office.
[The UNHCR Canberra have said nothing - they refer any concerns about atrocities against refugees in our region to the Bangkok office.]
A UN representative in Indonesia said they met with the group, 52 of whom were registered as refugees. [As far as we know, these refugees are still detained in Kupang.]
The impact of Australia's anti refugee policy
is creating a regional human rights disaster -->
Trapped in Sittwe ghetto or rounded up and imprisoned while registering
at a UNHCR office in Malaysia [Myanmar Now - 19/2/16]:
… The Myanmar government does not recognise the 1.1 million Rohingya as citizens and calls them “Bengalis,” to suggest they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The group is banned from travel within Myanmar and faces restrictions on access to education and healthcare.
Experiences such as Husaina’s are common among the Rohingya, confined to the squalid displacement camps outside Sittwe. The stories are shared among residents, making many fearful of the multi-day journey. Most of the Rohingya this correspondent spoke to say they are now too scared to attempt it.
“There have been very few boats since the sailing season started in October and none at all this year, 2016. The key reason is that smugglers have no option for disembarkation due to Thailand being virtually closed. Another is the situation in Malaysia (where) there are regular immigration raids,” Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, a Rohingya advocacy group which tracks migration, told Myanmar Now.
Malaysian police have carried out arrests of asylum seekers queuing up at the offices of the U.N. refugee agency in the last week or so, and some 2,500 Rohingya are currently held in immigration detention centres across Malaysia, Lewa said.
“The majority of Rohingya who arrived over the last two, three years are unregistered and jobs have become really difficult to find… The community feels very vulnerable,” she added.
Rohingya kids in the rain during the rainy season in Sittwe's Muslim Quarter, now effectively a sealed ghetto.
Image: @andreapitzer [16/7/15]
Australia among 30 countries illegally forcing return of refugees, Amnesty says [Guardian - 24/2/16]
Amnesty annual human rights report
@wikileaks [23/2/16]: NSA targetted @UNHCR chief of staff @AtharSultanKhan's phone since December 2010 for intensive interception ...
@wikileaks [23/2/16] ... New NSA docs show US tapped UN refugee agency directors phones #UNHCR @Refugees ...
How Hillary Clinton ordered US diplomats to spy on UN leaders [Daily Mail - 29/11/10]
... And everyday the tides are higher, the coral's whiter, the water's coming to our knees.
It's hard not to blame those honky b*stards burning all the fossils in their SUVs ...
'The SUV Song', Dan Kelly and the Ukeladies 
Preoccupied with stopping people from seeking asylum, Australia dawdles providing pissweak assistance to Fiji [Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence - 23/2/16]
Responding to the devastation Cyclone Winston brought to Fiji, the Greens have called for more humanitarian assistance for Fiji, an overall increase in aid funding and programs to rapidly decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
‘While the $5 million aid package for Fiji announced by the Turnbull government is a start the level of devastation warrants an injection of more aid funds to assist with food packages and emergency supplies that are desperately need,’ Senator Rhiannon said. ... [Greens Media Release - 24/2/16]
NZ Navy to take aid to Fiji [24/2/16]:
The New Zealand Navy multi-role vessel, HMNZS Canterbury, is being sent to Fiji to support the relief and recovery efforts.
The foreign minister Murray McCully said it will depart from Auckland this weekend loaded with building materials, water storage tanks, and medical supplies.
He said the ship will also take helicopters and medical and engineering personnel.
It will be supported by the offshore patrol vessel, HMNZS Wellington.
Mr McCully said more military personnel and New Zealand Fire service engineers will depart from Ohakea today to support the Fiji authorities with repairs to public buildings and critical infrastructure.
Meanwhile the Air Force is delivering aid using Hercules, while Orions are continuing regular reconnaissance flights.
Mr McCully said Winston is one of the most damaging cyclones in Fiji's history and New Zealand will continue to do all it can to help and to stand with Fiji in the aftermath of this disaster.
Japan to provide emergency relief supplies [Fiji Times - 24/2/16]
42 confirmed deaths from cyclone [Fiji Times - 24/2/16]
34,629 people in evacuation centres [Fiji Times - 24/2/16]
@Vlad_Sokhin [24/2/16]: Makereta, 13, sitting in her room, after #TCWinston destroyed her home in Ba #Fiji. @unicefpacific
The devastating effects of ‘warm waters’ throughout the Pacific Islands [Feature Shoot - 22/2/16]
Tornadoes injure at least 12 in Louisiana, damages widespread [Reuters - 23/2/16]
A large gas flare at a Queensland Coal Seam Gas field has been captured on camera, but seemingly not published anywere [Yahoo - 24/2/16]
Today, 23 February 2016 at 00:00 GMT [updated 12:20 GMT], WikiLeaks publishes highly classified documents showing that the US National Security Agency bugged a private climate change strategy meeting; between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin
WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said "Today we proved the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's private meetings over how to save the planet from climate change were bugged by a country intent on protecting its largest oil companies. ... [WikiLeaks]
@wikileaks [23/2/16]: UN Expert @AlfreddeZayas says that UN Sec General might intervene in illegal Assange detention ...
It’s been two weeks since a UN panel declared that Julian Assange should be freed. Why is he still detained? [The Nation - 19/2/16]
UN Victory in Assange Case: Decision has big implications for refugees and whistleblowers [Center for Constitutional Rights - 5/2/16]
Saying that the prison at Guantánamo Bay “undermines our standing in the world,” President Barack Obama today announced a detailed plan to close the facility, 14 years after it was first inaugurated by President George W. Bush.
Among other measures, the plan calls for a number of Guantánamo prisoners to be transferred into permanent custody in the United States.
This component of the government’s plan has alarmed many legal experts, who say that it would create a dangerous precedent for indefinite detention without trial in the United States.
Significant legal roadblocks remain to moving detainees to U.S. soil, however, thanks to congressional legislation banning such transfers.
In a statement released today, House Speaker Paul Ryan denounced Obama’s new plan, claiming that moving the prisoners to the United States would “jeopardize our national security.” ... [The Intercept - 24/2/16]
A prison of the President’s making: Obama's Guantanamo closure plan is doomed to fail, and he has no one to blame but himself [New York Daily News - 23/2/16]
All the times Obama has said he’s going to close Guantanamo Bay [Quartz - 23/2/16]
A visit to Berks family detention center makes clear why they lost their license [American Immigration Council - 22/2/16]:
... As my group began our tightly controlled tour of the center, we walked through freshly waxed corridors—which the mothers told us had been cleaned just the day before our visit—a band of toddlers followed us from room to room.
The children, ranging in age from one to four-years-old, wore signs written in colored pens and taped on their fronts and backs that translated into English as “Freedom! Freedom!” and “Six months of detention. No more!” and “We are not criminals.”
Berk’s license was officially revoked Sunday, but the county has appealed the state’s revocation of the license. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will release or transfer the families currently detained and stop sending new families to the now unlicensed detention center. ...
Close the camps – no more excuses
HESTA Divest [23/2/16]:
Earlier this week Peter Dutton, minister for immigration, confirmed that the government remains committed to sending Baby Asha and her family back to Nauru following their temporary transfer to community detention .
HESTA Divest organisers congratulate those who took action to try to prevent the deportation of Baby Asha.
We share the concerns of many of these people who are skeptical of various claims by movement “leaders” and NGOs that the family is now safe or that community detention is a fair compromise .
We stand with those who refuse to accept that the transfer of this family into community detention is a victory.
We support the growing calls to #Closethecamps as the only way to ensure an end to detention and the freedom of all detainees. We support ongoing action to dismantle detention industry supply chains .
Companies who accept contracts for holding people in community detention include ACCESS and AMES Australia . AMES Australia also seeks to profit from offshore detention through its stake in the Connect consortium with MDA Ltd .
Various Church organisations such as The Salvation Army and Anglicare have also accepted detention contracts , and Union representatives continue to be directors of superannuation funds that invest in detention.
Many organisations of this kind are connected to campaigns that aim at regulating the detention industry, and stand to benefit financially from a shift to community detention rather than an end to all forms of detention .
The focus on children has been used in the past by organisations that support rival bids for managing the detention system .
We call on individuals and groups not to work with anyone who seeks to sustain any form of detention. We will continue to voice our opposition to those who attempt to negotiate minimum standards to justify caging people.
We support the proposal by doctors to boycott working in the detention industry .
Detention is itself medically negligent and cannot be made safe .
The role played by medical staff in detention centres is to manage the liabilities of a system that is designed to cause harm.
We call on the Australian Medical Association to support a boycott by medical staff of the detention system.
We encourage people everywhere to refuse to work for, invest in or comply with the detention industry.
Boycott, divest, disrupt: close the camps, no more excuses.
Stop the lies and false choices: Australia no longer accepts refugees and is stopping people from seeking asylum by pushing boats back, incarceration and torture [SBS - 10/7/15]
Secret federal government documents cast doubt over whether Australia told Indonesia and the United Nations about a retrospective ban on taking refugees from official channels.
In November last year Australia announced it would no longer accept refugees who applied for resettlement through the UN’S refugee agency in Indonesia.
The ban applied to anyone who registered with the UNHCR from 1 July 2014.
The lengths to which the Australian immigration department has gone to facilitate the repatriation of traumatised Syrian asylum seekers detained in offshore detention centres has been extensively revealed in departmental emails obtained under freedom of information laws. ... [Guardian - 19/8/14]
24 February 2016