PNG Supreme Court halts secretive, unjust deportations from Australia's refugee death camp on Manus Island

 

 

 

Guardian [25/8/15]:


Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court has stepped in to halt all deportations of asylum seekers back to their home countries, ordering an interim injunction late on Tuesday to stop forcible removals.

Two Iranian asylum seekers have been sent back from the Australian-run detention centre in Manus province to Tehran in the past week even though a case was before PNG’s Supreme Court to stop their deportations.

The court’s latest intervention means the PNG immigration department would be in direct defiance of the highest court in the land if it were to continue to send men back unwillingly to their countries of origin.

Justice Nicholas Kirriwom ordered the interim injunction against all deportations before the case resumes in the Supreme Court on Thursday.

The two men returned to Iran, both of whom still had their Iranian passports, were forced to surrender their documents in Tehran. They have been told they must report to police. Other conditions or possible sanctions are unknown.

It’s unclear how the men were taken back to, and accepted by, Tehran.

Iran has historically refused to accept forced repatriations but an arrangement has seemingly been struck – neither country is commenting on the returns – or the men have made last-minute concessions to return.

One of the removed men wrote a letter in his final hours in PNG that read: “Not leaving the compound that I am living in and/or not wish to be returned to my country of origin against my will.”

He signed his name and boat number to the letter.

The PNG government runs the refugee status determination and resettlement processes. The detention centre is run by private contractors, headed by Transfield, who are hired by the Australian government.

All of the asylum seekers in PNG’s remote Manus detention centre originally applied for refugee status in Australia but were forced to go to PNG.

One asylum seeker in the Manus centre facing deportation to his home country told Guardian Australia: “Everybody here is completely depressed. Everyone feels helpfulness. They are worried about what will happen if they are sent back to their place.

“It used to be that you would see people doing activities, doing exercise, looking after themselves. Now, everybody just sits quietly, and talking about what will happen if they are forced back.

“We don’t know what has happened to those two guys, everyone is going crazy, two guys, they try to hurt themselves, to self-harm.”

Another asylum seeker in a different compound said the threat of deportation had spurred some asylum seekers into cooperating with PNG’s refugee status determination process which they had previously refused.

“The situation is much scary. I am scared. I came to Australia for freedom, but if they deport me I will be in big danger. Some people who refused to give their case want to give their case now because they scared for deport.”

Guardian Australia has sought comment from the PNG immigration department.

Ben Lomai, a lawyer who brought the application before the court on Tuesday, told Guardian Australia in Port Moresby the injunction was a “positive first step”.

“It is good to get some indication from the court and it is important the rights of these asylum seekers are being recognised and protected.”

Lomai, who is acting for more than 300 asylum seekers held in the Australian-run centre on Manus, is challenging their detention on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

The PNG constitution guarantees “liberty of the person”, “right to freedom of movement” and “freedom from inhuman treatment”, as well as the right to access PNG courts and have access to a lawyer.

Lomai argues asylum seekers have been denied these fundamental rights and that the state is required to release the men back to their first port of entry, Australia.

He will argue PNG is also liable to pay compensation to them.

 

 

 

 

This is relevant ---> His Excellency President Baron Waqa has received a visit from the US Ambassador-designate to Nauru, Her Excellency, Ms. Judith Beth Cefkin. ‏@Republic_Nauru [20/8/15]

 

 

 

 

Judith Cefkin - US Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu [Term of Appointment: 11/20/2014 to present]



 

All Gov [11/10/14]:


... Since 2013, Cefkin has been senior advisor for Burma (Myanmar). She has spent much of the time working on normalizing relations between the United States and that nation, traveling there as part of that effort.
...

 

 


Search continues for missing Gatton teen

 


QPS Media [25/8/15]:



Police investigating the disappearance of Gatton teen Jayde Kendall believe the movements of a red car in the Lockyer Valley area on the day she vanished are crucial to their investigation.

Jayde, 16, was last seen on the afternoon of Friday August 14 at Highview Avenue around 3.15pm. Jayde is described as Caucasian, 155cms tall with brown hair, green eyes and a proportionate build.

Jayde’s bank account was accessed through at an ATM on Railway Street, Gatton at 5.45pm and 5.47pm on Friday, August 14.

Police have previously released images of a vehicle of interest, a red Toyota Corolla five door hatchback and believe it was in the Gatton business district at that time.

Acting Detective Inspector Matt Howard urged anyone who may have seen the car to contact police

“Jayde’s account was accessed at the Commonwealth Bank at Railway Street at 5.45pm and 5.47pm. We are urging anyone who may have seen Jayde or the vehicle of interest at that time to contact Crime Stoppers.”

“We are also asking landowners in and around the Gatton area to search their properties, and alert police to anything unusual – even something as seemingly insignificant as a gate left open,” Acting Detective Inspector Howard said.

“We really need to gather as much information as possible to try to find Jayde. We are relying on members of the public to think hard about what they saw in the Gatton area on August 14.

The car is distinctive with faded and damaged paint on the roof, a missing left rear hubcap and faded/dulled headlights.

The car may have been driven by a man described as Caucasian, around 18 years of age, 180cm tall, with dark hair.

Police are urging anyone who believes they may have seen the car or Jayde to contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.


 


Boy, 8, hit by car, Morningside


Yahoo [25/8/15]:

 

An eight-year-old boy has been seriously injured after he was hit by a car in Brisbane's east.

He was struck on a Morningside street about 4.30pm on Tuesday.

He suffered arm and head injuries and is being treated at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital.

 



 

Rescuer speaks after plucking truck driver from Coomera River [MYGC – 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 


Cocaine haul worth $17m seized after luxury yacht raided on Queensland's Gold Coast

 


ABC [25/8/15]:


Cocaine worth more than $17 million has been seized and five men are in custody after a raid on a luxury yacht moored at a marina on the Coomera River on Queensland's Gold Coast.

It is believed the 70-kilogram consignment of the drug came from South America via Vanuatu.

Forty kilograms were found in a car which was stopped by officers who had the yacht under surveillance, Australian Federal Police Commander Dave Stewart said.

"The five persons were arrested last night and were found to be in possession of 40 kilograms of cocaine secreted in the rear of one the vehicles," he said.

"One of the persons of interest was driving. Further searches of the yacht revealed a further 30 kilograms hidden in the walls of the yacht."

"The yacht — a Bavaria 44-foot named The Solay, registered in Jersey in the United Kingdom — arrived ... on August 24 at the Gold Coast," he said.

The five men were remanded in custody after appearing in the Southport Magistrates Court.

Commander Stewart said police could not rule out more arrests.

"We had a sole occupant that was actually the skipper of the yacht — the other four people were members of the syndicate operating on the land here in Queensland," he said.

"We're still making ongoing inquiries in relation to the hierarchy of the syndicate.

"Suffice to say with the apprehension of five we are very confident that we have dismantled a significant organised crime syndicate.

"We can't rule out any more arrests — enquiries will be ongoing."

...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robbery, Kingston [QPS Media - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Armed robbery charges, Goodna [QPS Media - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

Attempted armed robbery, Rochdale South [QPS Media - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, Camira [QPS Media – 25/8/15]

 


 

Gold Coast Mayor sells Islander Resort



MYGC [25/8/15]:



Mayor Tom Tate has announced via his Facebook page that the Islander Resort, located in Surfers Paradise, has officially sold.

In June we heard that well-known Brisbane nightclub owner Lou Bickle had agreed to purchase the ageing pink building, on the corner of Surfers Paradise Boulevard and Beach Road, for an estimated $26.5 million.

The sale had been an election promise made by Mayor Tate before he was voted in in April 2012.

But despite getting close a few times, nothing solid was nailed down.

Late on Monday the Mayor posted on Facebook “just finished a long meeting this afternoon, seems I’ve lost my job at the Islander finally and I couldn’t be happier”.

...



IBM tries to block legal action over Queensland Health payroll disaster

 


ABC [25/8/15]:


 

Former ministers have given evidence in a Supreme Court hearing as IBM tries to stop a State Government lawsuit over the Queensland Health payroll debacle.

The technology giant was contracted in 2007 by the Labor government of the time to set up a new payroll system that went live three years later and saw thousands of staff underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all.

The state launched legal action to recoup some of the $1.2 billion it cost to fix the bungle.

On Tuesday, lawyers for IBM appeared in the Supreme Court in Brisbane in a bid to block the case.

Former health minister Paul Lucas and former public works minster Robert Schwarten were questioned why the Government did not pursue legal action straight away.

Both men said their first priority was getting workers paid and that legal action might have jeopardised that.

Mr Lucas said he was "extremely disappointed" with IBM at the time, but he did not want to sack the company and risk workers not getting paid.

The Barrister acting for IBM, Shane Doyle QC told the hearing the company was cleared of any litigation during an earlier settlement with the state in 2010.

He also argued any failures with the scheme were because the Government was "not able to define and stick to a scope".

But Liam Kelly QC, acting on behalf of the Government, disputed the previous settlement released IBM from any further court action.

He argued the agreement in 2015 did not cover all aspects of the tech giant's involvement in the scheme, and they were still liable.

Mr Kelly claimed IBM were "misleading and deceitful" going into the contract and misrepresented their expertise and ability to deliver the project.

The state is claiming an unspecified amount of damages with the hearing scheduled to run until Thursday.


 

 

 

 

 

 

The Queensland government has accused technology giant IBM of misrepresenting its credentials in delivering a $6 million payroll system that cost $1.2 billion to fix.

It said if IBM hadn't talked up its credentials to design, build and deliver the payroll system for Queensland Health before it signed a contract in 2007, it would have awarded the deal to its archrival Accenture, court documents reveal. ... [Australian Financial Review - 23/8/15]

 

 


 

 

 

Further IT problems in the Queensland education system have meant another 300 reported cases of suspected child abuse have been ignored, taking the total number to almost 1,000, a budget estimates hearing has revealed. ... [ABC - 25/8/15]

 

 


 

 

Boral sues CFMEU over $20m black ban [West Australian – 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CFMEU bosses across nation may face criminal charges [WA Today - 24/8/15]

 

 

 


Complaint Lodged with CCC in relation to Acland coal mine



Lock The Gate [25/8/15]:


Lock the Gate has lodged a wide-ranging complaint with the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) in relation to about $1 million of political donations to the Liberal Party of Australia made by the Acland Stage 3 coal mine proponent and its parent company.

The group’s president, Drew Hutton said the complaint should be fully investigated before a decision is made on the environment authority for the Acland Stage 3 coal project, which is due to be approved this week.

Mr Hutton said there were major concerns about the process by which the Newman Government reversed its position on the Acland Stage 3 coal project from 2012 to 2014, going from opposition to the project to supporting a major expansion.

Mr Hutton said the current State Government needed to fulfil its promise for the CCC to investigate political donations scandals, including the New Hope donations, before it approved the Acland Stage 3 coal mine.

“The Qld ALP Government promised a new era of accountability and transparency in Queensland and that has to start now with the Acland coal project," he said.

"There is a cloud hanging over this project and the community cannot have any confidence that it has been approved on its merits until a thorough inquiry has been completed.

"The current state government came to power promising a wide-ranging inquiry into political donations and any links with approval processes but that has not yet commenced.

“Unfortunately time is running out for the Acland Stage 3 coal project.

"We've compiled a detailed complaint to the CCC calling for an urgent inquiry into the Acland Stage 3 project and we're calling for the decision on the Environmental Authority to be delayed until the CCC has fully investigated the matter.

“Basic accountability demands that election promises by the Queensland ALP are delivered before this controversial project is approved," he said.

...


 

 


Dolphins, rays among hundreds of non-targeted animals killed on Queensland shark nets and drum lines, figures show [ABC – 25/8/15]

 

 

 

The disaster preparedness of Queensland councils has been blasted in a damning report that highlighted a lack of collaboration and planning between authorities.

A review by the Inspector-General Emergency Management found few councils had sufficient early warning systems in place.

The report, tabled in Parliament by Emergency Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller on Monday, found a lack of sufficient planning and profiling of communities to identify "barriers to effective communication".

"This makes it difficult for local governments to effectively issue warnings," the Inspector-General found.

"As a result, communities may not understand the warnings or know what action to take during a disaster.

"Devolved responsibility for warnings to the local level occurs without adequate centralised support through disaster management arrangements." ... [Brisbnae Times - 25/8/15]

 


 


 

 

Mt Isa geezers call for apartheidesque youth curfew [Yahoo – 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two teenage girls had to be restrained on board a Qantas fight from Sydney to Perth before being walked off the plane upon landing by Australian Federal Police officers. ... [WA Today - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

Group of black women kicked off Napa Valley wine train after laughing too loud [LA Times - 24/8/15]

 

 

UN rights chief urges Maldives to release former president

 

Channel News Asia [25/8/15]:

 

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein has called on the government of the Maldives to release former president Mohamed Nasheed, whose re-arrest on Sunday constituted "a serious set-back", a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader, was ousted in disputed circumstances in 2012 for ordering the arrest of a judge in a case that has brought widespread international criticism and highlighted political instability in a country known as an island paradise popular with wealthy tourists.

 "The High Commissioner has expressed his deep concern to the government of the Maldives after former president Mohammad Nasheed was once again sent to prison late on Sunday," his spokesman Rupert Colville told a briefing, adding Nasheed had been taken to a high-security prison on Maafushi Island.




US Marine says he choked transgender woman in self defence


Inquirer [25/8/15]:


US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton on Monday admitted in court that he choked and killed transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in a motel room here on Oct. 11 last year because he found out that his sex partner that night was a man, not a woman, the victim’s lawyer said.

Testifying at the continuation of his murder trial at the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court, Pemberton said he killed Laude to defend himself, said lawyer Harry Roque, lead counsel for the Laude family.

The court has barred reporters from covering the trial but has allowed lawyers of contending parties to provide details of the day’s hearing.

During a break in the trial, Roque told reporters that Pemberton cited suffering from “gay shock syndrome,” also known as “homosexual panic.”

He was referring to a line of defense in some American courts called the “gay panic defense,” which LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) organizations now want to be outlawed in the United States and other countries.

Those who make this assertion usually claim they suffered a psychotic break triggered by a revulsion for homosexual advances.

But the homosexual panic defense is not present in Philippine criminal law, Roque said.

Defense lawyer Rowena Flores said Pemberton told the court that he fought with and subdued Laude in self-defense, but denied murdering her.

Pemberton admitted he and Laude fought after oral sex because Laude did not have a female organ, Flores said.

Pemberton, 22 at the time, said Laude, 26, slapped him, causing him to respond “in defense,” Flores said.

“After some time, to subdue Jeffrey, Joseph Scott Pemberton held [Laude’s] head under his armpit. Jeffrey stopped moving. Joseph Scott Pemberton tried to revive [her],” Flores added.

...

 


Typhoon Goni slams into Kyushu, injuring 13



Japan Today [25/8/15]:


Typhoon Goni slammed into the Japanese mainland on Tuesday, leaving 13 people with minor injuries and disrupting rail and flight services, as the government issued an evacuation advisory for more than 100,000 residents.

The powerful storm, which killed at least 26 people in landslides and floods in the Philippines, hit southwestern Kumamoto Prefecture at about 6 a.m., Japan’s weather agency said.

Most of those injured sustained minor cuts from broken glass, a prefectural official told AFP.

Packing gusts up to 198 kilometers per hour, Goni was moving just north of Kyushu, the Japan Meteorological Agency reported, as it warned residents to expect violent winds, floods and high waves.

Local governments in northern Kyushu and other prefectures on the main island of Honshu issued evacuation advisories for more than 100,000 people, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Most regional railway operators halted operations, while scores of flights arriving and departing from local airports were also cancelled, including international services between major city Fukuoka and other regional centers including Seoul and Shanghai.

At 10 a.m., about 425,000 households in Kyushu were left without electricity after blackouts, said a spokeswoman for Kyushu Electric Power Co.

 

 

Christian leaders hold prayer sit-in at Tasmanian Senator Bushby’s office

 

 

 

 

‏@lovemakesaway:   Our #LoveMakesAWay team charged w/trespass & released - If only the gov could release the kids as quickly 

 

 

 

@lovemakesaway:   It would appear @SenatorBushby has chosen not to stand up for compassion today. Police on site ...

 

 

 

 

 

Love Makes A Way [25/8/15]:

 

Local, state and national church leaders ask Senator David Bushby to publicly support the urgent release of 205 children and families from immigration detention

Christian leaders from various denominations have this afternoon begun a prayer vigil in the office of Tasmanian Senator David Bushby over concerns for the safety of children held in immigration detention.

The group is calling on the government to deliver on its promise last Christmas to release into the Australian community every child and to provide appropriate care while these claims are being processed.

The group of 5 includes local church leaders from Anglican, Salvation Army, Baptist and Uniting Churches. The group intends to remain in prayer inside Sen. Bushby’s office at Rosny Park for as long as possible or until Senator Bushby accepts an invitation to make a public statement stating that it is abhorrent that children are held in detention and insists that the Prime Minister and Immigration Minister commit to the urgent and immediate release of children and their families from detention into the community.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Tasmanian based children’s book author Christina Booth said, “Despite the promises of the Federal Government in the lead up to Christmas, it is concerning and distressing that children who are refugees are not being released from detention by the Government. Children need a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow. Australians do not want children exposed to serious and unnecessary trauma”.

There is strong support for the vigil from state and national church leaders. Attending today are the Very Rev’d Richard Humphrey, Dean of St David’s Anglican Cathedral; Mr David Reeve, Chairperson, Presbytery of Tasmania, Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania and Captain Craig Farrell, Territorial Youth Secretary of The Salvation Army Southern Territory.

Rev. Humphrey said “detention centres are no place for children”.

“The overwhelming evidence from experts and inquiries is that prolonged detention causes harm and suffering to already traumatised children,” he said.

“Closed detention causes and compounds mental health issues and children in these offshore centres are being exposed to abuse. Every day that a child is kept in closed detention, it causes them harm. We cannot stand by and watch this happen”.

“We call on the Government to release from closed detention every child seeking asylum and to provide appropriate care in the community for them and their family while their claims are processed,” said Captain Craig Farrell.

Members of the group have attempted to make contact with Sen. Bushby and other MP’s over the years; yet have been disappointed with inadequate responses that fail to protect children in or facing detention on Nauru or Manus.

“As Christians, we cannot be silent when government policies are causing suffering and physical and mental harm to children,” said Mrs Booth.

This prayer vigil is part of a national Christian movement of prayer and non-violence called Love Makes A Way.

In the past 18 months, 25 vigils have been held around the country with almost 250 participants and 150 church leaders arrested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamid Kehazaei delirious by time of transfer to hospital [Guardian - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Cultural Commission says Christian fundamentalist "Burn the Witch" National Day of Repentance incites violence against PNG culture [PNG Loop - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, says he is still considering whether New Zealand should provide further aid to Nauru's justice sector.  ... [RNZI - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another month's wait for opposition Nauru MPs facing charges [RNZI - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

Peace activist Danny Lim fined for offensive behaviour against Tony Abbott

 

 

Sydney Morning Herald [25/8/15]:

 

Self-styled "peace activist" Danny Lim - a cardboard-carrying identity on the streets of Sydney - has been fined for offensive behaviour after brandishing a sign targeting Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Police confirmed Mr Lim had been issued with an infringement notice and was also ordered to "move on" from outside Edgecliff Station on Monday morning.

"He was also told he could return to the space he was occupying without his offensive sign," a NSW Police spokeswoman said.

The $500 fine for offensive conduct was increased from $200 last year.

A former Strathfield councillor, the 71-year-old Mr Lim is known for toting large billboards strapped to his body, bearing messages of peace and love. In recent years his preaching has become more overtly political, including the pun: "People can change, Tony you c**t."

Mr Lim defended the content of the billboard, telling the Herald it was a harmless play on words.

"It's in the dictionary," he said. "I never knew this could happen in Australia."

Mr Lim said he intended to fight the infringement notice in court. He also planned to return to Edgecliff Station on Tuesday morning, but this time armed with an old T-shirt and sign demanding better pay for police and other public servants.

...

Commuter Jeremy Hillman alighted his bus after observing police interacting with a "quite agitated" Mr Lim. He said the officers behaved reasonably and told Mr Lim they were acting on numerous complaints from passersby about the sign's contents.

"He [Mr Lim] claims that because it's an upside-down A [rather than a U in the offending word] it's parody and therefore not directly using the word," Mr Hillman said. "He's also of the view that that word should be challenged in terms of its availability for public use."

By Tuesday morning, a GoFundMe campaign run by community activist James Brechney had raised above and beyond the $500 required to pay the fine, while Mr Hillman said he had found a lawyer to represent Mr Lim pro bono.

Over the years, Mr Lim's targets have been on both sides of the political divide. Toward the end of Labor's last term in state government, he was critical of the incumbent ALP member for Strathfield, Virginia Judge.

"Election problems? Dial 1300VIRGINIA - screwup guaranteed," read one of Mr Lim's signs. "16 years of Labor is ENUF," said another.



 

 

AFP drop Orwellian thought crime charges against Harun Causevic after 4 months detention in high security prison

 

 

Guardian [25/8/15]:

 

 

The Australian federal police have formally dropped terrorism charges against 18-year-old Harun Causevic, who was arrested in April for his alleged involvement in an Anzac Day terrorism plot.[conspiring to commit and act in preparation for a terror act].

Three lesser charges for weapon possession remain, to which Causevic’s lawyer, Rob Stary, said his client intended to plead guilty.

Causevic, who has been detained in the maximum security Metropolitan remand centre in Melbourne for more than four months, was present in the county court and sat in the dock wearing a grey-and-black sweater, his hair pulled back into a ponytail. He was supported in the court by a member of the Islamic Council of Victoria, as well as his mother, father and sister.

In a statement, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) said, “The CDPP conducted an independent assessment of all available admissible evidence in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth, and formed the view that there was insufficient evidence to continue the prosecution of Mr Causevic for this offence.

“Accordingly, when the matter was before the Melbourne magistrates court today, the CDPP discontinued the conspiracy charge brought against Mr Causevic. He is no longer charged with any federal offence.”

Given the outstanding charges it was not appropriate to comment further, the CDPP said.

Magistrate Jelena Popovic granted bail, but ruled Causevic must not leave the country and must attend counselling. She told Causevic the court would check in with him.

“I really want to see how you’re going [back in the community],” she said.

“My concern is you’re going to be released into the community, and I want to ensure you’re properly supported and things are going well. It’s not about making your life more difficult, it’s about actually trying to assist you with the readjustment.”

In asking the magistrate to release Causevic, Stary said it could not be proved that the weapons, which included three knives, were intended to be used in any sinister way.

Causevic had also undergone counselling while in prison from a Muslim chaplain, and had taken part in a community integration program, in part run by the Victorian police, the court heard.

However, because of riots at the prison before a smoking ban was introduced last month, programs for prisoners and family visits had been cut, the court heard.

The hearing continues.

 

 

 

ABC [25/8/15]:


... Outside court, Mr Stary said the circumstances surrounding Causevic's charges were "disturbing" and the laws had failed.

"Someone who had been monitored for five weeks, authorities knew he was not involved in any of the offending described, and then to be placed as an 18-year-old ... in the most austere prison conditions [in the] major offenders unit," he said.

"We really need to have a hard look at how we deal with these sorts of cases.

"The authorities should have tapped him on the shoulder, spoken to his parents, said something from the outset ... not wait until he's been charged.

"A terrible injustice has eventuated here."

 

 

 

 

None of the Muslim clerics consulted by a senior Australian imam ever saw Man Haron Monis at their mosques, an inquest has heard.

Associate professor Mohamad Abdalla also said on Monday the Sydney siege gunman’s claims to be a senior Islamic scholar – including that he had attained the rank of ayatollah – were “quite difficult” to believe. ... [Guardian - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

Australian media censor Peter Greste's talk about the state of press freedom in Australia!

 

 

 

“I think we’ve lost sight of the absolutely crucial role the media has to play in an effective democracy.”


 

Human Rights Commission [24/8/15]:



Australian journalist and correspondent Peter Greste delivered a compelling account of the state of press freedom in Australia and overseas in a special RightsTalk at the Australian Human Rights Commission today.

The Walkley Award winning reporter was arrested in Egypt in December 2013 and sentenced to seven years imprisonment for news reporting that was claimed to be “damaging to national security”. He spent 400 days behind bars before being deported to Australia in February 2015.

In his RightsTalk, Mr Greste discussed where governments should draw the line between protecting the national interest and the public’s right to know.

“I think we are being caught in the middle between governments who on the one hand have a very legitimate fight to control terrorism, but also against the extremists on the other who no longer respect the role that journalists play,” Mr Greste said.

“In other words, the safe ground that journalism used to occupy has now vanished.”

He said 221 journalists were imprisoned across the world last year because of their work, but this does not include all those who have gone missing or have been captured by non-state groups or terrorism organisations.

Mr Greste said press freedom is a fundamental part of democracy and should be protected in Australia, pointing to Section 35P of the National Security Amendment Bill as an area of concern.

“In the debate about the restrictions on freedom of the press; about special intelligence operations and the restrictions that Section 35P imposes, we’ve lost sight of the need for the press to get access to whistleblowers, and to protect its sources," he said.

“I think we’ve lost sight of the absolutely crucial role the media has to play in an effective democracy.”

Mr Greste said restrictions to freedom of speech and freedom of the press should be “appropriate, proportional and not permanent”.

“We need to make sure that any restrictions on freedom of speech are appropriate, they are limited,” he said.

“One of the most important tests for this is the question of ‘is this the least restrictive means for achieving the relevant purpose’. That test, in the current environment, is often lost.”

Mr Greste concluded by quoting French philosopher Albert Camus: “A free press, of course, can be both good and bad but a press that is not free can never be anything but bad”.

...



 


Afghanistan: Journalists detained and questioned over satirical facebook page “Kabul Taxi” [Khaama – 24/8/15]

 

 

 

A massive fire has reportedly swept through gas terminal in Herat city in western part of the country earlier tonight, leaving at least eleven people dead.  ... [Khaama - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

ISIS executes four people in central Libyan city: residents [Daily Star - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

Israel has 'right' to settle in West Bank: President [Ahram - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

Almost 80,000 people had by Monday signed a petition urging the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes when he visits London next month.

The petition was launched earlier this month by British citizen Damian Moran and is posted on the government's website. ... [Yahoo - 24/8/15]


 

 

Is US taxpayer money subsidising Jewish terrorism? [JTA - 24/8/15]:

 

 

 

... “In the wake of the horrific terrorist bombing that killed an 18-month-old and his father, and left his mother and brother in critical condition, we in the U.S. Jewish community must examine our own responsibility for such crimes,” T’ruah’s executive director, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, told JTA after the group sent its complaint to the attorney general.

“We have no complaint with the use of money for legal assistance; Honenu itself admits that the money also goes for general support of those accused or convicted of these horrific crimes,” she said.

But, “just as we would be furious to learn of tax-exempt money going to Hamas or ISIS, we must not allow U.S. taxpayers to subsidize money that is given strings-free to members of our own people who are accused or convicted of terror.”

 

 

 

 

Two killed in clashes in south Lebanon refugee camp [Ahram - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

 

A senior United Nations relief official today strongly condemned the attack against humanitarian workers that occurred on August 20 in Bambari, in Central African Republic (CAR), and injured one staff from the Red Cross Movement.  ... [Media Release - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

 

Yemenis rally to protest Saudi Arabia’s air campaign [Press TV - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

 

Life saving medicines, trauma kits and blood bank supplies are urgently needed in war-ravaged Yemen, where nearly half the country’s health facilities have shut down, leaving thousands of injured civilians with fewer and fewer places to seek emergency assistance, according to the UN health agency. ... [Media Release - 24/8/15]

 

 


 

‘Minsk peace deal on Ukraine must be respected’ – Merkel after talks with Poroshenko [RT - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced an investigation Monday into the procurement of weapons and equipment for the military over the past eight years, as part of a crackdown on corruption.

...

The military has long argued that it is hampered by a lack of weaponry, and Buhari warned Washington last month that a US refusal to arm his troops because of "so-called human rights violations" was helping Boko Haram.

The US has vowed to help Nigeria defeat the insurgency but it is prohibited under law from sending weapons to countries that fail to tackle human rights abuses.

Buhari's office said on August 7 the government would step up domestic arms manufacture for the military to cut its reliance on foreign weaponry in its fight with the insurgency.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Abuja on Monday, hailed Nigeria's "greater stability and peace" under its new leader as he commemorated a deadly attack on the global body by Boko Haram militants in 2011 .  ... [Yahoo - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

The United States will deploy F-22 fighter jets to Europe very soon as part of the "European Reassurance Initiative," Air Force Secretary Deborah James said on Monday.

James did not give details about the specific number of planes, date or location of the deployment.

The deployment is seen as a move to assuage growing concerns among NATO allies about Russian military aggression.

The Air Force has been using F-22 fighter jets in its strikes against Islamic State, the first real combat air strikes by the aircraft. [Reuters - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

Watch Australia's "opposition" parties and human rights establishment seize on this pissweak announcement while simultaneously ignoring human rights atrocities on Manus and Nauru (not to mention Australia stopped accepting UNHCR refugees in October 2014). --->  US State Department Daily Press Briefing [24/8/15]:

 

 

... QUESTION: You mentioned before Syrian refugees. Can you update us on where U.S. efforts stand in that regard, what the goals are for this year, how many you’ve let in, if you think those efforts are sufficient?

MR KIRBY: Hold on a second, I think I got something on that.

So we expect to welcome between a thousand and 2,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year, and 5-8,000 Syrian refugees in next Fiscal Year 2016. There are 15,000 Syrian refugee referrals in the pipeline from UNHCR. We continue to be a leader in this regard, both in terms of refugees we bring in but also the amount of money that we contribute to the effort.

 As we’ve said before, that’s not the metric of success here, though it’s – accepting refugees is one aspect, but really it’s about helping ensure – because most of these people want to go home, and you can expect that – that’s understandable, and so what we’re really committed to is helping to foster the kind of political transition inside Syria so that it is a safe environment for Syrian people to return, including the millions that are seeking refuge in Turkey right now.

...

 

 

 

 

UN hotline set up to reach out to displaced Iraqis scattered in hard-to-reach areas [Media Release - 24/8/15]

 


 

United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria

 

 

 

US Department of Defense [24/8/15]:


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

Bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Hasakah, three strikes destroyed three ISIL excavators and an ISIL bunker.

-- Near Hawl, two airstrikes struck an ISIL crude oil collection point and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL trench.

-- Near Ayn Isa, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL motorcycles and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Kobani, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Washiyah, an airstrike destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL bunkers, two ISIL tunnels and an ISIL front end loader.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, bomber, fighter, fighter-attack and remotely piloted conducted 12 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the Iraqi government:

-- Near Beiji, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Fallujah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL mortar system.

-- Near Kisik, an airstrike struck and suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Mosul, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Qayyarah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and two ISIL heavy machine guns.

-- Near Tuz, three airstrikes destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL weapons cache.

...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thousands of exhausted refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa have crossed on foot from Macedonia into Serbia on their way to the European Union.

The rush over the border on Monday came after Macedonia effectively lifted the blockade of its border with Greece on Sunday, after thousands of refugees stormed past Macedonian police who had been trying to stop their entry by force.

Continuing their journey, about 7,000 refugees, including many women with babies and small children mostly from Syria, had crossed into Serbia over the weekend by Monday morning.

Some were pushed in wheelchairs and wheel barrows or walked on crutches.

Meanwhile, hundreds more entered Macedonia from Greece on Monday. ... [Al Jazeera - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

 

UNHCR assists refugees at Greece-FYR Macedonia border, where calm is returning [Media Release - 24/8/15]

 

 


Irish navy rescues 225 refugees off Libyan coast

 


Irish Post [24/8/15]:


Irish Naval Vessel LÉ Niamh rescued 225 people off the Libyan coast as part of an Italian coastguard Operation.

The vessel was asked to attend the scene by the Italian Marine Rescue Co Ordination Centre (MRCC) on Saturday evening.

The crew brought 107 migrants aboard about 112km northeast of Tripoli.

Another 118 migrants on a separate boat nearby were then rescued in the early hours of Sunday morning.

There were 12 children amongst the migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea on two inflatable vessels.

Around 2,000 migrants and refugees were rescued on Saturday night, according to the Italian coastguard.

It was one of the largest one-day operations it had organised.

The LÉ Niamh has rescued almost 2,000 migrants since it was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea on July 10.

 

 

 

 

Three people have died after a boat carrying 73 refugees capsized off the northwestern coast of Turkey, Turkish state media quoting the coastguard said.

The coastguard said that all other refugees were saved in Monday's shipwreck - the first of two deadly incidents on Monday.

The semi-official Anatolia Agency said that the group, composed of Afghans and Syrian, had sailed from the Ayvacik coast of Canakkale province to reach the nearby Greek island of Lesbos when their boat sank.

Greek island struggles to cope with migrant crisis Separately, Greece's coastguard was searching on Monday for at least six people missing at sea after the dinghy they were using to enter Greece clandestinely from Turkey overturned off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos, the AP news agency reported. They said one body was recovered from the same wreck. 

The coastguard said it had picked up 877 people in 30 search and rescue operations from Friday morning to Monday morning off the coasts of the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos.  ... [Al Jazeera - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

 

Amnesty International criticise conditions for refugees on Lesvos. MUTE on torture, murder, rape and pedophilia regime in Australian detention centres [Media Release - 24/8/15]

 

 

Is denial of access why human rights groups seem to have lost the will to call for an end to Australia's murderous refugee policy?  

 

 

 

 

Pre inquest hears Manus asylum seeker Hamid Khazaei entered brain death before reaching Brisbane [Brisbane Times - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

Whose interests does it serve by allowing Dutton to remain protected and unaccountable?

 

 

 

Professional/Ethic Dilemmas: ... Secretive nature of the camp, and authorities not allowing humanitarian organisations such as Amnesty, Red Cross on the UN on site.

The lack of access to legal representation and advise for people’s processing/visa claims.

More specifically, the lack of opportunity for people to research and find a lawyer to represent them from within the camp, and the lack of opportunity for lawyers to provide pro-bono or paid representation due to visa limitations and contact restrictions.

DIBP providing one lawyer (who DIBP appointed) to represent all asylum seekers on Nauru was unethical and a terrifying legal precedence.  ...

 

 

 

Submission 85, Nauru Senate Inquiry

 

 

 

 

Immigration Minister continues highlighting undemocratic nature of ALP as it lurches further to right ignoring what remains of its support base [Media Release - 24/8/15]: 


Bill Shorten’s latest ‘new’ policy on illegal boat arrivals – that Labor will now turn-back the boats – is already unravelling.

Labor’s divisions were highlighted at the weekend conference of the Tasmanian Labor Branch which rejected the idea of Labor ever turning boats back.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said today the latest iteration of Labor’s policy on illegal boats has lasted less than a month.

“This is Labor’s now dominant Left of which Tanya Plibersek is the leading light telling Bill Shorten they won’t support him,” Mr Dutton said.

“The Tasmanian Labor Branch branded Bill Shorten ‘fundamentally wrong’ – it shows he will never turn-back a boat and that his claims that Labor would do so are nothing more than an attempt to mislead Australians.

“Tanya Plibersek is Labor’s Deputy Leader she will ensure Bill Shorten does nothing more than talk about turning-back illegal boats.

“Australians well remember Kevin Rudd said he would turn-back people smuggler boats, but then allowed 800 boats carrying more than 50,000 people to breach Australia’s borders.


 

 

 

The International Committee of the Red Cross has released World War II documents showing the organization knew about the persecution of Jews in Nazi death camps but felt powerless to speak out.  ... [J Weekly - 3/1/1997]

 

 

 

 

Why are the Greens playing along - rather than distancing themselves - from bipartisan human rights atrocities?

 

 

 

 

Where are Australian human rights groups and lawyers associations?  Why are they MUTE? 

 

 

 

Manus refugees seek to stop forced, unjust deportation [PNG Loop - 20/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

Asylum seekers' convictions for July 2013 riots overturned by Nauru court, their current whereabouts is unknown [ABC - 24/8/15]

 

 

Nauru Senate Inquiry, Submission 98:

 

... I soon noticed that the most vague witness statements were written by security personnel within a few days of the riot.

The more incriminating statements were dated up to four months after the event.

I asked myself “How can anyone remember in such detail and with such clarity months after the event when the statements written only days after the evidence were so vague?”.

As a seasoned investigator I suspected fabrication and collaboration of evidence.

After making a few unofficial enquiries I learned that officers present at the riot were told to implicate more suspects as someone was to be made responsible for the riot.

It was then that the Bravo Camp detainees were randomly pointed out by officers.

Most claim they had had previous run-ins with the witnesses and believed thats why they were singled out. ...

 

 

 

ABC [21/7/13]:

 

... Immigration Minister Tony Burke says those responsible will be subject to the criminal laws of Nauru and could face severe penalties.

He has hinted that he could cancel or refuse a visa for those involved in the riots on the grounds of character.

"And now I can't prejudge that test before individual applications come to me, if I do it simply creates a legal problem with the possible overturning of my decision," he said.

"But I don't think it would take much guessing for people to work out how incidences like what we've seen overnight in Nauru reflect on character."

...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refugee Council of Australia Media Release [24/8/15]:


On 8 August 2015, The Australian newspaper published an article which selectively misrepresented statistics analysed by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) under the misleading headline, “Asylum seekers: Australia pulling its weight on refugees[i]”

The author, Stefanie Balogh, did not contact the Refugee Council of Australia, and selectively misrepresented the statistics lifted from this paper: How generous is Australia’s response to refugees?

Seeking to clarify the record and rectify the blatant misrepresentation contained in the article, RCOA’s CEO drafted the following response ...

 

 

 


 

 

Finding better answers for Australia's refugees -  Hosted by Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA):

 

 

As billions of Australian taxpayer dollars are spent on keeping asylum seekers at bay, the Asia-Pacific region is struggling to deal with the needs of 3.9 million refugees.

Experts dealing with refugees and asylum seekers every day across the region will explain the need to shift the focus to finding durable solutions for refugees.

These seminars will feature senior NGO leaders from the Asia-Pacific Refugee Rights Network, a growing network of more than 240 civil society organisations and individuals from 26 countries, who work every day to improve the lives of refugees and asylum seekers.

FEATURING:

Dr Gopal Krishna Siwakoti Chair, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, International Institute for Human Rights, Environment and Development (Nepal).

Anoop Sukumaran Executive Director, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network.

Yunita SUAKA: Civil Society Network for Refugee Rights Protection (Indonesia)

Dr Sharuna Verghis Director, Health Equity Initiatives (Malaysia)

Imran Khan Laghari, Human Rights Alliance (Pakistan)

Lakshan Dias South Asian Network for Refugees, IDPs and Migrants (Sri Lanka)

7pm Thursday, 3rd September, Sydney: UTS, City Campus building 7, 638 Jones Street, Broadway, Level 2, Room 025 (CB.07.02.025)

RSVP by 1st September : admin@refugeecouncil.org.au

Entry: FREE

 

 

 

 

 

25 Rohingyas travelling to Akyab for medical reasons arrested by security forces [Burma Times - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

A Rohingya member of Myanmar's parliament barred from contesting Nov. 8 elections on the basis that his parents were not Myanmar citizens at the time of his birth said on Monday he would appeal the decision and hoped to stand in the vote. ... [Reuters - 24/8/15]

 

 



Rohingya refugees speak out [Green Left Weekly – 21/8/15]:


On August 19, the refugee rights group People Just Like Us hosted another in its series of meetings in Parramatta Library.

Speakers included Sayid Kasim, a Rohingya from Arkan and Salmore, a Rohingya from Myanmar who told their stories of fleeing for their lives.

Rohingya are stateless people, victims of racism and genocide. Dhugel, from Bhutan, told of his escape via India to Nepal.

Paul Power from the Refugee Council of Australia told the meeting that governments should listen to refugees when making policy.

“They are not a threat to our values”, he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

@hazaranet [25/8/15]:   After #Cisarua, #Hazara #AsylumSeekers open 2nd Makeshift School in #Manado #Indonesia camp ...

 

 

 

 

[British] Lawyers have launched a series of last-minute challenges to the proposed deportation of failed asylum seekers on a charter flight to Afghanistan.

In a string of judicial reviews, lawyers for people who have been sent tickets for the flight are seeking to have the decision by the Home Office to remove them overturned.

A ruling on Friday at the court of appeal upheld an order preventing the removal of some Afghan asylum seekers, but it emerged that a number were still due to board the flight, which is thought to be departing Stansted on Tuesday.

On Friday, Lord Justice Clarke rejected home secretary Theresa May’s application to overturn the order on the basis that a significant number of people due to board the flight could be affected by an ongoing case about the dangers of forcibly returning failed asylum seekers to Afghanistan.  ... [Guardian - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Germany has quietly stopped enforcing European Union rules under which Syrians fleeing the civil war face deportation, it has emerged, as thousands of migrants continued to pour through the Balkans towards Western Europe on Monday.

The move came as Chancellor Angela Merkel and her counterpart Francois Hollande called for an overhaul of the EU’s asylum system, following emergency talks on the migrant crisis in Berlin. ... [Telegraph - 24/8/15]

 



 

 

Judge rules US government must quickly release immigrant children in detention [Huffington Post - 22/8/15]


 

 

 

 

 

Landslide buries 8 in Papua region


RNZI [25/8/15]:


A landslide triggered by heavy rain has buried eight people in Papua.

The landslide happened in Apalapsili, in the regency of Yalimo on Sunday night.

Antara News reports the police as saying so far only three of the victims identities are known.

A rescue team had been sent to Apalapsili but they could not reach the location, as they were hampered by landslides and heavy rain.



 

The Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee is holding a Public Hearing into the Landholders' Right to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2015 in Tamworth today [25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 Watch Here.

 

 

 

 

Lock The Gate [24/8/15]:


A cattle contamination incident at a Northern Territory mine site is a timely reminder for all farmers that they could be liable if their animals or produce were contaminated by mining activities on their property, says Lock the Gate Alliance.

The group’s national spokesman, Phil Laird said media had reported that a large number of cattle had potentially been exposed to dangerous toxins when they wandered on to mine sites in the Northern Territory.

The Primary Industry department was concerned for cattle that grazed within a 100 square kilometre radius of three mine sites. Five animals were killed and had tissue samples tested for chemical contamination.

One of those animals tested positive for lead in levels above the safe limit for human consumption. Others have been tested for arsenic, mercury and cadmium.

Mr Laird last week released ‘Glovebox Guide for Livestock Producers at risk from Gasfield contamination’ for farmers concerned that they may be financially liable for any contamination from unconventional gas activities.

“The NT incident demonstrates that there can be unintended consequences for farm produce arising from mining activities.

“Farms that are required to give access to mining and unconventional gas operations such as CSG are subject to competing interests that may favor mining profits at the expense of clean green food production.

“The Glovebox Guide highlights risks and damages that could arise to farm business and the food chain when CSG activities are on or nearby to productive farmland.

“Failure to assess and address these risks puts the landholder in a dangerous position in regards to liability.

“It is a criminal offence to sell food that you know is unsafe. Our hope is that this Guide will help inform farmers of the risks and actions they need to take to safeguard their farm business from contamination due to gas mining.

“The recent mining contamination shows that such a guide is timely and we encourage those producers who are potentially impacted by mining or gas to take action before their businesses and markets are put at risk.

The Glovebox Guide can be downloaded here.

 

 

 

 

Hawaii's spike in birth defects puts focus on GM crops [Guardian - 23/8/15]

 

 

 

 

... Professor Ian Godwin, from the UQ School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, argues that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are perfectly compatible with organic agriculture, and can actually improve production and food safety. ... [UQ News - 25/8/15]

 

 

 

 

PNG Council of Churches won't participate in Christian fundamentalist "Burn the Witch" National Day of Repentance

 

 

 

PNG Loop [25/8/15]:

 

 

Papua New Guinea Council of Churches (PNGCC) will not participate in the programs and activities of the National Day of Repentance this Wednesday (26 August).

This was confirmed today by chairman of the PNG Council of Churches and the Anglican Bishop of Port Moresby Bishop Denny Bray Guka during a media conference.

This conflicts with the official program outlined by the Speaker for the national holiday service on Wednesday, which speaks of reading of a Covenant and the burning of objects used in idol worship and witchcraft.

Bishop Guka said since the introduction of the National Day of Repentance, PNG member churches had not been a part of it as there was no consultation with the churches about it.

He said as the PNG Council of Churches, they were not part of the initiative that derived from the covenant.

“We will not participate in the programs as we have never been part of that from the beginning and we have not been invited to discuss the covenant in the first place.

“We must not mislead the people as it is a very sensitive issue.

“We want people to understand it properly and Christians to pray that God will show us the right thing to do,” he said.

Bishop Guka encouraged Christians to pray for the country at their homes on the day.

“I am appealing to Christians that we can pray for the country but we will not participate in any programs that have been initiated by the Speaker of Parliament,” Bishop Guka said.

According to the Speaker of Parliament, a Solemn Assembly Program on Wednesday begins nationwide at 10am with a blowing of a trumpet.

Activities include the Declaration of Purpose, Consecration of the Assembly, public reading of the Covenant and public declaration.

It also includes the burning of objects used in idol worship and witchcraft as well as collecting the Aliyah Offering.

 

 



Guatemala President won't resign, denies scandal involvement


 

ABC News [24/8/15]:



President Otto Perez Molina says he won't resign from office despite investigators saying he may have been involved in a customs fraud scandal that has thrown the country into political crisis.

Perez denies receiving any money from the fraud ring and says his conscious is clear.

He also apologized late Sunday to Guatemalans for the corruption that has wracked his administration.

Ex-Vice President Roxana Baldetti was detained Friday as a suspect, and government leaders resigned over the weekend to protest the scandal.

Even business chambers normally supporting Perez Molina asked him to resign. Investigators are seeking to revoke the president's immunity from prosecution in the case.

The scandal involved kickbacks paid by businesspeople to avoid import duties and is believed to have defrauded the state of millions of dollars.

 

 

 

 

 

In Guatemala, protests threaten to unseat President, a US-backed General implicated in mass murder [Democracy Now - 24/8/15]:

 

 

… AMY GOODMAN: We go now to Guatemala to speak with journalist Allan Nairn.

Allan, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you tell us what’s taking place in Guatemala right now?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, there’s a popular uprising that may bring down the president, General Pérez Molina. It’s based on corruption, but Pérez Molina was also involved in mass murder during the 1980s, when he was the field commander in the Ixil zone for the Ríos Montt program of slaughter against the indigenous Mayan population.

Pérez Molina was also on the payroll of the CIA when he served as chief of intelligence for the G2. The program of massacre by Ríos Montt was backed by the United States, by the Reagan administration. They got arms from the U.S. They got arms from Israel with U.S. help. Reagan said that that government was getting a bum rap on human rights.

And this is as they were sweeping through the mountains decapitating, raping, slicing open pregnant women with their machetes, executing whole villages at point-blank range.

They were the ISIS of their day. And now, one of the field commanders for that slaughter is the president, and there’s a chance he could be brought down, but on other grounds.

Ríos Montt, who was the dictator at the time, was brought to trial by a Guatemalan court as a result of popular pressure and some brave prosecutors and judges. He was convicted of genocide. He was sentenced to 80 years. The oligarchy demanded that that sentence be set aside.

But tomorrow, Ríos Montt’s trial is due to resume. He’s trying to dodge accountability, claiming health problems. It’s a moment where the entire system of Guatemala is shaking. And in some senses, Guatemala is leading the world. They’ve achieved a level of civilization far higher than that of the U.S. It’s inconceivable that the U.S. could bring an American president to trial in an American court for mass murder of civilians. But Guatemala has done that. And now the people who are in the streets demonstrating are trying to take it farther by bringing down a sitting president.

...

 

 

 

 

Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair said on Monday he would speak on behalf of Sri Lanka to help "negate misconceptions being spread" the country.

Mr Blair, who is on a private visit to the island, along with his wife Cherie Blair and his two children, met with President Maithripala Sirisena today and praised his efforts at holding "peaceful" parliamentary elections and work done towards reconciliation. ... [Tamil Guardian - 24/8/15]

 

 

 

 

Tamil refugee: How Australia is complicit in Sri Lankan genocide [Green Left Weekly - 24/8/15]:



… In the past six years, the Australian government has been responsible for the murder of many Tamil refugees by the Sri Lankan army on their return. More than 2000 Tamils were sent back to Sri Lanka under the Julia Gillard government.

More than 40 Tamils who were recognised as refugees were given negative security assessments [and detained indefinitely].

Tamils were the first people subject to “enhanced screening” – given 15 minutes to tell their story and sent back if they could not convince the authorities. Australia did this despite evidence from human rights groups about what was happening in Sri Lanka under the Rajapaksa regime.

The Australian Federal Police are also providing support to the Sri Lankan military and Sri Lankan intelligence.

Australia has been defending the Sri Lankan government in international platforms such as the UN Human Rights Council. Australia is complicit in genocide.

 

 

 

 

 

25 August 2015

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