40 Novocastrians keep vigil outside office of Labor's @SharonClaydon
Oppose this cruel policy
Image: @BrianBrownUCA [25/2/16]
@Niko_leka1 [25/2/16]: #letthemstay/Newcastle next Thurs 5-6pm @SharonClaydon good turnout today great response too
Those STILL attempting to use refugees for partisan advantage stand out like dogs balls. PISS OFF.
The only way to end a bipartisan policy of cruelty is through NON partisan protest.
Why wasn't this letter also addressed to the "opposition" leader as well? ----> @WeFightForFair - Maurice Blackburn [23/2/16]: Proud to be fighting for asylum seekers' rights & at forefront of open letter to @TurnbullMalcolm to #LetThemStay.
Why does Refugee Action Collective Victoria's facebook post only call for placards protesting Turnbull when Shorten is also attending the event? Why not call for placards protesting Shorten too?:
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten will be speaking at the Greek festival in Lonsdale St.
Despite Immigration Minister Dutton's backdown that saw baby Asha released to community detention, the Turnbull government continues to insit that she and all 267 vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees will be forced back to Nauru. Turnbull has also rejected the State Premiers' offers of resettlement.
Come and tell Turnbull in person to Let Them Stay, and to Close Manus and Nauru.
The welcome that ordinary people in Greece have shown recently to refugees, with food and clothes and shelter contrasts sharply with the Coalition government's cruelty.
We will have flyers in English and Greek putting the case to Let Them Stay, and have approached people from Greek community organisations to help lead the protest.
Our speak out from 6pm will be outside the festival itself (Turnbull is said to be speaking at 7pm).
We will have a RAC stall from 5.30pm, to hand out flyers and distribute placards to Welcome Refugees, Let Them Stay, and φιλοξενία.
We encourage those attending the festival to take placards to Turnbull's speech.
The Coalition and Labor have joined forces to vote down a motion to grant amnesty to almost 270 asylum seekers currently in Australia.
The 267 people, including 37 babies, are facing the prospect of being sent to Nauru in the wake of yesterday's High Court judgement which upheld offshore immigration detention.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young today moved a motion in the Senate, asking for the Federal Government to allow the asylum seekers to remain onshore.
In full, the motion read: "the Senate calls on the Turnbull Government to grant amnesty to the 267 men, women and children in Australia as part of the M68 High Court challenge, and allow them to stay."
It was defeated 10-40, with independent senator John Madigan siding with the Greens.
What can we do?
Make it clear you won't vote LNP or ALP.
THAT gives you power.
Julian Burnside QC [23/2/16]:
... 22 February 2016. 1.12 am. Nauru. Women’s tent.
The guards blacked out the women’s tent by cutting the power.
Then fourteen male guards and one female guard entered the tent. Women screamed in terror.
Two women in the single women’s tent were strip searched. They were screaming . One had a phone in her bra. A total of five people in the women’s tent had phones taken. Communications with the camp have been cut.
A woman has been on a hunger strike for 18 days. When she heard the piercing screams, she suffered a heart attack. With no ECG machine available, it is impossible to reliably diagnose or treat cardiac emergencies. She spent some time in IHMS and was sent back to the camp.
A young woman was recently arrested for taking a piece of fruit from the dining room and at the time was seen dragged by her hair and beaten by Nauruan Police, leaving visible injuries. Terrified by the 1:12 am raid, she slashed her wrists and her body. She too was treated by IHMS and sent back to camp.
I know this is a true account of what happened.
Please share widely.”
“Most of the women have histories of serious trauma. They would have experienced extreme post-traumatic stress reactions to the massed invasion into the blacked-out room of sleeping women. Any person would have experienced great terror. I can’t imagine what went through the minds of those women who have already been assaulted, or witnessed assaults, by gangs of men in uniform.
The woman who had a heart attack is also severely depressed … so depressed is she, she believes they want to kill her so she won’t leave her room
She is now 32 kg and her BP is so low, she can barely lift her head from the pillow. I am baffled how or why she was sent back to the camp.”
Who's the enemy?
... Step by step by, move by move
And then you just dance to the groove ...
'Dum Da Dum' Melodie MC 
Australia to boost defense spending by $21 billion [Reuters - 25/2/16]:
... "We hope the Australian side can correctly and positively view China's development and strategic intent," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing later on Thursday.
Asked if China wanted to see an arms race in the region, Hua said: "The answer to that is definitely no". ...
China on Thursday confirmed it would send warships to join a major U.S.-hosted naval drill this summer, even as tension between the world's two largest economies mounts over the South China Sea.
The Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC, is billed as the world's largest international maritime exercise, held every two years in Hawaii in June and July. ... [Reuters - 25/2/16]
Indonesia to host 2016 edition of WPNS alongside multilateral exercise,
fleet review [Jane's Navy International – 17/6/15]:
Indonesia will host the biennial meeting of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) for 2016 in Padang, West Sumatra, and hold an international fleet review and a multilateral naval exercise known as 'Komodo 2016' alongside.
This arrangement was revealed by Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut, TNI-AL) chief of staff, Admiral Ade Supandi, during an initial planning conference in Jakarta which began on 15 June.
Conference material obtained by IHS Jane's indicate that the events are set to take place from 12-16 April 2016 and will be attended by at least 21 navies including the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Russian Navy (VMS), and the US Navy (USN).
Yoko Ono: “I had nothing to do with breaking up The Beatles” [COS - 25/2/16]:
… McCartney even credited Ono’s involvement with Lennon as being influential in writing songs like “Imagine”.
Though he admitted her presence in the studio made things difficult, he placed more of the onus for the band’s tension on Allen Klein, the businessman who became the group’s manager after Brian Epstein’s 1967 death.
“I was fighting against the other three guys who’d been my lifelong soul buddies,” sad McCartney.
“I said I wanted to fight Klein.” …
Black Lives Matter activist interrupts Hillary Clinton: "I am NOT a superpredator." [VIDEO - 24/2/16]
@USSC - US Studies Centre [[24/2/16: @SlaughterAM, a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton will be speaking at @Sydney_Uni next week.
Israeli forces detain 33 Palestinians in overnight raids [Maan - 25/2/16]
Israeli soldier shot dead accidentally as soldiers fire on alleged Palestinian attacker [Maan - 24/2/16]:
... The Israeli, who was shot in his chest, was rushed to the emergency room but later pronounced dead, a hospital spokesperson said.
The Palestinian, meanwhile, was also undergoing operation in the emergency room.
Unverified reports circulating on social media identified him as Mamdou Yousef Mahmoud Amro, a 26-year-old teacher from Hebron.
An Israeli army spokesperson identified the soldier as Eliav Gelman, 30.
Israeli news site Haaretz initially reported that the gunshots may have been fired by an armed Israeli settler, although this was not immediately confirmed.
More than 170 Palestinians have now been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since October.
Israel says the majority were shot dead while attempting to carry out attacks, although international rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in several cases.
Israel rights groups: Dozens of Palestinians detained, tortured [25/2/16]:
... The report by the B'Tselem and HaMoked rights groups presented accounts by 116 Palestinian detainees on conditions at the Shikma interrogation facility, run by the Israeli Shin Bet internal security agency.
It said detainees have been incarcerated in small, rank cells, often in isolation.
Palestinian detainees told the Israeli rights groups that they were at times exposed to extreme heat or cold, bound to a chair and denied access to a shower for days or weeks.
The detainees said they were shouted at and spat on, deprived of sleep and provided little, substandard food, the report found.
In their report, the groups said at least 14 of the Palestinian detainees endured torture during interrogations by Palestinian Authority security services before being arrested by Israeli security forces.
Daniel Shenhar, a HaMoked lawyer, said the report shows interrogators have violated the Supreme Court ruling with the use of intentional sleep deprivation and prolonged stress positions.
Imprisoned Palestinian hunger-striker Muhammad al-Qiq could die at at any moment, one of his lawyers said Wednesday, warning that he could no longer breath easily and was suffering severe pain. ... [Maan - 24/2/16]
Ta-Nehisi Coates sings of Zionism [Electronic Intifada - 23/2/16]
At least three people were killed and nine wounded when al-Shabab fired mortars at the presidential palace in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, health officials said.
The wounded, including three children, were brought to the Dar-ul Shifa hospital from the Ago dhiig area of the Warta Nabada district, hospital director Mohamed Abas told Al Jazeera.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the midday attack and confirmed it was aiming at the palace. ... [Al Jazeera - 25/2/16]
Darfur: UN deeply concerned over thousands of newly-displaced people in region’s north [Media Release - 24/2/16]
NDS arrest 2 suspects over deadly bakery attack in Paktika province [Khaama - 25/2/16]:
At least six people were killed and eleven others were injured after the explosive device was detonated inside the bakery shop.
The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the group’s involvement in the attack which left the only the civilians dead. ...
Eight Taliban insurgents killed in blast in Ghazni mosque [TOLO News - 25/2/16]
UN calls on all parties to respect protected status of medical facilities and personnel [Media Release - 23/2/16]:
... The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) noted that on 22 February, in the Sia Gird District of Parwan Province, a suicide attacker targeting Afghan security forces detonated an improvised explosive device in proximity to the entrance of the district health clinic, killing seven civilians and injuring seven others, including three boys.
On 18 February, the Afghan Ministry of Interior Special Forces and the international military conducted a joint operation in the Tangi Sayedan area of Daimirdad District of Wardak Province and entered a Government health clinic funded by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan.
After the manager of the facility was tied up and other medical personnel forced with him into a room, two patients and a 15-year-old boy on visit were taken to a nearby shop and summarily executed. ...
... With cooperation from the International Organisation for Migrants (IOM), the Afghan government will extend the returnees moderate reintegration support. ... Deported by Germany, 125 Afghan migrants land in Kabul [Pajhwok - 24/2/16]
Italy has agreed that US forces can use an airbase in Sicily to launch drone strikes against Islamic State targets in Libya on a case-by-case basis, defence minister Roberta Pinotti said in an interview published Tuesday. ... [Middle East Online - 23/2/16]
Italy asks US to explain report that NSA spied on Berlusconi [CNN - 23/2/16]
UN report documents litany of violations and abuses amid chaos in Libya [Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Media Release - 25/2/16]
Lawmakers from Libya's internationally recognized parliament said Wednesday they support a UN-backed unity government but were "forcibly prevented" from putting it to a vote of confidence. ... [Ahram - 24/2/16]
Who is the American citizen leading one side of the civil war in Libya, and why did he spend 20 years in suburban Virginia, reportedly under the auspices of the CIA? ... [Antiwar - 23/2/16]
Egypt's Sisi mocked after offering to 'sell himself' [Al Jazeera - 25/2/16]
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with senior Egyptian military leaders in Cairo today.
Dunford visited Cairo to demonstrate U.S. commitment to strengthening the security partnership between Egypt and the United States, according to a Defense Department statement summarizing the meeting. ... [US Department of Defense - 20/2/16]
Saudis lobby members of the European parliament before arms embargo vote over Yemen [Guardian - 25/2/16]
At least 13 people have been killed in airstrikes carried out by Saudi jets in Yemen’s northern Jawf Province.
The Yemeni al-Masirah television said on Wednesday that the airstrikes, which targeted trucks carrying foodstuff eight times, took place in Jawf’s town of al-Matammah.
Different areas in Jawf were also attacked by Saudi airstrikes.
The news source also reported an airstrike against the town of Sirwah in the eastern Ma’rib Province.
Two residential areas and a medical center also came under attack in Sirwah.
Meanwhile, Saba Net news agency, citing a Yemeni military source, said army forces backed by Popular Committees had managed to seize a warship belonging to mercenaries fighting for Saudi Arabia.
The warship was reportedly seeking to enter the al-Fazeh port area off the coast of Khokha, near Hudaydah.
The region of Abas in northwestern Hajjah province also came under Saudi attack. ... [Press TV - 24/2/16]
Saudi jets are due to arrive at a Turkish base this week take part in the air campaign against Islamic State jihadists in Syria, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday. ... [Naharnet - 25/2/16]
The Turkish air force has struck a base of the banned Kurdish party PKK inside Iraq, a news agency reports.
The air strikes over the Qandil mountains, just across the border, lasted two hours, the official Anadolu agency reported on Wednesday night. ... [Yahoo - 25/2/16]
‘Everyone is losing’ in the Syrian conflict, UN relief chief tells Security Council [Media Release - 24/2/16]:
... “I cannot emphasize enough how high the stakes are at this moment in the conflict,” Mr. O’Brien said.
“The Syrian people – who are rightly sceptical of the international community’s desire and ability to bring about an end to this hideous war after years of inaction – need to see an immediate difference in their daily lives on the ground because, up till this point, it is they who continue to bear the brunt of this crisis as violence has become more widespread, systematic and extreme.” ...
Bombs continue raining down upon Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [24/2/16]:
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.
Strikes in Syria
Attack, fighter and ground attack aircraft conducted 14 strikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL buildings, an ISIL mortar system and an ISIL fighting position and suppressed a separate ISIL mortar system.
-- Near Hawl, seven strikes destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL building, two ISIL heavy machine guns and two ISIL vehicles, suppressed an ISIL mortar system and an ISIL heavy machine gun and cratered two ISIL-used roads.
-- Near Ayn Isa, a strike suppressed an ISIL vehicle bomb and an ISIL anti-air artillery piece.
-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, two strikes struck an ISIL gas and oil separation plant and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Manbij, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
Strikes in Iraq
Fighter aircraft conducted four strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
-- Near Ramadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Sinjar, a strike destroyed two ISIL weapons caches and five ISIL assembly areas.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions.
Moscow has started taking concrete steps towards ceasefire in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, shelling of the Syrian territory is continuing from Turkey despite the peace deal.
The intensity of Russian airstrikes in Syria has “significantly” decreased over the past two days, Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov told a media briefing on Wednesday.
However the airstrike against terrorist groups like Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front are continuing. ... [RT - 24/2/16]
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [24/2/16]:
Baghdad : News agencies: A roadside bomb exploded near shops in Mashtal area east of Baghdad today evening killing a person and wounding 7..................................
Baghdad: A roadside bomb exploded in Wihda project area south of Baghdad today morning killing two persons and wounding 7.....
Baghdad: A roadside bomb exploded in Amil neighbourhood southwest of Baghdad today morning killing a person and wounding 8....
Thi-Qar: Sanitation workers demonstrated in Thi-Qar today morning in front of the governorate in the middle of Nasiriya city demanding to pay their salaries which they have not earned since two months......
Two civilians were killed and 14 others got injured on Tuesday due to terrorist mortar attack on al-Joura and al-Qusour neighborhoods in Deir Ezzor city.
Meanwhile in Aleppo city, five children were killed on Tuesday when terrorists fired rocket shells at a residential neighborhood.
Later, 5 other civilians were killed, among them two children in a terrorist attack with mortars on al-Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood in Aleppo. [SANA - 24/2/15]
@SavvasKarma [24/2/16]: #Refugees in Athens stay outside in the rain, because they have no place to go. Plain and simple.
@PROACTIVA_SERV [24/2/16]: Un padre e hijo afganos ante una frontera cerrada. Ellos lo han perdido todo, y los que miramos, la humanidad.
UNHCR concerned by build up along borders and additional hardships for refugees and asylum seekers [Media Release - 23/2/16]
How many refugee boats did the Australian "Fuck your mothers ... fuck your family ..." Navy push away and/or abandon in the last 24 hours? --> @ItalianNavy [24/2/16]: ##UltimOra #SAR Nave Fulgosi #MarinaMilitare ha terminato ad #Augusta lo sbarco di 550 migranti e 5 salme
@guardiacostiera [24/2/16]: Soccorsi nell'#Egeo: a #Kos e #Samos motovedette #GuardiaCostiera italiana salvano 123 #migranti in 7 operazioni
@moas_eu [24/2/16]: 254 people on board #Responder being transferred to #Rodos w/ support from @UNHCRGreece volunteers @CarlottaSami
@MSF_Sea [24/2/16]: Over the past few days we've been seeing smaller & smaller boats in #Lesvos. People are fleeing in anyway they can.
@MSF_Sea [24/2/16]: Ibrahim's brother's back is covered in scars. Wounds from the shrapnel that ripped through their house in #Syria.
27 FEBRUARY 2016: EUROPE UNITES FOR REFUGEES:
On the 27th of February, European citizens will come together in cities accross the continent to stand up for human rights, for refugees rights.
We are demanding that European authorities and governments take action now to open safe passage routes for all those who seek protection.
#safepassage means legal and safe routes: no more deaths at our borders
#safepassage means protection for refugees on their travel through Europe
#safepasssage means adequate standards of reception and asylum in all European countries, no longer diminishing the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, allowing refugees to keep their belongings, allowing them to be reunited with their families and providing stability as far as their right of residence is concerned.
On the 27th of February, thousands of people will raise their voices to demand a viable humanitarian -solution to this situation, as long as a peaceful solution for these wars and conflicts is not in sight.
Specifically, the Safe Passage movement demands: the opening of legal and secure routes to safety; diplomatic access to asylum in third countries and humanitarian visas; full compliance with human rights and refugee rights treaties, adequate protection for refugees on their travels throughout Europe, and adequate standards of reception and asylum in all European countries.
Panama has begun flying more than 1,000 U.S.-bound Cubans to northern Mexico.
The Cubans were trapped after Central American countries closed their borders to them.
They are trying to reach the United States amid fears thawing relations between the U.S. and Cuba could end U.S. asylum rights for Cubans.
Costa Rica has launched similar flights for some 8,000 Cubans trapped there.
Next month President Obama plans to become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. [Democracy Now - 24/2/16]
Flawed US response to Central American refugees reiterated by DHS officials [American Immigration Council - 24/2/16]:
Top officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continue to believe that deporting families and children quickly deters others who are considering coming to the United States.
This view was reiterated during a Senate Judiciary hearing about unaccompanied children this week, in statements made by DHS officials Ronald Vitiello, Deputy Chief of the Border Patrol at Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Thomas Homan, Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In response to questioning by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), both Deputy Chief Vitiello and Mr. Homan stated that they believe fewer Central American families and unaccompanied children would come to the United States if DHS is deporting people quickly.
Yet, using detention and deportation to deter future immigration both raised legal concerns and is ineffective. Last year, a federal judge ruled that DHS could not detain asylum-seeking mothers and children in order to deter other Central Americans fleeing violence from coming to the United States. Further, a recent report analyzing the U.S.’ deterrence policies found that knowing about migration risks—including an increase in deportations—did not have any significant effect on whether or not a Central American intended to migrate to the United States.
The report, Understanding the Central American Refugee Crisis: Why they are Fleeing and How U.S. Policies are Failing to Deter Them, also details how the U.S.’ deterrence policy is based on a fundamentally flawed assumption—that greater migration dangers and knowledge of them would effectively deter Central Americans from coming to the United States. The report analyzes surveys of Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans conducted in the spring and summer of 2014, revealing that crime and violence have the most powerful impact on someone’s decision to migrate.
During the hearing, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) emphasized this fact, stating that
“the Administration’s ‘deterrence’ approach is wrong, it is not working—and it will not work. These children are fleeing for their lives. They will not be deterred. As Pope Francis said last week, this is a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and he urged us to open our eyes and our hearts to those suffering violence and show them mercy.” ...
Remarks given by President of the Durham Association of Educators, Bryan Proffitt, during a press conference calling for the release of Wildin Acosta, a young immigrant facing deportation.
... we are speaking out against the kidnapping and detention of our students because it prevents us from doing our jobs. We cannot teach kids who are sitting in jail cells. We cannot teach kids who are traumatized by the disappearance of their friends on the way to school.
And we cannot teach kids who live in constant fear that their families will be split up and put in harm’s way.
ICE’s detention of Wildin’s has sent a chill through our classrooms. ... [#NOT1MORE - 24/2/16]
Australia's anti refugee policy is creating a regional human rights catastrophe.
How much longer do the exceptionalist political, media and human rights establishment think they can obscure the miserable extent of what is being done in our name?
... We have some asylum seekers, but that’s pretty much stopped.
We have stopped the boats with our policies, which are regarded as cruel by many people.
But I have to say again, our policy on border protection is harsh, but it has been absolutely demonstrated that it is better than any other alternative. ...
Israel and Australia: A conversation with Turnbull [Jewish Journal - 25/8/15]
LNP and ALP vote against Greens move to keep Australian born babies safe [Media Releaese - 25/2/16]:
A move by the Australian Greens that would have allowed babies who were born in Australia to stay here, rather than be sent to Nauru, has been denied in the Senate.
"These babies should be cared for, not sent to a life of abuse on Nauru," Senator Hanson-Young said.
"The Labor and Liberal parties ganged up to stop this move because of their obsession with offshore detention and the cruelty that comes with it.
"The government has misread the public sentiment on this. The majority of Australians understand that children shouldn't be sent to face state-sanctioned child abuse on Nauru.
"Over recent months community members, doctors, teachers, families, academics, mums and dads have all taken a stand and said they won't put up with the government's cruelty any more.
"The Greens were joined by a number of the crossbench Senators in moving this bill, but it was disappointing to see the old parties continuing to vote for detention and cruelty."
UNHCR Report refutes Australian political, media and human rights establishment claims we "stopped the boats" Mixed Maritime Movements in South-East Asia 2015 [UNHCR Regional Office for South-East Asia]:
... An estimated 30,700 people from Bangladesh and Myanmar departed from this area in 2015, with an additional 2,000 believed to have embarked near Sittwe in Myanmar. Since 2012, nearly 170,000 refugees and migrants—equal to about 5% of the combined populations of the bordering districts of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Maungdaw in Myanmar—are believed to have travelled by sea from Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The ensuing crackdown on human smuggling and trafficking networks in Thailand prevented smugglers from disembarking thousands of refugees and migrants still at sea. Rather than risk capture by authorities, the smugglers cut their losses. On or around 9 May 2015, they consolidated passengers into fewer boats, packing upwards of 1,000 people on 30-metre long trawlers, and absconded in the empty boats they had salvaged.
Over 5,000 people were left stranded at sea on at least eight boats—there were unconfirmed reports of more—most of which were drifting in the waters just off the resort islands of Koh Lipe, Thailand, and Langkawi, Malaysia. The abandoned passengers managed to navigate the vessels towards the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, but authorities in each country initially refused to allow the vessels to land. Instead, they sent naval personnel to provide food and water, repair engines, and escort the vessels back into international waters.
In Malaysia, 2,498 Rohingya were in detention as of 31 December 2015, 53% more than the 1,634 detained at the end of 2014. This includes all 375 Rohingya who disembarked in Langkawi in May 2015, and whom the Malaysian Government intended to resettle within one year of their arrival, though without consulting UNHCR or potential resettlement countries.
Based on media reports, 263 people, 97% of whom were from South or South-East Asia, attempted to reach Australia—or, in one case, New Zealand—by boat in 2015. Each of the nine vessels that made the attempt was either intercepted by Australian authorities, apprehended by Indonesian authorities, or both. The vessels departed from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam, and carried passengers from Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam.
As of 31 December 2015, 2,261 people who had travelled in mixed maritime movements were in detention facilities in Australia or the offshore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
... Christmas Island shire president Gordon Thomson said locals spotted the fishing boat early on Friday morning about 100 to 200 metres from Smith Point, the entry to the island's harbour.
By the time he arrived to join onlookers at Smith Point before 7am, the boat was being towed by an Australian navy patrol boat and was about 3 to 5km out to sea.
"I saw the navy patrol boat towing the Indonesian fishing boat out to sea away from Christmas Island," he told AAP.
"It's a wicked thing to do."
... When Kasim finished primary school a few years ago, no classes beyond year five were available to refugees. So he thought of other ways to get an education.
First, he pretended to be Bangladeshi, enrolling in a local high school for three years with some other refugee children.
He was preparing to enter year nine when administrators at the school discovered that Kasim was a refugee. He was expelled.
Kasim’s mother told him to put aside his dream of being a doctor.
“We can’t accomplish that,” Kasim remembers her saying. “I’m so sorry.” ... [Separated by the sea - UNHCR - 23/2/16]
ALP and LNP vote against Greens Senate motion for Australia to provide SAR assistance and to help resettle some of the refugees [Senate Hansard - 24/6/15]:
Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (15:39): I move:
That the Senate—
(a) expresses concern at the disturbing reports aired on the Four Corners television program on 22 June 2015;
(i) that only 412 Rohingyans have been resettled in Australia through Australia's humanitarian program since 2008, and
(ii) the Government's recent refusal to provide assistance or resettlement for Rohingyans currently in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and stranded at sea off these three countries; and
(c) urges the Government to:
(i) contribute to the search and rescue mission for thousands of migrants, including Rohingyans, currently stranded at sea,
(ii) resettle some of the Rohingyan migrants rescued by Indonesia and Malaysia, and
(iii) resettle an increased number of Rohingyans in the 2015 humanitarian program, increasing the number of the program if necessary.
The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion be agreed to.
The Senate divided [15:39]
(The President—Senator Parry)
Ayes ...................... 13
Noes ...................... 33
Majority ................. 20
Di Natale, R
Siewert, R (teller)
McEwen, A (teller)
Important lecture about seeking asylum - and how Australia is trashing the UN Refugee Convention ----> Professor Alison Mountz, of Harvard University, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Balsillie School of International Affairs, responds to and challenges the crisis narratives unfolding in the media as she discusses political struggles over the erosion of asylum taking place globally. This talk explores shifting geographies of migration and border enforcement in major transit sites where migrants and asylum seekers seek entry and protection. The talk dwells in islands and enforcement archipelagos, offshore sites where struggles over entry and exclusion transpire and where the infrastructure of border enforcement and detention are growing. ... [VIDEO - Centre for International Governance Innovation - 12/11/15]
Mountz: image showing #Australia's onshore and offshore #detention sites ...
Image: @AudraLMitchell [12/11/15]
Refugees and people smuggling: What the Australian media refuse to challenge, Marilyn Shepherd [Independent Australia - 26/10/14]:
... In November 2000, the UN drafted and approved a Smuggling of Migrants protocol, which excluded the movement of refugees from the criminal elements of crossing borders without papers and stating clearly that people must not be punished simply for being smuggled.
[See the legal opinion by Professor Ben Saul, an international law expert, here.]
There have been two Senate inquiries into the stories of people smugglers, after children as young as 13 were found to be gaoled in adult prisons in Western Australia.
Not one expert agreed with the Government position that seeking asylum had anything to do with people smuggling, because it is legal to cross borders without papers for the purposes of seeking asylum, even under Australian law.
Even after those two investigations, children being gaoled in adult prisons, other children being kidnapped by Australia and their families in Indonesia forced to think they had died at sea, we continue to have a media that refuses to ever concede it is not people smuggling to seek asylum in any other country but here. ...
A lack of opposition emboldens the human rights abusers ----> Department of Immigration wants stun guns for staff [Sydney Morning Herald - 25/2/16]
A former Victorian Supreme Court Judge says new powers proposed for guards in immigration detention centres would in effect authorise them “to beat asylum seekers to death”.
In extraordinary evidence to a Senate hearing on Thursday, Stephen Charles SC said the migration amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015 would substantially expand the powers granted to guards in detention centres in a way that would “inevitably encourage violence by guards against asylum seekers”.
The new powers would allow immigration officers – which may include private contractors – to use “reasonable force against any person” if the officer believes it is necessary to protect the life, health or safety of people in detention or to maintain the good order, peace or security of a detention centre.
Such powers potentially give staff with a low level of training a greater level of immunity than that granted to state and federal police forces.
Charles, who sat on the Victorian court of appeal until 2006, said the standard proposed in the bill would introduce a similar test to those that have been considered in the US, and drew parallels with the recent shooting of Walter Scott by the police officer Michael Slager.
“Time and again police in the United States have been acquitted in circumstances such as these,” Charles said.
“These amendments to the Migration Act will in effect authorise guards to beat asylum seekers to death on the basis they reasonably believe it is necessary … to do so.”
He said the fact there would be “no effective way to take proceedings against the commonwealth” would further encourage guards to use excessive force in detention centres, and described the training requirements proposed in the explanatory memorandum of the bill as a “joke in extremely bad taste”.
The bill will give the commonwealth, private companies and guards immunity from civil and criminal liability unless it could be demonstrated that the use of force was not in good faith.
The Northern Province came to a standstill on Wednesday as a mass hartal was administered in support of protests against the rape and murder of a school girl in Vavuniya last week.
Businesses, schools, public institutions and transport came to a halt in support for calls of justice and an end to the ongoing issue of rape and murder in the North-East.
Gangatharan Harishnavi was found dead inside her house whilst her mother, a teacher, was away at work. The fourteen year old girl was found hanging inside the house on January 16.
The school girl previously stopped the murder of her father by pleading with unknown men who came to kill him, reports Ceylon Today.
The father consequentially left Sri Lanka due to fear of persecution, leaving the mother and daughter to head the household.
The hartal comes a day after hundreds of members of Tamil civil society in Vavuniya and Killinochchi protested against the rape and murder.
The Tamil National Alliance, said that there were at least 12,000 vulnerable war affected children who have lost their parents during and after the war. [Tamil Guardian – 24/2/16]
Tamils protest against abduction and rape in Vavuniya and Kilinochchi [Tamil Guardian - 23/2/16]
... “Despite the euphoria around the November elections, the situation on the ground in Myanmar is still a very troubling one,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia director.
“Repression of freedom of expression continued to pick up pace in 2015 – almost 100 prisoners of conscience remain behind bars.”
Despite President Thein Sein's pledge to end the detention of political prisoners by the end of 2013, last year saw the arrest and trial of a number of peaceful activists and protesters.
Among them are the dozens of student demonstrators who have been held in Bago Region's Thayawady Prison for nearly a year, arrested during the violent crackdown on a protest against the National Education Law on March 10.
The report noted with concern the passage of the four so-called “race and religion” laws between May and August last year, sponsored by the Buddhist nationalist Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, commonly known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha.
The bills, which place new criminal restrictions on adultery, religious conversion, inter-faith marriages and conception, are widely considered by domestic observers and international rights organisations to be directed against Myanmar’s Muslim minority. ... [Frontier Myanmar - 24/2/16]
... Ms Siti said: "Every effort, no matter how small, is important... You can be a fisherman or a student, but when you help, even if it's just one person, the help will go a long way." A helping hand for Rohingya in Aceh [The Straits Times - 23/2/16]
Concern for human rights activists in West Papua [Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) [24/2/16]:
AWPA has written to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop concerning the intimidation of West Papuan representatives from the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and other activists who attended the opening of an office in the town of Wamena in the Papuan highlands on the 15 February.
The Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, Luhut Pandjaitan has also told the ULMWP to leave the country as it could pose a threat to the country’s territorial integrity.
The Jayawijaya Resort Police have questioned a number of activists who attended the opening.
The security forces are trying to tarnish the ULMWP representatives as separatists, which raise grave concerns for their security as human rights defenders, and peaceful activists are regularly arrested because of accusations that they are so-called separatists.
A Catholic priest Father John Djonga faces possible treason charges simply because he led a prayer service on the 15th to inaugurate the office building of the Papuan Customary Council, where a banner of the ULMWP was unveiled.
Joe Collins of AWPA said, “we are urging the Foreign Minister to raise concerns about the threats by the security forces to representatives of the ULMWP with the Indonesian Government. We also urge the Foreign Minister to encourage the Indonesian Government to respond favorably to the request by the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) leaders to allow a PIF fact-finding mission to investigate the human rights situation in the territory.
Who wants to be treated by a doctor with no empathy? [Counterpunch - 24/2/16]:
... For Stankevicius, writing in The Age, “Though the public’s intentions [in protesting for Asha] have been noble, the precedent that has been set is a concern.” The reason being that people, including parents, take risks, often co-opting their children in the process. “While Asha’s injury was accidental, this decision may motivate others to exploit illness or injury to replicate the outcome.”
Having taken a tactical dump on the case of exploitation, Stankevicius suggested that children were the most notable conduits for heart stirring exploitation. Take, he considers, those child-beggars operating in impoverished surrounds. “Though one’s dollars may prevent the hungry child in front of you from being beaten that day, the success of that enterprise ensures the industry will continue on.” ...
On 28 December 2015, The Age said "It's time to set the refugees free". So why aren't they following up on their powerful editorial by directly challenging the "deterrence" lies?
Baby Asha and the shadow of 'children overboard' [ABC - 24/2/16]:
... In the aftermath of the children overboard incident, we learned that the Howard government had deliberately sought to prevent any kind of empathic identification with refugees.
Jenny McKenry, the former head of publicity at the Defence Department, explained:
We were told that there was to be nothing in the public forum which would humanise these people. We were quite stunned. It's not hard to understand the logic. If you want the public to see refugees as enemies, you can't let them think about them as people.
From the Government's perspective, that's one of the great advantages of off-shore detention: the inaccessibility of the camps means that refugees remain an abstraction.
Since last week, Baby Asha has become, for many Australians, something far more palpable: an injured human child with whom they can identify.
As a result, the ugly reality of asylum seeker policy as a whole has been brought into focus.
Dutton's temporary retreat about Asha's deportation shows that change is possible.
A brief opportunity for change now exists. It's up to us to seize it.
Aren't Australians who deride empathy selfish enough to imagine they could ever become a refugee? The Indonesian Military (TNI) plans to set up new military bases in eastern Indonesia, with Biak and Merauke in Papua and Morotai in Maluku among the options for its the location.
TNI commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo pointed out that currently Indonesian forces, especially the Indonesian Air Force, were concentrated in Java.
He added that the Air Force base in Yogyakarta was designated for pilot training, while the Malang Air Force Base in East Java was being used as a Hercules squadron base.
Another Air Force base in Madiun, East Java, was used as a base for fighter jets. ... [Jakarta Post - 24/2/16]
LGBT supporters in Yogyakarta prohibited from staging rally [Jakarta Post - 25/2/16]
Dozens of "ghost protesters" appeared in the South Korean capital Wednesday in a demonstration against curbs on public meetings, despite police threats of a crackdown on the virtual rally consisting of holograms of people.
The virtual march -- the second in the world after a similar event in Spain last April -- was protesting against what organisers described as the erosion of freedom of assembly and of expression. ... [Channel News Asia - 24/2/16]
Fiji: As Rakiraki cleans up, chiefs, mothers call for help [RNZI - 25/2/16]
Petroperú admits at least 3,000 barrels of oil spilled in Amazon [Democracy Now - 24/2/16]
“It is disappointing that the Government and the ALP have moved to validate offshore petroleum titles in marine parks that were deemed invalid”, said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.
“Due to an ‘administrative oversight’ between 2008 and 2015 leases were not subject to environmental approval process (as they should be) so were deemed invalid. The Bill was rushed through the Parliament to fix the error and has passed into legislation today. ... [Greens Media Release - 24/2/16]
Amnesty International said it was alarming that New Zealand continued to detain asylum seekers in remand prisons.
The organisation has just released its annual report on the state of the world's human rights and says New Zealand still has plenty of room for improvement including in its treatment of those seeking asylum.
Amnesty's executive director in New Zealand Grant Bayldon said about 10 asylum seekers were being held at Mt Eden and Waikeria remand prisons, with one being detained since March 2015.
He said they had not been detained because they had done anything criminal, and the length of stay in the remand prisons varied.
Mr Bayldon said there had been cases where asylum seekers had been assaulted by other prisoners. ... [RNZI - 25/2/16]
25 February 2016