Fatal traffic crash, Tieri
QPS Media [25/5/15]:
A woman has died in a traffic crash near Tieri this afternoon.
At around 2pm a vehicle was travelling along Crinum Road, around 20km west of Tieri, when it rolled a number of times.
A 44-year-old woman died at the scene.
An 18-year-old woman was taken to Emerald Hospital with minor injuries.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Armed robbery charges, Banyo
QPS Media [25/5/15]:
Police have charged two men with armed robbery after an incident last night in Banyo.
It will be alleged that at around 8:30pm Sunday May 24, two men entered a Blinzinger Road house and threatened a group of friends with a handgun.
The men demanded phones and wallets from the friends and then took the keys to a vehicle, which they subsequently left in.
At 9:40pm police located the vehicle and two men at Hodgson Street Zillmere.
A loaded handgun, allegedly used in the robbery, was located at the time of arrest.
A 20-year-old Kingston man and 29-year-old Kippa Ring man are to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday May 25.
They have both been charged with five counts of armed robbery and one count each of burglary, common assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, dangerous conduct with a weapon, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, possess explosives (ammunition), possess dangerous drug and possess utensils
The 29-year-old man has also been charged with unlicensed driving.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Robbery with violence, Kingston
QPS Media [25/5/15]:
Police have released CCTV still images of two men that may be able to assist with enquires into a robbery with violence in Kingston early this morning.
Around 2.45am a 33-year-old male taxi driver stopped at a service station on Kingston Road when he was approached by two men, one armed with a metal bar, the other with a machete.
The men threatened then physically assaulted the driver.
They then stole a number of items from the taxi and fled on foot towards Wanda Street, Kingston.
The driver was transported to Logan Hospital for treatment of minor injuries to his face.
Police investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Attempted robbery, East Brisbane
QPS Media [24/5/15]:
At about 8:40pm Sunday night a man has tried to rob a service station in East Brisbane.
Initial inquiries revel the man has entered the Vulture Street store wearing a balaclava and carrying a knife.
He demanded money but fled when the attendant activated the alarm. He was last seen walking west along Vulture Street toward Main Street.
The man is described as Caucasian, 170cm and medium build.
Australian Senators take their white man's burden to Mornington Island
North West Star [25/5/15]:
Mornington Island has been promised the “10 Saddles Initiative” which, if fulfilled, could train Indigenous locals to feed their own community.
Two Queensland senators acknowledged the need for more cattle and agricultural independence on the Wellesley Islands after visiting with the Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash last Wednesday.
Employment would mean less reliance on welfare and hopefully decrease alcohol abuse and crime on Mornington Island.
Senator Barry O’Sullivan said he promised the Mornington Island community 10 horses, saddles, bridles and swags, which would be used to train young people to work in the cattle industry.
It would nurture a cattle industry on the island but would also mean experienced people from the community could work on stations in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
It meant the community would not lose too many of its employed young people, who move to central hubs such as Mount Isa.
Youth who are charged with criminal activities could be suspended from the training for a set period as motivation to do the right thing.
“We are well aware of the challenges that go with this, ferrying cattle on and off the island is a challenge in itself,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
Senator Matthew Canavan said his view after visiting Mornington Island for the first time was that it needed to restore its culture and independence, like many other Aboriginal communities.
“Across the country you see the results of an entitlement culture, welfare culture, and I think Mornington Island is an absolute reflection of the many examples across the country where money is given without responsibility, where resources are given without obligation,” Senator Canavan said.
“The things that get you up every morning and work hard every day start to disappear.
“Unfortunately when you give people fish rather than teaching them to fish you know what’s going to happen.”
Mornington Island had the potential to employ and feed its local people by growing vegetables and breeding cattle, yet it imported its food from the mainland.
“It certainly can work, whether it’s commercial or not is another question,’’ Senator Canavan said. “I can’t for the life of me fathom subsidising small crops, lettuce, melons ... when there are hundreds of able-bodied men that could grow some of that food on the island.”
Mornington Island Mayor Brad Wilson said the council would work with the federal government to make sure any funding deadlines and objects were met so the region could benefit.
“The visit yesterday (Wednesday) sparks the need now for the senators to come through with funding support, coupled with a clear timeline for achieving discussed initiatives,” Cr Wilson said.
Australian thalidomide managers knew drug was killing babies for five months
Canberra Times [24/5/15]:
Australian managers of the firm that sold thalidomide to pregnant women in the 1950s and '60s actively covered up concerns it was causing birth defects, according to an explosive statement provided by a company insider.
The affidavit by Hubert Woodhouse has never before been made public and reveals how the Sydney managers of British firm Distillers spent months sitting on damning evidence about thalidomide's harmful effects while the drug was still being sold, leading to thousands of avoidable deaths and injuries in Australia and overseas.
Mr Woodhouse also reveals that these managers, led by Distillers' Sydney boss Bill Poole, often held informal meetings in which they would drink whiskey and talk about how the then secret concerns about thalidomide threatened to damage their firm's sales and profits.
The statement is the most damning evidence to be uncovered about the role of Australian pharmaceutical firm managers in the thalidomide scandal. It also demolishes the claim of Distillers that as soon as it was told about the drug's harmful effects, it withdrew it from the market in late 1961.
An estimated 10,000 babies worldwide – including hundreds in Australia – were born in the late 1950s and 1960s with severe physical deformities because their mothers had taken thalidomide drugs, which were marketed as a safe sedative and remedy for morning sickness.
Mr Woodhouse's statement was gathered by Melbourne lawyer Michael Magazanik, whose book about the scandal, Silent Shock, is released on Monday.
Mr Magazanik represented Melbourne woman Lynette Rowe and other thalidomide victims who in 2013 successfully sued the British firm Diageo, which owns Distillers. Ms Rowe was born with no arms or legs after her mother took thalidomide to treat morning sickness.
Mr Woodhouse's statement discloses that by the middle of 1961, five months before the drug was withdrawn, Mr Poole and other senior Distillers staff "definitely" knew about the concerns of Sydney obstetrician William McBride that the drug was causing deformities and death in babies.
But rather than warning Australians about the dangers of the drug, Woodhouse says Mr Poole and his colleagues sat on these concerns for five months. During this period, the drug was still being sold and actively promoted to pregnant women.
Mr Woodhouse's affidavit states that during this five months, Mr Poole, national sales manager Fred Strobl and several of their colleagues "often talked about McBride's concerns that thalidomide was causing the deaths of babies and the implications [of this] for the business and our sales".
Mr Woodhouse claims he was also ordered by Mr Poole "not to discuss [Mr McBride's report on thalidomide] with other staff or anyone else".
Mr Magazanik said the affidavit was "the most powerful evidence yet uncovered of how negligence and deceit cost literally thousands of lives in the thalidomide disaster".
"Instead of getting thalidomide off the market immediately, Mr Poole kept promoting a drug he knew might severely damage embryos to maternity hospitals and obstetricians," Mr Magazanik said.
"He also tried to get a government subsidy for thalidomide and steadily built up a stockpile ready to flood the Australian market: 8 million pills in a Sydney warehouse, each one of which he knew might maim and kill unborn babies. And when thalidomide was exposed, Poole lied constantly to cover up his appalling, deadly behaviour, including telling bare-faced lies to the highest levels of the Australian government."
Mr Poole and Mr Strobl, who became a film star, are both dead.
Mr Magazanik also praised Mr Woodhouse, who is in his 80s and lives in Sydney, for exposing the cover-up.
"We wouldn't know any of this if Mr Woodhouse hadn't had the courage and compassion to tell the full story," he said.
In 2014, the Victorian Supreme Court signed off on a $89 million class action settlement for thalidomide victims in Australia and New Zealand.
Michael Magazanik's book on the thalidomide scandal, Silent Shock, is released on Monday.
Afghanistan: 68 injured as Zabul PC office comes under suicide attack
At least 68 people were wounded when a suicide bomber ploughed his car into the provincial council office of southern Zabul province on Monday morning, an official said.
The incident took place in front of the provincial council office in Qalat City, the provincial capital around 11:15 am.
Zabul acting Governor Massoud Bakhtawar confirmed the incident and told Pajhwok Afghan News it was a truck suicide attack.
According to his information, a number of people, mostly civilians, were wounded in the incident.
Zabul police chief Ghulam Jailani Farahi said 30 people including civilians, government officers and police personnel were wounded in the attack.
However, Qalat civil hospital director Zalmai Rishtin said that 44 wounded people were brought in to the hospital.
Provincial council head Atta Jan Haqbayan said the bomber smashed his explosive-laden vehicle into the wall of the council’s building.
No council member suffered injuries or casualties in the incident but only some officers and other officials were wounded, he said.
As usual, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack.
Meanwhile, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, calling it unislamic and inhumane.
Heat wave continues unabated across India, death toll reaches 500
Zee News [25/5/15]:
There was no respite from heat wave conditions in most parts of the country on Monday with death toll reportedly reaching 500.
At least 432 people have reportedly been killed in the worst hit-states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana alone.
The Indian Meteorological Department has predicted that the heat wave will continue till May 30.
On Monday, the Met Department had predicted a hot day for Delhi with the maximum temperature expected to be around 44 degrees.
Met Director, BP Yadav, told ANI, “For the next three days, there will be no change in the heat wave conditions in Delhi.”
He added that thunderstorms are expected in areas of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and NCR around May 28.
The national capital had recorded the season's highest temperature of 44.5 degrees Celsius, five degrees above normal, at the Safdarjung observatory on Saturday.
Meanwhile, commuters in Kolkata are in for a tough time as the Bengal Taxi Association has refused to ply their cabs in the city between 11:00 am to 4:00 pm from today, as per news reports.
The association took the decision after the death of a 52-year-old cab driver due to intense heat.
The heat wave has swept several regions of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.
On Sunday, the mercury touched 46.5 degrees in Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, with Kota close behind at 45.4 degrees. Churu, Sriganganagar, Jaipur, Barmer, Bikaner, Ajmer and Dabok too recorded high temperatures.
Yesterday, the blistering heat wave also hit Haryana and Punjab, and Chandigarh which recorded the season's hottest day so far.
In Punjab, Amritsar continued to reel under a temperature of 43.6 degrees. Ludhiana and Patiala too recorded high temperatures.
In West Bengal too, the effect of the heat wave was felt strongly.
Over the past few days, Odisha too reeled under the heat wave. The industrial town of Jharsuguda recorded the highest temperature of 45.8 degrees and authorities received reports of 23 deaths due to sun stroke.
The mercury crossed 45 degrees at six places in western Odisha, IMD officials said.
Australian backed Indonesian death squad kills 2, arrests 6
Jakarta Globe [25/5/15]:
Police engaged in a shootout on Sunday with a suspected militant group in the restive region of Poso, Central Sulawesi, suggesting the die-hard nature of terrorism cells operating in the area.
The incident occurred in the village of Gayatri on Sunday evening, after the unit raided a suspected terrorism hideout.
Two suspected militants, identified as Asis and Enoch were killed in the raid and two officers from the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) were injured.
Brig. Wayan Pande was shot in the arm and leg while Brig. Wayan Sedana was slashed in the head with a machete as the suspects and their peers resisted arrest and opened fire.
The other suspects managed to escape but some were apprehended on Monday.
“We found and arrested A.Z., S, F, A.I. and H, at two different locations in Makassar [South Sulawesi] after Sunday’s shooting. Today we arrested another suspect, N., in Central Sulawesi,” National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Agus Rianto said on Monday.
Police later secured an assault rifle and two improvised explosive devices on the premises, as well as two magazines and 20 rounds of ammunition.
“The two injured police officers are being taken to Jakarta [for treatment],” Agus, the police spokesman, said at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta on Monday.
The two slain suspects are believed to be members of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) terror outfit, led by long-time fugitive Santoso.
Agus said Sunday’s raid came after police counter-terrorism unit Densus 88 arrested a man identified as A.Q. on Friday.
The man “is a courier, supplying ammunition” to Santoso’s group, the police spokesman said. From A.Q., officers confiscated 677 rounds of ammunition.
Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
The Palme d’Or was awarded to Jacques Audiard for his film that sees a Tamil Tiger use the know-how he picked up from fighting the Sri Lankan Civil War to survive the hardships and difficulties faced by immigrants living in the suburbs of Paris.
Dheepan is a radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head, and takes a faceless immigrant coming from a war barely covered in the media and turns him into a Travis Bickle-type anti-hero.
The decision from the Cannes film festival jury jointly presided over by the Coen Brothers to award the unfancied outsider the top prize was met with boos.
Cameron Bailey, the black Artistic Director of the Toronto Film Festival, suggested in a tweet that the colour of the protagonist might have been a factor in the failure of many critics to recognise the brilliance of the film.
He wrote: "Dheepan hit me hardest at #Cannes but it left others cold. Partly a question of how and where we identify at the movies."
I can only agree with him. The story sees an immigrant arrive on a false passport, with a woman and a child he barely knows, claiming that they are his wife and daughter, and then slowly overturns our expectations to create an unlikely love story and a violent action film, the process making this immigrant family the heroes. It is the most radical and bold film in Cannes.
The jury in voicing their decision said that they were a "jury of artists and not critics" and mostly they seemed to be paying tribute and acknowledging the virtuoso film-making that has seen Jacques Audiard called the ‘French Scorsese’ for a number of years.
Audiard is a master of celebrating the outsider, his heroes are often from the lower depths of society, from the gangster in The Beat That My Heart Skipped, to the Arab who goes to jail and becomes a mafia kingpin in A Prophet, the critically acclaimed film that won a BAFTA for Best Foreign Film in 2010.
But the Arab in A Prophet was easier to understand, he was a Scarface type figure, who embraced the culture of the mainstream, but used his minority roots when it suited him. Dheepan offers no such concessions.
Audiard has also chosen a non-professional actor to play the titular
character. Jesuthasan Antonythasan is an author who comes from a similar
background to Dheepan. He fought for Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and was
jailed in numerous countries before seeking asylum in France in 1997, aged 25.
His only previous cinematic experience was writing and starring in Sengadal (The
Dead Sea), which was banned in India.
He gives a virtuoso performance in which he has to both try and play the romantic lead, as he falls for his fake wife and then be macho enough to take on the roughest elements of the housing estate. A weakness in Audiard’s previous work has been his female characters, but here Indian actress Kalieaswari Srinivasan more than holds her own, as she goes out to work as a housemaid, only to find herself winning the heart of a French gangster.
Rohingya not mentioned once in Australia's House of Representatives today [25/5/15]
Our politicians are not just silent, they are complicit in genocide.
Luke Simpkins MP gave a speech about migration: "I say that we should DNA test these 'extended' families.".
Regional cooperation lacking in South East Asia's humanitarian crisis [France 24 – 25/5/15]:
… "For a country like Malaysia, this is actually a return to an earlier policy,” said David Camroux, a researcher at the International Research Centre at Sciences-Po (CERI) and a specialist in Southeast Asia.
“Kuala Lumpur previously had a policy of welcoming the Rohingyas, and has granted asylum to between 35,000 and 45,000 in the past several decades. The same goes for Indonesia.”
But the policies adopted by other Asia-Pacific nations later prompted Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta to take a firmer stance.
“The two countries have learned from Australia, which turns back the boats,” Camroux said.
“Malaysia and Indonesia thought, ‘If rich and powerful nations in the region were refusing to do their share for the migrants, why should we?’ ”
“Fortunately for those languishing at sea, Malaysian and Indonesian fishermen – like the Italian fishermen in the Mediterranean – feel compelled to save lives. It's part of their moral code," said Camroux.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has adopted a very strict policy concerning migrants. When a reporter asked him Thursday if Australia would consider hosting the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis, he was uncompromising.
"Nope, nope, nope," he said, shaking his head. "If we do the slightest thing to encourage people to get on boats, this problem will get worse, not better.”
Abbott said Australia was willing to offer its assistance, but not by hosting refugees.
"Australia will do absolutely nothing that gives any encouragement to anyone to think that they can get on a boat, that they can work with people smugglers to start a new life,” he said.
... [And so say the entire political, media and human rights establishment.]
Australia facilitiates murder, rape, torture and pedophilia to punish people for being refugees
Nauru police to investigate asylum seeker sex assault claim [Sydney Morning Herald - 25/5/15]:
...The 23-year-old asylum seeker has told Fairfax Media that she was leaving the detention centre on a day release last Saturday when she claims that someone jumped out from behind her, put his hand on her mouth and forcefully pulled down her top.
She said she was then forced to give violent oral sex for over an hour as her assailant bit her breasts and shoulders.
After her attacker fled, the naked, distressed and disorientated woman managed to find a local police unit who put her in the back of their truck.
"They didn't take me back to the police station, they decided to take me with them to watch the fireworks for Nauru's constitution day," she said in a statement. "It was not until hours later that the police asked for an interpreter".
She claims that she was asked to repeat the story of her assault three times without receiving medical attention.
Last week Nauruan police said that there was no suggestion that anyone had assaulted her.
In a statement they said the woman was found walking in a nearby street naked after failing to return to the the detention centre on Saturday night.
"There is no injury to her or any sign of other physical force or trauma," the Nauru Police Force said.
In an about face last week, the police force have since launched an investigation and promised to "find the person who did this".
Vietnamese asylum-seeker boat refouled, Australian commander confirms
A boat carrying 46 Vietnamese asylum seekers was returned to Vietnam on 18 April, the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, Major General Andrew Bottrell, confirmed in a Senate estimates hearing on Monday.
It is understood the asylum seekers were offloaded by an Australian navy vessel in the port city of Vũng Tàu, after leaving Vietnam for Australia in March.
It is one of 18 asylum-seeker boats that have been prevented from reaching Australia since Operation Sovereign Borders began.
Another boat was the subject of a “turn-back” that was completed on 22 March. Details of the number of asylum seekers aboard the vessel have not been revealed.
Bottrell confirmed a total of 18 asylum-seeker boats had been prevented from reaching Australia since September 2013, when the Abbott government introduced Operation Sovereign Borders to tackle the people-smuggling trade.
However, he refused to release further details, saying he would be maintaining the secrecy surrounding the operation that the government said was needed to ensure the integrity of missions.
“While I’m acutely aware of the interest surrounding the release of information, the success of Operation Sovereign Borders has been in part due to the denial of operational information from people smugglers,” Bottrell said.
Bottrell said people smugglers were still actively trying to sell passage to Australia.
“Despite the results achieved under Operation Sovereign Borders to date, people smugglers continue to try to take advantage of vulnerable people by convincing them to get on boats to Australia,” he said.
Australia to bring home last Vietnam war dead [Bangkok Post - 25/5/15]:
Twenty-four soldiers who died in the conflict lie in Malaysia's Terendak Cemetery, which sits inside a large, operational military base, and one other in Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore.
"We can never restore those who have died in the service of our country but we can and we should offer solace and support to the families left behind," Abbott told parliament.
Nine MSN [25/5/15]:
Australia's response to the Rohingya refugee crisis has been called a "blot on human rights" ahead of regional talks on the thousands still starving and stranded at sea.
The Asia-Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) says Australia has so far shown "vehement opposition" to helping its ASEAN neighbours assist the thousands of people fleeing over the Andaman Sea.
Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand eventually agreed to provide the Rohingya asylum seekers temporary shelter, while the US, Philippines and Gambia have offered resettlement.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Indonesian intelligence indicates about 40 per cent are Rohingya, and the remainder are Bangladeshi "economic migrants".
She told ABC radio on Monday that Australia was doing "more than its fair share" to help find a regional settlement arrangement.
But APRRN executive director Anoop Sukumaran says Australia's refusal to resettle refugees who board boats - by arguing it encourages the practice - denies help to the most desperate.
"Unfortunately Australia's position says `come to the front door'. Please show us the front door," he told AAP.
"Trafficking is a symptom of a much deeper, larger malice.
"People being persecuted cannot find ways to escape with dignity and protection, they are being forced into the hands of traffickers.
"Australia's response is securitised borders, victimising the victims ... it is a blot on human rights."
APRRN, which represents more than 200 refugee rights groups in Southeast Asia, urged Australia to do more at Friday's meeting of 17 nations in response to the crisis.
Australia will be represented by ambassador for people-smuggling issues Andrew Goledzinowski.
The UNHCR on Monday told AAP that among more than 1700 who had come ashore in Indonesia, about 50 per cent were Rohingya.
But the more pressing issue, it said, was rescuing thousands more who were still stranded at sea and giving them urgent medical care.
Malaysian charities scramble to aid Rohingya [VIDEO – Al Jazeera – 24/5/15]
John Landy: a significant life, Nick Dunstan [Signs Of The Times - March 2006]:
... While a training teacher, I was fortunate to witness just such a gesture by a Year 6 girl in an 800-metre race involving five schools. It was a final and all points were vital.
In the mad dash to gain inside priority at the first bend, legs and bodies were bustling and one of the girls tripped. In a touching display, a team-mate stopped, asked if the fallen competitor was alright, then helped her back on her feet before running on, now out of contention for a place.
Witnessing this selfless act, thoughts of a similar moment at Melbourne’s Olympic Park of 50 years ago came immediately to mind. Australian champion runner John Landy and one-mile world-record holder, now Governor of Victoria, was involved in a near identical incident. However, the stakes were somewhat higher.
Thousands were packed into the stands where they hoped to witness Landy again break the previously elusive “four-minute-mile” and set another benchmark performance. Huge expectation preceded the event, with all of the pressure and focus on Landy.
Entering the third lap of four, the field was beginning to pick up the pace—a world record pace. However, hope was extinguished when Ron Clarke was accidentally tripped by the pack and fell. As Landy leapt over him, his spike caught Clarke and injured him.
It was a moment witnessed by well-known Australian Dr Gordon Moyes, who recalls it as if it “happened yesterday.”
“Landy ... did the most incredibly stupid, beautiful, foolish, gentlemanly act I have ever seen,” says Moyes. “He stopped, ran back to the fallen young Ron Clarke and helped him up to his feet, brushed cinders from knees, and checking his bloodied shoulder said, ‘Sorry.’”1
Harry Gordon, a journalist for Melbourne’s Sun, also found the moment incredible and wrote on the day of Landy’s courageous action, saying, “Yours was the classic sporting gesture. It was a senseless piece of chivalry, but it will be remembered as one of the finest actions in the history of sport.
“In a nutshell, you sacrificed your chance of a world record to go to the aid of a fallen rival. And in pulling up, trotting back to Ron Clarke, muttering ‘Sorry’ and deciding to chase the field you achieved much more than any world record.”
For those unfamiliar with the events of the day, Landy, upon helping Clarke to his feet, then ran down the field who were some 30 metres ahead and won the race, just six seconds outside his world record. Experts are in no doubt that Landy was in a form that would have broken his own record that day but for the vital seconds lost in helping Clarke.
In this Thursday, May 21, 2015 photo, Rohingya migrant Satera Begum makes a phone call to her husband who resides in Malaysia, at a temporary shelter in Langsa, Aceh province, Indonesia. Thousands of migrants - about half of them Bangladeshi and the others minority Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar - have landed ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand since May 10. [AP PHOTOS - Binsar Bakarra: Safe on land, migrants eager to phone home]
Take a bow Australian human rights establishment
Jamil Maidan Flores [Jakarta Globe - 25/5/15]:
... Apart from the Philippines offering to accept boat people, two countries to which thousands of asylum seekers have already found their way, Malaysia and Indonesia, have announced they will allow some 7,000 boat people stranded at sea to land on their shores. But this will happen under a strict condition: within one year these asylum seekers must either be permanently resettled in third countries or repatriated.
In effect, Indonesia and Malaysia are willing to serve as countries of first asylum for a limited period — one year. After the asylum seekers are certified to be genuine refugees and not jobseekers, they go to a second country of asylum to prepare them for their future new home.
Probably the Philippines is willing to be both a first asylum and second asylum country for however long it takes, provided it gets the same international support that it enjoyed while hosting the Indochinese (Vietnamese, Cambodians and Lao people) refugees between 1980 and 1994.
While there are similarities between the situation of the Rohingya boat people today and their Vietnamese counterparts in the 1980s, the differences are huge.
The US fought a war in Vietnam and lost, and therefore had immense responsibilities for those who fought and worked on its side, and who were left behind when it pulled out. That’s why it was willing to take in all its collaborators and sympathizers.
This is not the case with the Rohingya. They don’t have an effective third country advocate. There’s no strong and organized international effort to help them resettle. I’m not sure Myanmar will agree to an Orderly Departure Program like Vietnam did.
Vietnam received back its repatriated boat people as Vietnamese citizens. How can Myanmar do likewise if it doesn’t recognize the Rohingya as citizens of Myanmar?
South East Asia's humanitarian crisis has Philippines town recalling Russian refugees it hosted in 1949
Australia says "not our problem"
The plight of Rohingya boat people brings back to this coastal town the memory of 6,000 "White Russian" refugees who fled China in 1949 and stayed here for more than two years.
Annaliza Kwan, former mayor of this town, said that history attests to the Filipinos' hospitality in accepting refugees displaced by conflicts.
"This new problem reminds the international community of our town that sheltered White Russians more than 60 years ago," said Kwan, who ended her term as mayor in 2013 and was known for her extensive promotion of local historical sites
"White Russians" refers to Russians that resisted the Communist revolution in their country, and that fled the civil war that ensued in 1917. That upheaval led to a "White Army" fighting the "Red Army", and the term "White Russian" has since been used to refer to loosely to people who fought the communist army and/or fled as a result of the violence and strife.
She made the statement after United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative for the Philippines Bernard Kerblat recognized in a television interview the "encouraging, courageous, and principled" statement issued by the Philippines regarding the Rohingya boat people.
Kerblat said that although it is unlikely that the boats carrying more than 3,000 refugees will reach Philippine shores, what is important now is "if we want to save lives in the next few days, it's precisely to support the courageous and unique position taken by the government of the Philippines which has indicated at looking for options for help."
Extreme poverty, politics, and despair forced Rohingya to flee Myanmar. They are not even recognized as one of Myanmar’s 135 ethnic groups.
Boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh who were abandoned at sea by smugglers have been turned away by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.
This Eastern Samar town was witness and testament to the country's spirit of hospitality when the Chinese Red Army took over Northern China after World War II: Russians that had fled to the region after the Russian civil war of 1917-1922 had to run again.
But to where? When the United Nations' International Refugee Organization (now UNHCR) appealed to the international community to take them in, only the Philippines responded.
Led by John Maximovitch, the Orthodox Archbishop of Shanghai, they were brought to the island of Tubabao, a hundred meters away from the mainland of Guiuan.
They arrived in dilapidated boats, though some also landed via the airport built by the Americans during the Second World War.
No less than President Elpidio Quirino visited the Russian Refugee Camp in Tubabao, Guiuan, to express his concern.
Life may have been hard in the island, but it was better than in communist China.
Most of the Russian refugees stayed in Tubabao for two years. They were ultimately granted permanent residency in other countries such as Australia and France, with most ending up in the United States.
Singer Nikolai Massenkoff, one of the refugees in Tubabao, came back to Guiuan in 2011. By then 79 and an American citizen who had performed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Massenkoff held a concert simply titled, "Thank You Philippines."
He said he has many wonderful memories of the "magical place called the Philippines."
The Philippines had the necessary legislative framework to take refugees starting with the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.
Section 47-B of the law provides that the president can invoke his power to accept the refugees "for humanitarian reasons, and when not opposed to the public interest, to admit aliens who are refugees for religious, political, or racial reasons, in such classes of cases and under such conditions as may beprescribed."
Kerblat said despite the economic limitations of the Philippines, it has always been very generous when it comes to refugees.
On May 29, the Philippines will join the regional meeting to address the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.
Philippines: Palace stresses anew its readiness to help Rohingya ‘boat people’ [GMA Network – 24/5/15]
Australia's protected, unaccountable and repugnant Immigration Minister cynically uses autistic boy for damage control
Sydney Morning Herald [25/5/15]:
A 10-year-old autistic boy who faced deportation will be allowed to stay in Australia with his mother, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed.
Tyrone Sevilla and his mother Maria, who live in Townsville, were to have been forcibly returned to the Philippines after the Immigration Department and the Migration Review Tribunal rejected Ms Sevilla's application for a skilled working visa.
But Mr Dutton overturned the decision following sustained efforts by Ms Sevilla and wide public condemnation.
"This has been a very difficult case for the family and it's been a protracted issue," he said on Monday.
"I looked at the case and I have determined that we will provide these people with a permanent arrangement and a permanent outcome in Australia and I think that's good for them."
A spokesperson confirmed the minister would provide permanent visas to Ms Sevilla and Tyrone, subject to standard immigration checks and the receipt of required documentation. That would go beyond the three-year skilled work visa Ms Sevilla had originally sought, and the process was expected to be completed within weeks.
Mr Dutton came under pressure to consider the case after media coverage including a passionate plea by Tyrone's 11-year-old friend Ethan Egart on national television.
Ethan, who used to live in Townsville and went to after-school care with Tyrone, told the ABC's Q&A program he was upset that the government was about to deport a 10-year-old boy.
"He can't speak but he can use sign language to communicate with us," Ethan said in a video question. "If he can get along with us and we can get along with him, why does he have to leave?"
Ms Sevilla came to Australia eight years ago to study nursing, and found work at Townsville Hospital. But her son's autism proved to be a sticking point for Australian bureaucrats. In a review of the Immigration Department's decision, the MRT cited the "significant cost to the Australian community" that Tyrone's condition could pose.
An online petition by Ms Sevilla notched up more than 125,000 signatures. In the letter, she pleaded for Mr Dutton to overturn the decision on compassionate grounds and testified that her son could make a positive contribution to the community.
"The government thinks that children with autism are going to be more of a cost to Australian society than a benefit - but that's just not true!" Ms Sevilla wrote.
"Tyrone is not a burden, he is a joy. He's non-verbal, but he still hears and still experiences the world. The idea that he can't contribute because of his condition is just wrong."
Mr Dutton defended the Immigration Department's original decision, saying bureaucrats had acted "entirely appropriately". He said his ministerial intervention reflected Australian values.
"I'm very pleased that we can provide the assistance to a young boy who is in need of medical and education support and as a generous country that's what we do," he said.
Nathan Kennedy, president of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, said he was pleased that the "right decision" had been made. He said there would most likely be a number of similar cases around the country that had not generated the same level of public attention.
"It's always difficult with these migration issues because all the discretion is left in the minister's hands," he said. "It shouldn't have to depend on getting petitions out."
Repudiating UN Refugee Convention allows ACV Ocean Shield to patrol the Southern Ocean [Minister for Immigration Media Release - 25/5/15]
Department of Immigration and Human Services create another enemy, announce another crack down [Media Release - 25/5/15]
“Doctors overseas are just appalled at Australia’s inequality, internationally, our policy towards asylum seekers is seen like apartheid.”
The inhumane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers by successive Australian governments must end, and doctors should not feel afraid to speak out about their treatment, the president of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has said.
Nicholas Talley said woeful healthcare standards for asylum seekers had prompted the release of the college’s first position statement on refugee and asylum–seeker health.
“Our fellows have been inside the detention facilities,” Talley told the RACP’s congress in Cairns on Monday.
“We have treated refugees and asylum seekers during their detention and after their release into the community. These people are not numbers, they are our patients.
“As physicians, we are duty bound to speak on behalf of our patients – especially since their human rights are increasingly seen as optional.”
For almost two decades, the college had argued Australia’s policies for asylum seekers, such as mandatory and indefinite detention, breached human rights and caused significant harm, Talley said.
He told Guardian Australia detention had to end, and he hoped by releasing official policy recommendations targeted at both sides of politics, the government would act.
“Their policies are simply inhumane,” Talley said.
“Despite our advocacy to date we haven’t had the impact we feel we need and based on our fellows’ involvement in the management of children in particular, we are still deeply concerned that the changes we have advocated for haven’t been put in place.”
Guardian Australia has contacted the offices of the minister for immigration, Peter Dutton, and the assistant minister for immigration, Michaelia Cash, for their response to the policy recommendations.
Among many things, the policy document calls for the government to take urgent action to provide more rigorous health assessments for asylum seekers on arrival; better access to healthcare for asylum seekers and refugees in the community; increase support services for refugees; and to immediately end mandatory detention, which they say is particularly harmful to children.
Professor David Isaacs, a consultant paediatrician who heads the Refugee Clinic at the Children’s hospital at Westmead, told Guardian Australia he had nightmares after treating children and their parents detained at Nauru.
Doctors were being left mentally scarred by what they were seeing, he said.
“The people there are in such distress and we saw children as young as six self-harming – I’d never seen that before in my entire life,” he said.
“Their parents were in such a state, they felt they had tried to run away to make their family safer and instead, they had made their situation worse.
“My colleague and I who went had nightmares for a week or two afterwards and we only went there for five days ... we felt like we were party to some kind of torture, because we couldn’t take them away. All paediatricians who work with asylum–seeker children recognise that they are deeply traumatised by what has happened to them and we should do everything in our power not to make that trauma worse.”
He said putting children in detention increased the risk of psychological trauma and if the period of detention was uncertain, it created an “impossible” situation for families.
“We wouldn’t even do that to criminals, and it’s not right that Australia is doing this to these people,” he said.
Speaking to Guardian Australia from an infectious diseases conference in London, Isaacs said his peers overseas had been questioning him about Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers.
“Doctors overseas are just appalled at Australia’s inequality, internationally, our policy towards asylum seekers is seen like apartheid.”
Earlier this month, Isaacs told a Senate inquiry into allegations of sexual assault and conditions on Nauru, asylum–seekers’ living quarters were crammed, mouldy and provided no privacy; that women had insufficient sanitary towels and used clothes and material to soak up the blood; and that he spoke with one asylum seeker who alleged she had been sexually assaulted by a cleaner.
To coincide with the release of its policy recommendations, the college also released a video featuring Dr Karen Zwi, paediatric adviser to the Australian Human Rights Commission national inquiry into children in immigration detention.
“The evidence is in, the evidence is irrefutable, detention is harmful,” she said.
“The first time I went to Christmas Island [detention centre] I was deeply shocked. I was not expecting that children in an Australian environment would be detained in such conditions.
“If they feel safe and comfortable and the healthcare system allows them to trust doctors and nurses, the relief is evident.”
Senate Nauru Inquiry sneakily scheduled to avoid social media scrutiny and to allow for DIPB's evidence to be sanitised and filtered through the establishment media
There have been several "concerning" reports of alleged child sexual abuse in detention centres in Australia and Nauru in the last three months, according to the head of the Immigration Department.
Mike Pezzullo made the statement under questioning before a Senate committee in Canberra.
He said the cases were currently being investigated either by Australian authorities or the Nauruan police.
"There have been several concerning situation reports," Mr Pezzullo said.
"Similarly a number of incidents have been reported through our liaison — obviously in relation to the centres on Manus and Nauru, Nauru in particular — where there have been a number of incidents."
The latest department statistics released at the end of March show 124 children are being detained in Australia, some in community-based facilities.
The Nauru detention centre is home to 103 children, 126 women and 489 men.
Sexual abuse of women and children on Nauru is the focus of another Senate committee that met for the first time last week.
Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald argued the allegations should not be discussed in today's hearing because of the double-up.
Mr Pezzullo said he would provide the exact number of new reports before the end of the day.
In July, he will become head of a new merged Department of Immigration and Border Protection, incorporating the new frontline agency Australian Border Force.
Melbourne private school Scotch College admits to historical abuse claims [ABC – 25/5/15]
Nauru Facebook blackout enters 25th day
The United Nations on Monday, May 25, criticized the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru for blocking access to the Internet, including Facebook, and urged it to reverse a clampdown on freedom of speech.
Nauru curbed Internet access in the nation of 10,000 people last month, saying it was barring pornography, although social media sites such as Facebook were caught in the dragnet.
Leaders on the island, which is home to an Australian-run asylum-seeker detention camp, then introduced laws that critics say could result in political protesters facing seven-year jail terms.
The UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, said the changes were too broad and should be repealed.
In a statement issued Monday, he said Nauru should allow freedom of expression without fear of prosecution.
"These new laws could be used to muzzle dissenting opinions and deter human rights defenders, academics, journalists, students, politicians and civil society members," he said.
Facebook is a major forum for dissenting opinions on Nauru and Kaye expressed concern the Internet clampdown was "designed to prevent asylum-seekers and refugees in the country from hearing information on their situation".
Italian coast guard rescues 70 Afghan, Iraqi refugees
Daily Star [25/5/15]:
Seventy Afghan and Iraqi migrants were rescued from a packed boat off the southeastern coast of Italy and brought to shore Sunday, Italy’s coast guard said.
Italy closed down a specialized naval mission to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean last year, but continues to bear the brunt of the rescues as the European Union and member states conduct talks on how to deal with the influx.
Two Italian coast guard cutters brought the group to the port of Santa Maria di Leuca in Puglia.
There were two women and four minors on board, the coast guard said in a statement.
25 Afghan refugees detained in Peshawar [Pajhwok - 24/5/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense Media Release [24/5/15]:
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, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 11 airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, nine airstrikes struck two large and three small ISIL tactical units, destroying eight ISIL fighting positions, four ISIL vehicles, an ISIL tank and an ISIL armored vehicle.
-- Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL fighting position.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Baghdadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Qaim, two airstrikes struck an ISIL explosive manufacturing facility, destroying an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Makhmur, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL buildings and two ISIL heavy machine guns.
-- Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, an ISIL weapons manufacturing facility and an ISIL defensive position, destroying an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL building and an ISIL tank.
-- Near Ramadi, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL artillery piece, an ISIL armored personnel carrier and an ISIL armored vehicle, as well as 15 armored vehicles, two armored personnel carriers and two other support vehicles located in ISIL controlled territory.
-- Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying three ISIL buildings, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL mortar system and an ISIL artillery piece.
-- Near Tal Afar, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and an ISIL mortar position, destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns and four ISIL fighting positions.
US Defense Secretary criticises army the US tried to create because they're not killing enough of their fellow citizens [US Department of Defense Media Release - 24/5/15]
Matt Taibbi on the journalist and politician cheerleaders for Iraq War, then and now [Democracy Now - 21/5/15]
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has reportedly killed hundreds after seizing the ancient town of Palmyra last week.
Syrian state TV reported that about 400 civilians had been killed by the group since Wednesday, while activists in Palmyra said ISIL fighters hunted down President Bashar al-Assad's troops and loyalists, killing up to 300 of them.
Nasser, of the Palmyra Media Centre - a monitoring group on the ground - told Al Jazeera that most of those killed were government troops captured by the fighters after taking over the town. ... [Al Jazeera - 25/5/15]
A Syrian brigadier-general was killed in a blast that targeted his car in downtown Damascus on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. ... [Naharnet - 24/5/15]
Saudi forces, Houthis trade heavy fire, border crossing hit [Daily Star - 25/5/15]
Libya warplanes bomb ship near the city of Sirte [Al Jazeera - 24/5/15]
Colombia's security forces have killed at least five fighters from the Farc rebel group in an air strike in the north-western region of Antioquia.
On Thursday, 26 rebels were killed in a similar operation in southern Colombia, prompting the Farc to suspend its unilateral ceasefire. ... [BBC - 23/5/15]
Thousands surround Japan's parliament, protest new US base plan
Channel News Asia [24/5/15]:
Thousands of demonstrators formed a human chain around Japan's parliament in Tokyo on Sunday (May 24), protesting the planned construction of a new US airbase on the southern island of Okinawa.
The protesters, who organisers said numbered about 15,000, surrounded the parliament building holding banners reading "No to Henoko", in the latest rally against the controversial base.
Henoko is a small coastal area on Okinawa where Tokyo and Washington plan to relocate the existing Futenma military facility, currently situated in built-up Ginowan.
"We must stop this construction," said one of the protesters, Akemi Kitajima, 66. "The government is trying to force the plan no matter how strongly Okinawa says 'no' to it."
Okinawa is home to more than half of the 47,000 US service personnel stationed in Japan as part of a defence alliance, a proportion many islanders say is too high.
The plan to move Futenma, first mooted in 1996, has become the focus of anger among locals, who insist it should be shuttered and a replacement built elsewhere in Japan or overseas.
But both Tokyo and Washington have repeatedly backed the plan, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month insisting it was "the only solution".
The protestors on Sunday also expressed opposition to Washington's scheduled deployment of CV-22 Osprey aircraft at US Yokota Air Base in Tokyo.
The Osprey is a hybrid aircraft with rotors that allow it to take off like a helicopter and engines that can tilt forward, enabling it to fly like an aeroplane at greater speed than a chopper.
More than two dozen Ospreys have been already deployed at Okinawa's Futenma airbase, prompting safety concerns from local residents.
Sunday's rally comes a week after 35,000 people on Okinawa, led by the anti-base governor, protested the new US base plan.
Mother nature just as damaging as bombs, says US Navy
The United States Navy says mother nature is as much a culprit in the destruction of the Northern Marianas island of Farallon de Medinilla as its live-fire training is.
In a report included in the latest Marianas Islands Training and Testing study area, the Navy says based on direct observations, damage on the coast of the island can be attributed to typhoons and storm surges.
The island has also been used by the Navy for military and live bombing exercises for years.
However, the Navy says damage to the island attributed to military training recovers within two to three years, the same rate as that caused by natural phenomena.
Destroying what remains: How the US Navy plans to war game the Arctic,
Dahr Jamail [Tom Dispatch - 21/5/15]:
… The waters in the Gulf of Alaska are some of the most pristine in the world, rivaled only by those in the Antarctic, and among the purest and most nutrient-rich waters anywhere. Northern Edge will take place in an Alaskan “marine protected area,” as well as in a NOAA-designated “fisheries protected area.”
These war games will also coincide with the key breeding and migratory periods of the marine life in the region as they make their way toward Prince William Sound, as well as further north into the Arctic.
Species affected will include blue, fin, gray, humpback, minke, sei, sperm, and killer whales, the highly endangered North Pacific right whale (of which there are only approximately 30 left), as well as dolphins and sea lions. No fewer than a dozen native tribes including the Eskimo, Eyak, Athabascan, Tlingit, Sun'aq, and Aleut rely on the area for subsistence living, not to speak of their cultural and spiritual identities.
The Navy is already permitted to use live ordnance including bombs, missiles, and torpedoes, along with active and passive sonar in "realistic" war gaming that is expected to involve the release of as much as 352,000 pounds of "expended materials" every year. (The Navy’s EIS lists numerous things as “expended materials,” including missiles, bombs, torpedoes.)
At present, the Navy is well into the process of securing the necessary permits for the next five years and has even mentioned making plans for the next 20. Large numbers of warships and submarines are slated to move into the area and the potential pollution from this has worried Alaskans who live nearby.
Times up for the two party system in Spain
Spanish voters embraced parties seeking to overturn the political establishment in local elections Sunday, signaling time may be up for the two-party system that has dominated the country for a generation.
The anti-austerity party Podemos claimed its biggest victory in Barcelona, where activist Ada Colau seized control of the city hall.
Podemos and Ciudadanos, which proposes market-based solutions to Spain’s problems, made advances across the country that will give them a chance to shape policy for the first time.
“Ciudadanos and Podemos are here to stay,” said Antonio Barroso, a London-based analyst at Teneo Intelligence, which advises investors on political risk. “Fragmentation is the word for the next few years.”
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party suffered its worst result in a municipal election for 24 years, paying the price for four years of austerity and a raft of corruption scandals that left many of its supporters disenchanted. Rajoy has to call a general election by the end of the year.
In Madrid, the PP edged out Podemos by less than 50,000 votes in the race for city hall. All the same, with just 21 representatives in the 57-seat chamber, the PP could still be ousted if Podemos can reach a deal with the Socialists.
Queensland media, political parties, civil liberties and legal organisations mute on escalating human rights issues, police provocation and harassment
Police officer stood down, Southern Region [QPS Media - 25/5/15]:
A 45-year-old male Senior Constable from Southern Region was stood down from official duty with the Queensland Police Service.
The officer is subject of a disciplinary investigation concerning allegations he used excessive force during a traffic intercept and failed to treat a member of the public with dignity and respect.
In keeping with our commitment to high standards of behaviour, transparency and accountability, we have undertaken to inform the public when an officer faces serious allegations of misconduct.
This does not mean that the allegations against the officers have been substantiated.
Nine MSN [24/5/15]:
A high-speed crash near Wivenhoe Dam involving a p-plater will be investigated by the Police Ethical Standards Command.
A man in his 20s was arrested just off the Brisbane Valley Highway today after a Ford Focus skidded across the wrong side of the road and ploughing into a ditch.
"Innocent members of the public could have been injured, or even worse than being injured," Inspector Keith McDonald from Queensland Police told 9NEWS.
The speeding vehicle had been spotted by a police officer minutes before the crash.
By the time police had turned around, the car had crashed.
"He was more than doing 40km (per hour) above the signed speed limit across the dam wall," Insp McDonald said.
The driver was taken to Ipswich Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, while police have begun their forensic investigation.
The incident comes less than a week after two officers were stood down after a high-speed chase on the Gold Coast.
Inspector McDonald said while the incident was not a police pursuit it will be referred to the ethical standards command.
"This investigation is to ensure that there's no impropriety by anybody, particularly from the police perspective," Insp McDonald said.
"Hoons" have their cars impounded, Larapinta [QPS Media – 24/5/15]:
Three men have been charged after alleged hooning offences in Larapinta last night.
Around 10.30pm the police helicopter PolAir2 sighted three vehicles doing burnouts along Arc Place.
A 21-year-old Logan Reserve man had his registration plates seized for 90 days and was issued with a Notice to Appear in relation to wilfully making unnecessary noise or smoke.
An 18-year-old Logan Reserve man and a 20-year-old Crestmead man had their cars impounded for 90 days.
Both men were also charged with one count each of wilfully making unnecessary noise or smoke and are due to appear in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on June 24.
Not guilty verdict for man charged with riot over 2013 Broadbeach tapas bar table tipover incident
No scope for discussing repeal of (ALP supported) draconian, anti-rights legislation because the Queensland media favours it.
Former Bandidos Motorcycle Club member Peter Mauric has been found not guilty of riot over his role in an infamous bikie brawl at Broadbeach in September 2013.
Mr Mauric had pleaded not guilty and told the Southport Magistrates Court that as far as he knew, the group of bikies went to the Aura restaurant at Broadbeach for some drinks and to look for girls to bring back to the Bandidos clubhouse for a party.
Before handing down his decision today, Magistrate Michael Quinn described Mr Mauric as a generally dishonest and unreliable witness.
But he said the prosecution had not proved every element of the riot charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mr Quinn told the court there was not enough evidence to prove Mr Mauric personally threatened anyone during the brawl.
The prosecution argued about 60 Bandidos bikies went to the Broadbeach CBD looking for Finks associate Jason Trouchet.
The fight started in a busy restaurant and spilled into the street, where a large group of Bandidos members were allegedly massed in a show of force, and the violence later spread to the Southport watch-house.
Earlier in his trial, Mr Mauric told the court he was good friends with Trouchet, who allegedly threw the first punch in the brawl.
Mr Mauric said any suggestion the Bandidos were hunting for Trouchet was "ludicrous".
He also told the court that police officers who responded to the incident swore at bikies and acted "out of control".
On May 4, several other men pleaded guilty to similar charges over their involvement in the brawl, including accused instigator Jacques Teamo, 45.
Ryan Mercer and Brett Boyden also pleaded guilty to affray and public nuisance, while Ricky Chapman pleaded guilty to riot.
Sanjin Delalic pleaded guilty to riot and Duncan Rattenbury pleaded guilty to public nuisance and affray.
Adam White and Ahmed Kaddour pleaded not guilty to riot but changed their plea to guilty over their involvement in the brawl.
They will not be sentenced until all court hearings linked to the brawl are concluded.
A second mass court hearing for 11 other men charged over the brawl is due to begin in Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Five other men will stand trial individually, with hearings on those matters expected to begin on June 1.
The Broadbeach brawl sparked a controversial crackdown on outlaw motorcycle gangs by the previous Newman government, which introduced tough legislative measures for bikies, including lengthy prison sentences, solitary confinement and bans on members gathering in public.
The Palaszczuk Government has since flagged a review of the legislation.
A Larrakia elder and a homeless advocate have called on the NT Government to rescind its paperless arrest laws following the death in custody of an Indigenous man.
But the laws and the procedures at the Darwin city watch house have been defended by the NT Attorney-General.
NT Police said the 59-year-old Indigenous man died in the Darwin watch house on Thursday night three hours after being picked up on suspicion of alcohol-related offences.
He was put in the lock-up under Northern Territory laws brought in six months ago which allow the police to hold people suspected of minor summary offences, for behaviour including being disorderly, making too much noise or swearing, for four hours without charge. ... [ABC - 25/5/15]
Secrecy and a gullible press do not augur well for Europe’s democracy.
The truth about Riga [Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis [24/5/15]:
It was the 24th of April. The Eurogroup meeting taking place that day in Latvia was of great importance to Greece. It was the last Eurogroup meeting prior to the deadline (30th April) that we had collectively decided upon (back in the 20th February Eurogroup meeting) for an agreement on the set of reforms that Greece would implement so as to unlock, in a timely fashion, the deadlock with our creditors.
During that Eurogroup meeting, which ended in disagreement, the media began to report ‘leaks’ from the room presenting to the world a preposterously false view of what was being said within.
Respected journalists and venerable news media reported lies and innuendos concerning both what my colleagues allegedly said to me and also my alleged responses and my presentation of the Greek position.
The days and weeks that followed were dominated by these false stories which almost everyone (despite my steady, low-key, denials) assumed to be accurate reports. The public, under that wall of disinformation, became convinced that, during the 24th April Riga Eurogroup meeting, my fellow ministers called me insulting names (“time waster”, “gambler”, “amateur” etc. were some of the reported insults), that I lost my temper, and that, as a result, my Prime Minister later “sidelined” me from the negotiations. (It was even reported that I would not be attending the following Eurogroup meeting, or that I would be ‘supervised’ by some other ministerial colleague.)
Of course none of the above was even remotely true.
My fellow ministers never, ever addressed me in anything other than collegial, polite, respectful terms.
I did not lose my temper during that meeting, or at any other point.
I continue to negotiate with my fellow ministers of finance, leading the Greek side at the Eurogroup.
Then came a New York Times Magazine story which raised the possibility of a recording of that Eurogroup meeting. All of a sudden, the journalists and news media that propagated the lies and the innuendos about the 24th April Eurogroup meeting changed tack. Without a whiff of an apology for the torrent of untruths they had peddled against me for weeks, they now began to depict me as a ‘spoof’ who had “betrayed” the confidentiality of the Eurogroup.
This morning I went on the record on the Andrew Marr television show (BBC1) on this issue. I am taking this opportunity to commit the truth in writing also here – on my trusted blog. So here it goes:
As I told Andrew Marr, in the absence of minutes, I often record my interventions and responses on my mobile phone, especially when I adlib them. The purpose is, naturally, so as to be able to recount my exact phrases and, accordingly, to brief my Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Parliament etc. on precisely what I said. I did the same in the Riga Eurogroup meeting and, afterwards, back in Athens, used that recording to work on my brief to my colleagues.
In the following days and weeks, I stood firm against the torrent of lies that flowed for weeks like an out of control sewer. I desisted all provocation and refused to divulge anything of what was said in the meeting – not even to put out there the text of my own speeches (let alone the recording).
To my detractors I have this to say: You have not had any leaks from me during or after any of my meetings. Indeed, no one has respected the confidentiality of those meetings more than I – even during the days and weeks I was being provoked by the news media’s false, personal attacks regarding those meetings.
To fellow Europeans I add this: Perhaps it is time we became a little more sceptical about the journalism we rely upon as citizens. And perhaps we should query European institutions in which decisions of monumental importance are made, on behalf of Europe’s citizenry, but in which minutes are neither taken nor published.
Secrecy and a gullible press do not augur well for Europe’s democracy.
YES for equal marriage!
But must it disappear the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in our region?
REJECT THE AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL AND MEDIA ESTABLISHMENT AND THEIR SUFFOCATING ISSUES MANAGEMENT.
Can we not chew gum and walk at the same time?
... One of the key challenges of issues management is to resolve the problem quickly and then move on, with as little impact to the project as possible. ...
Indonesia urges international community to aid Rohingya refugees [Anadolu Agency – 24/5/15]:
Indonesian President Joko Widodo called on the international community Sunday to participate – especially financially - in sheltering Muslim Rohingya migrants rescued from the Andaman Sea.
"Assistance to refugees is a humanitarian activity," MetroTV quoted Widodo – popularly known as “Jokowi” – as saying in Surakarta city, Central Java province.
Adding that Indonesia’s government would allocate a special budget to help the Rohingya who fled Myanmar, he insisted on support from the international community – particularly the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
"We want to get a certainty that the financial costs, after we accommodate [the migrants], will be supported by the UN and other countries. Although we will definitely spend funding," the president stressed.
"We are still counting and calculating the budget needed," he added.
Last week, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to offer temporary shelter to Rohingya migrants - but only if the international community agrees to then resettle them after one year. Both countries, however, said Bangladeshis from stranded boats would be returned to their country.
Although the countries had previously been turning away boats after thousands of migrants began landing on their shores following a Thai crackdown on trafficking, Indonesia has since followed Malaysia’s example by launching a search and rescue operation Saturday.
Following a presidential order, Indonesia’s military has mobilized four warships, two pontoon vessels and a patrol plane in the Andaman.
Meanwhile, the minister of social affairs paid a visit Sunday to migrants in northern Aceh province, where residents have been providing shelter, food and clothing to the people washing ashore.
"As a government representative, I want to express gratitude to the Acehnese for your kindness," Khofifah Indar Parawansa said, according to state news agency Antara.
"I hope your initiatives are being recorded by the angels, and surely the angel will not note wrongly," she said, adding that the ministry had distributed assistance worth Rp2.3 billion (around $175,000) to four shelters in Aceh.
The government will also give social recovery assistance - including trauma healing and counseling - to the Rohingya, according to Parawansa.
Regarding government policy on separating the Rohingya from the Bangladeshis, she said, “the minister of legal and human rights has traveled to Medan today to speed up the repatriation process [of the Bangladeshis]."
Since Indonesia is not a signatory of a UN Refugee Convention obliging the resettlement of refugees, the minister said the government would issue a “government regulation in lieu of law” to handle the issue.
According to National Agency for Disaster Management data, there are currently 1,722 migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar being sheltered in four areas of Aceh.
Malaysian states refuse to shelter Rohingya refugees [Anadolu Agency – 24/5/15]:
... Kedah has been faced with a flood of Rohingya and Bangladeshis since two weeks ago, when 1,158 migrants were arrested after landing at Langkawi island.
They have been moved in stages to the Belantik Immigration Detention Centre in the state’s Sik town.
Lim Guan Eng, meanwhile, said state land could not be used to house more people since Penang has been hosting 50,000 Rohingya over the last six years. ...
The Malaysian Insider [24/5/15]:
Lawyers For Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said issues related to migrants and refugees came under the federal government and its agencies.
"Unless, Putrajaya and Zahid want to pass over their authority to the state government."
The Star Online reported today that Zahid said the DAP-led state government should house the migrants, although several locations outside Penang had been identified as suitable temporary camps for them.
"We want to see the sincerity of the Penang government, led by DAP that are partners with PKR and PAS, which claims to champion human rights and is always asking the government to adopt humanitarian policies.
"They should accept the migrants into Penang," he was quoted as saying by the news portal.
Paulsen said for a start the Immigration Department, police, Rela and health authorities need to get involved Rohingyas and Bangladeshi migrants.
"Subsequently, Putrajaya has to deal with the issues that involves government-to-government and agencies under the United Nations."
However, he said the responsibility of providing shelter to the refugees pending a final solution should be shared by the international community. ...
Why are Australian human rights groups and legal associations so stubbornly silent on the crucial role Australia could play in ameliorating this atrocity?
Hadi Zaher [New Matilda - 24/5/15]:
… Where regional countries, including the Philippines, have come forward to help on humanitarian grounds, Australia has resorted to political sloganeering and looked the other way. Rohingya refugees are considered one of the world's most vulnerable and brutalised people.
The danger is that once we, one of the aspiring leaders of a liberal world, cherry-pick international laws, we set precedents for regional countries, and we lose the moral high ground. If we can choose to willfully ignore, manipulate, and ignore our international commitments, what’s to stop or shame other countries, with bleak human rights record, from doing the same!?
In 2015, we have passively and gradually come to accept this standard of response and practice from our government. We sit by idly as our sense of obligation to the rest of the world, and our understanding of human rights and their importance, undergo a paradigm shift. We morph into an isolationist member of the international community.
If the responses in both social and news media are any indications of the matters we care about, the indefinite offshore detention of asylum seekers - who have broken no laws by coming to Australia to apply for asylum - is a non-issue. The alleged abuse of children in detention on Nauru does not raise many eyebrows; the stranded Rohingya are somebody else’s problem. Johnny Depp’s dogs, however, are both an issue and a matter of reputation for Australia, and deserve consistent media and political attention. …
“They Want Us All to Go Away”
Early Warning Signs of Genocide in Burma
Burma: A Bearing Witness Trip — [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - March 2015]
Australia says "not our problem"
... When I arrived, Greens Upper House member Mehreen Faruqi, the first Australian Muslim woman to be elected to parliament was speaking.
If any MP from another parliamentary party attended the rally, I didn't see them and they didn't speak. ... [They kill Rohingya because of our race and religion - Wendy Bacon - 22/5/15]
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop presents Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with a photograph of their meeting in 1995 [28/11/13]
25 May 2015