Palestinian journalist al-Qeeq ends hunger strike following deal that he be released from Israeli jail [Daily Sabah - 26/2/16]
@Omar_Gaza [26/2/16]: After hunger striking for 94 days against #Israel unjust administrative detention, Mohamed Alqeeq won. Freed soon.
... All Gold Coast beaches will be closed on Saturday (except Tallebudgera Creek and the Broadwater Parklands). Conditions will be reassessed on Sunday morning.
We urge beachgoers to never swim at a closed beach. ...
[Surf Life Saving Queensland - 26/2/16]
Tallebudgera Beach [26/2/16]
Mini tidal wave Tallebudgera Creek
Mesmerized crowd, Burleigh Headland
Bumper Sticker, Surfers Paradise [26/2/16]
Night and day noise pollution on the Gold Coast Light Rail should be an election issue -----> Surfers Paradise Boulevard [25/2/16]
MOAS launches pioneering South East Asian mission to track movement and well being of refugees at sea
MOAS Media Release [26/2/16]:
Global search and rescue charity MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) will begin a new mission in South East Asia on March 3 in the Andaman Sea.
The M.Y. Phoenix and its crew will coordinate with local coast guards, navies, local NGOs, experts and the media to track, monitor and, if needed, provide search and rescue in coordination with the responsible authorities.
MOAS will maintain positions in the Andaman Sea and adjacent waters. It will use long-distance drones to measure movements of ships that may be transporting refugees or migrants. In meetings between MOAS principals and various local and national government authorities, it was agreed that preventing loss of life at sea was a high priority.
“The task of the M.Y. Phoenix will be to observe and analyse irregular movements at sea with the goal of supporting local stakeholders in providing an enhanced life-saving response. Our aim is to generate a better understanding of the movements by the refugees and migrants and be ready to assist in cases where there is an imminent threat to loss of life,” said MOAS founder Christopher Catrambone.
MOAS will be the first NGO to provide a comprehensive first-hand regional assessment of irregular migration and trafficking using a vessel with an unprecedented technological capability. Data gathered will be analysed and the results shared. The goal is to bring a better understanding and awareness of the problem and encourage everyone to work for sustainable solutions.
Supporting MOAS onboard M.Y. Phoenix will be two other NGOs. Malta-based NGO MigrantReport.org, a news organization that focuses on migration issues, will be providing information through its ground networks.
Fortify Rights, a human rights organization based in South East Asia with experience working closely with refugee communities in the region, will manage data collection and documentation as well as provide contextual guidance. The innovative Aerovel FlexRotor drones will be operated by U.S. company Precision Integrated Programs of Newberg, Oregon.
MOAS will sail out in early March and remain at sea for a minimum of four weeks. At the end of this period MOAS will review its findings and funding provisions with stakeholders.
MOAS will be operating within the existing legal framework of the laws of the sea and has engaged in open dialogue with all regional stakeholders, including Malaysia and Thailand.
The crew aboard the M.Y. Phoenix include maritime, security, medical, linguistics, migration, mapping and aviation experts. They will be supported by the MOAS staff in Malta and a variety of international experts and professionals to assist in the core objectives.
“As we have already successfully done in the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas, we are cooperating and participating in an ongoing dialogue with regional stakeholders to see how our mission can be best performed. We are leaving no stone unturned in our mission to mitigate loss of life at sea,” said MOAS director Martin Xuereb.
“Rohingya have faced abuses for decades and untold numbers have died at sea,” said Matthew Smith, co-Executive Director of Fortify Rights.
“Until the root causes are addressed in Myanmar, we’re going to see men, women, and children risk their lives in perilous journeys at sea. We welcome the innovative, lifesaving work of MOAS, and we’re excited to work with their team to fortify rights.”
Rohingya man severely beaten by Border Guard Police in Maung Daw [Burma Times - 24/2/16]
On 17 February Woodside hosted a 2015 Full-Year Results analyst and investor teleconference:
... Finally, I want to touch on Myanmar on slide 21. We've had two great results over the last three months. It's been a good start to the year for us. It has established the petroleum credentials of the basin.
As you're aware, this is one of the largest relatively unexplored basins in the world and Woodside were an early mover into the basin. We are seeing diversity in play type, which speaks to the robustness of the basin, water depth and of course commercialisation options.
As I mentioned, we gained early mover advantage in Myanmar and have 47,000 square kilometres of acreage in the Rakhine basin, about 20% of Woodside's global exploration portfolio.
Thalin, our latest discovery, is 60 kilometres from existing infrastructure and so we'll have a close look at development options, but we're excited by the optionality we have around this particular discovery.
We also have a significant and balanced equity position and strong partnership across our six blocks; more than 30,000 square kilometres of 3D seismic is being planned and is actually being acquired as we speak to accelerate portfolio build in Myanmar.
Coca-Cola Myanmar Internship Program [US Embassy - Rangoon]
Burma army on the move in northern Shan state, clashes reported: Ta’ang National Liberation Army [The Irrawaddy - 26/2/16]
Asylum seeker and refugee vigil gathering outside of MITA.
#LetThemStay #GetInTheWay #RefugeesWelcome ...
Image: @approachingcrit [26/2/16]
@approachingcrit [26/2/16]: Asylum seeker and refugee vigil growing in size outside of MITA. #LetThemStay #RefugeesWelcome ...
Indefinitely warehousing refugees on tiny islands and treating them like human trash: Brought to you by the LNP and ALP.
Only protesting Turnbull - as many #LetThemStay campaigners are dedicatedly embracing - endorses Shorten by default.
Why should any politician from the ALP or LNP be shielded from our condemnation of their responsibility for decades of human rights violations?
Especially those who have betrayed the Australian people?
ABC - 7.30 Report [21/11/07]:
KEVIN RUDD: ... The Pacific Solution is just wrong. It's a waste of taxpayers' money.
There will be no continuation of the Pacific Solution under a Federal Labor government.
Image: @Mums4Refugees [26/2/16]
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s opinion in the Assange case: flawed or flawless? [Questions of International Law - 25/2/16]
Britain sets dangerous precedent by defying UN report on Assange [Guardian – 24/2/16]
Shame Australia Shame. SBS Flashback: Asylum seekers in detention [VIDEO - 26/2/16]
The immigration department has defended the level of healthcare and medication available to refugees on Manus Island amid reports some who are severely ill are too scared to leave its detention centre.
“He won’t get any help there, currently he has people carrying him to the bathroom, shaving him and washing him,” Walker said.
“The [authorities] just want him to die elsewhere, not at the detention centre.” ... [Guardian - 26/2/16]
Jeanie M Walker, National Spokesperson for Asylum Seekers, Australian Democrats [15/9/15]:
... Mohammad was supposed to be brought to Australia for urgent medical treatment in February 2015 by medical request, but this did not happen.
He was told by Wilson Security that he had a flight if he signed a form saying he would never make a complaint against the guards that beat him.
When he would not sign the papers he was told that he would never leave Manus Island alive. ...
Report shows poor medical care led to deaths at US immigration detention centres [National Immigrant Justice Center - 25/2/16]:
A report, Fatal Neglect: How ICE Inspections Ignore Deaths in Detention, released today by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Detention Watch Network (DWN) and the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), examines egregious violations of medical standards by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that played a significant role in the deaths of eight people in detention centers across the country.
During the Obama administration, 56 individuals have died while in ICE custody. This report focuses on eight deaths during a three-year period (2010 to 2012). Based on documentation from ICE investigations conducted after each death, which the ACLU received through a Freedom of Information Act request, the report shows that violations of ICE’s medical standards contributed to the deaths.
More perniciously, additional research shows that ICE inspections of the detention facilities before and after these deaths failed to acknowledge -- or sometimes dismissed -- the substandard medical care.
"We were surrounded by very desperate men ... some in there since last July ... some almost crying."
"They were saying 'help me, help me' and 'give us freedom'"
- ABC journalist Liam Fox describing his visit to Manus Island with Judge Cannings' Inquiry on Radio Australia 'Pacific Beat' [21/3/14]
Inside of Manus centre described as "desperate" [Radio Australia - Pacific Beat - 21/3/14]
As part of an inquiry into the human rights of asylum seekers, a handful of journalists including the ABC's Liam Fox were allowed to join Justice David Cannings on his second visit to the detention centre. ... [ABC - 21/3/14]
Image: @SBSNews [21/3/14]
Delta compound was the worst. Like a slum. Men crammed into rusting shipping containers.
Even the view to the ocean was covered with mesh.
"tweeted" by @liamfoxpng - ABC journalist [21/3/14]
A hoffman knife has a curved blade and is used to cut down asylum seekers who've tried to hang themselves. ...
Image: @liamfoxpng - ABC journalist [21/3/14]
... They even prevent me from climbing a chair and looking at the sea. ...
Detailed PNG media report outlines sadism and psychological torture of refugees in Australia's concentration camp on Manus Island.
PNG Edge [20/3/14]:
Four witnesses were brought in to be cross examined yesterday at the Judge Cannings Inquiry into allegations of human rights breaches.
When the court resumed at 9am yesterday morning, the Immigration officer and the witnesses had not arrived and Justice Cannings asked Mr Frazer Pitpit, lawyer representing the Transferees if they were still going to arrive. Mr Pitpit said yes, they will be arriving shortly.
Justice Cannings pointed out that the transferees giving evidence will release their Identity and will be recorded by the Court of PNG so their lawyer (Mr Pitpit) must point out in advance whether their ID should be suppressed.
Mr Pitpit then asked for the court to be adjourned briefly so they can be consulted on this. Mr Ian Molloy, representing the state, said an affidavit of a transferee containing his personal details was at risk of being seen by the public. He asked for those paragraphs to be struck out to avoid this risk and Justice Cannings made a formal order for the affidavit to be suppressed and removed from the court file until further order.
Mr Pitpit then sought guidance from the Court whether or not written Affidavits could be sufficient instead of Oral evidence because they have already visited the site and therefore can verify claims in the affidavits. Justice Cannings rejected that and preferred Oral evidence because their observations yesterday was not supposed to be used as evidence. Besides the witnesses wanted to talk in court and give evidence on what may not be observed by the Party.
The court was then adjourned briefly at 9:25am as requested by Mr Pitpit to have the transferees consulted before giving witness.
The Inquiry Resumed at 10: 05 am and the first witness was brought in for cross examination.
The focus of the Inquiry was to investigate if there were any human rights abuses or deprivation so the cross examinations were done based on the affidavits provided by the witnesses.
The witness was from Iraq and claimed to be a former body guard of an important person (not specified).
... He claimed that when they were leaving for Manus, Scott Morrison pointed his fingers at them and said, “In your dreams, you can never get to Australia” and he never forgot that moment. He felt homeless and stateless and felt he was not even considered a person seeking asylum and that he had no rights at all.
“I have been feeling like that ever since until this morning. Just by sitting in this court, I feel I have some rights and I am human”.
He said one thing that really hurts is the fact that they were never given the freedom to come out. They even prevent me from climbing a chair and looking at the sea, he said. He said they were always excited to go out for excursions and to sing and laugh but the management does something very bad to them at the end of the tour.
They bring them to the airport and just let them look at the airport and it reminds them of going home or somewhere where they will have freedom.
“We just stand there and cry, they just spoil our day and I think it was deliberate”.
Obviously it was a psychological torment to them. He said, they must never bring them to the airport at the end of any excursion.
This witness is a Turk who lives in Iran. When cross examined by a lawyer from the Public Solicitors office, he said, he fled his country for politically related incidents. He was the member of a pro-Democratic Party and was threatened. He said that when he arrived, no one informed him of his rights. He did not complain too much about food but he said the heat at his camp is why the Transferees were restless and unhappy.
He said there was a lot of delay in getting medical inspection when they requested and he was very unhappy with it. Although he could make calls home, calls to Iran are usually monitored so he uses the Internet to communicate more often.
When crossed examined by Mr Molloy, he revealed that they were forced to get on the plane at Christmas Island with their hands tied.
He said the incident was filmed by some of his friends and uploaded on the internet but were removed by authorities. They were not certain where they were going when they got on the plane. Not sure whether it was Manus or Nauru. They only knew when they arrived in Manus and they said “Welcome to Manus”. He said they were told by Immigration officers they were going to be quarantined for 30 days after which they will be processed but its 7 seven months now and no processing has taken place.
When Justice Cannings asked the usual question: If this court finds evidence that Human Rights were breached, what orders would you like the court to make? He pleaded to the court to move them somewhere else for processing. They were feeling unsafe because of the recent incident and the transferee who died was his roommate so it was not a good feeling. Parts of his affidavit containing details of that incident were struck out from his affidavit earlier on as it was not the subject of this Inquiry.
This morning we are on the #Yarra standing in solidarity w #Refugees.
Everyone has the right to safety #LetThemStay.
Image: @AntheaBlunden [26/2/16]
Perhaps Australia needs to have a conversation about "complicity" AND "empathy"? The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists. ... [New York Times - 30/4/15]
US Psychologists approve ban on role in national security interrogations [New York Times - 7/8/15]
Two psychologists' role in CIA torture program comes into focus [LA Times – 14/12/14]:
In the "Salt Pit," a then-secret CIA prison in Afghanistan, John "Bruce" Jessen watched carefully in late 2002 as five agency officers rushed into a darkened cell and grabbed an Afghan detainee named Gul Rahman..
"It was thoroughly planned and rehearsed," Jessen later explained, according to a CIA investigator's report.
"They dragged him outside, cut off his clothes and secured him with Mylar tape," before beating him and forcing him to run wearing a hood.
When he fell, they dragged him down dirt passageways, leaving abrasions up and down his body.
Jessen added a critique. "After something like this is done, interrogators should speak to the prisoner to give [him] something to think about," he told the investigator.
On Nov. 20, 2002, Rahman was found dead in his unheated cell. He was naked from the waist down and had been chained to a concrete floor. An autopsy concluded that he probably froze to death.
Sydney Morning Herald [4/9/14]:
... Several weeks ago, two of the asylum seekers who were housed in Mike compound had never heard of Chauka.
One of them was an eyewitness to the murder of Reza Barati during the night of violence that engulfed the centre in February.
All that changed when they voiced their opposition to changes to the detention centre policy covering phone and internet access, insisting the changes made it almost impossible to talk to family members in the Middle East.
In a graphic account subsequently posted on Facebook, the Iranian who witnessed Barati's murder said he had been taken to Chauka, fed bread and water for three days and made to sleep on the muddy ground. ...
Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist and an honorary member of PEN International, writes from Manus Island, where he has been interned for 29 months [AIM - 10/12/15]:
... When I was in the Foxtrot camp, groans and cries of miserable, homeless human beings broke the dark silence of the island.
Once I climbed up a big tree to attempt to see why the people were crying.
Looking down I saw a very distressing scene. A thin boy who suffers from psychological problems had fallen into the ooze and slime near the fence. I could not tell if he was conscious.
His beaten face was clear under the weak lamp light. He lay like a foetus in the uterus. His clothes were ragged and scruffy.
Four ERT guards were sitting on chairs just beyond where he lay watching his bloody body.
One of them caressed the prisoner’s body with a thin piece of wood in his hands.
UN finds Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers violates the Convention Against Torture [Human Rights Law Centre - 9/3/15]
Nine MSN [14/8/15]:
Asylum seekers at Nauru have been water-boarded and secured to metal frame beds that are thrown into the air so they crash onto the floor, says an Australian guard at the detention centre.
The unnamed whistleblower, who works for Wilson Security, made the explosive torture allegations in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry examining abuse at the centre.
He gave a detailed explanation of a technique called "zipping".
"This process occurs by using cable ties to secure an asylum seeker to a metal bed with metal bars at the base ... the bed is thrown into the air and injury caused to the asylum seeker as the bed strikes the floor," he said.
Nauru Senate Inquiry - August 2015 - Supplementary Submission [Mr Jon Nicholls No. 95.1]:
... Despite what one may find on the internet, at no time has Mr Nichols suggested waterboarding etc was part of some organised intelligence gathering for whomever - he says it occurred in a modern day 'Lord of of the Flies' - 'Stanford Experiment' type situation - the guilty parties did it for mere enjoyment and human nature is what it is.
There is no protection on Nauru from this behaviour because there is no Rule of Law, just arbitrary, crude and evil behaviour. ...
Manus Island asylum seekers given anti-malarial drug known to cause mental health problems [ABC - 9/2/16]
Antimalaria drugs used in "an experimental program in interrogation and torture" of detainees at Guantanamo [Kevin Gosztola - 5/4/15]
Mass administration of the antimalarial drug mefloquine to Guantanamo detainees: a critical analysis, Remington L. Nevin - Department of Preventive Medicine, Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Ft. Polk, LA, USA :
... One possibility is that the use of mefloquine was simply erroneously directed by senior US military medical officials overly confident of the drug’s safety and unfamiliar with its appropriate use, in an apparent foreshadowing of its later, broader misprescribing among US military personnel (Nevin 2010).
Another possibility, which is deeply troubling to consider, is that the decision to administer the drug was informed and motivated at least in part by knowledge of the drug’s adverse neuropsychiatric effects and the presumed plausible deniability of claims of misuse in the context of its seemingly legitimate clinical or public health indication. ...
600 refugees in Australian detention centre write open letter demanding assisted suicide [Independent - 2/12/15]
Guardian [VIDEO - 23/1/15]:
... Video footage obtained by Guardian Australia shows dozens of asylum seekers and refugees held in a single, windowless prison cell.
There is no furniture in the cell. Almost all the men lie close together and motionless in tight lines on the floor.
A man speaking on the video – whose voice has been altered to avoid identification – alleged the men were beaten by security guards employed by Wilson and by police while in custody.
“They have beaten everyone in this camp. We are totalling 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us,” he said.
The video shows marks on some of the men’s bodies.
It ends abruptly when a noise is heard, apparently outside the cell.
In August 2015, a Senate motion to expedite the ratification of OPCAT [Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment] didn't even get to a vote because Queensland ALP Senator Claire Moore objected.
Senate Hansard [11/8/15]:
Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (15:54): I ask that general business notice of motion No. 782 standing in my name for today, relating to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, be taken as a formal motion.
The PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to this motion being taken as formal?
Senator Moore: Yes.
The PRESIDENT: There is an objection.
Senator WRIGHT: I seek leave to make a short statement.
The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Senator WRIGHT: I am greatly concerned that the government has chosen to deny me a chance to put this important motion to expedite the ratification of OPCAT, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. This OPCAT was voluntarily signed up to by an Australian government in 2009, and since then both Labor and coalition governments have inexplicably dragged their feet in its ratification. OPCAT would ensure independent monitoring and reporting on places of detention in Australia, all those places where some of the most overlooked marginalised and powerless people are kept detained: prisoners in jails and police lockups, patients in psychiatric facilities, young people in juvenile detention, and asylum seekers. With very recent examples of deaths in custody and cruel and inhumane treatment of people detained, it is very disappointing that I have been prevented from putting this motion today. It is crucial to fully ratify the protocol and set clear time frames to implement. Australia's own good standing is at stake.
Senator FIFIELD (Victoria—Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (15:55): I seek leave to make a short statement.
The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Senator FIFIELD: Just for the sake of accuracy, while the government does not support Senator Wright's motion, it was the opposition that denied formality on this occasion.
Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:56): I seek leave to make a short statement.
The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Senator MOORE: Yes, Senator Wright, we did deny formality to this important motion, because it is our longstanding practice. Where we have an issue such as this which is complex and creates a number of complex situations and also determines significant discussions across all states and territories, we believe it is not appropriate to use the notice of motion process for that, and that is our standard practice.
No matter your view on asylum seekers and offshore detention, a prohibition on torture is something we can all support, writes Greens Senator Penny Wright, who will present a motion to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture to Parliament today. ... [Lawyers Weekly - 11/8/15]
Almost 300 more asylum seekers join PNG constitutional challenge to Australia's refugee concentration camp on Manus Island
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [26/2/16]:
PNG lawyer, Ben Lomai, will today file another 287 submissions from Manus Island asylum seekers to join them to a PNG Supreme Court constitutional challenge to the Manus Island detention centre and the denial of their human rights.
This second tranche of submissions takes the total number of asylum seekers joined to the case to around 600.
A third tranche is expected to be filed in March and will effectively mean all of the asylum seekers will be a party to the action to enforce their rights under the PNG constitution.
Besides the constitutionality of the agreement to establish the detention centre, asylum seekers are seeking orders regarding their imprisonment without charge; being denied access to lawyers; denied due legal process; subjected to abuse and torture, etc.
A ‘status conference’ on Monday 29 February in Port Moresby is expected to set a date for the Supreme Court hearing of the challenge.
The constitutionality of the Memorandum of Understanding between PNG and Australia, that initially established the detention centre, is also being considered by the Supreme Court in a matter brought by the Opposition leader Beldan Nemah.
A decision in that matter is expected to be handed down very soon.
The PNG Constitutional Challenge has drawn a lot of attention in light of the recent Australian High Court decision finding that offshore detention on Nauru was legal under Australian law.
That decision also affected 34 asylum seekers from Manus Island who were attached to the case.
In the aftermath of the Australian High Court finding, a “Let Them Stay” campaign is demanding that the Turnbull government allow all 267 asylum seekers attached to that court case be allowed to remain in Australia.
Dutton LIED about self harm and the "opposition" protected him: 21 mins in ---> Wilkie moves censure of Immigration Minister [VIDEO - 22/2/16]
Calling on only the LNP to Let Them Stay, and NOT the ALP, lets the ALP off the hook and fortifies Australia's escalating war on refugees:
Peter "protected and unaccountable" Dutton confirms expanded military spending to be used to attack refugees and stop people from seeking asylum in Australia [Minister for Immigration Media Release - 25/2/16]
Racist, anti refugee countries "sign work and holiday arrangement" [Minister for Immigration Media Release - 24/2/16]
Hungarian parliament passes bill allowing use of non lethal force against refugees.
Australian parliament currently considering a bill authorising concentration camp guards to beat refugees to death.
Hungary’s parliament has passed a law allowing the government to deploy its army to handle refugees at its borders and the use of non-lethal force such as rubber bullets and tear gas grenades.
Speaking ahead of the vote on Monday Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed that millions of refugees are “laying siege” to the borders of his country and of Europe, and said: “The migrants are not just banging on our door, they’re breaking it down,” before reiterating his view that most were coming for economic and not safety reasons.
The vote came on the same day that the Hungarian government took out a full page advert in Lebanon’s leading daily newspaper warning people that entering the country illegally is a crime punishable by imprisonment.
26 February 2016