Regression in key areas: Update on Australia’s Universal Periodic Review by UN Human Rights Council
Human Rights Law Centre Media Release [27/7/15]:
In the lead up to Australia’s review by the UN Human Rights Council, the Australian NGO Coalition has released a series of Fact Sheets and held a briefing event to inform UN member states about the human rights situation in Australia.
The Universal Periodic Review (‘UPR’) is a mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council which reviews the human rights records of all 193 United Nations Member States.
Australia was last reviewed under the UPR in January 2011 and faces its second review this year. Australia is due to submit its report for the UPR in early August ahead of appearing before the Council in Geneva on 9 November.
While Australia accepted 90% of recommendations made in 2011 (in whole or in part) and a number of positive steps have been taken, progress has stalled on many recommendations and we have witnessed regression in key areas.
The vehicle introduced to drive and monitor the implementation of UPR recommendations, Australia’s National Human Rights Action Plan, has not advanced, which has meant the status of many recommendations remains unclear. Australia is likely to be criticised for its failure to implement the vast majority of recommendations accepted in the last review as well as emerging human rights challenges.
Following the lodgement of a Joint NGO Submission in March this year, the Australian NGO Coalition has released a series of Fact Sheets to ensure that UN member states are provided with credible and accurate information about key human rights issues in Australia.
The 18 thematic Fact Sheets build on the submission and provide further background on key issues as well as our suggested recommendations. The Fact Sheets will be used to brief and lobby embassies and missions in Australia and Geneva. Thanks to the members of the UPR NGO Advisory Committee that assisted in the drafting of the materials.
The Australian NGO Coalition partnered with the Australian Human Rights Commission to convene a UPR Briefing for embassies in Canberra earlier this month. The event was generously hosted by DLA Piper and attended by around 70 diplomatic staff representing 48 countries, as well as representatives from the Attorney-General’s Department and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
President Triggs facilitated a panel of NGO delegates representing a range of issue areas and population groups, including Anna Brown (HRLC), Amanda Alford (National Association of CLCs), Les Malezer (National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples), Asher Hirsch (Refugee Council of Australia), Christina Ryan (Advocacy for Inclusion), Corey Irlam (COTA Australia and the Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby), Gulnara Abbasova (FECCA), Anna Lyons (Justice Connect Homeless Law) and Elena Rosenman (ACT Women’s Legal Centre).
Strong interest was shown by attendees, particularly in issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Australia’s asylum seeker and refugee policies.
The Australian Government is due to submit its UPR report in early August. Representatives of the Australian NGO Coalition and the Australian Human Rights Commission will be briefing country missions in Geneva in October ahead of Australia’s appearance in November.
The UPR is a mechanism designed to encourage dialogue, exposure and accountability in an effort to improve the realisation of human rights. With this in mind, the Australian NGO Coalition will be continuing its dialogue with the Australian Government and working to raise awareness of the UPR amongst civil society and the broader public over the coming months.
Badly flawed Citizenship Bill should not be passed
[HRLC Media Release - 26/7/15]
Queensland police officer disciplined for lewd taunt
A Queensland police officer has been disciplined for taunting an inmate by making inappropriate gestures with a traffic cone.
The naked offender had been brought to the Stanthorpe police station on a public nuisance charge in March last year.
An internal report revealed an off-duty officer admitted to holding a traffic cone to his groin and thrusting it at them.
"Disciplinary action has been taken in accordance with Service policy," a police statement to AAP read.
... The incident was brought to the attention of management after a complaint by the senior constable's colleague.
Another officer at the same station has also received managerial guidance after a separate internal report found he made fun of Asian people.
That investigation found the sergeant "is insulting and rude to Asian persons, making inappropriate comments to them".
He was also asked to complete additional training via the Competency Acquisition Program as "further reinforcement".
A Queensland Police spokesperson said the matter was investigated and they had substantiated the allegations.
"Disciplinary action has been taken in accordance with service policy," the spokesperson said.
"The Queensland Police Service does not condone inappropriate behaviour by its members either on or off-duty and expects all members to behave to high standards at all times."
A NSW police officer accused of assaulting a drunk driver has been charged. ... [Nine MSN - 27/7/15]
A Native American activist was recently arrested and found dead in jail under conditions very similar to those of Sandra Bland in Texas.
Rexdale W. Henry, 53, was recently found dead inside the Neshoba County Jail in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on July 14th. He had been arrested over failure to pay a minor traffic citation. ... [Countercurrent News - 26/7/15]
Texas county’s racial past is seen as prelude to Sandra Bland’s death [New York Times - 26/7/15]
‘Traffic Stop’ – A short animated film about a 19-year-old who was almost another dead black male [Hello Beautiful - 26/7/15]
Dangerous driving and robbery charges, Emerald [QPS Media - 27/7/15]:
Rockhampton detectives have charged a man following an alleged evade police, robbery and unlawful use of a motor vehicle yesterday afternoon in Emerald.
It will be alleged the man threatened another man before leaving in his vehicle in Emerald around 4:30pm.
The vehicle was observed by police on the Capricorn Highway and a tyre deflation device was deployed, approximately 1.5km east of Duaringa. The vehicle swerved around the device, colliding with a guard rail before the vehicle stopped.
The man was subsequently arrested.
A 28-year-old Glenella Man has been charged with one count each of; armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, assault or obstruct police, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, common assault, breach of bail conditions and two counts each of dangerous operation of a vehicle and driving a motor vehicle without a licence.
He is due to appear in Rockhampton Magistrates Court today, July 27.
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
Police take a keen interest in stalking - when its an alleged bikie [QPS Media - 27/7/15]
Police investigate Cairns hit-and-run after 37yo man injured in Parramatta Park
Police are investigating a hit-and-run incident in Cairns, in far north Queensland, overnight.
Officers said a 37-year-old man was walking along Severin Street in Parramatta Park about 11:00pm (AEST) when he was hit by a car from behind.
Police said the man was knocked to the ground and sought help from the driver but the car left the scene.
They are looking for a 1991 white Holden Commodore VN sedan.
The 37 year old was taken to the Cairns Hospital with a hip injury.
Meanwhile, police are appealing for witnesses to two hit-and-run crashes on the Sunshine Coast.
A 37-year-old Marcoola man was hit by a vehicle about 3:00am yesterday as he was walking along Kawana Way.
He was found lying on the road by a passing motorist and taken to hospital with non-life threatening head injuries.
And a man remains in a critical condition in the Royal Brisbane Hospital after being hit by a car on Bulcock Street at Caloundra early on Friday morning.
Man charged after woman hit by car in Melbourne [Nine MSN - 27/7/15]
Unlawful use of vehicle arrest, Caloundra [QPS Media - 27/7/15]
Serious traffic crash, Rosewood [QPS Media - 27/7/15]
Benjamin James Milward was high on drugs and alcohol the day he's alleged to have murdered French student Sophie Collombet, a court has heard.
The Brisbane Magistrates Court heard Milward took his second hit just hours before allegedly raping and murdering the 21-year-old in a Brisbane park on the night of March 27, 2014. ... [Yahoo - 27/7/15]
Police investigating an assault in Gladstone last month are appealing for assistance from the public. ... [QPS Media - 27/7/15]
Teenager brutally bashed after minor car park prang with ute, Newcastle [Sydney Morning Herald – 27/7/15]
Jehovah's Witnesses did not report 1006 alleged sex abusers to police, Royal Commission told
Sydney Morning Herald [27/7/15]:
The Jehovah's Witness Church in Australia received allegations of child sexual abuse involving more than 1000 of its members over a 60-year period but did not report a single claim to police, a royal commission has heard.
Instead, the church, which has almost 70,000 active members, followed its policy of handling allegations internally.
The opening day of the hearing into the Jehovah's Witnesses at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was told that church elders blamed at least two victims for their sexual abuse.
The commission heard that alleged abusers could be cast out of the church if claims were proven but a requirement that at least two witnesses give evidence to an internal judicial committee meant many alleged perpetrators were not questioned.
Counsel assisting the royal commission, Angus Stewart, SC, said the church had recorded 1006 cases involving individual perpetrators within the organisation since 1950.
However, the church had a strict policy of not reporting allegations of abuse to secular authorities.
The commission heard that the church abhors child sexual abuse, which it recognises as a "gross sin and crime".
"Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the only way to finally end child abuse is to, as they put it, 'embrace God's kingdom under Christ' and to 'love God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself', so as to be saved when the end comes," Mr Stewart said.
When church elders received a complaint about abuse, they could cast out a perpetrator if the allegation was proven.
The commission was told that since 1950, 401 members had been cast out or "disfellowshipped" but more than half were later reinstated.
Almost 60 people have contacted the royal commission regarding allegations of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses, with two due to give evidence.
One survivor, using the pseudonym BCB, will tell the commission she was molested by a church elder in Western Australia from the age of 15.
The commission will hear that when she disclosed the alleged abuse, she was forced to confront the perpetrator, who joked about his conduct.
Mr Stewart told the commission that church elders considered the "spirituality and the seductiveness" of the complainant in determining the complaint.
A church elder told the woman, now aged 47, she would "drag Jehovah's name through the mud" if she gave evidence to the royal commission.
A second abuse survivor, given the pseudonym BCG, will give evidence she was molested by her father, a church elder.
The commission will hear evidence that church authorities made her directly confront her father about the allegations and his response was to "blame her for seducing him."
She later contacted police and her father, given the pseudonym BCH, was sentenced to three years in prison for unlawful and indecent sexual assault.
The hearing continues.
Senate Inquiry hears of David and Goliath battle landholders face against CSG in Queensland
Greens Media Release [27/7/15]:
The first public hearing of the Senate Inquiry into the Greens’ bill to give landholders the right to say ‘no’ to gas and coal mining on their land and to ban fracking was held in Brisbane today.
Queensland Senator Larissa Waters, the Australian Greens Acting Leader and mining spokesperson, who introduced the bill to the Parliament, said:
“We’ve heard from Queensland landholders today who desperately want to protect their land, water and health but have been left with no legal rights to say ‘no’ to the big mining companies.
“Landholders gave evidence today that their families and neighbours are experiencing health impacts and that CSG companies have threatened to take them to court, even when they have made it clear that they have ‘locked the gate’.
“Our bill would use the corporations power under the Constitution to give landholders, including farmers, local councils and traditional owners, the legal right to say no to coal and gas exploration and mining.
“Federally, the major parties try to fob off this issue as a state one, but the states have not acted to protect land, water and communities so it is time the Commonwealth stepped in to do so.
“Our bill would also ban fracking – a dangerous practice that involves chemicals being blasted into coal seams, which risks our geological stability and water quality.
“Queensland’s agriculture and climate are too important to risk for the private profits of big mining companies that mostly flow offshore, especially when we have safe, job-rich renewable alternatives at hand,” Senator Waters said.
The Inquiry’s next hearing will be held in Canberra tomorrow before reporting on 31 August. For more information:
Beaches closed as Great Barrier Reef oil spill clean-up continues
Authorities are asking the public to stay away from several north Queensland beaches as a clean-up of a mystery oil spill continues.
The Queensland Transport Department was alerted to thin patches of oil along a 10 kilometre stretch of water in ocean south of Townsville 10 days ago.
Air searches failed to find any sign of the pollutant but the department received reports on Friday that some oil had begun to wash up on beaches near Lucinda, north of Townsville, and on Hinchinbrook and Palm islands.
The beaches have been closed as crews clean up the oil, thought to be caused by a passing ship.
Sergeant John Tantalo from the Halifax police station said members of the public should not touch it.
"The clean-up operation is well in progress and there have been a number of people who've come into contact with the substance, so we're asking people to stay off the beach where the substance is," he said.
"Do not touch it and it will be cleaned up as soon as it can by the appropriate authorities."
The clean-up began on Saturday morning and the department said it had no reports of damage to wildlife.
It said it had
visited nine Australian ports to take samples from ships that were passing the
area at the time of the oil slick and several more ships would be followed up
Japan: Heat wave kills at least two, hospitalises 2,000 in one weekend [Weather Channel – 26/7/15]
Bogota: Bernard Tomic defends title at Claro Open
Sydney Morning Herald [27/7/15]:
Bernard Tomic has completed a tumultuous fortnight to successfully defend his title at the Claro Open.
The Australian No.1 defeated Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-1 3-6 6-2 in Sunday's final to secure his third ATP title, having also won the 2013 Sydney International.
Tomic's victory comes after the 22-year-old was suspended from Australia's Davis Cup quarter-final win over Kazakhstan in Darwin for savaging Tennis Australia bosses and then being arrested 10 days ago in Miami following a hotel party.
While Tomic's immediate Davis Cup future remains uncertain as he refuses to meet with TA president Steve Healey to discuss his family's issues with the governing body, Sunday's success was a morale booster ahead of next month's US Open in New York.
Tomic is now unbeaten in nine matches in the Colombian capital after also lifting the trophy last year with victory over Croatian Ivo Karlovic.
But he had to fight hard against Mannarino, who fought back to take the second set and threatened to go on with the job in the deciding set.
Tomic sent down nine aces and saved five of the seven break points he faced to prevail after one hour and 32 minutes.
The second seed collected a cheque for $US124,325 ($A170,930) and rose four rankings spots to No.25 in the world.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan backs Lewis Jetta's war dance, calls for end to Adam Goodes' booing [The Age - 27/7/15]
Indonesian Airport officials deny entry to five Roma players
Jakarta Globe [25/7/15]:
Indonesian football fans were thrilled to see Italian side AS Roma touch down in Jakarta on Friday as part of their pre-season tour. Indonesian immigration officials? Not so much.
After arriving in Jakarta for the first time in club history ahead of their AS Roma Indonesia Day 2015 program, officials informed the Serie A side that five players would not be able to enter the country.
Seydou Doumbia, Gervinho, Victor Ibarbo, Adem Ljajic and Antonio Sanabria were denied entry and instead of joining their teammates for Saturday’s events at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, they were put on planes bound for Rome.
The team did not specify why the players were not allowed to enter the country.
Roma are on the final leg of their pre-season tour after taking part in the International Champions Cup tournament in Australia, where they beat Real Madrid in a shootout and lost to Manchester City in the same manner.
Roma CEO Italo Zanzi was frustrated that the players were unable to take part in the events.
“The reception that we received at the airport, along the streets and at the hotel was sincerely the best reception that I have seen anywhere,” he told reporters at the team hotel in Jakarta according the team’s official website.
“We had an unfortunate situation at the airport that was very frustrating as five of our players were not allowed in the country. They are now on their way back to Rome.”
“It’s real disappointment for us, given that we’ve made a substantial effort to be here.”
As "comrades" protest China, Australia media blacks out final TPP negotiations in Hawaii
... But although officials in Maui said the mood was optimistic, the toughest issues have been left until last, including monopoly periods for new life-saving medicines and preferential treatment for state-owned companies, besides more traditional issues such as allowing more competition in protected markets. ... [Reuters - 27/7/15]
Japan Today [27/7/15]:
Higher costs for needed generic drugs. Longer copyright protections than the global standard. Foreign investors empowered to overrule governments. A more tightly-regulated Internet.
Those are just some of the potential pitfalls from any deal that could emerge from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-country free-trade and investment pact shrouded in secrecy as negotiations head into the final stage in Hawaii this week.
A handful of draft chapters of the TPP, leaked via WikiLeaks, have highlighted the proposed treaty’s heavy emphasis on expanding protections for corporate rights and assets like intellectual property—patents, copyrights and databases—that are far more valuable to advanced economy corporations than traditional cargo trade.
For critics, the proposals show a deal moving more toward protection than free trade, one more about corporate benefits than boosting economies and development.
But backers say the modern global economy needs a new framework of rules to protect intellectual property-dependent 21st century industries that aren’t covered in traditional free trade pacts like the World Trade Organization.
The 12 countries involved—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam—have agreed to deliberate in great secrecy, with the goal of producing a deal that can either be accepted or rejected as a whole.
The leaked documents, too, show great disagreement on many issues still under negotiation.
Nevertheless, what is known from the leaks has left a whole range of politicians, academics and civil society groups deeply worried.
Many public health organizations say the intellectual property protections proposed would raise the costs of health care and drugs to many millions around the world.
TPP drafts from last year show a proposed 12-year protection for new biologic drugs, when even the administration of President Barack Obama now wants that US standard reduced to seven years to keep prices lower and foment more competition.
They also show efforts to make it harder for poorer countries to produce generic versions of other drugs, to extend patent protections to new versions of existing drugs and to force governments—particularly New Zealand—to reveal their internal pricing data on pharmaceuticals.
Critics say this will only strengthen the hand of big drug companies.
“The main goal is to lengthen and strengthen current intellectual property regimes via new norms that haven’t been included in a trade agreement before,” said Judit Rius Sanjuan of Doctors Without Borders.
“As it relates to new regulatory monopolies based on exclusivity, it will delay access to generic medicines,” which her group depends on to extend health care to poor people around the world.
“This is a top priority for the US government… to basically change the intellectual property rules of the countries,” she said.
Another TPP goal is to enshrine the U.S.-standard of a 70-year copyright protection period, well beyond the 50 years agreed in the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a Silicon Valley lobby on technology-related rights and regulation, said copyright extension only “enriches big media corporations, not struggling artists; it impedes libraries, archives, educators and people with disabilities; and it locks away an entire corpus of works that belong in the public domain.”
EFF has also highlighted another problem with the TPP drafts: an effort to make Internet service providers in the 12 countries responsible for enforcing intellectual property rights with their online customers.
The result will likely lead “to more Internet censorship measures… in the name of copyright enforcement,” the group said.
Another TPP flashpoint is the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which gives foreign investors the right to sue a government in an outside tribunal over policies or actions that hurt their investment.
ISDS has attracted strong criticism when used, for instance, by powerful companies like Philip Morris to sue Australia over its cigarette packaging rules, Eli Lilly to sue Canada over its drug patent standards and France’s Veolia to sue Egypt after it raised wages.
Critics call it a way for foreign investors to overrule a government’s domestic policies and laws, at the possible expense of the local population, as well as local companies without the same ISDS recourse.
But defenders note, as the two examples suggest, that ISDS is already widely present in bilateral trade agreements and investment contracts around the world including, for instance, the NAFTA deal covering the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and the TPP would not substantially change that.
Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb will participate in ministerial talks in Hawaii from 28-31 July with the aim of concluding negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). ... [Media Release - 26/7/15]
British PM David Cameron visits South East Asia [Channel News Asia – 27/7/15]:
... Also on the trip are senior figures from prominent British businesses including engine maker Rolls-Royce and construction equipment maker JCB, as the prime minister seeks to drum up trade in the region.
Writing in Britain's Daily Mail newspaper ahead of the visit, Cameron said: "This is a region on the rise, and I'm determined that Britain grabs every opportunity that brings." ...
The Greek government is now set to begin new talks with the IMF, ECB and European Commission next week.
Greece has requested a new loan from the International Monetary Fund, and is now set to meet with the international body and other creditors Monday. ... [teleSUR - 25/7/15]
Papua Police arrest members of Evangelical Church suspected to be behind Tolikara riot
Jakarta Post [25/7/15]:
Papua Police said on Friday that they had arrested two suspects related to the recent religious clash in Tolikara, Papua.
The police suspect that the two people, with the initials JW and AK, instigated the riot that resulted in the death of a teenager and the injury of 12 others of various ages.
Papua Police chief Ins. Gen. Yotje Mende said on Friday that JW and AK were flown from Tolikara to Papua Police’s headquarter for further questioning
.“They were both involved in the attack against Muslims, who performing Idul Fitri prayers, and they were also involved in the burning of several kiosks” Yotje added.
The police said the two men were members of the Evangelical Church of Indonesia and they both worked as clerks in a local bank in Tolikara.
Yotje also said that the suspects would be charged with provocation and assault under articles 160 and 170 of the Criminal Code, which can see a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment.
Freeport Indonesia, the local unit of US mining giant Freeport McMoRan, remains hopeful to secure an export permit from the government after missing Saturday’s deadline. The speed bump effectively halted the company’s exports, putting its mining production at risk.
“There’s is no definite cancellation yet,” Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said last Monday. “We are still discussing the matter with the government. Hopefully, we can reach a deal in the near future.”
Freeport Indoneisa last week submitted a request to export 575,000 tons of copper concentrate from its Grassberg mine in Papua for the next six months. Under previous permits, the company was allowed to export 756,000 metric tons of concentrate from January through July 2014 and 580,000 metric tons of concentrate in the same period this year. ... [Jakarta Globe - 26/7/15]
PNG Customs confiscate laptop from Chinese man [PNG Facts - 26/7/15]
Australia stopped accepting ALL UNHCR refugees in October 2014.
1,000s are arriving in Indonesia.
The lie is so FUCKING obvious and STILL human rights groups are silent.
Do they, like the LNP and ALP, think refugees in our region are just going to disappear?
Australian Financial Review [27/7/15]:
The Abbott government's decision to stop resettling refugees registering in Indonesia has strained social services and detention centres at Australia's largest neighbour.
In the eight months since the change in policy, the number of asylum seekers and refugees registered with Jakarta have increased by 30 per cent to 13,188 people, according to United Nations data.
The increased burden on Indonesian social services and detention centres – Indonesia is traditionally seen as a transit country, particularly for Australian resettlement – threatens to further strain relations between the neighbouring nations, already suffering from the fallout of the Bali executions and reduced cattle import quotas.
Each month, several hundred people arrive in Indonesia seeking asylum. The majority are Shia Hazara of Afghan origin, along with Tamils, Somalis, Iraqis, Iranians and Rohingya from Myanmar.
In November 2014, then immigration minister Scott Morrison announced Australia would no longer resettle refugees who had registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jakarta after July 1, 2014.
"These changes should reduce the movement of asylum seekers to Indonesia and encourage them to seek resettlement in or from countries of first asylum," he said at the time.
The minister also announced that Australia would resettle 150 fewer refugees who registered prior to that date, down from 600 to 450 annually.
It is too early to tell whether the policy will stem arrivals in Indonesia, given monthly numbers appeared to be dropping in 2015 compared to 2014, before a spike in Rohingya migrants arriving on Indonesia's northern shores in May.
Most have traditionally used Indonesia as a transit country to get a boat to Christmas Island or wait for resettlement in Australia through the UNHCR process.
Afghan refugee Ali Rasooli told The Australian Financial Review that asylum seekers continued to arrive to the full community detention facilities in Makassar, north-east of Bali, and that in recent months Indonesian immigration officials had held meetings to calm rising anger in the local community.
"People are coming from Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to save their lives. They are not safe there," the 24 year old said, referring to the threat to Shia Muslims from the Taliban, Sunni militants and Islamic State.
Asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia are waiting up to four years for UNHCR processing. Under Indonesian law migrants cannot work while they wait, which means they must rely on their own savings or on the Indonesian government and UNHCR for their food and shelter.
Mr Rasooli, a former translator for rebuild forces in Afghanistan, said people sought asylum in Indonesia because there were no UNHCR offices in the countries closer to their homes.
"The people here are hopeful that one day the Australian government will increase the number of refugees it resettles," he said.
Many asylum seekers and refugees – the latter have had their refugee claims verified – have paid smugglers to get them into an Indonesian detention centre as resettlement waiting times have ballooned and their savings have run low.
Mustafa Maanka arrived in Indonesia after July 1, 2014 and is ineligible for resettlement in Australia under the immigration policy.
The 23-year-old Somali, who fled Mogadishu for Indonesia when Al-Shabaab threatened his life, said he was sad and disappointed by his situation in Indonesia.
"Here there is peace, otherwise there is no difference. There is no work, there is no education and we are eating insufficient food. Here we are just waiting, waiting," he said.
Afghanistan: 20 killed at wedding party in Baghlan [TOLO News – 27/7/15]
More on fate of latest boat of Vietnamese refugees (that we know of) refouled by Australia
Sydney Morning Herald [27/7/15]:
Australian authorities used the cover of darkness to whisk back a group of Vietnamese asylum seekers to their homeland by plane, where three of them have been detained, a Vietnamese advocacy group says.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday refused to comment on the reports, instead questioning the strength of Labor's commitment to turning back asylum seeker boats after it adopted the policy at the weekend.
There are reports that the group of asylum seekers, which is thought to include two babies, arrived back in Vietnam on Sunday. Australian authorities are believed to have intercepted the group's boat off the coast of Dampier in Western Australia last week.
VOICE spokesman Trung Doan, whose Melbourne-based organisation advocates for Vietnamese people in need of protection, said the group of 46 people arrived in Ho Chi Minh city by plane about 1pm on Sunday.
Quoting sources in Vietnam, he said the asylum seekers were earlier transferred from their boat to an Australian vessel, where they were interviewed by authorities.
Mr Doan said the asylum seekers were then moved to a larger navy ship and taken to an unknown island off the Australian mainland, where they departed by plane on Saturday night.
After touching down in Vietnam, he said the group was transported by road to Vinh Thuan province. Forty-three asylum seekers were allowed to return home but three members of the group have been detained for further questioning, Mr Doan said.
"There was no explanation. [The three people] were taken … to the provincial centre and that indicates they would be in for serious interrogation," he said.
He said the asylum seekers comprised two extended family groups – mostly Christians, but also Buddhists. He believed one family were experienced boat fishers, and the families pooled their money to buy the boat, which he said departed Vietnam on July 2.
There had been speculation the group was fleeing religious persecution, but Mr Doan said he did not believe this was the case.
Mr Doan said sources in Vietnam reported members of the returned group had lost weight "and looked downtrodden".
"They didn't know anything about Australia's attitude to boat people … They thought Australia, being a civilised country, would treat them better than the Vietnamese authorities," he said.
Fairfax Media asked Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to substantiate the reports. A spokeswoman said the government would not comment on "operational matters".
Manus Island violence is a result of illicit home brew and has absolutely nothing to do with the impact of Australia's refugee death camp [Guardian - 27/7/15]
... Mr Knight said investigations are also underway into separate claims that three Australian expat workers at the centre were involved in the gang rape of a local woman.
Comment has been sought from Transfield, Wilson Security and the Immigration Department. [Nine MSN - 27/7/15]
More than 70,000 Iraqi families have fled Fallujah as the Anbar city has become the latest battlefield between the Islamic State and Iraqi security forces, according to information from Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights. ... [RUDAW - 26/7/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [26/7/15]:
Coalition military forces 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 yesterday, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 airstrikes in Syria:
• Near Al Hasakah, five airstrikes struck two ISIL large tactical units, two ISIL small tactical units and two ISIL fighting positions and destroyed an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL command and control center, two ISIL fighting positions and three ISIL checkpoints.
• Near Aleppo, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL towed artillery piece.
• Near Ar Raqqah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
• Near Kobani, five airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit and four ISIL small tactical units and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL mortar position.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter-attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
• Near Al Asad, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL structure.
• Near Al Qaim, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
• Near Habbaniyah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL mortar systems, an ISIL structure and an ISIL bridge.
• Near Haditha, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL structures.
• Near Makhmur, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL bunkers.
• Near Mosul, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL vehicle-borne improvised explosive device factory and an ISIL mortar position and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
• Near Ramadi, five airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, two ISIL tanks and an ISIL armored personnel carrier and destroyed an ISIL road block, an ISIL armored personnel carrier, an ISIL building, two ISIL structures and an ISIL mortar position.
• Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL ammunition cache and an ISIL fighting position.
• Near Tuz, four airstrikes struck four ISIL staging areas.
Turkey launches new strikes on PKK as NATO meeting called [Hurriyet Daily News - 27/7/15]
A Yemeni medical worker has been killed in Saudi Arabia’s latest air raid against the northwestern Hajjah province.
According to Sunday reports by local media outlets, the medic was killed after Saudi jets targeted a medical center in Mustaba district.
Two Yemeni civilians lost their lives and two others sustained injuries as Saudi fighter jets pounded a residential area in Baqim district in Yemen's northwestern province of Sa'ada. ... [Press TV - 26/7/15]
As Saudi airstrikes continue, Yemeni Houthis say they have not been informed by UN about ceasefire [Ahram - 26/7/15]
350 US airmen deployed to Afghanistan [TOLO News - 26/7/15]
Afghanistan: Unidentified gunmen kidnap 14 civilians in Baghlan [Khaama - 26/7/15]
At least 19 people have been killed and 47 others injured when explosives carried by girl aged about 10 detonated in a crowded market in the Nigerian city of Damaturu, police have said. ... [Al Jazeera - 27/7/15]
At least six killed in Mogadishu hotel car bombing [Naharnet – 26/7/15]
UNRWA funding crisis impacting health, education services for Gaza’s refugees [Anadolu Agency - 26/7/15]:
... Notably, a recent Israeli report called for the speedy termination of UNRWA’s activities in the West Bank and Gaza, describing the refugee agency’s current financial crisis as a “golden opportunity” to bring this about.
The report, prepared by Israel’s Institute of Strategic Studies and published in June by Israeli Hebrew-language daily Maariv, pointed out that the termination of the UNRWA’s activities would serve to “eliminate the ‘right of return’ [for Palestinian refugees] and dispelling the hope of refugees of ever returning to their homes [in historical Palestine].”
Israeli settlers filled up an ancient agricultural well in the West Bank village of Deir Istiya west of Salfit on Saturday, local farmers told Ma'an. ... [Maan - 26/7/15]
Israel's actions during last year’s Operation Protective Edge were lawful and justified, according to Major-General Jim Molan, who addressed the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum on Tuesday night.
Molan, former commander of Australia’s troops in Iraq, spent a week in Israel in May meeting with politicians, military experts, IDF strategists and soldiers. ... [Australian Jewish News - 27/7/15]
Major General Jim Molan is the Australian government's protected and unaccountable Operation Sovereign Borders "Special Envoy". [Prime Minister of Australia Media Release - 16/12/13]
Is Australian General Jim Molan a War Criminal? [homepageDAILY - 14/1/14]
On the St,in front of a Hospital in #Gaza an injured man with his x-Ray& child Waiting to be treated ...
Image: @DrBasselAbuward [29/7/14]
The ABC balanced its censorship of Brisbane protests against the war on Gaza by covering a pro Israel rally
Image: @louisarebgetz - ABC staffer [3/8/14]
Queensland Parliament Hansard [4/3/14]:
Mr MINNIKIN (Chatsworth—LNP) (9.08 pm): I wish to speak this evening on the formation of the Queensland Parliamentary Friends of Israel, of which I am honoured to be the inaugural chairperson. In a spirit of bi-partisanship, many of my parliamentary colleagues met on 16 October last year to hold our launch and annual general meeting in order to form this important parliamentary group. I wish to place on record my gratitude that this group was established in a bi-partisan manner, as no political party has a mortgage on culture or religion.
We were honoured to be joined by many prominent members of the Jewish community such as Dr Colin Rubenstein AM and Mr Jason Steinberg from the Board of Jewish Deputies. The inaugural keynote speaker was world renowned Professor Efraim Inbar, who is the director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Centre for Strategic Studies.
The bi-partisan charter of the Queensland Parliamentary Friends of Israel group includes: fostering cultural links and opportunities between Israel and Queensland; to encourage the development of friendly relations and ties between the Queensland Parliament and Israel; and enhance interaction between Queensland and Israel through meetings and discussions with Israel representatives and Israeli communities in Queensland.
Australia has always had a particularly close bi-partisan relationship with Israel. We were one of the first countries to vote in favour of the 1947 United Nations partition resolution—a precursor to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The relationship between our two countries was made even stronger when Australia gave official recognition to the state of Israel on 27 January 1949.
In 2008 the Australian parliament congratulated Israel on sixty years of statehood. The trade ties between our two countries have become stronger, especially with the formation of the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC). The AICC regularly leads delegations to Israel to encourage stronger trade ties between these two countries.
In the period 2012-13 Australia and Israel enjoyed a good commercial relationship with two-way trade worth $899 million. It is important that Queensland continue to seek further economic trade opportunities with this strategically important ally, who has technological expertise across many fields. Indeed, there is much we can learn from one another, given our respective harsh geographical features in parts and dependence on cutting-edge technology.
Over the next year, the Queensland Parliamentary Friends of Israel will host events to encourage interaction between parliament and Israeli communities in this state. With the invaluable help of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), we look forward to fostering stronger economic, cultural and educational ties between the nation state of Israel and our wonderful state of Queensland.
The Queensland Parliamentary Friends of Israel will work with the Queensland Jewish community to encourage the development of stronger ties between the Queensland parliament and Israel. Together as group, all members look forward to fostering greater cultural and economic opportunities between our state and Israel. Shalom.
... Spearheaded by Greens Leader Richard Di Natale, the Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill would effectively make the federal government responsible for overseeing the production, distribution and use of the drug.
The bill was introduced into Parliament last November and sent to a committee in February. After conducting public hearings around the country and attracting almost 200 public submissions, the committee is due to deliver its report on August 10. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 26/7/15]
Israeli researchers are leading the world in highlighting the medical benefits of marijuana.
That was the message from journalist Helen Kapalos who spoke last Sunday night at an event on the topic hosted by Magen David Adom and the Zionist Council of Victoria. ... [Australian Jewish News - 29/6/15]
The ultimate in greenwashing: And dumb Aussies fall for it every time ---> Medical marijuana industry sprouts up in Israel [Alternet - 12/9/13]
The Berlin Wall was there, and then it wasn't
Chris Hedges Presentation, Santa Fe [Truthdig - 13/5/12]:
... What was interesting about the movements is that even the purported leaders of these movements didn’t know where they were going.
You have a few Lutheran pastors and congregants holding candlelight vigils … and then suddenly one day instead of 70 people it’s 200 people and then the next thing you know in September of 1989 it’s 70,000 people.
Erich Honecker sends down an elite paratrooper group to fire on the crowd.
When the officers go in the barracks the paratroopers are weeping because they have family members in those demonstrations.
When they physically get down there but the local Communist Party refuses to give them the order to open fire on the crowd and Honecker lasts another week in power.
When you can pull those kinds of numbers to discredit.
This was the most efficient police state at the time in the world. For every 63 East Germans there was an informant.
I was with the leaders of the East German opposition on the afternoon of November 9, 1989, and I remember them telling me that perhaps within a year there would be free passage back and forth across the Berlin Wall.
Within a few hours the Berlin Wall at least did not exist. ...
One reason Australia continues to repudiate the UN Refugee Convention is because our corrupt, racist media present rescue as opinion and not an obligation.
And as the media proceeds with concerted efforts to misinform and withhold truth from the Australian public, is it a co-incidence we are being simultaneously bombarded with PR for the divisive propaganda Go Back To Where You Came From?
... It's hard to understand why a country like Australia, which enjoys one of the best standards of living in the world, is not at the forefront of the humanitarian efforts. Why is it that a country that has not had a whiff of austerity or experienced the global financial crisis as acutely as many others did can remain so mean-spirited? ... Greece shows compassion to refugees while Australia stops the boats [The Age - 27/7/15]
@MSF_Sea [26/7/15]: Update: The #Argos has just rescued 71 people. They're now recuperating on the way to Sicily.
Go Back To Where You Come From has nothing to do with progressing debate. It is about mocking the victims, humiliating a minority of ignorant racists (while also amplifying their views and presenting them as a significant cohort in the Australian community), cementing the Overton Window and maintaining the status quo. It crowds out actual journalism.
... The Cordell Jigsaw camera crew were in Alice Springs filming a documentary for ABC2 called 'Dumb, Drunk and Racist', which follows four Indian citizens as they visit locations around Australia to get an outsiders perspective on race issues. ... [ABC - 9/2/12]
Australia announces five year plan to help Myanmar stop refugees from fleeing [SBS - 29/11/14]
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy and Research and the report’s author, Emily Howie, said Australia’s efforts at ‘stopping boats’ are jeopardising the ability of Sri Lankans at risk of persecution to gain access to safety and asylum.
Ms Howie said that based on government data, 50 to 90% of the people who are intercepted by Sri Lankan authorities are likely to be asylum seekers. ... [Human Rights Law Centre Media Release - 12/3/14]
UAE foundation donates $1.9 million to help Syrian refugees, Rohingya Muslims [Albawaba – 26/7/15]
Rohingyas, victims of sustained genocidal persecution for nearly 40 years - Interview with Dr Maung Zarni [14/5/15]:
... Myanmar is to hold general elections in 2015. Do you think elections’ result will reduce the role of military in politics? Is there a possibility of emerging of a new political cadre which will address the Rohingya issue?
Regardless of what happened in the elections, whoever wins, there is generally speaking no political class or circle among the pro-democracy, pro-human rights opposition movement or the ruling military regime. They all share common genocidal strain of racism against the Rohingya. Aung San Suu Kyi is no better in this regard, except she is likely to respond more positively to the international pressure than the regime has been.
The military will find ways to control politics and economy -in spite of the elections- as long as the Constitution is not changed significantly, especially the 3 clauses: 1) which legalizes any future coup by the commander in chief; 2) bars any type of judicial persecution against the military oppressors and 3) guarantee 25% of the parliamentary seats. ...
The United States has been obsessed with the movement of refugees in South East Asia (especially their attempts to reach Australia) for a long time.
Human rights are of scant consideration to the key players in this decades long humanitarian crisis - the priority is to render large numbers of desperate people invisible as they are enslaved, shunted into camps and detention centres, or deported back to danger.
Since the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar has officially declared it is "open for business" - but only to some.
The urgency to diminish regional sympathy (and following on from that, possible sanctions, along with a co-ordinated rescue and resettlement effort) for displaced and persecuted persons fleeing this miracle of rapacious, corporate-style democracy, is obvious.
Hence the more recent conflation of seeking asylum with "trafficking" and "people smuggling", and the media's blackout of any possibility that Australia has a responsibility to act.
ROHINGYA MOVED FROM ACEH TO MEDAN, AWAIT NEXT STEPS [22/12/09]:
... IOM staff told Consulate Medan that UNHCR had been in touch with them about giving status determinations to the Rohingya as early as December 21 but were holding off as per IOM's request. ...
BURMESE ROHINGYA UPDATE -- GOI WORKING WITHIN THE BALI PROCESS [28/7/09]
IRREGULAR MIGRANT FLOWS SURGING THROUGH INDONESIA [10/6/09]:
... According to Jim O'Callaghan, Regional Director for Southeast Asia Immigration at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the numbers of irregular migrants residing in Indonesia are an estimated 2000, the highest since around the year 2000 when Afghans and Iraqis streamed through Indonesia en route to Australia. With the calm sea sailing season of July to November imminent, he expects an even larger inflow later this year. There also has been an increase in Pakistanis, O'Callaghan told DepPol/C.
The migrants are generally treated well in Indonesia. [UNHCR's Francis] Teoh, in fact, asserted that that Indonesians are "almost too nice," not deporting irregular migrants who have no claim to protection status. A few return voluntarily but most will not.
Part of this is cultural, not wanting to force the migrants to return home and being very concerned about their human rights, but this is mostly because Indonesian Immigration has a zero budget to deport immigrants. Australia is funding all voluntary repatriations but will not fund deportations from Indonesia.
IOM Indonesia is taking care of many failed asylum seekers already rejected by UNHCR three times, a few for as long as seven years. Because of the surge in numbers and concern that this could be a pull factor, Indonesia recently began keeping migrants in immigration detention centers rather than letting them move about freely in community settings, IOM explained. Detentions centers are now overflowing, IOM said.
The GOI, meanwhile, has an icy relationship with UNHCR. Desra Percaya, Director for International Disarmament and Security at the Foreign Affairs Department, told DepPol/C that UNHCR does "nothing" to resettle refugees elsewhere, which is the cause of the problem. That is why the GOI is now keeping migrants under detention, to force UNHCR to resettle refugees. However, UNHCR explained that it is processing the refugees and resettling them as quickly as possible, limited by how quickly third countries are willing to take refugees.
UNHCR RECOMMENDS REFUGEE PROTECTION FOR ROHINGYAS; MORE ON SRI LANKANS [19/5/09]:
UNHCR has determined that 269 of the nearly 400 migrants who landed in Aceh in January and February 2009 are Rohingyas who came to Indonesia either directly from Burma or via Bangladesh (ref B). UNHCR has determined that they would face persecution if they are returned to Burma. UNHCR intends to grant them refugee status, Francis Teoh, UNHCR Head of Protection, told Labatt.
IOM is currently using USD 236,000 in Australian funding to care for the Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, but most of this money will be used to repatriate the Bangaladeshis, Hamilton said.
IOM will soon need the USD 280,000 requested from PRM, as it has no other sources of funding at this time. Mission requests that PRM advise on the status of this request.
BURMESE REFUGEES PUT GOI IN TOUGH SPOT [1/5/06]:
... UNHCR suggested to us that a Burmese refugee would have a strong asylum claim given the on-going human rights abuses in Burma but they cannot process asylum claims for refugees that do not request it. UNHCR quietly approached the Indonesian government on April 28 for their concurrence to send an UNCHR team to interview the 77 Burmese as possible asylum cases. UNHCR expects the Indonesian government to provide an answer by May 2. Our contact was sensitive to Indonesia's desire to handle the case discreetly rather than be seen by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as commenting on the human rights condition in Burma. (Note: Although our UNHCR contact did not mention Papua, we note that given the GOI's vehement objection to Australia's decision to grant temporary visa's to Papuan asylum seekers, it is likely another reason the GOI will be hesitant to be seen as promoting asylum for the Burmese. End Note). ...
BALI PROCESS REINVIGORATED, SEEKS ANSWERS TO ROHINGYA CRISIS [17/4/09]:
... We also told the Australian delegation that since the conference did not formally discuss the Rohingyas - originally slated to be the key point of the conference - that the AHG [Ad Hoc Group] mechanism should be pursued quickly to address this pressing issue.
Bringing Burma to the table was a major accomplishment, we acknowledged; however, we cannot wait for Burma to change its policy before discussing the Rohingya crisis. This can be discussed without Burma.
Foreign Minister Steven Smith later approached us privately to assure us that Australia would press for the AHG mechanism to "be invoked soon to deal with the Rohingyas."
Australia announced at the conference its contribution of AD300,000 to care for the Rohingyas in Aceh. IOM said the Dutch are promising a similar donation, perhaps conditional upon a U.S. donation. ...
27 July 2015