Aircraft attacked a convoy carrying suspected Islamic State militants near the northwestern Libyan town of Bani Walid early on Sunday, an official said.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack though both the United States and Libyan government forces have launched air strikes on jihadists in recent months.

Three huge explosions rocked the area around dawn, the member of Bani Walid's municipal council told Reuters. ... [Reuters - 28/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Saudi airstrike hits market in Yemen’s north killing at least 40 [Press TV - 27/2/16]

 

 

 

 

 

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Sunday equipped the 201st Selab Military Corps with four warplanes delivered by the US and India to counter militants in the eastern zone. ... [Pajhwok - 28/2/16]

 

 

 

 

40 Taliban insurgents killed in Farah operation [TOLO News - 28/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Condemning today's suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province that killed 11 civilians and injured more than 30 others, the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA) reiterated that indiscriminate use of explosives in areas crowded by civilians is a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

According to the Mission, earlier this morning in Asadabad city, in front of the Provincial Governor's office, a suicide attacker detonated his vehicle full of explosives, causing more than 40 civilian casualties. ... [UN Media Release - 27/2/16]

 

 

 

An explosion occurred near the entrance gate of the Defense Ministry at around 3:30pm in Kabul on Saturday, killing 9 people and wounding 13 others, Kabul police department said.

Four women were among those killed in the attack while eight civilians were reportedly among the wounded.

Security officials told TOLOnews that the explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber.

An ANA soldier at the scene said the suicide bomber had been dressed in military uniform. ... [TOLO News - 27/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Angry crowds have gathered in the Rio Grande district of Salt Lake City, Utah, following the alleged shooting of a teenager carrying a broomstick by police.

According to a friend of the alleged victim, the 16-year-old boy was ordered by police to put down the broomstick he was carrying and then shot four times. ... [Metro - 28/2/16]

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas shooting: police identify the three victims as cities mourn [Guardian - 28/2/16]

 

 

 

 

 

Three Virginia police officers were shot, one of them fatally on her first day on the job, when they responded to a domestic incident on Saturday, authorities said.

The police officers, from Prince William County in Virginia, were shot at a home they were called to in Lake Ridge, about 15 miles (10 km) southwest of Washington, D.C., the county police department said on its Twitter and Facebook pages. ... [Reuters - 27/2/16]

 

 

 

Ku Klux Klan rally in Anaheim erupts in violence; 3 are stabbed and 13 arrested [LA Times - 27/2/16]

 

 

 

Five dead including suspect after Washington state shooting [Reuters - 26/2/16]

 

 

 

Turkish President says he does not obey or respect top court ruling on jailed journalists [Todays Zaman - 28/2/16]:

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that he does not accept or respect a decision of the Constitutional Court that the imprisonment of two prominent journalists for a report on alleged illegal arms transfers to Syria amounted to a violation of their rights.

Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and Ankara representative Erdem Gül were freed in the early hours of Friday after 92 days in jail following the top court's ruling.

The court said the journalists' right to freedom and security, the right to express their thoughts and the freedom of press under Articles 19, 26 and 28 of the Constitution, respectively, were violated.

...

 

 

 

... “We want to underline that cases of espionage and leak of information have been held in other parts of the world too. When the Wikileaks incident took place, we saw in Britain and in America what kinds of measures were taken. Julian Assange has been living in Ecuador’s Embassy in London for around three-and-a-half years. Likewise, Bradley Manning is now in jail and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. We also know that Edward Snowden is hiding somewhere in Russia, but we also know that Snowden will be taken to court and given a heavy penalty,” he said.

“When Western countries take measures in similar cases, these measures are defined as part of the fight against terrorism within the framework of the rule of law, or measures taken for the state’s security. Distortion of the same practice in Turkey cannot be accepted. In cases involving state security, the legal process should continue. The [Dündar and Gül] case will continue and of course we will closely follow it,” Kalın [Erdoğan’s aide and spokesperson İbrahim Kalın] said. ... [Hurriyet Daily News - 26/2/16]

 

 

 

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [28/2/16]:   Baghdad: A roadside bomb has exploded near a traditional market in Sayid Abdullah Village in Mahmoudiya district south of Baghdad resulted in two deaths and 8 injuries.....

 

 

 

Bombs continue raining down upon Iraq and Syria

 

US Department of Defense [27/2/16]:

U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

Attack, ground attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight strikes in Syria:

-- Near Tal Abyad, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building.

-- Near Hawl, five strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL buildings and an ISIL vehicle bomb.

-- Near Raqqah, a strike destroyed an ISIL excavator.

-- Near Hasakah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building.

Strikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 14 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, two strikes destroyed an ISIL front end loader and an ISIL vehicle bomb.

-- Near Fallujah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Kirkuk, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Kisik, a strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Mosul, seven strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas, five ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle bomb facility, an ISIL weapons storage facility and suppressed an ISIL mortar position and two ISIL rocket fire positions.

-- Near Qayyarah, a strike produced inconclusive results.

-- Near Ramadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

...

 

 

 

The Russian Center for Truce in Syria has turned to the US Reconciliation Center for explanations over the shelling of the Syrian territory by Turkey, which is a member of the US-led anti-terror coalition, Russian Center Head Lieutenant-General Sergei Kuralenko said on Sunday.

"Overnight to February 28, the Russian Center for reconciling the warring sides in Syria received information on an attack from the Turkish territory on the Syrian town of Et Tell el-Abyad by armed units with the support of large-caliber artillery. This information was subsequently verified and confirmed through several channels, including representatives of the Syrian Democratic Forces," the Russian general said. ... [TASS - 28/2/16]

 

 

 

Ten civilians killed, scores injured in several terrorist attacks in Hama, Deir Ezzor, Aleppo [SANA - 27/2/16]

 

 

What did your Navy do today Australia?  @ItalianNavy [28/2/16]:   #UltimOra #SAR Nave Bettica #MarinaMilitare ad #Augusta inizia lo sbarco di 118 #migranti soccorsi ieri

 

 

@guardiacostiera [28/2/16]:  #Egeo, motovedetta CP292 #GuardiaCostiera salva 66 migranti, tra cui una donna incinta e 26 bambini, su due gommoni

 

 

 

 

 

@guardiacostiera [27/2/16]:   #Egeo 21 uomini di origine pachistana salvati in due operazioni a #Kos da motovedetta #GuardiaCostiera italiana

 

 

 

 

 

@MSF_Sea [27/2/16]:   ... There are 7000 #people at #Idomeni camp. Only around 150 were able to cross into #FYROM today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Migrants moved on as Calais eviction begins [The Local - 26/2/16]:

 

 

...Activists had asked the court to stop the evacuation of the southern part of the camp.

"Around 500 to 1,000 migrants will just disappear because there is nowhere for them to go," Michel Janssens from the charity Medecins sans Frontieres told The Local, adding that this was "not human" and would only result in "clandestine camps" being set up.

Calais town authorities have defended their decision, saying that no-one will be evacuated from the "Jungle" by force. ...

 

 

 

 

Stop war in Syria.  Then I will return back ‏@Worldwidewebb1 [26/2/16]:  A migrant message on a tent at the #CalaisJungle to the international community...

 

 

 

 

@Worldwidewebb1 [26/2/16]:  Slightly ironic high vis vests worn by French officials at #CalaisJungle as preparations made to evict/demolish camp

 

 

 

 

 

Calais migrant camp: French authorities begin evictions [VIDEO - Channel 4 - 27/2/16]

 

 



Belgium turns back migrants at border drawing French ire [France 24 – 25/2/16]

 

 

 

 

EUROPEAN MARCH FOR REFUGEE RIGHTS, 27 FEBRUARY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@StefMair [28/2/16]:   Even the weather was saying #RefugeesWelcome in Brussels yesterday #SafePassage #MarcheCitoyenne

 

 

 

 

@SaraCantosGarci [28/2/16]:   La paz no entiende de edad. Trafalgar Sq. #PasajeSeguro #refugiados #WelcomeRefugees #SafePassage #NoTrident

 

 

 

 

 

@SaraCantosGarci [27/2/16]:  En un rato comienza. Salida de Hyde Park Corner (London) #SafePassage

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marxa Europea pels Drets dels Refugiats a Barcelona [Nacio Digital - 27/2/16]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rally held in Vancouver to demand safe passage for refugees [Global News - 27/2/16]:

 

A small group of demonstrators crossed English Bay in a raft Saturday, a symbolic gesture that hardly compares to the desperate journey many Syrian refugees face.

Vancouver’s Safe Passage event — one of more than 100 held worldwide on Saturday — aims to raise awareness and pressure the government to do more to help refugees who are fleeing civil war.

Laurie Cooper volunteered her time to help Syrian refugees in Greece.

“They were people very much like us, very well-educated,” she said.

“They just had nothing to go back to. They showed me pictures of their apartments before and then after being bombed. They had nothing.”

...

John Skene, who also travelled to Greece to help with the migrant crisis, says the Trudeau government’s plan to bring in 25,000 refugees to Canada doesn’t go far enough.

“Twenty-five thousand doesn’t really hit it,” he said.

“We’re talking about millions of people who are displaced and have turned into refugees.”

Skene firmly believes that every Canadian is obligated to do something.

For his part, he is putting his studies on hold and spending $8,000 of his own money to head back to Greece to help.

 

 

 

 

NATO on Thursday overcame sharp differences between long-time rivals Greece and Turkey to finalise an unprecedented mission to tackle migrant smugglers in the Aegean Sea.

US-led NATO launched the operation two weeks ago, aiming to help the EU cope with its worst migrant crisis since World War II, but longstanding disputes between Athens and Ankara over Aegean airspace and territorial waters held up agreement on the operational details.

After lengthy talks late Wednesday, the 28-nation alliance said it had agreed the modalities as to where, when and how the naval force of around five ships, including from Greece and Turkey, will operate. ... [Ahram - 25/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Reject wrong side of history hate mongers, fact withholders, atrocity apologists and false choices.

 

Australia no longer accepts refugees and is stopping people from seeking asylum by pushing boats back and torture.

 

 

Guardian [11/12/15]:


Secret federal government documents cast doubt over whether Australia told Indonesia and the United Nations about a retrospective ban on taking refugees from official channels.

In November last year Australia announced it would no longer accept refugees who applied for resettlement through the UN’S refugee agency in Indonesia.

The ban applied to anyone who registered with the UNHCR from 1 July 2014.

...

 

 

 

The lengths to which the Australian immigration department has gone to facilitate the repatriation of traumatised Syrian asylum seekers detained in offshore detention centres has been extensively revealed in departmental emails obtained under freedom of information laws. ... [Guardian - 19/8/14]

 

 

 

 

The only way to end a bipartisan policy of cruelty is through NON partisan protest

 

 

 

#LetThemStay protest Turnbull and Shorten at Greek Festival in Melbourne [Green Left Weekly - 28/2/16]

 

 

 

 

They vote it down?  Make it clear you won't vote for them - THAT gives YOU power [ABC - 4/2/16]:

 

The Coalition and Labor have joined forces to vote down a motion to grant amnesty to almost 270 asylum seekers currently in Australia.

The 267 people, including 37 babies, are facing the prospect of being sent to Nauru in the wake of yesterday's High Court judgement which upheld offshore immigration detention.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young today moved a motion in the Senate, asking for the Federal Government to allow the asylum seekers to remain onshore.

In full, the motion read: "the Senate calls on the Turnbull Government to grant amnesty to the 267 men, women and children in Australia as part of the M68 High Court challenge, and allow them to stay."

It was defeated 10-40, with independent senator John Madigan siding with the Greens.

 

 

 

 

Labor and Liberal vote against Greens move to keep Australian born babies safe [Media Release - 25/2/16]

 

 

 

 

ALP helps Coalition lock in offshore detention [ABC - 24/6/15]

 

 

 

 

Labor will be supporting this legislation because it is our policy.:  "Opposition" Leader, Bill Shorten speaking on the Migration Amendment (Regional Processing Arrangements) Bill 2015  [House of Representatives Hansard - 24/6/15]

 

 

 

 

Roundtable on #LetThemStay and #KidsOut [xBorder - 28/2/16]:

 

 

... Behind the scenes, GetUp has attempted to ensure that other lawyers, advocates and friends of those detained funnel any media interviews with asylum seekers through them first and has tried to keep constituent parts of the #LetThemStay campaign firmly on the message of “kids out”.

This is despite there being at least one journalist filing stories from within the Manus detention centre itself and the active social and media campaigns being run from within the camps both onshore and offshore.

GetUp tells its supporters, when challenged, that it is the fault of the media that the kids out stories are being run, when in fact this is the strategy planned and currently being executed by GetUp.

Quoted in December 2015 about the Ferrovial takeover bid for Broadspectrum, Shen Narayanasamy stated: “NBIA sees a European takeover as posing no hurdle to the success of its campaign to halt human rights abuses in the offshore centres”.  

At no stage has NBIA/GetUp stated that its campaign is to close offshore detention centres.

...

 

 

 

All aboard the bipartisan ship [Overland - 11/8/15]:

 

... Welcome to Australia director Brad Chilcott has publicly supported a policy of turn-backs in breach of the principle of non-refoulement.

In advance of the ALP conference, which he attended as a delegate for the increasingly inappropriately named left faction of the party, Chilcott called for the ALP to ‘neutralise’ a divisive debate by ‘closing the ocean route to Australia’.

This, from the leader of an organisation that takes its motto from the national anthem: ‘For those who’ve come across the seas.’

Writing in The Australian, Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds makes a more reluctant argument for the same conclusion: that organisations supporting refugees should embrace the opportunity for bipartisan consensus by abandoning active support for the principle of non-refoulement:

 

Although we may not like turnbacks, it is clear the policy is here to stay. Now we and other advocates for the rights of asylum-seekers must look beyond this aspect of the policy and concentrate our efforts on implementing a genuine regional framework, which we have long called for.

...

As NGOs have taken on major government contracts for refugee and asylum-seeker services, such as the $19m contract Save the Children currently holds with the detention facilities on Nauru, these organisations have become structurally invested in maintaining government control over asylum seekers.

But liberal humanitarians are more deeply invested in government control over asylum seekers than can be explained by any direct financial benefit.

They may disagree with right-wing conservatives on how many refugees should be accepted, or the details of how those who are turned away should be treated, but they share the premise stated by John Howard during the Tampa crisis: ‘We will decide who comes here and the manner in which they come.’  ...

 

 

 

 

 

You can't make an inhumane, and flawed, "deterrence" policy humane --->  ... Yet, using detention and deportation to deter future immigration both raised legal concerns and is ineffective. 

Last year, a federal judge ruled that DHS could not detain asylum-seeking mothers and children in order to deter other Central Americans fleeing violence from coming to the United States. Further, a recent report analyzing the U.S.’ deterrence policies found that knowing about migration risks—including an increase in deportations—did not have any significant effect on whether or not a Central American intended to migrate to the United States.

The report, Understanding the Central American Refugee Crisis: Why they are Fleeing and How U.S. Policies are Failing to Deter Them, also details how the U.S.’ deterrence policy is based on a fundamentally flawed assumption—that greater migration dangers and knowledge of them would effectively deter Central Americans from coming to the United States.

The report analyzes surveys of Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans conducted in the spring and summer of 2014, revealing that crime and violence have the most powerful impact on someone’s decision to migrate. ... [American Immigration Council - 24/2/16]

 

 

 

 

 

Australia's anti refugee policies have created a flow on regional human rights catastrophe

 

 

"I saw the navy patrol boat towing the Indonesian fishing boat out to sea away from Christmas Island.  ... It's a wicked thing to do."

 

SBS [20/11/15]

 

 

 

Refugee search-and-rescue team launches ship in South East Asia [Reuters - 26/2/16]:

 

 

The humanitarian team that sent ships to rescue refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean will launch a Southeast Asia mission this weekend to comb the seas for boat people, including Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar.

American entrepreneur Christopher Catrambone and his Italian wife Regina set up the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) in response to the 2013 Lampedusa tragedy, when several hundred migrants drowned after their boat sank, as they tried to cross to Europe from Libya.

...

The M.Y. Phoenix's crew will use drones as "eyes in the sky" to search for distressed boats, but if anyone is rescued, disembarkation will still be a problem.

When asked by a journalist if the region's governments would allow Rohingya boat people to land, ship captain Thomas Johansen replied: "Negative. When we establish communication with them (government officials), the ball is with them, they have to reply, they have to do something."

...

 

 


Australia among 30 countries illegally forcing return of refugees, Amnesty says [Guardian - 24/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Approximately 12 of every 1,000 people who embark on Bay of Bengal do not survive the journey  - UNHCR calls for safer alternatives [Media Release - 23/2/16]:

 

... The toll also includes those killed in a fight over diminishing supplies on a boat that had been prevented from landing on two occasions.

Some of these deaths could have been prevented with prompt disembarkation.

Elsewhere in the region, based on media reports, 263 people on nine boats tried to reach Australia and New Zealand in 2015. Departing from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam, these boats carrying passengers from Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam were ultimately prevented from reaching Australia by Australian and Indonesian authorities.

UNHCR believes that unless the root causes of displacement are addressed, people will continue risking their lives on smugglers' boats to seek safety and stability elsewhere.

In 2015 governments in the region indicated an intention to tackle this regional challenge through a number of high-level meetings. There remains an urgent need for affected States to take concrete action to coordinate procedures for rescue at sea, predictable places to disembark passengers safely, as well as adequate reception and screening systems on arrival.

People who fled their homes and cannot return due to an absence of protection should be granted temporary refuge and have access to basic rights and services while longer-term solutions are sought.

To minimize deaths at sea, safe and legal channels including labour migration and family reunification programs must be opened up for people leaving difficult conditions at home. UNHCR hopes that labour migration arrangements could also be put in place for the Rohingya already in labour-importing countries, enabling them to contribute to the economies of their host and home countries.

Next month's Bali Process Ministerial Meeting will be a timely opportunity to make progress on these issues.

...

 

 

 

UNHCR Report refutes Australian political, media and human rights establishment claims we "stopped the boats" Mixed Maritime Movements in South-East Asia 2015 [UNHCR Regional Office for South-East Asia]:

 

... An estimated 30,700 people from Bangladesh and Myanmar departed from this area in 2015, with an additional 2,000 believed to have embarked near Sittwe in Myanmar. Since 2012, nearly 170,000 refugees and migrants—equal to about 5% of the combined populations of the bordering districts of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Maungdaw in Myanmar—are believed to have travelled by sea from Bangladesh and Myanmar.

...

The ensuing crackdown on human smuggling and trafficking networks in Thailand prevented smugglers from disembarking thousands of refugees and migrants still at sea. Rather than risk capture by authorities, the smugglers cut their losses. On or around 9 May 2015, they consolidated passengers into fewer boats, packing upwards of 1,000 people on 30-metre long trawlers, and absconded in the empty boats they had salvaged.

Over 5,000 people were left stranded at sea on at least eight boats—there were unconfirmed reports of more—most of which were drifting in the waters just off the resort islands of Koh Lipe, Thailand, and Langkawi, Malaysia.

The abandoned passengers managed to navigate the vessels towards the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, but authorities in each country initially refused to allow the vessels to land. Instead, they sent naval personnel to provide food and water, repair engines, and escort the vessels back into international waters.

...

In Malaysia, 2,498 Rohingya were in detention as of 31 December 2015, 53% more than the 1,634 detained at the end of 2014. This includes all 375 Rohingya who disembarked in Langkawi in May 2015, and whom the Malaysian Government intended to resettle within one year of their arrival, though without consulting UNHCR or potential resettlement countries.

...

Based on media reports, 263 people, 97% of whom were from South or South-East Asia, attempted to reach Australia—or, in one case, New Zealand—by boat in 2015. Each of the nine vessels that made the attempt was either intercepted by Australian authorities, apprehended by Indonesian authorities, or both. The vessels departed from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam, and carried passengers from Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam.

As of 31 December 2015, 2,261 people who had travelled in mixed maritime movements were in detention facilities in Australia or the offshore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

 

 

 

 

The ALP and LNP voted against a Greens Senate motion for Australia to provide SAR assistance and to help resettle some of the refugees [Senate Hansard - 24/6/15]:



Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (15:39): I move:


That the Senate—

(a) expresses concern at the disturbing reports aired on the Four Corners television program on 22 June 2015;

(b) notes:

(i) that only 412 Rohingyans have been resettled in Australia through Australia's humanitarian program since 2008, and

(ii) the Government's recent refusal to provide assistance or resettlement for Rohingyans currently in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and stranded at sea off these three countries; and

(c) urges the Government to:

(i) contribute to the search and rescue mission for thousands of migrants, including Rohingyans, currently stranded at sea,

(ii) resettle some of the Rohingyan migrants rescued by Indonesia and Malaysia, and

(iii) resettle an increased number of Rohingyans in the 2015 humanitarian program, increasing the number of the program if necessary.


The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion be agreed to.

 

The Senate divided [15:39]

(The President—Senator Parry)

 

Ayes ...................... 13

Noes ...................... 33

Majority ................. 20



AYES



Di Natale, R

Hanson-Young, SC

Lazarus, GP

Ludlam, S

Madigan, JJ

Milne, C

Rhiannon, L

Rice, J

Siewert, R (teller)

Waters, LJ

Whish-Wilson, PS

Wright, PL

Xenophon, N



NOES



Back, CJ

Bilyk, CL

Brown, CL

Bullock, J.W.

Bushby, DC

Cameron, DN

Canavan, M.J.

Colbeck, R

Edwards, S

Fawcett, DJ

Fifield, MP

Gallagher, KR

Heffernan, W

Ketter, CR

Leyonhjelm, DE

Lindgren, JM

Lines, S

Marshall, GM

McEwen, A (teller)

McGrath, J

McKenzie, B

McLucas, J

Moore, CM

Nash, F

O'Neill, DM

Parry, S

Peris, N

Polley, H

Ruston, A

Ryan, SM

Urquhart, AE

Wang, Z

Williams, JR


Question negatived.

 

 

 

 

"Opposition" visits Myanmar in the midst of the May 2015 Rohingya boat crisis to affirm ALP support for Australia's current anti refugee policy  --->  @RichardMarlesMP [19/5/15]:  The people you meet in Yangon - Kieran Gorman-Best of IOM who hails from my hometown of #Geelong.

 

 

 

 

What did Stephen Smith mean?  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. ...

 

 

 

 

Eroding human rights in Australian foreign policy, one asylum seeker at a time, Phil Robertson - Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch  [Guardian - 17/2/16]:

 

... Australia is rarely pushing for rights-respecting solutions these days – and more than that, is too often part of the problem. Politicians trapped in the refugee policy dialogue in Canberra frequently fail to recognise that Australia’s boat push-back policies, and offshoring asylum seekers into abusive conditions of detention in Nauru and on Manus Island, are seen as a green-light by Asian governments to do the same: send asylum seekers and refugees back into harm’s way or lock them up in indefinite detention.

For example, during the south-east Asia boat people crisis in May 2015, the Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian navies played a cruel game of “human ping-pong” by pushing away boats of starving and sick Rohingya. At a time when the governments were prepared to let these people float around waiting to die, then prime minister Tony Abbott did the unconscionable by justifying those tactics, saying “if other countries choose to do that, frankly that is almost certainly absolutely necessary if the scourge of people smuggling is to be beaten.” It suddenly became much harder for non-governmental organisations, governments, and UN agencies to persuade those three countries to bring the Rohingya to shore.

By soliciting governments to help stop boats, Australia also ends up looking the other way on other rights abuses. By cooperating with Australia to take back boats of their nationals, both Sri Lanka and Vietnam know they could count on Australia not to publicly raise concerns about the rights abuses that drove those people into the boats in the first place.

Push backs by other countries are also met with silent acquiescence from Canberra. Australia said nothing when Thailand sent back 109 ethnic Uighurs in July to China to face torture in custody and long prison terms, and has kept silent as Beijing pursues its dissidents in Bangkok. China arrests and sends fleeing North Koreans back to the brutal regime of dictator Kim Jong-Un, and is met by deafening silence from down under.

Australia has praised Cambodia for signing the September 2014 Cambodia-Australia deal to resettle refugees from Nauru to Phnom Penh. Prime minister Hun Sen told Australia that Cambodia was safe for refugees to resettle – but don’t tell that to ethnic Montagnards fleeing political and religious persecution in Vietnam who Cambodia hunted down in the border forests of Ratanakiri province and forced back into Hanoi’s hands, all after the Australia deal was signed.

Meanwhile, Cambodia is laughing all the way to the bank with at least $55m of Australia’s taxpayer dollars for taking just five refugees so far from Nauru. All this for a deal that the UN high commissioner for refugees termed “a worrying departure from international norms” of refugee protection. ...

 

 

 

 

“When I was on the boat I never thought I would survive, but countless times while I was in detention I wondered why I didn’t die” [RISE - 26/2/16]:

 

 

... I was in detention for three years. It’s a cycle of oppression in Australia: torture after torture.  If you are a boat person coming to Australia to seek protection, you’re not sure if you will be given protection but detention is guaranteed. When I was on the boat I never thought I would survive, but countless times while I was in detention I wondered why I didn’t die. Like me, many who came on boats are still damaged.

When we arrive on boats to seek protection, we are treated as criminals – detained indefinitely without providing us a way to see a liveable future. Especially in the West, immigration detention has been normalised and has been used to punish undesirable people of colour coming to their territory. One should remember some of these lands are in fact illegally occupied by the governments who ‘protect’ them.

What we are witnessing in the Mediterranean Sea is not something new, though it highlights that what we went through is happening all around the world.  Europe wants to find ‘solutions’ to combat ‘people smuggling’, prevent ‘deaths at sea’ and enact harsh policies against Refugees. People question why we flee as if the answers are not obvious: rape, torture, occupation, gender violence, homophobia, genocide and war. By taking a position against Refugees as the problem, governments pretend that these are not the real issues that need fixing.

Anti-refugee policies and detention centres are a global phenomenon.  Australia is a world leader in anti-refugee policies and other countries readily refer to Australia to implement laws that implement Nazi-style internment rather than anything resembling a  ‘humane’ refugee policy.

We will never stop seeking safety, be it the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, or the Mexican border.  No one wants to jump on a broken wooden boat unless we are completely forced to take that risk. When you are a displaced person, there is no such thing as a ‘proper way’ or ‘right way’ to travel.  ...

 

 

 

 

... For decades, the UN has been condemning the forcible takeover of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers who, backed by an enormous army, government subsidies and the United States, have flooded in from Moscow, London, Brooklyn, Cape Town and elsewhere.

It’s a familiar story: The Europeans who settled America did the same to the Native Americans, and the British did it to the Aboriginal Australians. In both cases we turned the victims into the problem: America had a redskin problem. Australia had an abbo problem. But what they both had, in reality, was a settler problem. And what Israel has is a settler problem.

What’s more, during Israel’s creation, more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled in fear and made refugees to make space for a Jewish state. After the horrors of World War II, it’s understandable that many Jews saw Israel as a place of safety in a hostile world.

But what about those 750,000 refugees and their families? Nearly seven decades later, they still aren’t allowed back to their homes. In the midst of Europe’s greatest refugee crisis ever, it’s worth remembering that Palestinians still make up the largest refugee population in the world. ... Oscars’ swag bag is part of Israel’s cultural propaganda campaign, Brian Eno [Salon - 26/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Aid reaches Damascus-area Palestinian refugees for 2nd week [Maan - 27/2/16]:

 

 

... Despite the recent aid access, thousands of Palestinian refugees in camps across Syria remain cut off.

The around 450,000 Palestinians estimated to remain in Syria are among the millions to come under repeated attacks and sieges since fighting began in Syria five years ago.

UNRWA reported at least 120 people killed -- including an estimated 31 Palestinians -- on Feb. 21 after the market area of Sayyuda Zeinab in southern Damascus was targeted with explosives.

A further 150 Syrians and Palestinians were injured in the attack, of whom 13 were Palestinian children.

...

 

 

 

 

28 February 2016

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