Oil spill clean-up in north Queensland not keeping pace, residents say
An operation to clean up after a mystery oil spill in north Queensland beaches is failing to keep pace with the tidal flows, residents have said, and volunteers are desperately needed.
Several beaches north of Townsville have been closed since fisherman first alerted authorities a fortnight ago to slicks of oil along a 10 kilometre stretch of water off Cape Upstart, south of Townsville.
The Queensland Transport Department, which is coordinating the clean up response, said more than 100 workers helped to pick up the oil patties, which posed no danger to the public.
Forrest Beach resident Barry O'Reilly helped clean up the area with locals.
"There was oil everywhere you looked up and down the beach," he said.
"These poor people here, the teams are wandering up and down the beach but they can't beat it coming in and out with the tides."
Mr O'Reilly said the crews desperately needed more volunteers.
"From my point of view it seems to be hush-hush, keep it to yourself, we don't want anyone to know," Mr O'Reilly said.
"I think that the army should be shoulder to shoulder along the waterfront picking it up as it comes in and get rid of it once and for all."
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said two seabirds were being cared for by a vet after they were found with oil on their feathers.
And a turtle found dead on at Taylors Beach, south of Lucinda, was being tested to see if it was affected by the oil slick.
Brandie Becke is a wildlife carer based in Ingham, who also works at a local pub.
"I had a couple of passer-throughs say they were out on the reef fishing and they spotted a couple of sea turtles out there with oil splodges on them," she said.
"Obviously, there are other marine species that have been affected by the oil spill and we're unable to help them so far."
Ms Becke said more dead turtles could wash up on beaches in the coming weeks.
"We're hoping not to see it but it is highly likely that it will happen," she said.
@DanEnviroCannon [30/7/15]: The fennica has a police escort of at least 4 boats slowly coming toward us #ShellNo
Kristina is just one of the Greenpeace activists have suspended themselves from St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon to block a Shell Oil vessel from leaving port for Alaskan waters. The climbers have enough supplies to last several days, and are prepared to stay in Shell's way as long as possible. [VIDEO - Greenpeace - 29/7/15]
The U.S. Coast Guard was investigating a large, patchy oil sheen that appeared off the Southern California coast west of Santa Barbara on Wednesday, not far from the site of a petroleum pipeline spill in May, officials said.
The slick, spanning approximately 3 square miles (8 square km) of the Pacific about 1,000 yards (meters) from shore, was spotted off Goleta State Beach, but the origin of the sheen was unknown, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Sondra-Kay Kneen. ... [Reuters - 29/7/15]
I hate my new hand, transplant man tells doctors
The man who was given the world's first hand transplant wants it removed by surgeons because he hates the sight of it.
Clint Hallam, who two years ago underwent the operation carried out by a British surgeon, claims the hand no longer works and that he is being made ill by anti-rejection drugs.
Mr Hallam, 53, has gone to Lyon, where he received the hand, to convince the French member of the transplant team to amputate it.
"I can no longer do anything with it. It just hangs uselessly by my side," said Mr Hallam, a New Zealander. "It looks hideous because it is withered and I don't see any point in keeping it any longer."
Mr Hallam had pleaded for years with doctors in Australia to give him a new hand after he lost his in an accident while serving a prison sentence in the Eighties.
Last night, the transplant surgeon Nadey Hakim of St Mary's Hospital, London, appealed to Mr Hallam not to seek a doctor prepared to remove the hand.
"There would be no justification in removing it unless it was severely rejecting and his health was threatened," Mr Hakim said. "We did a really good job on Clint's hand."
He said the transplant had been a success and that Mr Hallam's hand had worked well within months of the operation.
Proposed hand transplant ignites medical and ethical controversy [LA Times – 18/10/98]
New abuse claims hit Scotch College
The Age [30/7/15]:
One of Australia's top private schools has been hit with further legal action over alleged sexual abuse.
Melbourne's Scotch College, which has already settled five historical abuse cases, is now facing two more claims of sexual abuse on school grounds and expects even more to be filed in the coming months.
The new abuse claims, which involve allegations dating back at least 20 years, come after the school reached out to survivors of childhood abuse in May and encouraged them to come forward.
In a letter to the school community, principal Tom Batty said the school's handling of historical abuse remained an ongoing process that will continue to act in the best interests of abuse survivors.
"Scotch has received two further legal claims and expects further legal claims to be presented and dealt with," he wrote in the letter on Thursday night.
"It is not possible to imagine the suffering caused by those who betrayed the trust placed in them to care for boys at their most vulnerable. In reaching out to old boys and dealing with their concerns, the school believes it is being transparent and supportive to those it failed, while being respectful of the widespread desire amongst old boys for privacy."
He said any abuse survivor can call the school's psychologist, who can offer counselling, refer them to support services or police and encourage them to seek independent legal advice.
The school will not reveal how many complaints it has received – only those that have become official legal claims – or specify exact time periods in which the abuse allegedly occurred.
Dr Cathy Kezelman, president of Adults Surviving Child Abuse, said the school should be more forthcoming with dates.
But the school was still taking a reasonable and balanced approach to such a sensitive issue, she said.
"It sounds like a proactive approach," she said. "It allows people to maintain their privacy while also acknowledging that some people will choose to go public with it."
She said survivors should also be encouraged to contact the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which has held more than 3700 private sessions.
The royal commission is currently examining the Jehovah's Witnesses in Sydney but will return to Melbourne in August for public hearings involving children in state-run youth training programs.
In September, Geelong Grammar will face public hearings involving its own handling of historical sex abuse cases.
One of its former teachers, John Buckley, recently pleaded guilty to abusing boys more than 30 years ago.
For help or information visit beyondblue.org.au, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Adults Surviving Child Abuse on 1300 657 380.
Notice the imperious, working class bashing media don't even consider the criminalising impact of "school based police officers" in certain Queensland schools
QPS Media [20/7/15]:
Police have charged a two girls after an incident at an educational facility in Cleveland yesterday afternoon.
At around 2.40pm a 14-year-old girl was approached by a group of girls. The girl ran away to seek help before one of the girls shoved her.
A 34-year-old man intervened. He was punched in the shoulder during the incident.
A school based police officer informed the group of girls that they were trespassing and directed them to leave the school grounds. The two girls became verbally abusive, yelling and screaming at the police officer.
One of the girls was restrained, and another armed herself with a stick, threatening the police officer.
More police attended the scene, with the girls continuing to yell and resist arrest.
Both girls were taken into custody.
No-one was seriously injured during the incident.
A 12-year-old Dunwich girl has been charged with trespass, two counts of common assault, serious assault police and obstruct police.
A 14-year-old Dunwich girl has been charged with serious assault police, trespass and obstruct police.
They will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.
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.
They already had equal access. This legislation is retrograde.
Coming to your state soon ---> The Human Rights Commission is today calling on all states to implement legislation to give people with an intellectual disability equal access to the court system. ... [ABC - 30/7/15]
Law Society of South Australia concerns re Vulnerable Witnesses Bill.
Tyranny? Abusive refugee concentration camp?
Nauru gets another green light.
The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Dame Meg Taylor says issues in Nauru are for the country to work out and she has dismissed immediate action by the regional grouping.
Dame Meg has been in Nauru for three days as part of a tour of all Forum countries before the Forum leaders meet in September.
Her visit comes amid concerns about a breakdown in democracy and the rule of law on Nauru, and the ongoing suspension of five opposition MPs from parliament.
Dame Meg says she had long and extensive discussions with the President Baron Waqa, as well as talks with the opposition MPs, civil society and members of the judiciary.
"I can't say that I absolutely know for sure that everything is perfect, but as the Secretary General, from the conversations that I had I believe that due process is being applied."
Dame Meg says Mr Waqa
feels very strongly about the issues of sovereignty and that the political
issues that have emerged will be resolved.
"This has to be worked out in Nauru. I don't think it's going to be worked out by speculation by me or anybody else. I think that this is something that people in Nauru have to work out and hopefully the conversations I've had with leadership in Nauru will stimulate consideration of some issues."
Dame Meg has dismissed intervention by the Forum in Nauru at this stage.
"The situation has to be examined much more thoroughly than my three day visit. My three day visit was to try and get an understanding of what is going on in Nauru. I wasn't there on an investigation mission. I was there to have conversations with various parties, let people talk to me, express their concerns and for me to have a discussion with the chair of the Forum."
Dame Meg says it will be up to the chairperson, the president of Palau Tommy Remengesau, to decide whether to take things forward if at all.
Secretary General says Pacific Islands Forum has a mechanism to intervene in Nauru [ABC – 8/7/15]
UN: The fight against trafficking is incompatible with restrictive migration policies
“Fighting human trafficking is not just about law enforcement” – UN rights expert [Media Release - 30/7/15]:
Speaking ahead of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, United Nations human rights expert Maria Grazia Giammarinaro calls for sweeping changes in policy and on perception of trafficking.
Fighting trafficking is not just about law enforcement, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children reminds governments across the world.
“After more than a decade of efforts aimed at combatting trafficking in persons, we have to recognize that results are still modest. The vast majority of trafficked persons -not less than 20 million people globally- are not recognized as such, and as a result do not have access to justice and remedies.
Trafficking means extreme exploitation -often in slavery-like conditions- of women, men and children who are socially vulnerable, mostly due to their being undocumented migrants. To tackle these gross human rights violations, a policy shift is needed, and the same perception of trafficking in persons should change.
So far, trafficking has been considered mostly a law enforcement issue. Today, we should look at trafficking as an economic and social issue, linked with global trends including migration. Therefore prevention is key.
To prevent trafficking in persons, national authorities should deal with a broader area of exploitation, in the sex industry, in agriculture, fishery, domestic work, garments, and the tourist industry.
Governments and the private sector must prevent and combat exploitation wherever and whenever it takes place, especially when migrant workers are involved, and tackle the driving factors of exploitation.
Among them, one of the most powerful is the lack of regular channels for migration.
In that regard, policy coherence is essential: the fight against trafficking is incompatible with restrictive migration policies that place people in a situation of irregularity and vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking.
Furthermore, within mixed migration flows, an increasing number of people migrate to flee from conflict and crisis areas.
Better international cooperation is needed to ensure that people entitled to international protection are offered a viable solution in one of their preferred countries.
However, in the current situation, asylum seekers and refugees are amongst the most vulnerable migrants, often exposed to the risk of trafficking, including children traveling alone, women and girls who are raped during the journey and exploited in prostitution at destination, men, women and children obliged to accept inhuman working conditions to survive.
This is the policy shift which is much needed today: to prevent trafficking and to protect trafficked persons’ rights, it is necessary to protect the rights of all migrants, and of all vulnerable people, be them foreigners or nationals.
Once someone is recognized as being subjected to exploitation and/or trafficking, she/he should have immediate access to legal counseling, healthcare, and tailored forms of assistance, in order to be able to claim their rights.
These opportunities should be given without any condition. No legal requirements should be established which actually denies exploited and trafficked persons their right to access justice and remedies. Trafficking - as in the case of historical slavery - takes place because enormous economic interests lie behind exploitation of the global poor.
However, this can be
stopped, if people of good will - both powerful people and simple citizens -
feel that trafficking is morally and socially unacceptable, and take action
against exploitation, injustice, and human rights violations.”
US Ambassador to PNG asserts US authority over rights of individuals to move around region [PNG Loop - 30/7/15]:
United States Ambassador to PNG Walter North says people have the power to be the change and eliminate the evil that is human trafficking.
Speaking today at the National Library to mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, North said PNG just like any other country was a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.
But he said that PNG had made significant progress in the fight against human trafficking, moving from being ranked Tier 3 in 2008 to now Tier 2-Watchlist based on the 2015 US Trafficking in Persons Report.
The report stated that in PNG, foreign and local women and children are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, forced begging, and street vending, and foreign and local men are subjected to forced labour in logging and mining camps.
The report added that 19% of the country’s labour market is comprised of child workers.
“PNG recently passed a law [Criminal Code (Amended) Act 2013 “Trafficking in Persons”] which has helped create more awareness and bring perpetrators to justice.
“The US Embassy encourages the PNG government to implement a formal victim identification procedure or an appropriate referral mechanism.
“Together with PNG’s law enforcement agencies, we can tackle this modern day slavery. We can work together and be able to recognize it, address it and stop human trafficking,” said North.
Reports show that 20 million people are trapped in human trafficking.
US Embassy in Port Moresby awards two new grants totalling US$1 million to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) [11/12/14]:
... “There is perhaps no greater threat to human dignity, and no greater attack on basic freedom, than the evil of human trafficking,” said U.S. Ambassador North, “these two grants will empower the people of the South Pacific by providing populations at risk of being trafficked with access to information and justice.” ...
The United States is calling on the Papua New Guinea Government to certify and gazette its anti-human trafficking legislation to eradicate modern-day slavery.
US Ambassador to PNG Walter North said his country welcomed the legislation on human trafficking passed in July last year which unfortunately PNG was yet to enforce.
“The Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2012 passed in Parliament six months ago would have amended the criminal code of PNG on issues related to human trafficking and people smuggling,” North said.
“The bill would have given PNG law enforcement agencies and prosecutors the necessary tools to address trafficking crimes.
“Unfortunately, six months later, this important legislation is not yet in force in PNG. The US government urges swift certification and gazettal of this legislation.
“This amendment to the PNG Criminal Code is a significant step towards combating modern-day slavery.
“As we said six months ago, Parliament’s action and vigorous implementation of the new legislation offer hope that the scourge of human trafficking can be eliminated in PNG.”
North said the US Department of State was funding a project to combat trafficking of human beings in PNG through the International Organisation for Migration.
“The project aims to strengthen the capacity of the PNG government to prevent human trafficking, prosecute traffickers and protect victims of trafficking,” he said.
“The US works actively with the government and people of PNG not only to combat trafficking but to help implement programmes to combat corruption, increase transparency and improve governance in extractive industries, and improve the rule of law.”.
Go back to where you came from: IOM fills void left by UNHCR in the pacific and South East Asia [RNZI - 21/7/15]
Senator Hanson-Young refers asylum seeker health provider IHMS to AFP [Guardian - 30/7/15]
Manus Island refugees ask for help as violence threats increase [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 30/7/15]
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Recommendations re "Incident at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 February to 18 February 2014" [December 2014]:
... 4.70 In specific evidence about actual incidents of encouragement to return home, a former employee of Playfair suggested that staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were 'speaking to transferees, trying to convince them of the benefits of returning home'.
4.71 In contrast, government representatives re-confirmed their view that any returns from Manus Island RPC were strictly voluntary. For example Lieutenant General Campbell stated that '[i]t is really important to note these are voluntary returns'.
4.72 In terms of the number of returns from the Manus Island RPC, the department provided information that:
As at 1 August 2014, 203 transferees have been voluntarily returned from an Offshore Processing Centre (OPC) and 174 transferees from the Manus OPC since 18 February 2014 with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
WHAT AUSTRALIA IS DOING TO REFUGEES AND LOCALS ON MANUS ISLAND NEEDS INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION ----> ... An asylum seeker inside the detention centre has told the ABC that PNG immigration officials are giving those whose claims have been rejected five days to provide new information or be sent home. ...
[Rape investigation deadline passes as tensions rise on Manus Island - ABC - 30/7/15]
Society wants Australia's refugee death camp on Manus Island closed
PNG Facts [29/7/15]:
The Catholic Professionals Society of Papua New Guinea is calling on the Government to close down the Manus regional asylum processing centre.
President Paul Harricknen said in a statement Australia had showed a lack of that respect for PNG’s sovereignty and “blindfolded it with its money diplomacy in setting up the refugee detention processing centre at Manus”.
He said the centre did not make any humanitarian, legal and financial sense to the asylum seekers and the people of PNG.
He said the recent alleged rape of a local at the centre by three Australian expatriates and their departure without being charged under PNG law showed “Australia’s arrogance and lack of respect for PNG’s sovereignty”.
“The detention exercise has been unconstitutional and unlawful from the beginning because asylum seekers were brought into PNG without their consent,” he said.
“Detention of persons without lawful excuse in remote islands over indefinite lengths of time and without due process under independent and impartial judicial system are both unlawful, inhumane and against the dignity of the person.”
He said Australia had arrogantly breached international human rights and migration laws and the constitutions of host nations by pushing its concept of “offshore processing centres” on smaller Pacific nations.
Australian guards stood down over rape claims [The National - 30/7/15]:
Three Australian security guards working at the Manus Island detention centre have been sacked over the alleged rape of a local woman.
A spokesperson for the Australian Immigration Department told the Australian Associated Press the three staff of Wilson Security had been “stood down”.
Wilson Security refused to comment on the matter, referring AAP to the Immigration Department.
“The three service provider staff were stood down and returned to Australia,” the department spokesperson said.
The department promised to support and assist PNG authorities should “there be a case to answer in relation to this matter”.
It said the department had briefed senior representatives of the PNG police on the decision to remove the three workers from the island and they had agreed with the proposed action.
The alleged victim had made an official complaint to police on Wednesday morning and supplied some evidence.
Manus Island provincial police commander Alex N’Drasal said the removal of the three officers “had perverted the course of justice”.
The Australian Immigration Department rejected claims it has been involved in a cover-up over the issue.
“The implication that the Wilson staff were removed to avoid prosecution, or removed without consultation with relevant PNG authorities, is simply wrong,” it said.
But N’Drasal denied the department’s version of events and said it had not followed proper procedures.
Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Deters on Wednesday announces a grand jury decision to bring charges against a University of Cincinnati police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man this month. ... [Reuters - 29/7/15]
What happened to Ralkina Jones? Another jail cell death [Counterpunch - 29/7/15]
Earlier this month, a 24-year-old Native American, Lakota woman named Sarah Lee Circle Bear was found dead in a jail cell after a minor arrest.
Sarah was from Clairmont, South Dakota, and was jailed on a bond violation at the Brown County Jail in Aberdeen. ... [Countercurrent News - 28/7/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [29/7/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted three airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Idlib, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 11 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Huwayjah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Beiji, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL vehicle bomb.
-- Near Habbaniyah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL structure.
-- Near Haditha, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Mosul, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL tunnel entrance.
-- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle, an ISIL structure and an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL mortar position.
-- Near Tal Afar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.
Turkey launches heaviest air strikes yet on Kurdish group [Reuters - 29/7/15]
Israeli air strike on Syrian town kills 5 [Maan - 29/7/15]
The Israeli government has announced the "immediate construction" of some 300 new units at Beit El in the occupied West Bank as two illegally constructed buildings were demolished in the same area after a court order.
"After consultations in the prime minister's office, the immediate construction of 300 homes in Beit El has been authorised," Netanyahu's office said on Wednesday, adding that planning for another 504 homes in annexed east Jerusalem had also been approved. ... [Al Jazeera - 29/7/15]
Why I support the BDS movement against Israel, Chris Hedges [ICH/Truthdig - 27/7/15]:
... Israel is not an anomaly. It is a window into the dystopian, militarized world that is being prepared for all of us, a world with vast disparities of income and draconian systems of internal security.
There will be no freedom for Palestine, or for those locked in our own internal colonies and terrorized by indiscriminate police violence, until we destroy corporate capitalism and the neoliberal ideology that sustains it.
There will be no justice for Michael Brown until there is justice for Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
The fight for the Palestinians is our fight.
If the Palestinians are not liberated none of us will be liberated.
We cannot pick and choose which of the oppressed are convenient or inconvenient to defend.
We will stand with all of the oppressed or none of the oppressed. And when we stand with the oppressed we will be treated like the oppressed.
... According to the latest media reports early on Thursday, Saudi fighter jets bombarded Harad district in the northwestern province of Hajja and a government building in the southwestern province of Ad Dali'.
Saudi warplanes also launched airstrikes on several regions in the central province of Ma'rib.
There were no immediate reports on the extent of damage or the number of casualties.
The five-day Saudi-proposed truce came into effect on Sunday, but Riyadh has conducted numerous airstrikes in violation of the truce. ... [Press TV - 30/7/15]
@MSFAustralia [30/7/15]: #Yemen, battles in #Aden, #MSF teams continue to operate the hospital but need urgently medical reinforcements
US State Department approves possible foreign military sale to Saudi Arabia of Patriot missiles worth $5.4 billion [Defense News - 29/7/15]
At least 15 people have been killed and several others injured in a series of US drone strikes in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. ... [Press TV - 29/7/15]
Unidentified gunmen torch school in Ghazni [Pajhwok - 29/7/15]
Three Afghan Local Policemen (ALP), including a commander, and two civilians have been killed in two separate blasts in northern Jawzjan and Kunduz provinces, officials said on Wednesday. ... [Pajhwok - 29/7/15]
... And you can't change the way she feels
But you could put your arms around her ...
'Protection', Massive Attack and Tracey Thorn 
@MSF_Sea [29/7/15]: Update: #Phoenix rescued a 2nd rubber dinghy carrying 95 people. Among them 27 women & 5 children. ...
@MSF_Sea [29/7/15]: ... The #DignityI has rescued 113 people from a rubber boat including this baby
EURO News [29/7/15]:
MOAS has raised enough money for its May-November rescue effort. It claims public support for the charity has rocketed in recent weeks, with 1.5 million euros being donated in the last month alone.
But the charity, whose operation costs around 500,000 euros a month to run, is now asking for more donations to keep its rescue mission going beyond November.
Mr Catrambone said: “As UNHCR said in a recent report, MOAS and several other private and state-run ships who responded to the crisis have contributed to a significant drop in the death toll.
“The reality is that there are never enough assets at sea but public pressure is vital for European countries to keep saving lives at sea at the top of their agendas. Donations to MOAS and other NGOs help maintain this public pressure and stresses that citizens are not willing to remain bystanders.
Just because government perverts law to make something legal that doesn't mean it is moral or right.
The Free Thought Project
Asylum seekers held on Nauru who need medical care will no longer be flown to Australia but instead taken to Papua New Guinea, in a move which will likely stop people seeking legal injunctions against their detention.
According to an internal document obtained by Guardian Australia, detainees who are referred by International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) for further medical investigation or treatment will now be sent to the Pacific International hospital in Port Moresby. ... [Guardian - 30/7/15]
Inspecting facilities at Pacific International Hospital with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Image: @JanePrentice_MP [13/2/15]
The United States Navy has been found to have omitted data that suggests a genuine risk of contaminants leaching into groundwater in the Northern Marianas, as a result of military training there. ... [RNZI - 30/7/15]
Dutton is getting away with murder because there is no opposition, human rights groups are silent and the Australian media are protecting him
Save Mohammad Albederee [29/7/15]:
After my discussions with Mohammad he finally agreed to have a tube put in his stomach today. This procedure was unsuccessful and could not be completed. He has also been told by doctors that if he eats food now it will kill him. He has no options except immediate medical evacuation to an Australian hospital to save his life.
Mohammad was taken by ambulance to medical centre last Friday afternoon after cutting his stomach open with a razor blade. He had told staff on Manus that if they mentioned food or eating once more then he would cut his stomach as he cannot eat or drink. He started vomiting blood and guards did nothing to help which upset him.
He was stitched up and returned to his room but is vomiting and dizzy and was taken for more medical treatment. He also sustained a head injury by guards and had x-rays on his head on Sunday.
Mohammad is now on his 111th day of a hunger strike. He has multiple health issues and needs to be flown to Australia without delay. He can no longer eat and there are not adequate medical facilities in Papua New Guinea to deal with his multiple conditions. He is terrified and says he will die.
Please ring Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on (02) 62777860 or email email@example.com to voice your concerns. Don't believe their lies that he is eating and drinking. It simply isn't true!
I rang the office weeks ago and advised them that Mohammad had stopped taking fluids because he was so upset that the Minister's office are telling people he is eating. I stated that if anything happens to him it will be their responsibility for lying about what has been happening.
Mohammad is accepting IV fluids every few days but is very tired and distressed.
He no longer has feeling in his legs. They won't provide a wheelchair and his friends carry him to the bathroom.
As ALP confirms support for refoulement, torture, abuse and an ever expanding refugee archipelago, "advocates" go quiet
If Bill Shorten is going to stop the boats why is Richard Marles preparing for new illegal maritime arrivals.
Today’s [Tasmanian Murdoch propaganda outlet the] Hobart Mercury reported that Labor’s Immigration and Border Protection spokesman has committed to reopening Pontville Immigration Detention Facility in Tasmania.
Mr Marles needs to say why. Why would Labor be committed to re-opening a detention facility unless it knew that if it returned to government the boats will start again? ... [Minister for Immigration Media Release - 28/7/15]
Pontville refugee concentration camp [Image: Jackson Vernon, ABC - January 2012]
Federal Judge condemns for-profit Texas detention centres for immigrant families [Democracy Now - 29/7/15]
This is child abuse: Social Worker breaks silence over conditions inside US immigrant detention centre [Democracy Now - 29/7/15]:
... OLIVIA LÓPEZ: Well, I was hired as the lead licensed social worker there to do social work with the women and supervise two other employees that would also assist in that effort. And so, what I discovered in my experiences there were that social work in that setting at Karnes City was much different than the social work that I know as—in employing and as I know as a social work professor. And that is to say, the basic functions of advocacy, empowerment and then just engagement were really not part of the interpretation of social work at Karnes City residential center.
And so, you know, they would take the kids and the mothers back to the rooms to draw blood. And the kids, really, were just so frightened and terrified, and they cried and they screamed. And we all heard it—I did—for the week or so that it happened. And then, just one day, I just came out of my office during the time when they were taking the blood draws, and I witnessed a small child, less than two, try to escape the medical department. He was so afraid about the blood draws. And all the kids really were, but he was the one that tried to escape. And that’s what I spoke about yesterday.
AMY GOODMAN: You talk about the women being put in isolation?
OLIVIA LÓPEZ: Yes.
Nick McKim announced as the new Greens Senator for Tasmania [Greens Media Release - 30/7/15]
Dozens of children from Tasmania's Pontville detention centre will attend classes at a nearby public school next week.
About 40 young asylum seekers will be heading to Cosgrove High School at Glenorchy under a formal agreement.
Education Minister, Nick McKim, says they will be taught English and encouraged to "buddy up" with other Cosgrove students.
He says the Federal Government is providing extra resources and psychological and counselling support will be available. Clarissa Adriel from the group Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support applauds the move. ... [ABC - 7/5/13]
Nine MSN [16/7/13]:
Some teenage asylum seekers at the Pontville detention centre near Hobart have resorted to self harm, the national children's commissioner says.
Commissioner Megan Mitchell interviewed 200 unaccompanied minors aged 13-17 at the centre last month and has raised serious concerns about their mental health.
"They are very depressed and anxious and there are instances of self harm," she told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"It can range from cutting themselves to attempted suicide."
She called on the teenagers to be released into community detention.
... TONY EASTLEY: And this morning, the Immigration Department has confirmed there are two 11-year-old boys being detained in the centre at Pontville, which as we mentioned houses about 300 unaccompanied minors. [ABC, AM - 16/7/13]
Angelina Jolie visits Myanmar to see how genocide against Rohingya is progressing?
Swings by Cambodia to do PR for her forthcoming movie [Phnom Penh Post - 29/7/15]:
Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie Pitt – who is in Cambodia researching a film adaptation of Loung Ung’s Khmer Rouge memoir First They Killed My Father – yesterday visited Phnom Penh’s Tuol Sleng genocide museum and Bophana Center.
Netflix – a US provider of on-demand internet streaming media – first announced the adaptation in a statement released on Thursday in the US.
Image: @Disney [7/6/14]
Myanmar’s Parliamentary house speaker Shwe Mann took time out on Wednesday to welcome UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie Pitt to parliament.
According to a press release issued by the British embassy in Rangoon, Angelina Jolie Pitt is visiting Myanmar (Burma) ‘to learn more about the situation in the country and encourage efforts to build a peaceful and inclusive future for all its people. ... [Chiangrai Times - 29/7/15]
US film star Angelina Jolie has spoken out on behalf of Rohingya boat people arriving in Thailand, during a visit to a camp along the Thai-Burmese border.
Ms Jolie is in Thailand in her capacity as a goodwill ambassador for the UN refugee agency.
She urged the Thai authorities to show the same generosity to Rohingyas as they have to tens of thousands of other asylum seekers fleeing from Burma. ... [BBC - 6/2/09]
... "It's like a prison without walls," Habibullah tells me. "Instead of walls, there are police checkpoints." ... Barricaded in, Myanmar's Rohingya struggle to survive in ghettos and camps [NPR - 29/7/15]
Flooding in Rohingya camps:
Heavy rains from a tropical depression in the Bay of Bengal have triggered massive flooding in Rakhine State, causing a rising death toll of at least 20, with thousands of people affected.
Thousands of homes have been affected, forcing some to relocate. The flooding has also damaged roads and bridges.
The flooding has caused massive destruction to the Rohingya IDP camps, "floating and helpless" according to a source.
Unfortunately, there has yet to be any media coverage on how the flooding is affecting Rohingya in these camps.
Social groups and aid organizations are not allowed to give any assistance to the Rohingya.
Myanmar Director of Department of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, U Chun Hayel, said the severe floods destroyed over 17,000 houses, affecting nearly 100,000 people.
The weather bureau has announced that that the rain will continue or increase for two more days.
The Nauru government says the film star, Angelina Jolie, has accepted an offer to visit the island.
Ms Jolie met Nauru's president Baron Waqa at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence Against Women in Conflict last month.
The Nauru government say there is no such violence on the island.
Mr Waqa is reported as saying the summit was an opportunity to engage in discussions given the island is hosting 3 of Australia's offshore camps for asylum seekers who have been exposed to violence in times of conflict.
More than 1000 people are presently being held in conditions that have been called appalling by refugee agencies.
One of the staunchest critics of the camps has been the regional office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
But President Waqa used the summit to invite Ms Jolie to Nauru in her capacity as the Special Envoy to the UNHCR.
Ms Jolie accepted the invitation but no date has been given for any visit.
Those who invisibilize refugees (and persecuted people) in South East Asia are siding with the oppressor
Which country on this map of South East Asia is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention?
Vietnamese workers rounded up by Cambodian Department of Immigration
Phnom Penh Post [30/7/15]
Continuing efforts by the Department of Immigration yesterday resulted in the detention of 50 Vietnamese construction workers and a warning of future fines issued to their employer.
Uk Hai Seila, investigation chief for the Department of Immigration, said that following a warning letter, authorities will resort to legal measures including fines for companies large or small found to be employing "illegal immigrants".
“Currently, we are in a grace period, after finding a violation we file a warning letter, but if [illegal workers] are discovered a second time then the company’s owner will be fined and face charges in court,” he said.
According to Seyla, at about 6am yesterday, 51 Vietnamese construction workers, 15 female and 36 male, were checked for documents and arrested while they were working at the “Borie Angkor Phnom Penh” construction site located in Sen Sok district.
Ny Chakrya of "rights group" Adhoc is welcomed efforts to find "illegal immigrants", including the creation of new immigration units by the national police reported earlier this month.
However, he said, the focus should be on border checkpoints rather than businesses.
“Most business owners do not know because they have no right to check or interrogate workers about their legal status.
To solve this problem, aside from tighter border enforcement, Cambodia should charge [Vietnamese] for a visa, because in a visa the length of stay and reason for entry is clearly indicated”, he said.
Since the start of 2015, some 1,500 Vietnamese "illegal immigrants" have been deported back to Vietnam.
Crimes against humanity against Tamils still ongoing in Sri Lanka: report
Colombo Mirror [28/7/15]:
Six years after the end Sri Lanka’s civil war and nearly six months after the regime change, a new report by the International Truth & Justice Project says that the systematic persecution of the Tamil community through torture, rape, illegal detention and killings committed by the state authorities are still taking place.
This shocking report – Still Unfinished War: Sri Lanka’s Survivors of Torture and Sexual Violence 2009-2015 – which it says was done “through careful research” brought to life by the vivid horror of victim testimonials, shows “how the use of torture and sexual violence is part of a well-coordinated policy, planned at the highest level of the Sri Lankan government and its security forces”.
International Truth & Justice Project – Sri Lanka (ITJP) is a project administered by the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa, run by transitional justice expert Yasmin Sooka, who was a member of the UN Expert Panel on Sri Lanka.
The detailed report which narrates the stories of 100 white van abduction survivors, goes as far as to identify torturers and rapists. It also pinpoints 41 detention facilities, including secret camps, where victims say they were abused after the war.
The report has come at a time when the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is set to release the UN war-crimes probe report at the upcoming HRC sessions in September in Geneva.
The exposures in the report particularly include the details of eight cases of post presidential poll white van abductions in 2015 so far (14 cases in 2014), extensive reprisals against family members of torture survivors who’ve fled abroad, Map and testimony regarding Trinco Naval Dockyards secret torture site, five cases of people abducted who took part in David Cameron CHOGM Jaffna protests in 2013 November and a chapter on the extensive use of Tamil ex-LTTE informers by the Lankan security forces.
“It lays bare the continuation of state-organised abductions, torture and sexual violence by the security forces long after the change of government in January 2015,” the report said.
“The victims’ stories are harrowing, many are deeply traumatised and continue to suffer mentally long after their detainment. Their families suffer too in the form of reprisals. More than a quarter of the 155 victims interviewed said that their close family members had been severely punished after they had escaped abroad,” it said.
The report warns the international community they will fail the victims of this conflict if they do not take action. It calls upon the UN Security Council to refer its report to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for further action against those who bear the greatest responsibility.
ITJP’s previous reports on Sri Lanka include www.stop-torture.com and www.white-flags.org.
Investigation points to Israeli war crimes in Rafah on ‘Black Friday’
Amnesty International Media Release [29/7/15]:
•Reconstruction of Israeli attacks in Rafah between 1 and 4 August 2014
•Strong evidence of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity revealed requiring urgent investigation
• Israeli forces killed at least 135 Palestinian civilians, including 75 children, following the capture of an Israeli soldier
•Hundreds of videos, photos and satellite images analysed by experts, cross-referenced with eyewitness testimony
•Advanced techniques used to analyse evidence, including studying shadows and smoke plumes in multiple videos to determine time and location of an attack
New evidence showing that Israeli forces carried out war crimes in retaliation for the capture of an Israeli soldier has been released today in a joint report by Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture.
The evidence, which includes detailed analysis of vast quantities of multimedia materials, suggests that the systematic and apparently deliberate nature of the air and ground attack on Rafah which killed at least 135 civilians, may also amount to crimes against humanity.
The online report, Black Friday’: Carnage in Rafah during 2014 Israel/Gaza conflict, features cutting edge investigative techniques and analysis pioneered by Forensic Architecture, a research team based at Goldsmiths, University of London.
“There is strong evidence that Israeli forces committed war crimes in their relentless and massive bombardment of residential areas of Rafah in order to foil the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, displaying a shocking disregard for civilian lives. They carried out a series of disproportionate or otherwise indiscriminate attacks, which they have completely failed to investigate independently,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“This report presents an urgent call for justice that must not be ignored. The combined analysis of hundreds of photos and videos, as well as satellite imagery and testimony from eyewitnesses, provides compelling evidence of serious violations of international humanitarian law by Israeli forces which must be investigated.”
“There is strong evidence that Israeli forces committed war crimes in their relentless and massive bombardment of residential areas of Rafah in order to foil the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, displaying a shocking disregard for civilian lives.”
The massive amount of evidence collected was presented to military and other experts, and then pieced together in chronological order to create a detailed account of events from 1 August, when the Israeli military implemented the controversial and secretive “Hannibal” procedure following the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin.
Under the “Hannibal Directive”, Israeli forces can respond to the capture of a soldier with intense firepower despite the risks to his life or to civilians in the vicinity. As the report illustrates, the implementation of the directive led to the ordering of unlawful attacks on civilians.
“After Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was captured, Israeli forces appear to have thrown out the rule book, employing a ‘gloves off’ policy with devastating consequences for civilians. The goal was to foil his capture at any cost. The obligation to take precautions to avoid the loss of civilian lives was completely neglected. Entire districts of Rafah, including heavily populated residential areas, were bombarded without distinction between civilians and military targets,” said Philip Luther.
The ferocity of the attacks, which continued after Lieutenant Goldin was declared dead on 2 August, suggests they may in part have been motivated by a desire to punish the population of Rafah as revenge for his capture.
Shortly before Lieutenant Goldin’s capture on 1 August 2014, a ceasefire had been announced, and many civilians returned to their homes believing it was safe. Massive and prolonged bombardment began without warning while masses of people were on the streets, and many of them, especially those in vehicles, became targets. That day later became known in Rafah as “Black Friday”.
Eyewitness accounts described horrifying scenes of chaos and panic as an inferno of fire from F-16 jets, drones, helicopters and artillery rained down on the streets, striking civilians on foot or in cars, as well as ambulances and other vehicles evacuating the wounded.
One witness described the attacks that day as an attempt to pulverize Rafah’s civilians, likening the onslaught to “a machine making mincemeat out of people without mercy”.
Cutting edge forensic analysis
For this investigation, eyewitness accounts describing the carnage in Rafah were cross-referenced with hundreds of photos and videos taken from various sources and multiple locations, as well as new high resolution satellite imagery obtained by Amnesty International.
A team of researchers at Forensic Architecture used an array of sophisticated techniques to analyse this evidence. They examined time indicators within an image – such as the angle of shadows or shape and size plumes of smoke, which act as “physical clocks” – to pinpoint attacks in time and space (a process known as geo-synching).
The analysis reveals that on 1 August, Israeli attacks on Rafah targeted several locations where Lieutenant Goldin was believed to be located, regardless of the danger posed to civilians, suggesting that the attacks may even have been intended to kill him.
In one of the deadliest incidents researchers, with the help of military experts, were able to confirm that two one-ton bombs – the largest type of bomb in Israel’s air force arsenal –were dropped on a single-storey building in al-Tannur in eastern Rafah. Scores of civilians were in the immediate vicinity at the time making this a grossly disproportionate attack.
“The ferocity of the attack on Rafah shows the extreme measures Israeli forces were prepared to take to prevent the capture alive of one soldier – scores of Palestinian civilian lives were sacrificed for this single aim,” said Philip Luther.
The analysis of available photos, videos and other multimedia evidence from eyewitnesses was crucial for investigating possible violations since the Israeli authorities have denied Amnesty International staff access to the Gaza Strip since the 2014 conflict began.
“Forensic Architecture combines new architectural and media technologies to reconstruct complex incidents based on the traces that violence leaves on buildings during a conflict. Architectural models help us draw links between multiple bits of evidence such as images, videos uploaded on social media and testimonies to virtually reconstruct the unfolding of events,” said Eyal Weizman, the Director of Forensic Architecture.
Attacks on hospitals and medical workers
Satellite images and photographs analysed for the report show craters and damage indicating that hospitals and ambulances were attacked repeatedly during the assault on Rafah, in violation of international law.
A doctor described how frantic patients fled Abu Youssef al-Najjar hospital after attacks on the area intensified. Some were wheeled out on beds, many had intravenous drips still attached. A young boy in a plaster cast dragged himself along the ground to get away.
An ambulance carrying a wounded old man, woman and three children was struck by a drone-fired missile, setting it alight and burning everyone inside including medical workers to death. Jaber Darabih, a paramedic who arrived at the scene, described the charred remains of bodies with “no legs, no hands… severely burned”. Tragically, he later discovered that his own son, a volunteer paramedic was among those killed in the ambulance.
“By attacking ambulances and striking near hospitals, Israel's army displayed a flagrant disregard for the laws of war. Deliberately attacking health facilities and medical professionals amounts to war crimes,” said Philip Luther.
Ending the cycle of impunity
This investigation into Rafah provides some of the most compelling evidence yet of serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes, during the conflict. In previous reports, Amnesty International has highlighted violations by both sides, including systematic attacks by Israel on inhabited civilian homes and its wanton destruction of multistorey civilian buildings; and Palestinian armed groups’ indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians in Israel, as well as summary killings of Palestinians in Gaza.
However, a year after the conflict, the Israeli authorities have failed to conduct credible, independent and impartial investigations into violations of international humanitarian law. Israel’s limited military inquiries into some of its forces’ actions in Rafah on 1 August have not held anyone accountable.
“Thus far, the Israeli authorities have proved at best incapable of carrying out independent investigations into crimes under international law in Rafah and elsewhere, and at worst unwilling to do so. This report’s findings add compelling evidence to an already large body of credible documentation of serious violations during the Gaza conflict, which demand independent, impartial and effective investigations,” said Philip Luther.
“Victims and their families have a right to justice and reparation. And those suspected of ordering or committing war crimes must be prosecuted.”
30 July 2015