Father Chris [3/4/15]:
This is Saeed Hassanloo. Saeed is a Christian who attended Hillsong church in Sydney and an Anglican church in Perth.
We understand that he would rather die than stay in Australian Immigration Detention. He is refusing all food and drink in Royal Perth Hospital.
We understand that he has been denied protection by the Australian government, despite a well-founded fear of death in Iran. We have no way of knowing if he was afforded adequate legal assistance, or if he has exhausted all legal boundaries.
The Immigration Minister needs to respond to this situation with compassion. He is very weak and close to death. Surely this is an indication that he might have a valid claim for refugee status?
Please share this photo, and join us this evening from 6.00pm **new time** outside Royal Perth Hospital.
@pickleme16: #NotInMyName #staywithus
@simone: #staywithus Saeed. Candlelight vigil outside Royal Perth Hospital ...
kikeidotnet: Vigil for Saeed Hassanloo #SaveSaeed
@justiceags: #staywithusSaeedHassanloo vigil for Saeed Hassanloo RPH Perth
@rranwa: Speaking at vigil for #Saeed at Royal Perth Hospital saying #stayWITHus in solidarity with his friends in detention
Liar and human rights abuser "Fluffy Morrison" still protected and unaccountable. [Sydney Morning Herald - 3/4/15]:
There is uncertainty over whether the federal government will include funding for nannies in its upcoming childcare package.
As Social Services Minister Scott Morrison prepares a new families policy for release "around" the May budget, there are doubts within the early childhood sector over whether nannies will get the green light. ...
Central Coast toddlers had a special visitor today, with Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison calling into a local childcare centre. … [VIDEO - NBN News – 30/3/15]
Grave fears for life of Iranian asylum seeker: shocking callous Facebook comment reveals Serco attitudes
Refugee Action Coaltion, Sydney [3/4/15]:
Grave fears are held for the life on Iranian asylum seeker, Saeed Hassan Loo, who is believed to have been refusing fluids for the past few days of his 40-day hunger strike and is close to death.
A vigil organised by the Refugee Rights Action Network will be held tonight (Friday) at 7.00pm, at Royal Perth Hospital.
The Refugee Action Coalition is calling for Saeed to be immediately released.
“Saeed lived in the community for almost a year in 2012. There is no reason for him to be in detention. The government cannot forcibly send asylum seekers to Iran, and the department has not even completed an assessment of his asylum claims,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
Saeed is the second Iranian asylum seeker to have been close to death as a result of hunger strikes in the last three months.
In January, ‘Martin’, an Iranian asylum seeker in Darwin came very close to death, and fifteen other Iranians in Darwin had also staged hunger strikes against their indefinite detention.
“The government has been warned about the harm it was inflicting on Iranian asylum seekers, but it has turned a blind eye. If Saeed dies, the responsibility will lie completely with Peter Dutton.”
A Facebook statement from Serco employee (see image) has revealed the callous attitude of some officers who have a duty of care to Saeed and other asylum seekers.
The callous attitude reflects the stance taken by the Immigration department itself. Both are unacceptable.
“We are calling for Saeed’s brother to be urgently brought from Christmas Island to Perth, to reunite the brothers,” said Rintoul.
“They have been together since they came to Australia in 2010. They should not be in detention and they should not be separated.”
Saeed’s brother was among a group of asylum seekers, alleged to be protesters, who were shanghaied from Yongah Hill to Christmas Island in late March and subjected to a ‘behavioural management plan’.
He is being held in isolation in a high security section of Christmas Island.
Tony Abbott joins thousands attending Good Friday church services around the country [ABC – 3/4/15]:
... Perth's Catholic Archbishop, Timothy Costelloe, used his Good Friday message to ask for compassion to be shown to an Iranian asylum seeker who is near death in hospital.
Saeed Hassanloo has been on a hunger strike for about 40 days and it is feared he will not survive if he does not eat soon.
St Mary's Cathedral is directly opposite Royal Perth Hospital where Mr Hassanloo is a patient.
Mr Costelloe said his thoughts and prayers were with Mr Hassanloo during today's church service.
"I'm just hoping and praying the Government can find a way to allow compassion, generosity and an understanding of the desperation of this man to begin to be the foundational basis on which any decisions might be made." ...
UK company Serco has been issued its second notice of breach over the failure to properly sterilise medical equipment at Fiona Stanley Hospital.
On Friday morning, Australian Medical Association WA president Michael Gannon told Radio 6PR there had been instances of medical equipment returning to the operating theatre covered in blood and tissue. ... [WA Today - 3/2/15]:
Vlad Sokhin managed to visit the tiny island nation of Nauru without paying the $6000 journalist visa fee, and he reported on the terrible conditions there. ... [Boing Boing - 2/4/15]
The United States will provide aerial refueling for a Saudi-led campaign in Yemen but is not passing on precise information for air raids, a senior military official said Thursday.
The US military's Central Command (CENTCOM) has been given the green light to deploy refueling tankers for the Saudis and their Gulf partners in the operation, though the refueling will take place outside of Yemen's airspace, the official told reporters. ... [Yahoo - 2/4/15]
… Nothing ever lasts forever ...
'Everybody Wants to Rule the World', Tears for Fears 
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria [Centcom - 2/4/15]:
On April 1, Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter and bomber aircraft to conduct three airstrikes.
Separately in Iraq, Coalition military forces conducted four airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, using attack and fighter aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., April 1, and 8 a.m., April 2, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
•Near Kobani, three airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.
•Near Bayji, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL building.
•Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL mortar tube.
•Near Sinjar, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL building.
•Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
President al-Assad’s interview with CBS News: Legitimacy comes from the inside, Syrians are more united and resolved to protect their country. [SANA - 31/3/15]
Tunisia on April 2 accused Turkey of facilitating the transit of fighters bound for neighbouring Syria and Iraq, where thousands of its citizens have joined the ranks of jihadist groups. ... [Hurriyet Daily News - 2/4/15]
5 dead, 17 injured in Bab al-Mo’atham bombing in Baghdad [IraqiNews.com - 3/4/15]
Amnesty International said Thursday it was investigating reports of serious human rights violations committed by Iraqi government and allied forces in the operation to retake the city of Tikrit.
"We are very concerned by reports of widespread human rights abuses committed in the course of the military operation in the area around Tikrit," the rights watchdog's Donatella Rovera told AFP.
Security forces backed by paramilitary groups and US-led air strikes recaptured Tikrit from the Islamic State group this week.
Suicide bomber targets protest in eastern Afghanistan, kills 17
A suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a demonstration against corruption in Afghanistan's eastern province of Khost on Thursday, killing 17 people and injuring at least 50 more, government officials said.
Footage of the attack showed the explosion struck close to provincial officials, including one of the lawmakers who had helped organize the protest.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility and it was unclear whether the attack was linked to the insurgency led by the Afghan Taliban.
In a separate attack in southern Helmand province, a district police chief was killed by a roadside bomb close to an outpost seized by Islamist Taliban insurgents, the deputy governor said.
Violence escalated in Afghanistan as most foreign troops withdrew in 2014 and last year was the worst on record, with more than 10,000 civilian casualties, the United Nations says.
While bombings are frequent across the country, the attack in Khost was unusually deadly as it occurred in a crowded area.
"The protest against corruption had been going on for days," said Khost police chief Faizullah Ghairat. "Today a suicide bomber blew himself up among the protesters."
One of the organizers, outspoken lawmaker Humayun Humayn, was injured in the attack, he added. Although the police chief did not describe his condition, other officials said Humayun had lost both his legs.
The Afghan Taliban, ousted from power in 2001 by U.S.-led forces, are fighting to unseat the internationally backed government. Earlier this week, another lawmaker was injured in a deadly suicide bombing in Kabul.
In Helmand, the deputy governor described the scene of the attack.
"The police outpost was overrun by the Taliban, who heavily booby-trapped it. As soon as the police chief arrived, the explosives were detonated," Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar said.
Helmand is among the worst areas of conflict because it is located along an important opium smuggling route in the south.
Fighting has intensified since Afghan security forces launched an offensive there in mid-February and clashes have cut off the main source of electricity to Helmand and neighboring Kandahar province.
This year will be another test for Afghan forces, who will face the militants largely alone as the international combat mission ended in 2014.
The new NATO-led mission is focused on training and only a small contingent of 1,800 U.S. counter-terrorism personnel is still engaged in combat.
A child was killed and three others from a same family wounded in a mine blast in the Chah Aab district of northern Takhar province, the district chief said on Thursday. ... [Pajhwok - 2/4/15]
Siege at Kenyan university leaves 147 dead [Al Jazeera - 2/4/15]
'Bodies litter streets' as clashes rage in Yemen's Aden [Al Jazeera - 2/4/15]
Attack on Libyan Security Checkpoint Leaves 6 Dead [Latin American Herald Tribune - 2/4/15]
Security Council authorizes further downsizing of UN peacekeeping force in Liberia [Media Release – 2/4/15]
Iran, P5+1 joint statement calling for removal of all anti-Iran sanctions [Press TV - 2/4/15]
Even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.
Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies. … [New York Times - 24/2/12]
Flights were disrupted, ships weighed anchor and schools were closed Thursday as a major sandstorm blew through Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf states.
In the United Arab Emirates, several flights were diverted and delays were expected to others, a Dubai Airports spokesperson said, as the skies over the city turned yellow.
King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam, on the Saudi Gulf Coast, suspended the arrival and departure of all vessels from 1730 GMT on Wednesday, the official Saudi Press Agency reported. … [Naharnet – 2/4/15]
French Court summons ex-Guantanamo chief in torture investigation
A French court on Thursday summoned former Guantanamo prison chief Geoffrey Miller over accusations of torture by two ex-detainees, in a move their lawyer said would open the door to further prosecutions.
Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali, both French citizens, were arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan before being transferred to the notorious prison set up in Guantanamo Bay to hold terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks.
They were held there from the end of 2001 until 2004 and 2005 respectively, before being sent home.
A French probe into their case began after they filed a complaint in court.
"The door has opened for civilian and military officials to be prosecuted over international crimes committed in Guantanamo," their lawyer William Bourdon said.
"This decision can only lead to other leaders being summoned."
Despite promises by U.S. President Barack Obama to close the prison, which is located in Cuba's Guantanamo Bay -- an area on the east of the island under U.S. control since a treaty signed in 1903 -- it remains open and still houses detainees without charge.
The U.S. presence at Guantanamo Bay, where it also has a naval base, is one of the major stumbling blocks in Washington and Havana's historic move towards normalizing ties.
In an expert report submitted to a French judge last year, lawyers for Sassi and Benchellali accused Miller of "an authorized and systematic plan of torture and ill-treatment on persons deprived of their freedom without any charge and without the basic rights of any detainee."
Miller, who was commander of the prison from 2002 to 2004 and is now retired, "bears individual criminal responsibility for the war crimes and acts of torture inflicted on detainees in US custody at Guantanamo," according to the report.
Just before Miller became commander of Guantanamo in late 2002, president George W. Bush's administration approved so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, including placing detainees in stress positions, stripping them, isolating them for extended periods of time and exposing them to extreme heat and cold.
Miller then implemented these methods.
And even though then-secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld withdrew permission for the most controversial of these interrogation techniques shortly thereafter in January 2003, "under Miller's command at Guantanamo, these techniques continued to be used in certain cases," the detainees' lawyers said last year.
"These acts constitute torture and violate, at a minimum, the Geneva Convention's prohibition on coercive interrogations."
Sassi and Benchellali are not the only detainees alleging torture during their time at the prison.
Former Syrian detainee Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al Janko had wanted to sue the U.S. government for damages stemming from his treatment while held at Guantanamo for seven years until his 2009 release.
In his complaint, Janko cited years-long solitary confinement, lengthy bouts of sleep deprivation, "severe beatings," threats against him and his family, sexually explicit slurs against his female relatives, deprivation of adequate medical and psychological care, as well as "continuous" humiliation and harassment.
But last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal, as well as another by a U.S. rights group.
The challenges, sacrifices and hardships of military life often lead to stress, and that stress can strain personal relationships. So the military emphasizes taking care of its people, who in turn will take care of the mission.
One means of supporting families and promoting well-being is a program recently undertaken by the U.S. Central Command Command Chaplain Directorate. … [Centcom - 2/4/15]
Lawmakers in the Republican-dominated statehouses of Indiana and Arkansas on Thursday approved fixes to religion acts that had provoked a storm of criticism from rights groups and big U.S. companies because the measures were seen as allowing for discrimination against gays. ... [Reuters - 2/4/15]
King County and SeaTac law enforcement are searching for a man who pulled a gun on a woman after accusing Muslims of being violent.
On Thursday, SeaTac detectives released photographs and video of the suspect involved in what they describe as a hate crime, which occurred March 1 at a 7-Eleven at 3120 South 176th Street. ... [MyNorthwest.com - 2/4/15]
New Jersey man dies in police custody after savage beating and police dog attack [New Pittsburgh Courier – 2/4/15]
Israel court rules against separation wall in Beit Jala [Maan – 2/4/15]
Britain Used Spy Team to Shape Latin American Public Opinion on Falklands [The Intercept - 2/4/15]
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Whitsunday Times [30/3/15]:
Anglican and Muslim leaders as well as unionists and academics joined to call for more to be done to protect the rights of refugees.
Anglican Dean of Brisbane Dr Peter Catt, Queensland Council of Imams representative Dr Mohammed Abdullah, Queensland Council of Unions assistant general secretary Ros McLennan and Griffith University law dean Dr Penelope Mathews addressed a Brisbane crowd on Sunday as part of Palm Sunday protests.
The Refugee Action Collective organised protest was one of a number across Australia.
RAC spokesman Mark Gillespie said the different religious and secular groups were joining together to call for better treatment of refugees.
"The Moss Review has found claims of sexual assault and abuse in the Nauru detention centre to be credible and convincing and is just the latest report to show what a pit of human misery Australia's off-shore detention centres are," he said.
"The abuse begins at the top with the government's flawed policy of punishing people fleeing persecution. We're calling for the off-shore centres to be immediately closed and for the government to live up to its international obligations and recognise the right to seek asylum".
"At a time when western powers are ramping up their intervention into the already unstable Middle East and there are already record numbers of displaced people around the world seeking asylum, it is inevitable that people will make their way to our shores. We have a moral obligation to help these people and not just turn boats."
Select Committee on the Recent Allegations relating to Conditions and Circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru
Nauru and detention of Children, Editorial Professor David Isaacs [Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health]
Prime Minister of Australia - Interview with Alan Jones, Radio 2GB [2/4/15]:
... ALAN JONES: Ok, thank you for your time. I am just wondering, finally, we return to where we began the drought issue I hope you will give that priority today and secondly if the Minister Sussan Ley could answer the letters that have been written to her some time ago about these victims of ASADA – young Australians who if they can’t rely on Government who can they rely on? That correspondence is unacknowledged and unanswered.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, Alan it should be and it will be.
ALAN JONES: Thank you. Thanks for your time and Happy Easter to you and the family.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks so much, Alan.
3 April 2015