Les oubliés de l'île de Manus [France 24 - 5/2/15]
Do you seriously think a government that is getting away with exiling refugees to island death camps will stop there?
Victims of Greek Purges Seek Island Prison Memorial [LA Times – 6/6/1999]:
… Still, a decade after Makronisos was declared a historical monument, little has been done to preserve the place where an estimated 50,000 people were imprisoned between 1947 and 1953.
Those suspected of communist sympathies were confined in six to eight camps on the island, about 30 miles southeast of Athens. Women were segregated in one camp, and teenage prisoners had their own. There also was a traditional prison where some soldiers were kept.
About eight miles long and a mile wide, Makronisos is a short boat ride from the mainland. But strong currents made it dangerous for prisoners to attempt escape.
Hundreds reportedly died as a result of brutality and illness. Former inmates speak of severe beatings, being dunked in the sea until nearly drowned, and intense pressure to denounce communism.
"They made cages of barbed wire like this," said former inmate Dimitris Mouratidis, pointing to a large, tangled bale of rusting wire. "You couldn't stand up in them. Like cages for animals."
About 250 reserve army officers who persistently refused to sign anti-communist declarations were taken to a sunbaked gully, where they lived in tents surrounded by barbed wire, survivors say. Stavros Avdoulos, now 81, spent more than two years in the gully, which was known as "the wire."
"Life here was unbearable, and yet it became our home," Avdoulos said.
The civil war was characterized by atrocities on both sides. But Makronisos is one of the few tangible reminders of the political persecution that continued long after the war. It was only in 1989 that the government finally destroyed files kept on Greeks considered "a threat to the state."
A Greek leftist holds two red flags as he walks toward a memorial erected at the site of a former prison camp on the Greek island of Makronisos on May 25, 2008, where over 100,000 suspected Communists were incarcerated from 1947-1957 in one of the darkest chapters of modern Greek modern history. The prison camp is in ruins, but hundreds of former inmates come to the island every year to pay homage to Communist comrades who were tortured and died there, many by execution. - AFP PHOTO / Aris Messinis / Getty Images
Asylum seekers dreaming of Australia stuck on island hell [France 24 - 3/2/15]
Outsourcing is best: Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson said there was “no cause for governments to kill people".
Execution plan gets mixed reactions in Australia, says RI envoy [Jakarta Post - 3/2/15]
... "The AFP provided the information that led to the arrest, prosecution, guilty verdicts and death sentences of two Australian citizens," Dr Sifris wrote.
"If these men are executed, the AFP will have blood on its hands." [Bali Nine case: AFP retains ability to give information abroad that risks death penalty for Australians - Canberra Times - 29/1/15]
$437.562 million: What it costs Australia to deny refugees on Manus Island access to the United Nations, as they shit in a bucket and wait to die.
Despite court ruling on Sri Lankans detained at sea, Australia bound by international obligations [UNHCR Media Release - 4/2/15]
A source says the asylum seekers in jail don't have access to toilets; they are urinating in bottles and defecating in a nearby room.
Approximately 40 asylum seekers are still being held in jail, without charge. #Manus
London Vigil in solidarity with Manus Island detainees [VIDEO - 3/2/15]
Hesta - Divest From Manus:
Australian Unions with representation on the HESTA Board: Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Australian Services Union (ASU), United Voice and the Health Services Union (HSU). The Australian Council of Trade Unions also has a HESTA Board representative.
PLEASE sign the HESTA - Divest From Manus petition now: Like right now here ...
Australian man charged with murdering teenager in the Philippines [Nine MSN – 4/2/15]
The grieving husband of a woman beaten to death by her lover has told a judge he repeatedly questions why her killer abandoned her like "road kill" to die in their garden. … [Nine MSN – 4/2/15]
A man allegedly punched his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach and told her he was going to "kill it or cut it out" if she wouldn't have an abortion, a court has heard. ... [Canberra Times - 4/2/15]
Prison guard speaks about wife charged with his attempted murder [Sydney Morning Herald – 4/2/15]
A 22-year-old man has been sent to prison after he took explicit photos of his six-year-old sister and distributed them on the internet.
At Ipswich District Court, the man - who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child - pleaded guilty to several child pornography offences. ... [News Mail - 4/2/15]
Concerns Sydney father deliberately crashed car as orphaned son fights for his life [Brisbane Times – 3/2/15]
17-year-old girl dies in horror Glenview smash
Sunshine Coast Daily [4/2/15]:
Police have confirmed the passenger who died in the Glenview crash this afternoon was a 17-year-old girl.
A car, driven by another 17-year-old girl crashed into a tree on Old Caloundra Rd near the intersection of Steve Irwin Way just after 2pm.
The 17-year-old female driver sustained serious injuries while firefighters worked for an hour using hydraulic cutting equipment to free her.
A 15-year-old boy also received minor injuries. Both he and the driver were taken to Nambour General Hospital.
Police have not released the identity of the deceased girl.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
Gable Tostee jailed after Tweed police pursuit
Tweed Daily News [4/2/15]:
Accused murderer Gable Tostee is back behind bars after being convicted of a police pursuit through Tweed.
In July last year, Tostee, 28, was arrested after failing to stop for police between Tweed Heads South and the Queensland border.
He faced Tweed Heads Local Court on Monday, before being jailed for a minimum of six months.
About 2.20am on July 27, a fully marked police Ford Territory was travelling northbound on the Pacific Hwy near Clothiers Creek when a Ford Falcon, bearing no number plates and driven by Tostee, sped past at a speed "no less than 150km/hr", court documents stated.
Two Highway Patrol vehicles were notified of the situation, and waited for the vehicle at Tweed Heads South, where it sped past at 122km/hr.
The officers caught up to the Ford Falcon under lights and sirens - but Tostee failed to stop and increased in speed, up to 160km/hr.
Tostee allegedly reached speeds of 190km/hr in a 100km/hr zone.
Tyre deflation devices were successfully used at the entrance to the Tugun tunnel, and both front tyres were damaged, but Tostee continued to drive for 5km, leaving tyre debris and a damaged road surface in his wake.
Tostee, who allegedly smelled of alcohol, was then breath tested by Queensland police, before returning a breath analysis of 0.203.
He admitted the vehicle belonged to his father, and police found the car registration plates in the rear of vehicle.
Tostee, 28, was convicted of engaging in a police pursuit at speed, driving a class A motor vehicle exceeding the speed limit by more than 45km/hr (estimated) and using a class A vehicle with plates not correctly fixed etc.
He was disqualified from driving for three years, and sentenced to 10 months in prison.
He will be eligible for release on August 1.
Could be a way to request Gold Coast City Council act on light rail noise pollution?
Community set to create safer suburbs [Gold Coast City Council Media Release – 3/2/15]:
The city's leaders met today for the first Safer Suburbs Forum for the year.
As part of the forum Mayor Tom Tate launched the new RAP – Report a Problem – website, saying locals now have a convenient, easily accessible way of reporting community problems throughout the city.
Conducted in partnership with the Queensland Police Service, the Safer Suburbs Forum brings together community, business and liquor industry representatives to map out concrete actions to improve safety.
"RAP provides a consistent approach to enhancing community safety in public spaces," Mayor Tate said.
"Our residents take great pride in their city and they expect us to act quickly when notified of problems. We heard the community loud and clear in our consultation and that’s why we’re delivering this system. Through RAP every citizen is empowered to report a problem and together we can keep the amenity of our city in tip top shape," he said.
"We’ve had more than 700 reports logged on our web page and highest on the list at the moment are water leaks, barking dogs and tree maintenance.
"The online service gives every resident on the Gold Coast a convenient way to report problems," he said.
Go to cityofgoldcoast.com.au and click the "Report A Problem" quick link on the front page.
Gold Coast Surf Management Plan Advisory Committee to meet this month
Gold Coast City Council Media Release [3/2/15]:
The Surf Management Plan Advisory Committee (SMPAC*) will meet this month to continue discussing the issues affecting the Gold Coast’s surf amenity and how it can best be protected.
City of Gold Coast (City) Mayor Tom Tate said the City was working to ensure we remain the surfing capital of the world.
"That’s why we’ve brought the SMPAC together to help us build a draft Gold Coast Surf Management Plan (draft plan) that defines the surf amenity of our beaches and addresses emerging issues for surfing in our city," he said.
"This is about recognising the importance of our surf amenity, industry and culture to the city’s lifestyle and economy and setting a clear path for our future beach management."
Mayor Tate said the SMP Committee would pick up where it left off in December 2014.
"At the last Committee meeting we discussed how our surf breaks on the southern points work and how the elements of swell, wind and sand affect swell quality," he said.
"The next meeting on 17 February will cover key surf break characteristics influencing surf amenity between North Kirra and Burleigh Heads and we’ll also look at the history of local coastal investigations and engineering.
"For updates on the content presented in SMPAC meetings, including the terms of reference, visit our webpage"
The SMPAC creates a forum for collaboration between the City, State Government agencies, research bodies, community and stakeholders to inform the content of the Surf Management Plan. The draft plan will be presented to Council for its consideration and endorsement later in the year.
SMPAC Committee members:
1. Wayne Bartholomew – Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing Project (TRESBP) Advisory Committee Member
2. Rod Brooks – Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
3. Adam Yates – Surfing Queensland (SQ)
4. George Hill – Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ), South Coast Region
5. Andrew McCarthy - Gold Coast Surf Council (GCSC)
6. Chris Butler - Surfrider Foundation (SF), Gold Coast Chapter
7. Brad Farmer – National Surfing Reserves, Gold Coast Point Breaks (NSRGCP)
8. Andrew McKinnon – Gold Coast World Surfing Reserves Inc.
Port of Townsville rejects North Queensland Conservation Council report linking toxins to port
The Port of Townsville in north Queensland says a report into the levels of toxins at several inner-city playgrounds does not provide any convincing evidence there is a threat to public health.
Researchers found elevated levels of lead, nickel and arsenic after taking swabs of dust from sites across the city last year.
The report, commissioned by the North Queensland Conservation Council, traced some elements back to the port.
The Port of Townsville has been conducting its own review of the study and has now released its findings.
It said the report's own data failed to support some its claims and some results had been significantly overstated because the wrong guidelines had been used.
In a statement, the port's chief executive, Ranee Crosby, said the state government was also conducting an independent review and if it raised any issues, they would be immediately addressed.
She said the North Queensland Conservation Council would be provided with a copy of the review.
The council's Wendy Tubman said she was disappointed with the port's response.
"This current report is in the process of being accepted by an international peer reviewed journal and one of the comments made about it was that the analysis was outstanding, and we believe there's substance to this report," she said.
Darling Downs groups join forces to fight coal seam gas [Chronicle – 4/2/15]
ALP or LNP does not matter: Queensland Resources Council chief [Morning Bulletin – 4/2/15]:
... "We've worked with governments of the Labor and LNP persuasion over recent decades and we're confident that they get it, they understand the importance of the resources sector to Queensland," he said during a Channel 7 interview.
While he said both parties had focused on issues surrounding the Great Barrier Reef, Mr Roche wanted the new government to work with the Commonwealth Government to finalise a report that will go to the World Heritage Committee, which will decide in June whether or not the reef should be on the endangered list.
"We cannot afford to have the Great Barrier Reef put on the endanger list," he said.
Important evidence was given at the Senate Inquiry into the Newman Government today.
It is being ignored by the media.
... The reef is dying. The Newman government had a chance to turn things around, they went the other way. ...
Dr Andrew Jerimejenko (from Save The Reef, who also spoke of the patients - fishermen - he is treating and the lives - and livelihoods - which have been destroyed in Gladstone.)
Evidence given by an economist, an environmental lawyer, the Quandamooka people from Stradbroke Island, WWF, Save The Reef and AMCS included specific details about fast tracking of environment approvals, the undermining of native title and funding allocated to various projects.
Dr Libby Connors made the point that many of the issues raised at the inquiry were inherited from the ALP government.
Unfortunately the inquiry's terms of reference are confined to the Newman government.
LNP senators did not appear at today's hearing.
Their unparliamentary, obstructionist behaviour - on full display at previous hearings - was not missed.
The next hearing will be held in Cairns tomorrow.
Senate investigation into Newman handling of reef [Australian Marine Conservation Society - 4/2/15]:
A Senate committee is set to scrutinise how Campbell Newman's Queensland government handled its responsibility to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Environment groups and The Australia Institute will on Wednesday front an upper house inquiry into alleged misuse of taxpayer funds in fast-tracking coal projects in Queensland.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society has said it is "extremely concerned" about the management of the Great Barrier Reef and the Newman government's handling of project approvals.
In a submission to the inquiry, it highlighted a $1 million government campaign designed to dispel concerns the reef was under threat from industrialisation.
The reef became a hot topic during the Queensland election campaign, with state and federal Labor pledging to ban dredge spoil dumping in the entire heritage area.
The Senate inquiry, initiated by the Palmer United Party, will report in March.
Mr Newman's Liberal-National Party government appears to have lost office after Saturday's state election.
Metals might be linked to turtle deaths [Nine MSN – 3/2/15]:
Heavy metals might have played a role in the mystery mass deaths of green turtles near a remote North Queensland beach in 2012.
Experts have begun to investigate whether unusually high levels of cobalt, a common by-product of nickel, silver, lead, copper and iron mining, is linked to the stranding and eventual deaths of more than 100 turtles during a three-month period at Upstart Bay in 2012.
It is a significant spike from the five strandings in 2009.
James Cook University research fellow Colette Thomas, who will take part in the four-year investigation, said their team was searching for traces of metals.
"The presence of legacy metals in the catchment draining to Upstart Bay, and previous detections of unusually high levels of cobalt in local green turtles leads us to focus there," Dr Thomas said.
It is a case which has baffled experts, with the mystery ailment only affecting mature turtles aged between 50 and 70-years-old.
James Cook University virology lecturer Ellen Ariel said none of the usual signs which usually presented in stranding deaths was evident, and for the most part the turtles appeared to be healthy.
"We never found out what it was. No fish, no dolphins, no dugongs, nothing else died," Dr Ellen Ariel told AAP.
"It was a very puzzling, very unsatisfying feeling that so many (of these) threatened species died. They were very important for the population and we couldn't pinpoint the cause of it."
The investigation will try to discover whether humans are responsible.
"But if contaminates of concern are detected we will attempt to trace them to their source for proper management," Dr Thomas said.
She said there were both legacy mines and natural metal sources upstream and around the catchments which filter into where the epidemic took place.
Senate Inquiry examines how grain logistic network operations impact grower returns
Farm Online [4/2/15]:
Grains industry heavyweights will appear before a federal Senate inquiry in Canberra this week, which is investigating how grain logistic network operations impact grower returns.
Political momentum is also building around a controversial disallowance motion that could see CBH stripped of the exemption co-operatives were granted in the new port access code last year.
CBH chief executive officer Dr Andy Crane will face questioning about the co-op’s support for the exemption, which was approved by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, along with WAFarmers grains section president Kim Simpson.
Their evidence is expected to contrast sharply with that of WA Pastoralists and Graziers Association’s Western Grain Growers committee chair John Snooke, who heavily criticised the CBH exemption when the regulations were finalised last September.
The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee inquiry was established in mid-2014 with an original reporting deadline of December 2014, which was extended out to June 4 this year.
The inquiry was re-adopted for pursuit by the current parliament in late 2013, following a similar long-running investigation by the Committee into grain handling ownership arrangements.
That inquiry played a key role in raising issues of concern to growers around reduced competition at ports during the proposed $3.4 billion takeover of GrainCorp by US multinational Archer Daniels Midland. The bid was rejected by Treasurer Joe Hockey in late 2013.
Katter slams Labor, LNP
Federal MP Bob Katter says neither of the major parties in Queensland is capable of running a government.
Labor and the the Liberal National Party are both locked in talks with crossbench MPs, including two from Katter's Australian Party, with both so far failing to win enough seats to govern in their own right.
"I think you're looking at possibly the two worst governments in Queensland history," Mr Katter said.
"None of those people are capable of running government, none of them have had any experience in running government."
He said it has left Queensland in a "very, very diabolical state".
However, Mr Katter said the two KAP MPs, Shane Knuth and his son Rob Katter, are likely to side with one of them to avoid Queenslanders having to go back to the polls.
Mr Katter said his son had "expressed very, very strongly that he wants outcomes for the people he represents".
He said if there was a gridlock Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey could determine which major party would form government.
"The will of the people has been expressed in an election - interpreting that is the job for the governor," he said.
Mr Katter insisted he was only providing advice to KAP MPs and was not sitting in on negotiations.
A man who wore an "I'm with stupid" T-shirt near LNP campaigners during the Queensland election campaign has pleaded not guilty to public nuisance. ... [Yahoo - 4/2/15]
Man stabbed at Gold Coast home
A man has been stabbed in the forearm after an apparent domestic dispute on the Gold Coast.
Paramedics and police were called to the Highland Park home at 11.25am on Wednesday where the man was found with a stab wound to his arm.
He was taken by ambulance to the Robina Hospital where he is in a stable condition, Queensland Ambulance Media told AAP.
Police investigators were heading to the scene amid initial reports a woman at the home may have stabbed the man during an argument.
A Queensland Police media spokesman said it was too early to speculate on the exact circumstances behind the incident.
The news comes just two days after pregnant Brazilian woman Fabiana Palhares, 34, died from head injuries suffered during an alleged assault at her Varsity Lakes home on Monday.
You will never hear these academics interviewed on the misogynist Temple of Lies: Eroticising inequality: technology, pornography and young people
Armed robbery, Riverhills
QPS Media [4/2/15]:
Police are investigating the armed robbery of a business in Riverhills last night.
Initial inquiries indicate around 9pm, a man approached the attendant of a Bogong Street store.
He made demands from the attendant and is believed to have been armed at the time.
Nobody sustained any physical injuries during this incident.
Police are appealing for any further information from the public in relation to the armed robbery.
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.
Anti rights arrest, Oxenford [QPS Media – 4/2/15]
Police have charged 37-year-old man following the assault of a paramedic in Parramatta Park yesterday. … [QPS Media – 4/2/15]
More to life than PCC code’s version of the public interest” Sun deputy editor told police [Corrected post]
Hacking Inquiry [1/2/15]:
The deputy editor of The Sun told police that there was “more to life” than the “public interest” as defined by Press Complaints Commission code of practice and “If newspapers just dealt with matters of public interest as defined by the PCC code none would be sold”, a court heard on 29 January.
Geoffrey Webster made the remarks during recorded police interviews after he was charged in connection with allegations of corrupt payments to public officials. He also told the interviewing officers “since the Leveson inquiry people had been frightened off from ringing in with stories”.
The 2012 interviews were read to a jury trying four Sun journalists, an army officer and his wife at London’s Old Bailey.
Asked about his attitude to paying police officers Webster stated “It may be appropriate to pay a public official if it rights a great injustice or puts right a great wrong”. He also said that while he was always aware it was illegal to pay a police officer with other public officials it was “less clear”.
The court was also read a 1998 staff appraisal of the executive editor, Fergus Shanahan, which praised his “thrusting” style but added “His arrogance and single-mindedness are a necessary part of the job. However he must be less abrasive”.
Shanahan’s defence barrister later gave the jury a folder of internal News International emails including one from his client to then editor Rebekah Brooks about a conversation he had with Rupert Murdoch.
In the mail the executive editor tells Brooks “KRM [Keith Rupert Murdoch] is on a mission again for substance, thinks we are too light”. Brooks replied “No probs”.
In another email to Brooks, Shanahan complains about the Scottish version of The Sun saying “The Record regularly getting the better of us in Scotland, full of verve and energy, Scottish Sun is just English edition with a few court stories, it’s went off the boil”.
In the dock at the trial, which is in its fourth week, are Sun reporters John Kay, Duncan Larcombe, Fergus Shanahan and Geoffrey Webster as well as army officer John Hardy and his wife Claire.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges.
Note: This is a corrected post from 29
January 2015. It has been pointed out to us that the comments in the first three
paragraphs were originally attributed, in error, to Fergus Shanahan who, in
fact, gave a no comment interview to the police. We apologise for this error.
Where are the refugees who were beaten, "arrested' and disappeared for hunger striking and calling for the United Nations?
@Liam_Cochrane - ABC PNG correspondent [4/2/15]: Scan of the document allowing asylum seekers to be held w'out charge in prisons on #Manus Island & Port Moresby ...
PNG's Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato pretends he isn't helping Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton commit human rights atrocities against refugees on Manus Island. [The National - 4/2/15]:
... Pato spoke at a joint press conference on Sunday with Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton.
“The situation has totally normalised because of the cooperation that our officials and service providers on the ground have been able to undertake in relation to containing the protests,” he said.
“As to providing a guarantee, that’s a matter that will depend; I cannot guarantee that on the behaviour of asylum seekers whether they will not do the wrong thing.
“We will do everything within the framework of the law, comply with all the UN rules and conventions to make sure that these people will have the rights that are brought to them by international law. If they should misbehave, then obviously there is a legal system here, there is a process under international law.
“As we have said on occasions in the past, should an asylum seeker misbehave again, then he will disenfranchise himself.
“In other words, he will not be resettled.
Pato's remarks re complying with UN and international obligations is yet another opportunity for Australia's media, human rights establishment and so called "opposition" to say "prove it".
They maintain their silence.
Six state and territory members of the Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities have voiced concern over recent public criticism of the Australian Human Rights Commission. ... [Media Release - 3/2/15]
@shanebazzi [17/1/15]: Photo from #Manus Island. "Where is the Red Cross and human rights?" ...
Pleas from #ManusProtest ...
Image: @rranwa [16/1/15]
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]:
8.26 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure an adequate and effective investigation into the criminal assaults perpetrated against individuals detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre during the events of 16 to 18 February 2014, including by assisting the Papua New Guinea authorities in any ongoing investigations and facilitating the taking of witness testimony from individuals present at the incident who are now in Australian territory.
8.35 The committee recommends that the Australian Government acknowledge its responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of individuals detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.
8.39 The committee recommends that, in accordance with the right to an effective remedy and right to health in international human rights law, the Australian Government:
• acknowledge and take responsibility for violations of human rights in relation to the incident at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014; and
• provide compensation to those who have suffered human rights violations, including to Mr Reza Barati's family and to asylum seekers who were injured during the incident.
8.40 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure that all asylum seekers injured in the violence at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014 receive adequate professional assistance, including medical treatment, full rehabilitation and mental health services, as well as independent legal advice.
8.49 The committee recommends that, in the interests of transparency and accountability, the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea take measures to facilitate appropriate access to the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, including:
• allowing United Nations representatives full access to the centre and transferees;
• permitting qualified lawyers, including lawyers certified to practice in Australia, access to the centre in order to meet with transferees and provide legal assistance;
• allowing the Australian Human Rights Commission to regularly inspect the centre and meet with centre staff and transferees; and
• permitting journalists to visit the centre and speak freely with centre staff and transferees.
8.52 The committee recommends that Transfield Services and the Australian Government ensure that service provider staff employed at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre be provided with sufficient workplace training to perform their roles, in line with the standards applicable to employees working in detention environments in Australia, and accounting for the particular difficulties associated with working in remote conditions.
1.8 On account of the committee's inability to make a site visit to the centre under its own powers, the committee sought the support and assistance of the Commonwealth Government to do so.
On 28 April 2014, the committee wrote to the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, as well as the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, seeking the government's approval and assistance.
1.9 The committee did not receive any response.
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).
6.57 Other evidence presented to the committee contested the claim that no individuals involved in assaults on asylum seekers were now employed at the centre.
Humanitarian Research Partners (HRP) contended that 'at least two of the alleged 17 February assailants are now back working in the centre and terrifying their victims by their mere presence'.
Mr Ben Pynt, Director of Human Rights Advocacy at HRP, told the committee that asylum seekers at the centre had reported to him on multiple occasions that perpetrators were still working at the centre.
Mr Pynt expanded:
[The transferees] do not feel that they are being adequately protected by the guards that are employed at the centre. In fact, they feel threatened by a number of the guards at the centre. I know of one story that chilled me to the bone. An asylum seeker contacted me shortly after he had been to medical. He was in Mike compound. From Mike compound you get in the back of a ute and they take you through to IHMS, because you are not meant to walk through. He got into the ute, screamed, and got out of the ute, because the person driving the ute was one of the people who attacked him. This is happening all the time. The mental harm that is created simply by having the attackers remain at the centre is unbelievable and unconscionable.
Miss Judge [who worked on Manus Island] continued:
The attacks on asylum seekers [in February 2014] were not unpredictable and unforeseen. The attacks were not due to asylum seekers insulting PNG nationals in February or asylum seekers feeling discontent with their processing time frames. The attacks were due to the entire system. The attacks were due to the lack of due care for asylum seekers' safety and wellbeing, the acceptance by staff that PNG was just a dangerous place and that there was nothing we could do to change that. With reports going unheard and incidents being covered up, with no-one really to report to and the threat of danger being from outside, I am unsure of how anyone can guarantee the asylum seekers' safety. Regardless of how high fences are built around the centre, how many CCTV cameras are installed or how many extra guards are employed, I do not believe anything can change the fact that the key threat to the asylum seekers safety is, in fact, simply being detained on Manus Island.
Police Commissioner Geoffery Vaki has issued orders for the NCDC Police Reserve Unit to be decommissioned and all vehicles, uniforms and firearms returned to the Constabulary.
This was being done in the light of the recent Hanuabada shootings, a statement last night said. ... [PNG Loop - 4/2/15]
Protest called off, PM to receive shootings petition [PNG Loop – 4/2/15]
Ms Dhu's family call for urgent inquest into Aboriginal woman's death in police custody [ABC – 4/2/15]
Check the cosy insiders club at work, creating bullshit drama instead of journalism.
Sydney Morning Herald [4/2/15]:
... 12:19pm: Is the press gallery doing the dirty work of machiavellian MPs for them? A couple of calls to a reporter, a tweet follows, gets picked up on and is run as news. Does it force someone to declare their hand? And how complicit in the process does it make the media?
@leighsales My info also RT @David_Speers: some MPs inc Ministers are calling Turnbull discussing leadership. He's not asking anyone for support
End immigration detention! Protest in solidarity with Manus Island refugees at Australia House London #shutdownmanus
Image: @NadineElEnany [3/2/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On Feb. 2, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter aircraft to conduct five airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted nine airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Feb. 2, and 8 a.m., Feb. 3, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
* Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units.
* Near Al Hasakah, two airstrikes struck multiple ISIL oil pump jacks and destroyed four ISIL mobile drilling rigs.
* Near Ar Raqqah, an airstrike destroyed three ISIL vehicles and an ISIL building.
* Near Bayji, three airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL armored vehicles, an ISIL front
end loader and an ISIL building.
* Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Fallujah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, an ISIL bridge and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Mosul, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
U.S. and coalition forces continue to support efforts against ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria, most recently helping Kurdish Security Forces repel an ISIL attack on Kirkuk, Iraq. ... [Centcom - 3/2/15]
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [3/2/15]:
Baghdad:Agencies/security source :8 persons were wounded as a roadside bomb exploded near cars showroom in Nahdha in the middle of Baghdad ....................
Agencies/security source: A person was killed and 6 wounded as a roadside bomb exploded in Khansa'a Village ...
Ta'ameem: Smoke are billowing out of Khabbar oil field west of Kirkuk as one of pipelines has been targeted ... [VIDEO - 2/2/15]
President Barack Obama's fiscal 2016 budget requests $8.8 billion to fund US efforts to fight Islamic State militants, bolster Iraq's army and strengthen the "moderate" opposition in Syria, documents released on Monday showed.
About $5.3 billion is allocated for the Department of Defense, including money for air strikes, and $3.5 billion to the Department of State. The funds are part of the Obama administration's $58 billion request for Overseas Contingency Operations.
ISIS blows up Citadel Church in central Mosul [IraqiNews.com – 3/2/15]
UNESCO deplores ‘cultural cleansing’ of Iraq as armed extremists ransack Mosul libraries [UN Media Release – 3/2/15]
The New Arab Cold War: US Policy Sows Conflict, Unrest Across the Middle East and North Africa [Democracy Now - 3/2/15]:
... AARON MATÉ: But the issues that this raises, the U.S. using a car bombing in a country where it’s not at war, in Syria, seven years ago, can you talk about the legal issues here? And also, do you see the potential for reprisals from Hezbollah?
PROFESSOR VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, firstly, Aaron, as I said, this is not the first time that the United States has used a car bomb against Hezbollah when it has not been itself at war. In 1985, the bombing in Beirut was an enormous car bomb. It was placed by American intelligence and British intelligence.
So there has been a pattern of utilizing this kind of assassination strategy against Hezbollah targets—not only Hezbollah targets, by the way, but also inside Iran against the nuclear—people associated with the nuclear program. There were a series of assassinations two years ago, you know, relatively unexplained.
This has, of course, got major legal ramifications. You know, the United States was not at war. The United States utilized Jordan, the kingdom of Jordan, to have the car bomb driven through. It associated with Israel in this strike. Of course, there is a different standard for the goose and a different standard for the gander. There has been no real international questioning of what has happened.
There’s been no real outrage. I’m not surprised that at the Security Council this question wasn’t raised about using, you know, this kind of violence.
Meanwhile, in 2005, you know, Mr. Hariri was killed inside Beirut, major politician in Lebanon, and there’s been a huge U.N. process of trying to uncover who killed Mr. Hariri. Here, CIA officials are directly saying that they conducted an assassination in Damascus, and there’s been absolutely no condemnation of it.
Egypt: One killed, three injured in Alexandria bombing
A young man was killed and three others injured when a bomb exploded on Egypt's north coast, close to its second city Alexandria, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported.
The bomb targeted a security convoy on the Alexandria-Marsa Matrouh highway, 21 kilometres from the former city.
Preliminary investigations showed that the explosive device was triggered via a mobile phone. The injured were transported to hospital.
An insurgency against Egyptian security forces, mainly in Sinai, though sometimes in other governorates, spiked after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Civilians have at times been caught up in the violence.
Israeli Settler Shoots, Injures a 17-Year-Old Palestinian [Al Akhbar – 3/2/15]
Explosion in Pakistan leaves 4 soldiers killed [Khaama - 3/2/15]
At least seven people have been burned to death and 15 others injured, some seriously, in a petrol bomb attack on a bus in eastern Bangladesh. … [BBC – 3/2/15]
Two Russian men working as UN contractors in Sudan have been kidnapped in the country's Darfur region, officials said on Tuesday.
The men were employees of UTair, one of Russia's largest airlines, and were in Sudan on a contract for the UN mission in the country the company said in a statement. … [Al Akhbar – 3/2/15]
Papua Governor gives mining giant ultimatum
The governor of Papua province in Indonesia has told the mining giant Freeport that it should leave the province if it won't build a smelter there.
Lukas Enembe told the Jakarta Post the company cannot take the natural wealth of the remote Indonesian province and impoverish the people.
Mr Enembe says he discussed the matter with the President, Joko Widodo, in Jakarta last week, saying all Papuans opposed the company's plan to build the smelter in Gresik in East Java.
Governor Enembe says the provincial administration is drawing up a bylaw to protect all the resources in Papua, be they forestry, marine or mineral.
PT Freeport Indonesia is majority owned by the Arizona-based Freeport McMoRan, and operates the world's second biggest copper and gold mine at Grasberg, Papua.
West Papua bid to join Melanesian Spearhead [PNG Loop - 4/2/15]
The Nauru Government hopes to develop its port to Fiji's standards.
As part of his visit to Fiji recently, Nauru President Baron Waqa paid a visit to the Port of Suva (Kings Wharf), mainly to see its infrastructure and have an overview of its operation in the hope to adapt similar standards for his country.
Nauru High Commissioner to Fiji Jarden Kephas said Nauru did not have a proper wharf where ships could be moored right up to the land, like the Port of Suva.
... [Fiji Times - 4/2/15]
Bainimarama to remove Union Jack from Fiji flag [RNZI – 3/2/15]
International Court of Justice absolves Croatia, Serbia of genocide
The United Nations' highest court ruled on Tuesday that neither Croatia nor Serbia had committed genocide against each other's populations during the wars that accompanied the violent breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Both sides said they hoped the ruling would mark a watershed in relations, long since improved but still sometimes frosty.
Peter Tomka, president of the International Court of Justice, said the forces of both countries had committed crimes during the conflict, but that the intent to commit genocide -- by "destroying a population in whole or in part" -- had not been proven against either country.
"This marks the end of one page on the past, and I'm convinced we will start a new page on the future, much brighter and better," Serbian Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic told reporters in the Hague.
Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said she hoped the ruling would contribute to "closing this historic chapter and moving on to a better and safer period for people in this part of Europe."
The cases were part of the long legal fall-out from the break-up of Yugoslavia into seven states in wars that lasted for much of the 1990s and left more than 130,000 dead in Europe's worst conflagration since World War Two.
Croatia, which joined the European Union in 2013, filed its case against Belgrade in 1999 and Serbia - a candidate for EU membership - its counter-case against Zagreb only in 2010.
"Croatia has not established that the only reasonable inference was the intent to destroy in whole or in part the (Croatian) group," Tomka said of Serbia's campaign to destroy towns and expel civilians in Slavonia and Dalmatia.
Rejecting Serbia's counterclaim, he said Croatia had not committed genocide when it sought to drive ethnic Serb rebels from the province of Krajina, and put hundreds of thousands of civilians to flight.
"Acts of ethnic cleansing may be part of a genocidal plan, but only if there is an intention to physically destroy the target group," Tomka said.
The panel of judges rejected Croatia's claim by fifteen votes to two. Serbia's counterclaim was rejected unanimously, implying that even Serbia's delegated judge had ruled against.
The U.N. tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which also sits in The Hague, has long since ruled that genocide was committed in Bosnia, where more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when the U.N. 'safe haven' of Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.
In an earlier ruling from 2007 in a case brought by Bosnia, the ICJ found that Serbia was not responsible for genocide, but that it had breached the genocide convention by failing to prevent the massacre in Srebrenica.
Croatia rolls out debt forgiveness for citizens [Irish Times - 2/2/15]:
Croatia’s poorest citizens may start applying today to have their debt erased under a one-time measure passed by the government last month.
About 60,000 people with low incomes whose bank accounts have been frozen for at least a year and whose debt doesn’t exceed 35,000 kuna (€4,500) can participate, according to the government’s website.
Applications are now open only to those who live on welfare, while debtors whose income is no greater than 2,500 kuna a month for a single person household or 1,250 kuna per family member may start applying on April 2.
The deadline is June 30. Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic’s government introduced the measure ahead of this year’s general election after his Social Democrat party fell behind the opposition Croatian Democratic Union in opinion polls.
‘When you collect everything, you understand nothing’ – Snowden
He suggested that expressing disagreement with the government is the right course of action when its behavior is perceived as “morally unjustifiable.”
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden answered questions from Canadian students on Monday, telling them that mass surveillance can actually harm the ability to prevent terrorist attacks while also being detrimental to personal privacy.
Speaking at Upper Canada College in Toronto via webcam from Russia, Snowden was joined by journalist Glenn Greenwald as the pair fielded questions from high school students.
When asked about mass domestic surveillance – which new reports show Canada is engaged in – Snowden argued that the practice could divert attention and resources from more focused efforts that would yield better results.
The former NSA contractor pointed to the Boston Marathon bombing that took place in 2013, saying that once it had occurred, the agency realized that it already had data on the suspects and that they had been previously flagged.
Nonetheless, the NSA failed to predict, detect, or stop their plot.
“The problem with mass surveillance is when you collect everything, you understand nothing,” Snowden said.
His comments came on the heels of a new report revealing that Canada has been running a global surveillance program of its own, one that has operated in countries such as the United States, Britain, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Portugal.
Codenamed “Levitation,” the program allows government agents to archive internet activity – including which files are uploaded and downloaded – as they try to uncover terrorists.
After anti-jihadi operation, man attacks French soldiers with knife [Buenos Aires Herald – 3/2/15]
4 February 2015