United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On March 4, U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using attack, fighter and bomber aircraft to conduct seven airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted five airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., March 4, and 8 a.m., March 5, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
* Near Al Hasakah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
* Near Kobani, four airstrikes destroyed 11 ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL VBIED.
* Near Tal Hamis, two airstrikes struck two ISIL fighting positions and destroyed an ISIL staging area and an ISIL fighting position.
* Near Al Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
* Near Fallujah, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle, an ISIL artillery piece and an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Haditha, , an airstrike was conducted to help support friendly forces movement.
* Near Mosul, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
UNESCO Director General condemns destruction of Nimrud in Iraq [Media Release – 6/3/15]
Archbishop Tutu: The West Committed The Holocaust While Palestinians Pay Historic Price”
In an interview with the Palestinian Embassy in South Africa, and the Palestinian delegation participating in the Israeli Apartheid Week, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that the “west committed the holocaust against the Jews in Europe, while the Palestinians are still paying a historic price for it.
Tutu, a senior religious, intellectual and social figure who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, said that the Palestinians should not be paying the price of what the west did to the Jews in Europe.
In a meeting with the Palestine Embassy in South Africa and the Palestinian media delegation participating in the Israeli Apartheid Week, Tutu said, “We support Israel’s rights to exist, but at the same time we denounce the ongoing Israeli violations, its rejection to recognize the legitimate Palestinian rights, and its repeated wars on the Palestinians, where innocent civilians end up paying a heavy price.”
Archbishop Tutu also denounced Israel’s persistence to force the Palestinians to recognize it as a Jewish State, slammed the attempts to hold Islam and all Muslims responsible for terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, and said such parallels are not different from trying to hold all Christians responsible for the crimes the Ku Klux Klan committed.
“Those who founded, and maintained, the apartheid regime in South Africa weren't Muslims,” he added, “The current stage requires us to have more faith, to be wiser – we must be in full solidarity with the Palestinian people, supporting their legitimate struggle for freedom and independence.”
Media officer of the Palestine Embassy, Tamer al-Masry, handed the Archbishop a gift in the name of the Palestinian people, thanking him for his support, wishing him well, and wishing him to be able to visit Bethlehem soon.
The Israeli Apartheid Week started on March 2nd, and will continue through March 8, in more than 250 cities around the world, and in more than 20 South African Campuses and 45 South African cities and towns.
Australia’s multimillion-dollar deal to build boats in Vietnam in which to return asylum seekers to the countries they have left could raise new legal challenges to its controversial forcible return policy.
Guardian Australia revealed on Thursday the government had signed a “multimillion-dollar” deal with shipbuilder Dragon Industries Asia to build 10 wooden-hulled vessels, resembling Asian fishing boats.
The boats will be used to forcibly return asylum seekers to the source or transit country from which they have come, replacing the orange lifeboats Australia currently uses. ... [Guardian - 6/3/15]
No UNHCR. No journalists. No lawyers. No justice.
Australia's getting away with this.
Australia did this. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is responsible. ----> This is a jail cell some of the female refugees were imprisoned for 30 hours and given only one bottle of water to share. ... [Refugees on Nauru - 5/3/15]
Asylum Seeker Self Harm Coaching Claims Weakened By Greens Leak Of Secret Report [New Matilda - 6/3/15]
Senate Hansard [5/3/15]:
... So there you have it. The report simply contains a series of vague allegations without any actual evidence of inappropriate action by any staff member in the centre. This report, of course, is the one that the former immigration minister refused to release publicly but was the reason his department sacked 10 Save the Children employees who were working at the time on Nauru. The minister claimed that this was also the reason he initiated the Moss review. Now that we can see the contents of the intelligence report, the real reason he refused to release it has become clearer: there is no evidence supporting the claims of misconduct. It seems, from this intelligence report, that the only crime committed by those employees was to report accusations of abuse and the inappropriate behaviour of security guards, who are employed by the very same company that wrote this intelligence report. This is simply a witch hunt against whistleblowers who are concerned for the welfare of the people in their care. The creation of this report and its politicised use by the minister is designed to intimidate those who dare to speak up.
The government has some serious questions to answer. Why was it appropriate to leak this report to the newspaper The Daily Telegraph? Why did the government pre-empt the outcome of the investigation by sacking 10 employees, with no explanation, while refusing to let them or their bosses see the report? ...
Nauru refugees bailed after 48 hours of abuse and appalling conditions: non-cooperation campaign will continue
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [6/3/15]:
All of the 183 refugees arrested on Nauru have been released – the last of them only on Friday afternoon, 6 March, 48 hours after their arrest.
While most have been given general bail notices that do not specify charges (see photo at bottom) or dates for court appearance, ten refugees have been bailed to appear in the District Court on 18 March on charges of “unlawful assembly”.
Harrowing stories of robbery, mistreatment and appalling jail conditions have emerged since the refugees’ release. No food was provided for the prisoners for 24 hours during their incarceration.
In some cases the refugees were also without water for 24 hours.
In one of the cells at the Yaren police station, 22 male refugees were held in one cell with no toilet.
Nauruan police have also stolen mobile phones and hundreds of dollars from the property of those in custody. There are numerous allegations of heavy-handedness and beatings by police and threats against the refugees.
The Nauruan authorities are also guilty of collectively punishing refugee camps by cutting the power to the compounds since Wednesday night.
“Along with the Australian government, the Nauruan government stands condemned for its violation of the human rights of refugees. Almost 200 refugees were rounded up on Wednesday because they dared to protest against offshore processing and being denied a future,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“The Nauruan government has allowed Australia to turn Nauru into a prison colony for refugees.”
Despite warnings from police not to protest, morale among the refugees is high – and the campaign of non-cooperation will continue.
At right is a photo of a protest against the arrests, 4 March, outside the Yaren police station. Some of the participants themselves were later arrested.
... The refugees were given an interpreter, but were not given access to lawyers before they were asked to sign the paper.
The bail form refugees were required to sign commits them to a surety of $500, to be paid if the refugee fails to appear in court when summonsed, or if he or she breaches bail conditions. The handwritten bail conditions are: “to keep peace and not to re-offend”.
The bail form does not say with what offence they have been charged, or if they have been charged at all. Refugees, who are given an allowance of $180 a fortnight, have said any fine would be an impossible to pay. Those who have found jobs earn about between three and four dollars an hour. ... [Guardian - 6/3/15]
Nauru police say that 183 refugees arrested after protests on Wednesday were released from custody last night and are on bail. … [AUDIO - RNZI – 6/3/15]
".... One of the protest organisers who talked to the ABC was arrested. ... " A Voice From Nauru [VIDEO - Rez Nez - 4/3/15]
10 #refugees released from lockup in #Nauru. Refugees say Nauruan man who king hit protestor still walking free.
"tweeted" by @PacIsLiving - Editor, Pacific Living Mag [5/3/15]
Nauru government issues press release stating that arrested refugees will be released tonight. [RNZI - 5/3/15]
Until there is verification, transparency and access from the UNHCR, lawyers and the media, we can only assume that most of what is said in these government statements are lies.
Conspiracy of silence (expression):
A conspiracy of silence, or culture of silence, describes the behavior of a group of people of some size, as large as an entire national group or profession or as small as a group of colleagues, that by unspoken consensus does not mention, discuss, or acknowledge a given subject. The practice may be motivated by positive interest in group solidarity or by such negative impulses as fear of political repercussion or social ostracism. It differs from avoiding a taboo subject in that the term is applied to more limited social and political contexts rather than to an entire culture. As a descriptor, conspiracy of silence implies dishonesty, sometimes cowardice, sometimes privileging loyalty to one social group over another. As a social practice, it is rather more extensive than the use of euphemisms to avoid addressing a topic directly.
Yarl's Wood immigration centre protest: we're not animals, we just want respect [Channel 4 - 4/3/15]
Australia's Minister for Immigration introduces Migration Amendment (Strengthening Biometrics Integrity) Bill 2015
House of Representatives Hansard [5/3/15]:
... The bill will remove existing restrictions in the Migration Act on collecting biometrics from minors and incapable persons, to address current inconsistencies in the Migration Act where certain restrictions on collecting biometrics do not apply at Australia's borders, but do apply in other circumstances, such as at the time of applying for a visa.
The removal of existing restrictions on collecting biometrics from minors is primarily a child protection measure aimed at preventing child trafficking and/or smuggling. Collecting personal identifiers, particularly fingerprints, from children will permit a higher level of integrity in identifying minors overseas where known cases of child smuggling and trafficking reveal higher risk. This includes conducting fingerprint-based checks against lists of missing or abducted children with countries of suspected origin as well as against Interpol missing persons records. Fingerprints provide a unique capability to accurately identify individuals that is not possible using a facial image, particularly if the person is a minor. Unlike a facial image, which is subject to considerable change as a person ages into adulthood, fingerprints are relatively stable throughout a person's life.
Further, Australia, like the United States, the United Kingdom and many other countries face the return of potentially radicalised minors after participating in conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. While it is an uncomfortable proposition that a minor may be capable of involvement in terrorist activities or extreme violence, the conflict in the Middle East has provided evidence of the involvement of children. Through the Five Country Conference data sharing arrangements, Australia would be able to access fingerprint-based records of minors who may already be known to the security agencies of other countries. Where a minor is suspected of involvement in a terrorist activity or indeed serious criminal activity, fingerprints would enable searches of Five Country Conference partner databases and Australian law enforcement data holdings. ...
Portfolio Budget Statements in support of the 2014-15 Budget for the Immigration and Border Protection portfolio:
Refugee and Humanitarian Assistance
$762,000 ---> IOM
Initiatives to address the situation of displaced persons and promote sustainable returns - $700,000
Refugee and humanitarian passage, associated costs and related services - $18,966,000
$4,817,000 - offshore biometric program expansions
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On March 3, U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct three 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., March 3, and 8 a.m., March 4, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
- Near Kobani, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions.
- Near Fallujah, five airstrikes struck an IED factory, an ISIL VBIED factory, an ISIL weapons storage facility and destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle and an ISIL vehicle.
- Near Ramadi, an airstrike on ISIL fighters was reported as ineffective.
- Near Sinjar, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle and three ISIL vehicles.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Thanks little buddy: Australia's participation in latest Iraq invasion gets a special mention by US Central Command. [4/3/15]
Surfers Paradise man will save us ...
Arrested Nauru refugees held overnight: human
rights observers needed
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [5/3/15]:
Almost 200 refugees including up to 80 women have been held in detention overnight after mass arrests on Nauru, throughout Wednesday, 4 March.
The underage children being held by police, including one 7 year old who had been arrested early Wednesday morning, were removed from police cells by case workers, yesterday. However, many then spent the night without their parents who remained in custody.
More information emerged about Wednesday’s draconian police action, including that the police had arrested refugees inside the family compound as early as 4.00am.
The police action continued throughout the day with a further 50 refugees being arrested outside the police station at Yaren, in the afternoon, as they waited for news of those arrested and demanded their release.
The Nauruan government seems determined to push all those arrested through the court although it is not clear what charges could be laid against them.
“Independent legal and human rights observers are urgently needed on Nauru. The Nauru government is trying to criminalise the refugees. This kind of action is straight out of the Australian Immigration detention handbook”, said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“Service providers Connect say they cannot help those arrested. The Nauruan judicial system cannot be called fair or independent given the history of Nauruan governments sacking magistrates and legal officers that defy their wishes,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“This is not the first time that Nauruan police and the courts have been used to trample on the democratic rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Scores of asylum seekers were wrongly arrested and held on trumped up charges after the so-called riots in July 2013.”
“The Nauruan government is perpetuating the persecution of refugees who came to Australia seeking protection. It is being paid tens of millions of dollars to maintain a Pacific penal colony on behalf of Australia.”
Refugees at liberty on Nauru have told the Refugee Action Coalition that their campaign of non-cooperation will continue until they get their freedom.
Australia's Immigration Minister says Nauru refugees get what they deserve - and that's all you need to know. [Media Release - 4/3/15]
Evidently Amnesty, UNHCR, lawyers associations and the Human Rights Commission agree?
Sorry ABC pacific correspondent and Fairfax immigration issues reporter, but I can't believe anything you say until you go to Nauru and report first hand.
Repeating Lyall Mercer's press releases as who knows what atrocities refugees on Nauru are facing right now is not journalism.
Refugee punched during Nauru protest [VIDEO - Guardian - 4/3/15]
@clintd22 - Clint Deidenang - photographer on Nauru [4/3/15]:
More road blocks being set up by police. Main road to Govt office are being now blocked by police. Boe and Yaren road blocked. ...
Happening now: Police [Nauru police and "deputised" locals] in heavy gears seen setting up road blocks at main entrance road leading to all top site camps. ...
NZ spying on Pacific neighbours – Hager [AUDIO - RNZI – 5/3/15]:
Journalist Nicky Hager is accusing the government of spying on its Pacific neighbours on an unprecedented scale and giving the information to the United States.
Basing his information on documents provided by US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, Mr Hager said the Government's spy agency intercepted communications from several countries in the region and shared the information with the United States.
The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) intercepted communications from countries such as Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa, and even nations as small as Tuvalu, Nauru and Kiribati.
New Zealand had gathered vast amounts of information and provided it en masse to the National Security Agency in the United States, and the surveillance was growing, Mr Hager said.
"During the last few years, in the period of the current government, they've gone from some selected targetting of the South Pacific states and other targets to a new stage of where they just hoover up everything.
"They take every single phone call, every email and they go straight off into the [US] National Security Agency databases."
Mr Hager said the Government had sold out New Zealand's Pacific neighbours to secure its membership of the Five-Eyes intelligence network of the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
"The Five Eyes countries led by the US are literally trying to spy on every country on earth, and they do to an extent which we've been seeing in the overseas Snowden revelations as pretty mind-blowing with the high tech equipment they have.
"And what we're going to be hearing about in the next few days is New Zealand in all kinds of very surprising ways playing a role in that."
New Zealand Spies on Neighbors in Secret ‘Five Eyes’ Global Surveillance [The Intercept - 4/3/16]
Take aim, fire at will: Australian hypocrisy on a high pedestal [Jakarta Post - 24/1/15]
If politicians were serious about opposing the execution of Australians in Indonesia, they would be calling for the recall of our Ambassador and an end to the funding of their death squads
Politicians from all sides have united at a sombre candlelight vigil on the forecourt of Parliament House to appeal to Indonesia to spare death row inmates Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop were among 40-odd MPs and Senators who attended the dawn gathering in Canberra on Thursday.
@DubesAustralia - Dr David Engel - Australia's Charge d’Affaires to Indonesia [20/2/15]: Aust Ambassador Designate Paul Grigson visited Al-Azhar Mosque Jakarta today to meet with mosque officials.
Indonesia has recalled its new ambassador to Brazil after the South American country stopped him taking part in a credentials ceremony following the execution of a Brazilian national for drugs trafficking. ... [Reuters - 21/2/15]
Brazil and the Netherlands have recalled their ambassadors from Indonesia and expressed fury after Jakarta defied their pleas and executed two of their citizens along with four other drug offenders.
The other convicts to face a firing squad were from Vietnam, Malawi, Nigeria and Indonesia. The six were the first people executed under new President Joko Widodo.
Indonesia has tough anti-drugs laws and Widodo, who took office in October, has disappointed rights activists by voicing support for capital punishment despite his image as a reformist.
He defended the executions, saying drugs ruin lives.
A spokesman for the Brazilian president, Dilma Roussef, said she was “distressed and outraged” after Indonesia ignored her last-ditch pleas and put to death Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who was convicted of smuggling cocaine into Indonesia in 2004.
“Using the death penalty, which is increasingly rejected by the international community, seriously affects relations between our countries,” the spokesman said in a statement on Sunday.
"They were padlocked behind gates and [within] the first five minutes [of my arrival] the asylum seekers started shaking the fence and started calling for help ...
It was totally degrading and humiliating. ... The stench of faeces, it's unbearably hot - and you've got mosquitoes. ...
Nicole Judge, support worker on Manus for four months in 2013
[Australia's 'beautiful prison' in Papua New Guinea - BBC - 18/2/15]
Dentistry at Australia's refugee death camp on Manus Island [Manus: Dying for a Better Life - AUDIO - ENGLISH - 19/215]:
I finally got rid of my damn tooth pain. R* helps me.
He had been a soldier in prison.
He got a cable from the fence then heated it up until it got red hot.
He first stuck it in on my tooth and then put a lit cigarette into the hole.
He had learned that in Iran's prisons.
A government that is getting away with exiling refugees to island death camps will not 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
Worker killed in trench collapse, Cranbourne East
The Age [4/3/15]:
A man has been killed in a trench collapse in Cranbourne East on Wednesday afternoon.
The man, believed to be in his early 20s, was laying sewerage pipes at a worksite when the accident happened shortly after 2pm.
There are believed to be at least nine Metropolitan Fire Brigade crews at the scene, as well as the CFA, police and paramedics.
Earlier, Ambulance Victoria spokesperson Shaun McComish said the man was "heavily trapped".
WorkSafe investigators are at the scene investigating.
Worker's electric shock at Mount Isa Mines reveals curious QAS media policy
North West Star [4/3/15]:
The Queensland Ambulance Twitter account leaked information on a minor incident believed to have happened at Mount Isa Mines on Wednesday.
The twitter sent at 2.59pm Wednesday said “27-year-old male received an electric shock during an incident on station street #MilesEnd #MountIsa after 2pm.”
A Mount Isa Mines spokeswoman checked for further details onsite after questions from The North West Star but learned little else.
The incident was likely to be only a static shock and “very, very minor”, she said.
“If it was significant we certainly would have heard of it.”
It was standard site procedure to contact the ambulance if any incident happened no matter how trivial.
North West Local Ambulance Service Network, Superintendent Evan Kaddatz, said he was “perturbed” to learn of the Twitter post.
“That job was on a mine site and as such [I] can’t give more information.”
QAS was contracted by Mount Isa Mines when attending on-site matters.
“[You] need to go to Glencore.”
The North West Star understands the QAS might have employed a new communications officer unfamiliar with policy.
Glencore coal mines in central Queensland are expected to be scaled back this year as the company moves to reduce its production by 15 million tonnes. ... [Daily Mercury -3/3/15]
The number of school principals who have gastro-enteritis after an Education Queensland principals' conference jumped to 250 overnight, making it Queensland's second worst outbreak of salmonella recorded. ... [Brisbane Times - 4/3/15]
Victorian Country Fire Authority training base shut down over contaminated drinking water [Nine MSN – 3/3/15]
A fatal explosion has occurred at the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk, with at least 47 miners missing inside, the miners' union stated. They are also checking reports of 77 deaths in the blast. … [RT – 4/3/15]
Hadgkiss, Mr Nigel
Senate Hansard [3/3/15]:
Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (21:12): Nigel Hadgkiss, director of the Fair Work Building and Construction inspectorate, has framed his career and, indeed, his life, as a crime fighter, exposing corruption, drug runners and criminals. His backers, from employment minister, Eric Abetz, across to the Institute of Public Affairs, clearly believe he is the man with the drive and the attitude to deliver on their wish list to restrict union rights and to destroy the CFMEU.
The work Hadgkiss drives through the FWBC, if successful, stands to reshape Australia. Unions would be weakened until they were no longer effective in representing workers attempting to organise collectively: industrially for improved wages and conditions, and politically on social and environmental issues. Hadgkiss and his team do not just have the CFMEU in their sights. This is about reducing the pay workers that take home at the end of the week and reducing the rights of workers to ensure they have a safe workplace.
With Hadgkiss the man driving these changes, it is only legitimate that Australians know who he is. Born in the English Midlands, Hadgkiss early in his career took a job with the Hong Kong Police Force. In 1989, as a Winston Churchill Fellow, the Hadgkiss CV tells us that he studied methods for combating organised crime in Northern Ireland. I understand he also did a second stint in Northern Ireland in 2002, when he worked for Australia's National Crime Authority. The Royal Ulster Constabulary—known as the RUC—was the local police force in Northern Ireland until 2001, when it was renamed the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
This is where Senator Abetz's favourite public servant owes the Australian public a full explanation of his time in Belfast. In 1989 the RUC was not an exemplary police force. It is now on the historic record that the RUC was involved with paramilitaries in carrying out brutal crimes, including murder. The RUC was not fighting organised crime; it was the organised crime outfit of Northern Ireland.
There is no suggestion that Hadgkiss was involved in crimes committed by the RUC. However, why does he promote this visit as a study trip to examine methods of fighting organised crime? What did he study when he visited Northern Ireland in 1989? The actions of members of the RUC are shocking criminal acts. Probably the most serious crime committed by the RUC in 1989, the year that Hadgkiss was apparently first in Northern Ireland, was the murder of the Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane. He was shot 14 times as he sat eating his Sunday lunch with his wife and three children in their Belfast home. His wife was injured, while his young children witnessed the murder as they sheltered under the kitchen table.
In 2001 a retired Canadian Judge, Peter Cory, was appointed by the British and Irish governments to investigate allegations of collusion by the RUC, the British Army and the Gardia—the police force of the Republic of Ireland—in a series of murders including the killing of Finucane. When one reads about the extent of collusion between the RUC and paramilitaries, it is hard to imagine what form combating organised crime could have taken in Northern Ireland in 1989 and what a visiting police officer from Australia would have studied. British Prime Minister David Cameron has acknowledged what he described as 'shocking levels of collusion'. He issued an apology to the Finucane family. The RUC crimes are not just linked with one murder in 1989. One of the British government instigated investigations found that the RUC was aware of two previous plans to kill Finucane earlier in the 1980s. They failed to notify him of the threat.
The report of the inquiry headed by prominent British lawyer Sir Desmond Lorenz de Silva states that, notwithstanding the apparent seriousness of the threat to Finucane's life, the decision was taken by RUC special branch, supported by the Irish Joint Section of MI5 and MI6, to take no action to warn or otherwise protect him because to do so could compromise an agent from whom the intelligence derived. Prime Minister Cameron noted in his comments on the Finucane case that he accepted that the RUC branch was 'responsible for seriously obstructing the investigation'. It is also on the record that Prime Minster Cameron's former director of security and intelligence, Ciaran Martin, had warned him that senior members of Margaret Thatcher's government may have been aware of 'a systemic problem with loyalist agents' at the time of Pat Finucane's death but had done nothing about it.
Hadgkiss cannot use the excuse that the crimes perpetrated by the RUC were not known when he visited. The evidence that the RUC colluded with loyalist paramilitaries—murdering gangs—is not new. The comments associated with the British prime minister—the reports, the apologies, the speeches in parliament—provide an insight into the brutal work of the RUC. Juxtapose this against Hadgkiss's public statement that the RUC provided him with an opportunity to study how to fight organised crime. There is an extreme disjunct here. What did Hadgkiss study In Northern Ireland? What lessons did he learn? Did he gain an insight into the crimes being committed by the RUC that were so serious they warranted an apology from the conservative prime minister of Britain? Did he observe any activities at the RUC that he should have reported?
I urge Hadgkiss to provide details about his past. Such information is relevant to how the FWBC director undertakes his job and to determine if Hadgkiss should be in such a powerful position. We do know that Hadgkiss's career has been under a cloud at least since the 1990s. In 2005 the Building Industry Taskforce at the time, headed up by Hadgkiss, said it lost interview records at the centre of former Detective Sergeant Michael McGann's accusations of payback and victimisation against Hadgkiss after McGann was effectively forced out of his job at the taskforce.
In the 1990s McGann and Hadgkiss had clashed at the Wood royal commission into corruption in the NSW Police Force. Hadgkiss was director of operations for the Commission. McGann, who had been awarded the Valour Award, the NSW police's highest bravery medal, was adversely named over an alleged assault on a thief and paedophile. All charges against McGann and four other police officers were dismissed by a magistrate who found the evidence to be unreliable. McGann maintained that Hadgkiss's investigators working at the Wood royal commission fabricated evidence and that Hadgkiss should have known about it. McGann told the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in 2003 that in his case Hadgkiss's investigators falsified witness statements and then forced the witness to sign the statement on the threat of going to jail themselves. Understandably, McGann believed his past run ins with Hadgkiss were linked to his dismissal from the Building Industry Taskforce. I doubt you would find details of these events on the Hadgkiss CV.
The Fair Work Building and Construction Inspectorate Hadgkiss heads up is part of a network of commissions and inquiries the Liberal-Nationals government has set up that are squandering millions of dollars of public money and resources on what we could call the ultimate in corporate welfare. This is one of the key objectives of coalition governments: to use public money to assist companies to boost profits by reducing the share of income going to wages. This corporate welfare is being laid on with a mighty big trowel. In the last budget the FWBC picked up a 17.25 per cent increase in funding to take them to $34.3 million. This included a 32.6 per cent increase in spending on staff. Last year Hadgkiss received a $90,000 pay rise to take his annual salary to $406,000. All this in a climate of budget cutbacks across the entire public sector, excluding the spy agencies and defence. Meanwhile, Hadgkiss's FWBC has offloaded any responsibility for employees' unpaid entitlements and sham contracting to the Fair Work Ombudsman, the corporate regulator ASIC and the tax office. These agencies have all suffered budget cuts, unlike the FWBC.
I think the evidence is well and truly in that Hadgkiss has a deep level of bias against the CFMEU and construction unions and that his work is designed to assist the plan of this conservative government to drive down and abolish penalty rates, reduce wage increases and limit workers ability to fight for a safe workplace. Hadgkiss is putting himself out there as the celebrity police officer riding into town to extend his fight against organised crime into the Australian union movement. If that is how he wants to be portrayed and we can assume be remembered, surely he needs to provide an accurate record of his public life with the Royal Ulster Constabulary and with the fabricating of evidence at the Wood royal commission.
AFP 'will never be able to explain itself'
The Australian Federal Police will never be able to justify exposing the Bali Nine to the death penalty, a barrister with intimate knowledge of the case says.
Bob Myers is a friend of Bali Nine drug mule Scott Rush, who's serving a life sentence for his role in the heroin ring that's left Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran facing imminent execution.
Mr Myers says the nine were only arrested in Bali in 2005 because the AFP tipped off their Indonesian counterparts, and they did so without the Australian government's permission.
He says the AFP should never have facilitated the arrests in a country that has the death penalty, and it's a heinous breach of their duty to protect Australian lives.
Last month, the AFP promised a more detailed explanation of the events that led to the arrests of the nine but not until clemency efforts had been exhausted.
That now appears to be the case, with Chan and Sukumaran transferred on Wednesday to an Indonesian island for execution.
Mr Myers says the AFP must explain itself, but says he doesn't believe it will save Chan and Sukumaran at this late stage.
"At one point, seven of the nine were given the death penalty, including Scott (Rush). Thank god we were able to appeal that," Mr Myers told AAP on Wednesday.
"None of them should have been arrested there. The police had no right to do what they did, and their activities were completely unauthorised. The government knew nothing about what they were doing.
"There can never be a justification for what they did. That's why they haven't given one in 10 years. The AFP have got to be called to task."
Last month, Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton rejected suggestions the AFP would have blood on its hands over the Chan and Sukumaran executions.
He promised the AFP would have more to say if last ditch appeals for clemency failed.
"We don't want to say anything that is going to potentially negatively influence that effort," he said at the time.
"But at the right time we will and we'll say a fair bit about it."
AAP has approached the AFP for comment.
Children in Detention
Senate Hansard [4/3/15]:
Senator LAZARUS (Queensland—Leader of the Palmer United Party in the Senate) (15:35):
I, and also on behalf of Senators Wang and Hanson-Young, move:
That the Senate—
(a) recognises that Australia has an obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of people placed in detention by the Federal Government regardless of the location of the detention centres
(b) notes the jurisdictional issues involving detention centres, especially those located offshore, lead to allegations of abuse in these centres being referred to local police in relevant states or territories or in the countries in which the detention centres are located; and
(c) calls on the Federal Government to urgently ensure that all allegations of abuse involving children in detention are referred to the Australian Federal Police and investigated on an individual basis.
Senator FIFIELD (Victoria—Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (15:36): Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement.
The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Senator FIFIELD: Thank you. This government is committed to removing children from detention. After six chaotic years of the previous government, in 2013, when the coalition took office, there were over 1,000 children in immigration detention; today there are less than 120.
All allegations of abuse involving children in onshore facilities are referred to either the AFP or state or territory police. All allegations of abuse involving children in Nauru are referred to the Nauruan Police Force. The Nauruan Police Force is supported by an AFP senior adviser based in Nauru. Where incidents of abuse involving children in detention have been brought to the attention of the minister or the department, appropriate investigations have been launched, such as that led by Philip Moss.
The government acknowledges the efforts of the Palmer United Party in removing children from detention through their support of the government's legacy caseload legislation last year. However, there are significant jurisdictional issues that can often impede or prevent the AFP investigating allegations which have occurred in a sovereign nation. The government is not able to support this motion.
Question agreed to.
Lazarus claims victory for the people of Australia: Abbott dumps GP Co-Payment [Media Release - 2/3/15]
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
LNP and Hillsong PR man (now Nauru government spin doctor ) Lyall Mercer advocates transparency. [Federal and Queensland Governments must communicate better in 2014 - Mercer PR Media Release - 11/1/14]:
... He believes Australians want to know what the Federal Government is doing to manage asylum seekers.
“It’s reasonable that they stop the endless media obsession of the former Rudd and Gillard Governments, but refusing to bring the people of Australia into their trust is foolish. The public should never be taken for granted.”
“Ironically, I believe greater communication and transparency would result in more – not less - support for the Government’s policies and strategies.” ...
So let the journalists and UNHCR in Lyall.
United Nations Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai today welcomed the introduction of a bill by the Victoria State’s government in Australia into the lower house of the Parliament to repeal restrictive laws regulating protests.
“In my previous thematic reports, I identified a series of best practices that provide valuable advice for compliance of State authorities with international law,” the expert stated.
“Authorities not only have the duty to protect public safety and order as well as the rights and freedoms of others, but also the obligation to facilitate the holding of peaceful assemblies”, Mr. Kiai stressed. “Public space must be made available for individuals and groups in order for them to exercise their fundamental freedoms.” ... [United Nations Office at Geneva - 4/3/15]
Italian coastguard rescue 941 refugees.
Australian political and media establishment keep pretending refugees don't come by boat.
Belfast Telegraph [4/3/15]:
Italy's Coast Guard is taking nearly 1,000 migrants to southern ports from several different boat rescues, but 10 migrants died at sea.
The Coast Guard said its vessels and three cargo ships south of Sicily rescued 941 people in seven separate operations that began a day earlier.
The migrants had been aboard five motorised dinghies and two larger vessels. One of the migrant boats capsized.
Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of migrants fleeing conflicts or poverty reach Italy each week on smugglers' boats setting sail from Libya.
The Coast Guard said the migrants claimed to be Syrians, Palestinians, Libyans, Tunisians or from sub-Saharan Africa.
Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton reaffirms Abbott government's resolve to stick with ALP refugee policy [Media Release - 4/3/15]:
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said today that refugee demonstrations on Nauru would have no influence on the Australian Government’s policies.
Mr Dutton said the Government remained absolutely determined to ensure that illegal maritime arrivals (IMAs) would not be settled in Australia.
“If people who have been resettled on Nauru believe that these activities will change Australia’s position – they are wrong,” Mr Dutton said.
“I note that Nauru’s President has stated that his Government believes Australian refugee activists are trying to provoke violence to achieve a political agenda.
“I say clearly to those who have been settled on Nauru that they should disregard any advice by so-called advocates that this behavior will change outcomes – it will not.
“I believe Nauru’s authorities have acted with restraint in the face of some days of these provocative actions and understandably Nauru’s police will deal with any breaches of Nauruan law.
“If people breach the law then they should expect to face the consequences of their actions.”
Mr Dutton said the Nauruan Government and the people of Nauru had generously accepted and helped people to settle within their community and in turn they deserved gratitude and respect.
“My message to those who protest is that it will not change the Australian Government’s commitment to the processing and resettlement arrangements in place on Nauru.
“We are committed to supporting the Government of Nauru in hosting the Regional Processing Centre.
“Let me reiterate - those who come illegally by boat will never be settled in Australia.”
Tweets mentioned below by @PacIsLiving [Editor of Pacific Island Living Magazine] appear to have been deleted.
Nauru is currently conducting mass arrests of refugees for peacefully protesting their conditions.
Australian media, "lefties" are suddenly SINCERELY INTERESTED in dead koalas and domestic violence
@PacIsLiving - Editor, Pacific Island Living Magazine - Tiffany Carroll [4/3/15]:
#Nauru refugees claim Connect case workers not helping 300 arrested for protesting. ...
More #Nauru refugees arrested trying to see others jailed. 300 now. ...
... Lyall Mercer, whose Brisbane-based company provides public relations services to the Nauru government, arrived on the island on Wednesday afternoon and is meeting with the police chief. ... [SBS - 4/3/15]
If Nauru "government spokesperson" Lyall Mercer wanted the truth to be heard he'd invite Australian journalists to see and report for themselves.
He is able to stoop to this new low - greenlighting and justifying atrocities against refugees - because Australia's media aren't holding him to account, and refuse to give refugees a voice.
Some refugees in Nauru moved children in front of them when police attempt to arrest them, using them as shields ...
British media report that 70 refugees on Nauru have been arrested, and some have been beaten.
Australian media continues its blackout as it works on its usual victim blaming narrative.
UNHCR, Human Rights Commission, Amnesty, Greens, Palmer agree that peacefully protesting refugees deserve to be beaten and arrested?
Australian law societies? Where are you?
@clintd22 - Clint. Deidenang - photographer on Nauru [4/3/15]: Just happened: 3 busload of protestors just passed in front of me from top sites with lots of protestors heading to jail with police escort.
Up to 70 refugees on Nauru have been arrested for protesting in the island’s capital, as video has emerged showing refugees being assaulted as they protested peacefully at the weekend.
The majority of refugees were arrested for walking towards the Nauruan police station in Yaren, to protest the arrest of eight others earlier in the day.
At least 40 men are being held in the police cells at Yaren, others are being held in other locations. It is unknown if, and when, they will face a court.
The initial eight were arrested as they walked from the refugee compound to the shops on Wednesday morning.
They were arrested reportedly because they were believed to have been ringleaders in earlier protests over the weekend.
One of that group is understood to be 13 years old.
The video, shot on mobile phone, shows a group of demonstrators walking slowly towards a police line on a road.
The group is noisy, chanting “justice”, but peaceful. Several protesters have their hands crossed above their heads and some are kneeling.
A policeman holds up his hand to stop the protesters.
As the protesters come close to the police, scuffles break out between police and some demonstrators, including one woman wearing a chador.
One refugee close to the camera is filming the demonstration on his mobile phone.
A Nauruan man, not wearing any uniform, steps from behind the police line to punch the refugee in the face while he is not looking.
The refugee staggers, and drops his phone, but picks it back up and resumes filming. He does not retaliate.
The assailant retreats behind the line of police officers.
Don't believe the lies. The road blocks were set up by the police - that is what caused any resulting traffic "chaos".
@clintd22 - Clint Deidenang - photographer on Nauru [4/3/15]:
More road blocks being set up by police. Main road to Govt office are being now blocked by police. Boe and Yaren road blocked. ...
Happening now: Police [Nauru police and "deputised" locals] in heavy gears seen setting up road blocks at main entrance road leading to all top site camps. ...
Nauru refugees face jail for peaceful assembly
Australian media blackout continues.
UNHCR, human rights groups silent (as they were when hunger striking refugees on Manus were beaten and "arrested")
Nauru police have placed draconian limits on protesting by refugees on the island.
A notice distributed on Tuesday says groups of three or more which do not disperse within 15 minutes could be arrested and face charges carrying penalties of up to three years in jail.
This move comes in response to protests by the refugees over the conditions they face on the island after being released from the Australian run asylum seeker detention camps.
The Refugee Action Coalition says there have been a series of arrests, of at least eight refugees.
Its spokesperson, Ian Rintoul, says the arrests are a clear attempt to pre-empt a further protest planned for later today.
He says while the Nauru government accuses the refugees of violence, there have been no arrests made by the police for allegedly throwing stones or any other form of damage.
Mr Rintoul says police have failed to respond to complaints by refugees against violent police and locals.
He says this police inaction and the government's attempt to stifle refugee protests have only encouraged a minority on Nauru to believe they can threaten refugees with impunity.
Phone calls to the Nauru police chief go unanswered.
Over the past few weeks the Australian media have been gleefully using all manner of metaphor eg "falling on his sword" in their Abbott leadership speculation spectacle.
Today they're feigning outrage re Clive Palmer's "political suicide" reference.
They are doing this because they are hypocrites.
They are also terrified of ANY political alternative to the LNP and ALP fascist duopoly. i.e. They are opposed to democracy.
Political Suicide [URBAN DICTIONARY]:
1) to act in such a way (verbal or non-verbal) that causes one, typically a politician, to lose widespread support.
1) When the Senator threw away his medals from the Vietnam war he committed political suicide.
2) If he post the banner and the war continues, he'll commit political suicide.
3) President Piggly Wiggly committed political suicide when he used billions of taxpayers dollars to help the auto industry and then still have the auto industry to fail after the first bankruptcy.
@AuSenate - Australian Senate [4/3/15]: The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill has passed the #Senate with government amendments. Related bill passed with no amendments
The former headmaster of Knox Grammar school has admitted deliberately impeding a police investigation into paedophile teachers working at the school.
Ian Paterson was approached by Inspector Elizabeth Cullen from the child protection enforcement agency about complaints of child sex abuse at the school in 1996. Paterson told Cullen he was not aware of any complaints, which he has admitted was a lie.
Palmer United to Abstain From Voting on Legislation until Government Chaos Ends [Media Release – 3/3/15]
Federal leader of the Palmer United Party and member for Fairfax Clive Palmer says his party Senate team will abstain from voting on any legalisation proposals until Government chaos ended.
“The Government’s proposals seem to change daily,’’ Mr Palmer said.
“The policies are not consistent, party in-fighting and conflict is ongoing and as a result our party has decided as a bloc in the Senate to abstain from voting on any legislation proposals.”
Mr Palmer said it would not be responsible to vote on new laws when the Government appeared to have its foundations laid down on quicksand.
He also said serious questions needed to be asked in relation to Liberal Party honorary federal treasurer Phil Higginson’s call for greater transparency in the party’s financial accounts.
“How can a party receive millions of dollars in donations and not provide a full set of accounts?” Mr Palmer said.
“Serious questions need to be asked about where these funds have been spent.
“For the Palmer United Party to vote on any proposals, the chaos needs to be resolved or we will abstain until the next election,’’ Mr Palmer said.
LNP and ALP vote together again on corporate handouts
Senate Hansard [3/3/15]:
Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No. 7) Bill 2014 (Second Reading)
Senator MILNE (Tasmania—Leader of the Australian Greens) ... Everybody should be equal under the law. That should be a fundamental premise in Australia. Everyone is equal under the law. If there is a law which says that you cannot get the pension if you have a certain amount of money or if certain changes apply and you breach that, then you suffer the consequences; but equally, if the big end of town stacks up this money in their super beyond the cap they are allowed, they should pay a penalty when they are found out. Why is it that we assume rich people make mistakes to their financial advantage inadvertently, but poorer people are clearly not innocent and have done so for some criminal intent? That is wrong, and that is why the Greens will be strongly opposing schedule 1 of this particular tax bill. It shows again that the Abbott government cannot help itself. Where the rich are concerned, no penalties apply. Where other people are concerned, every penalty applies and the book is thrown at them. It is wrong.
The other schedule we will be opposing today is about the destruction of the environment and using public funds to benefit mining companies. That is exactly what exploration tax credits do. What this schedule does is provide tax credits for junior mining companies—essentially, mining start-ups that have no current investment from which to redirect existing profits into further exploration. It is giving these mining start-ups a credit when they are exploring greenfield areas. In other words, this is about new miners on new exploration projects. Guess what? They are trying to get into every protected area around the country. We would be offering a tax credit for these miners to open up areas that ought to be protected. The fact of the matter is that frequently they go in and destroy these areas. State governments fall over themselves to give them licenses, a royalty holiday and every concession under the sun. They go in and wreck the place; they go broke; and then they leave. They never meet the bond, if there was one, to rehabilitate the area.
Senator O'Sullivan: That's not accurate. That's not fair.
Senator MILNE: I am glad there has been an interjection there, because I am going to give you some very good examples. If the mining industry cares to have a look, I refer them to the Tarkine in north-western Tasmania, where the Australian Heritage Council recommended that the area be protected for its natural values. I was appalled, during the last government, when the Labor minister decided not to implement the Heritage Council's findings and protect the area. Minister Burke came out strongly saying he would prefer mining to go ahead in the area, even though there was no business case—even though these tin-pot miners were going to make a wreck of the place. And that is exactly what has happened.
So let me just go through what has happened—and they get this, of course, in addition to accelerated depreciation for their capital, materiel and exploration costs and fuel tax credits. It goes on and on in this mission to use taxpayers' dollars to dig it up, cut it down and ship it away. That is essentially the only vision you have got. Why would you be using taxpayers' dollars to give these miners access to greenfield sites?
Venture Minerals proposed three open cut mines in the Tarkine. Mount Lindsay mine has tin, tungsten, copper and iron. The mine has a predicted life of eight years. It is the main mine in the group, and the lease was granted by the Tasmanian government in July 2014. The Stanley River mine has hematite, iron and tin. The predicted life of the mine is two years. The Riley Creek mine has hematite. The predicted life of the mine is two years. Work began in May 2014 and was suspended in August 2014. All of these mines sit within the area recommended by the Heritage Council for a Tarkine National Heritage listing. The Mount Lindsay and Stanley River mines are within the myrtle forest and the button grass and heathland in the Meredith Ranges reserve created under the Tasmanian Regional Forestry Agreement. The Riley Creek site would involve clearing myrtle forest. Threatened species that may be impacted through the clearing include the Tasmanian devil, the spotted-tail quoll and the wedge-tailed eagle, as well as the expected increase in road kills.
Best-preserved Magna Carta goes on show at Salisbury Cathedral
A new exhibition celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta has been launched at Salisbury Cathedral.
The cathedral is home to the "finest preserved" of the four original copies of the historic charter.
Signed by King John at Runnymede in 1215, it is seen as the foundation of constitutional law in England.
The new "immersive and interactive" exhibition, funded by a £415,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will be opened to the public from Saturday.
Outlining basic rights with the principle that no-one was above the law, including the king, the Magna Carta charted the right to a fair trial and limits on taxation without representation.
As part of the new exhibit, the cathedral's original 1215 document has been re-housed in the 13th-century Chapter House in a display "befitting its international significance".
Magna Carter, Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire The new Magna Carta exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral will open to the public on Saturday
The Chapter House and medieval cloisters, also play host to an interactive exhibition charting the story of the historic charter.
The Very Reverend June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury, said "despite its age" it has "clearly gained in relevance for a modern audience".
"There are only four original Magna Cartas left in the world and we have the most beautiful one here in Salisbury.
"I know that the many visitors who will come to Salisbury Cathedral to experience this exhibition will be excited and engaged by what they find," she said.
"I hope they will go away inspired by Magna Carta's enduring values of fairness, universal rights and justice."
Where's the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance?
As the LNP and ALP furiously agree that the senate should pass cyberbullying legislation (i.e. more internet policing in the name of child protection), British media report that the Australian government has asked the AFP to investigate Nauru whistleblowers.
Child protection whistleblowers who alerted the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to child sexual abuse, violence and self-harm on Nauru are being investigated by the Australian Federal Police. ... [Guardian - 4/2/15]
UNHCR maintain silence.
Australian media continue repeating Nauru government propaganda, won't even try to get/report the refugees' POV?
#Nauru govt has issued a press release suggesting refugee advocate groups directed refugees to harm themselves during Friday protest.
"tweeted" by @SamBolitho - ABC journalist [4/3/15]
It appears anyone can travel to Nauru except the Australian media! Do they choose not to, or do their employers say no?
Nauru Airlines is in talks to provide services from the Marshall Islands to the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. ... [RNZI - 3/3/15]
You could interview the Nauru refugees, or you could repeat Australian and Nauru government propaganda and lies so the human rights abuses can continue.
Adnan Shirwani, 36, with his 6-months-pregnant wife Maryam, 33, from the Kurdistan region of Iran. They spent one year in the detention centre and were given refugee status and released to the community based camp in June 2014. ...
Photographed by Vlad Sokhin, October 2014
Nauru: Dream Turned Nightmare for Boat Refugees Seeking Asylum in Australia [RIA Novosti - 2/11/14]:
... Amnesty International tried to visit the island state in early 2014. Nauru’s government turned down their request along with a request from UN human rights observers, citing “the current circumstances and incredibly busy time”, as well as “practical difficulties”, Amnesty International said in a news release.
“Nauru’s refusals to allow an independent review of the conditions in the detention centre are another damning development in Australia’s offshore asylum processing system,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.
Under new regulations, introduced by Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, in July, 2013, asylum seekers, brought to Nauru or the Manus Island, are banned from receiving a refugee status from Canberra and relocating to Australia. If eligible, they can receive refugee status and stay in Papua New Guinea or Nauru.
However, leaving these island nations is just as hard as bringing relatives there. Furthermore, refugees are not allowed to share their stories with the outside world.
Despite apparent attempts to prevent human rights activists and journalists from coming to the island, Russian photographer Vlad Sokhin managed to visit Nauru as a tourist. He has recently shared a heart-breaking account of what it is like to live on the islands as a refugee in Russian Reporter magazine.
“Everyone is spying on us here. Every our step is reported to the police. We are strictly forbidden from talking to foreigners or journalists,” Mujtaba, a Shia refugee from Pakistan, told Sokhin. Mujtaba works at Capelle & Partner, the only supermarket on the island, which makes him one of the few lucky refugees to have work. Unemployment in Nauru is as high as 90 percent.
Mujtaba recalled deplorable conditions in the detention center, where he had spent 10 months. Like other asylum seekers, Mujtaba had to share a tent with 20 people.
“The tents got unbearably hot in the sun; it was extremely hot inside – no fans, no air conditioning. Children and pregnant women had to live under the same conditions. There were eight toilets for 400 people. We were allowed to use shower for two or three minutes if there was water. Sometimes there was no drinking water,” Mujtaba said.
“I think, Australians deliberately forced us to live under such conditions, so that we would spread the word – don’t try to enter Australia illegally, you will go to hell instead.”
Adnan, his wife Mariam and their 12-year-old son fled from Iranian Kurdistan. Adnan’s wife is six months pregnant and in desperate need of medical attention.
“My wife is due soon. But she has pregnancy complications,” Adnan told Sokhin. “She suffered from anxiety when we lived in the detention center as if it were prison.
The doctor at the Nauru hospital is completely incompetent. Several times my wife was prescribed medication contraindicated in pregnancy. There is no ultrasound scan. We cannot buy vitamins here,” he explained.
These are far from being isolated cases. Vlad Sokhin talked to other people, who were trapped on the small island fleeing persecution in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Somalia. Following Australia’s agreement with Cambodia, signed last month, they have now an option to settle in the South East Asian nation.
But Papua New Guinea, Nauru or Cambodia hardly compare to a developed country and all the opportunities it can provide to people seeking better life. Yet Australia continues to deny them what the UN considers a basic human right.
Uyghur migrants held in Thailand for 11 months take case to court
A Thai court will decide this month whether to release 17 Uighurs from the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, including 13 children, who have been detained for the past 11 months in Bangkok, a lawyer for the group said on Tuesday.
Hundreds of people have been killed in unrest in Xinjiang in the past two years, prompting a crackdown by Chinese authorities. Small numbers of Uighurs, a Muslim people from Xinjiang who speak a Turkic language, have been trickling out of China to Southeast Asia with some ending up in Thailand.
"The court will hold an urgent hearing on March 24 and decide whether to release the group of 17, including a four-month-old baby, who are all from the same family," Worasit Piriyawiboon, a lawyer for the group, said.
"They would be released immediately if the court finds they have been detained illegally."
Under Thai law, court approval must be sought for detention periods over seven days.
The family, who use the surname Teklimakan, entered Thailand in March 2014 and were caught in the town of Aranyaprathet, close to Thailand's border with Cambodia.
They were charged with illegal entry and the adults fined 20,000 baht (402 pounds), said Worasit. The family are currently being held at Bangkok's Suan Plu Immigration Detention Center.
They have been issued Turkish passports, he said.
The Embassy of Turkey in Bangkok could not be reached for comment.
China lashed out at Turkey in November for offering to shelter roughly 200 Uighurs from Xinjiang who were rescued from a human-smuggling camp in Thailand.
Turkey is home to thousands of Uighurs who have fled Xinjiang since the Chinese Communists took over the region in 1949.
2,000 unregistered Afghans deported since Army Public School attack
Pakistan has deported around 2,000 unregistered Afghans after the attack on Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014.
“Pakistani authorities have clearly conveyed to the Afghan government that around three million refugees are posing grave security risk and it is now working to send back non-registered Afghan refugees at the earliest to minimise these risks,” security officials told Daily Express on the condition of anonymity.
These sources said that after the approval of the National Action Plan (NAP) the provincial governments have been directed to arrest illegal Afghans and deport them immediately.
“It has been clearly conveyed to Afghan authorities that around all the three million refugees will be repatriated by December 2015, and meanwhile no action will be taken against the registered refugees,” the sources said, adding, “it has also been conveyed that action is only being taken against those Afghan refugees who have not got themselves registered properly.”
The sources said that intelligence agencies have proof which was handed over to the Afghan authorities that there are unregistered Afghans who are involved in terrorist activities and crimes, creating law and order problems in Pakistan which cannot be tolerated anymore.
The official sources said that the same was conveyed by the Army Chief Raheel Sharif in his last visit to Kabul. “It is most likely that PM Nawaz will visit Kabul sometimes this month and the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees and immediate deportation of illegal Afghans remains on the agenda.”
The official sources said that the government has expedited measures including registration and containing them to their refugee camps and restrict their activities. “Police have expedited a campaign against unregistered Afghans in Peshawar and other parts of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” the source said adding, “Unregistered Afghans travelling or staying in the province are being deported to their country under the section 14 of the Foreigners Act after fulfilling legal requirements.”
According to UNCHR report, there are 1.78 million registered Afghan refugees while 0.68 million are unregistered out of total 2.46 million refugees.
“Pakistan is hosting Afghan refugees since long and time and again has reminded the international community that these people are a burden on its fragile economy apart from the fact that they (unregistered Afghan refugees) are also involved in criminal and extremist activities in Pakistan,” says the report.
Some 16,000 refugees seek shelter in Cameroon following clashes in north-east Nigeria
UNHCR Media Release [3/3/15]:
The UN refugee agency reported on Tuesday that some 16,000 Nigerian refugees fled to Cameroon's Far North region over the weekend to escape clashes in north-east Nigeria between regional military forces and insurgents.
The Cameroonian authorities told UNHCR that the refugees had come from villages caught in the fighting along the border, and more continued to cross into the extremely volatile border zones, including Makaria, Logone Birni and Fotokol, which lie just south of Lake Chad and have come under attack by Nigerian insurgents in recent weeks.
UNHCR is working with Cameroon to relocate refugees as quickly as possible away from areas of active conflict to a transit site at Kousseri, which lies 90 kilometres from the border and 370 kilometres north of Minawao, where there is an established refugee camp.
"Because of conflict between military forces and insurgents happening on Cameroonian territory, we do not have access to border areas where refugees have arrived," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva, adding that the agency and partners were ready to conduct screening at the transit site and to provide emergency assistance in health, nutrition, water and food for new arrivals.
Relocation convoys from the border to Kousseri will begin on Wednesday. Following screening procedures, UNHCR will then organize daily transfers of 2,000 refugees to Minawao camp where urgent shelter and sanitation construction is under way.
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On March 2, U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct seven airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., March 2, and 8 a.m., March 3, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Al Hasakah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL motorcycles.
Near Kobani, six airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and destroyed 10 ISIL fighting positions.
Near Al Asad, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, and destroyed an ISIL boat and an ISIL vehicle.
Near Bayji, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Near Mosul, an airstrike struck an ISIL checkpoint.
Near Ramadi, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL building.
Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy Machine Gun.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
A U.S. military official who briefed news media about Iraq's upcoming offensive to retake Mosul provided inaccurate information but should never have publicly discussed war plans anyway, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday. ... [Reuters - 3/3/15]
U.S.-led strike kills dozens of "ISIS militants" in southern Tikrit [IraqiNews.com - 3/3/15]
10 "ISIS militants" killed in operation by IA and U.S.-led warplanes in Anbar [IraqiNews.com - 3/3/15]
A little over a month after leaving Toulon, the Charles de Gaulle carrier strike group is now participating in maintaining security operations with allied forces, including Saudi Arabia. The Charles de Gaulle carrier strike group is officially engaged in Operation Shamal in Iraq. ... [Centcom - 3/3/15]
A source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Tuesday that the Canadian Foreign Minister Robert Nicholson will arrive in Baghdad tomorrow for an official visit.
The source said in an interview for IraqiNews.com, “Canadian Foreign Minister Robert Nicholson arrives tomorrow in the capital Baghdad on an official visit.”
A source in the Defense Ministry revealed on Tuesday, that the Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz will arrive in Baghdad tomorrow to meet with his Iraqi counterpart Khaled al-Obeidi, in order to discuss methods of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against ISIS.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [4/3/15]:
Anbar: The war palnes have shelled Jamhouriya School near a market in the middle of Fallujah resulted in killing and wounding of civilians ..................
Anbar: The war planes have destroyed Jamhouriya School in Fallujah ... [VIDEO]
Anbar: The war planes have targeted a building belonging to Fallujah Hospital........ [VIDEO]
Anbar: The war planes targeted Fallujah neighbourhoods [VIDEO]
Anbar: The children and civilians in Fallujah are targeted by continuing shelling of planes......... [VIDEO]
In Syria, a key U.S.-backed rebel group has collapsed after a series of defeats by an al-Qaeda affiliate. Harakat Hazm, favored by the United States as a moderate group and armed with U.S. anti-tank missiles, has now allied itself with the Islamist Shamiah Front. [Democracy Now - 3/3/15]
ANA PRESS [3/3/15]:
Syrian forces resumed their shelling this morning on the Jobar district of Damascus in parallel to a new attempt to take control over it. At least four Syrian troops were reported killed in the clashes that erupted with Syrian opposition forces in the area.
Air strikes were carried out also on the Arbeen and Hezzeh suburbs, and two people were reported killed by artillery shelling from regime forces in Arbeen.
In central Damascus, dozens of people attended today the funeral procession for the two doctors killed by unknown gunmen in the Midan area in the night between Sunday and Monday.
A statement on more
troops to Iraq
Andrew Wilkie MP [3/3/15]:
More Australian troops will not solve the crisis in Iraq. Western troops are not welcome in that country and indeed have been one of the reasons for the 12 years of war.
Any further foreign intervention on the ground should be by soldiers from Muslim countries.
But there is a question mark over the capacity of any foreign troops being able to successfully train the decrepit Iraqi army.
Years of trying to train Iraqi troops, at a cost of billions of dollars, have so far failed dismally and we should confront the likelihood that further training efforts will be no more than reinforcing defeat.
The dreadful situation in Iraq is a mess of our own making. Australia helped start this war 12 years ago, for entirely fraudulent reasons, and we are now all left to pay the price.
The West, including Australia, has also had a hand in destabilising Syria by our support for the Syrian rebels out of which Islamic State has emerged.
The reality is there is no easy or reliable way to remedy Iraq. About the only certainty is that some sort of stability will not emerge there until the country is allowed to find its natural political level.
US Justice Department finds racial bias in Ferguson police practices
The U.S. Justice Department has concluded that the Ferguson, Missouri, police department routinely engages in racially biased practices, a law enforcement official familiar with the department's findings said on Tuesday.
The investigation into the police department began in August after the shooting of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson sparked national protests.
Analysis of more than 35,000 pages of police records found racist comments from officers as well as statistics that showed African-Americans make up 93 percent of arrests while accounting for only 67 percent of the population in Ferguson, the official said.
African-Americans also made up most of incidents in which officers used force and all incidents where police dogs bit citizens, said the official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.
Nationwide protests of police actions that resulted in deaths of African Americans in Ferguson, New York and Cleveland laid bare racial tensions and what President Barack Obama called “simmering distrust” between police and communities.
The findings are expected to be formally released as early as Wednesday, a Justice Department spokeswoman said. The department will use the findings to negotiate policy changes with Ferguson officials and enter a consent decree, or to sue the city to force change.
Previous federal investigations into police departments have resulted in such changes as reporting arrest data to the Justice Department and installing federal monitors to oversee operations.
The report's findings vindicate critics who have cited a pattern of abuse in Ferguson. But they are unlikely to restore full trust in the Ferguson police by citizens who were angered when a grand jury decided not to indict Brown's killer, officer Darren Wilson. Wilson, who said he acted in self-defense, is also unlikely to face criminal charges in a separate Justice Department investigation.
Mayor James Knowles said Ferguson was committed to making improvements.
"The city has always been committed to making sure we have the very best police department and any training and improvements or reforms we make to help improve service to the community, we are interested in," Knowles said.
Civil rights attorney Jerryl Christmas, who has represented people who have clashed with Ferguson police and city officials, said he was not surprised by the findings, and he hopes to see Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson fired.
"We already knew all this was going on. The problem is nobody is being prosecuted, nobody has been terminated," Christmas said.
Jackson did not respond to a request for comment.
One email sent by a Ferguson police or municipal court official joked in 2008 that Obama would not stay in office long because, "What black man holds a steady job for four years?"
Ferguson Committeewoman Patricia Bynes said she was outraged by that and other racially tinged emails found in the investigation.
"The fact that police officers and municipal court officials are using their public emails to tell racial jokes, that just reeks of arrogance and ignorance," said Bynes. "It's astounding. They think they are untouchable. The taxpayers have been paying for that racial bias."
The official said that in Ferguson's court system, African-Americans were less likely to have their cases dismissed by a municipal judge and made up 95 percent of people held longer than two days in the Ferguson jail.
The Ferguson Municipal Court, which Attorney General Eric Holder has previously criticized for unfairly penalizing the city's poor, issued the majority of its warrants for minor violations such as parking, traffic and housing code violations.
Jacobs Well Beat Officers have been encouraging persons to ring into the Hoon Hotline and reporting vehicles that are hooning.
This has assisted with intelligence to plan operations to target these irresponsible drivers.
Jacobs Well Beat officers have been part of recent joint operations within the division encompassing Yatala, Stapylton, Alberton, Norwell, Woongoolba and Jacobs Well targeting hooning vehicles. ... [QPS Media - 3/3/15]
Queensland police officer stood down – South Eastern Region
QPS Media [3/3/15]:
A senior constable from the South Eastern Region has been stood down from official duty with the Queensland Police Service.
The 29-year-old male officer is the subject of an investigation relating to use of excessive force in four separate incidents between September 2014 and January 2015.
In keeping with our commitment to high standards of behaviour, transparency and accountability, we have undertaken to inform the public when an officer faces disciplinary processes involving stand down or suspension.
This does not mean that any allegation against the officer has been substantiated.
4 March 2015