Solidarity, indefinite detention, deportation and exile forever [Canberra Times - 7/3/16]:
... The Community and Public Sector Union claimed the result on Wednesday as another victory in its campaign against Coalition's approach to pay and conditions in the public service.
"An 81 per cent no vote from the Immigration and border protection workers who keep Australia safe is another stinging rebuke of the government's unworkable and unreasonable approach to public sector bargaining," the union's national secretary, Nadine Flood, said:
"This strong No vote is no surprise, given the dodgy agreement that DIBP management had put on the table.
"These workers are ordinary mums and dads, yet they still face losing rights and conditions that allow them to balance long and irregular hours with their family commitments, and some still face having their take-home pay cut," she said.
"This result shows how deeply dissatisfied these workers remain and why they're preparing to continue their campaign of strike action over Easter to pressure the government to engage meaningfully on changing the bargaining policy to allow fair and reasonable outcomes. ...
CPSU Media Release [30/6/15]:
… *Customs officers can receive allowances for a range of workplace situations including being at sea, using firearms, meeting high fitness standards, working long hours, unusual shifts and performing dirty and/or dangerous work. Some of the allowances at risk in the new agreement include:
•Use of Force Allowance: for officers required to maintain specified fitness level so they can carry firearms
•Marine and Marine Accommodation Allowances: for officers deployed at sea for up to 36 days at a time
•Detector Dog Unit Allowance: for officers who work with dogs detecting controlled substances
•Removals Allowance: for officers required to escort deportees anywhere in the world, including high risk environments
•Extended Commitment Allowance; for immigration officers working for long periods in isolated locations (e.g. Christmas Island)
A gentle reminder: unions are part of the detention industry [xBorder - 22/7/15]
Imagine how good they'd feel if they did it more often? [Fiji Times - 7/3/16]:
Three contingents from the Australian Defence Force are deployed on Koro Island to conduct humanitarian assistance for victims of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.
Sergeant Ray Vance from the Australian Defence Force said the work being carried out on the island was going on well and members from the ADF and local soldiers are working well together.
He said to be part of humanitarian aid in helping out people worst affected by the Category 5 cyclone and to see the smiles on their faces when helping in rebuilding their lives is a bonus in the humanitarian work they do.
"It feels good to help. It's rare to get an opportunity to do these type of things," Sgt Vance said.
... Ronalds [lawyer] said Palm Islanders had been victims of systemic racism that was “so entrenched that it is apparently invisible to those who did it and those who manage and supervise it”. ...
SERT pointed guns at children in Palm Island raids, court told [Guardian - 21/9/15]
Federal Court hears Detective in charge of Palm Island death in custody investigation denies race assumptions [Nine MSN - 7/3/16]:
The detective in charge of investigating a high-profile death in custody has denied going into the probe assuming the white arresting officer was not responsible for the Aboriginal man's death.
Detective Inspector Warren Webber was sent to Palm Island after the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee on the local watchhouse floor in November 2004.
A Federal Court racial discrimination trial in Townsville on Monday heard he shared a meal and beer with Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, the arresting officer, on the first night of the investigation.
Sen Sgt Hurley also picked up the investigating team, including his friend, Detective Sergeant Darren Robinson, from the airport.
Det Insp Webber admitted the meal was inappropriate and that some community members thought the investigation was unfair.
Counsel for Palm Islanders Chris Ronalds SC accused him of going into the investigation with a closed mind.
"As a white man and a police officer you didn't believe ... that a white police officer would have any responsibility for the death of an Aboriginal man in custody," she said.
"That's not true," Det Insp Webber replied.
A preliminary coroner's report into Mr Doomadgee's death sparked rioting, which led to the police station and Sen Sgt Hurley's house being burnt to the ground.
Jailed rioter Lex Wotton launched the class action on behalf of Palm Islanders, alleging police actions before, during and after the unrest were racially discriminatory.
Among the complaints is that the declaration of an emergency situation and subsequent use of heavily armed police was excessive.
Det Insp Webber told the court he made the declaration from Townsville after hearing police lives could be in danger.
Once on the island, he saw community members holding "sticks and clubs" and shouting abuse towards a line of officers in front of the hospital.
The investigation led by Det Insp Webber has been criticised by prior inquests and reviews.
The Queensland Police Service eventually found he and other investigating officers shouldn't face disciplinary action.
Sen Sgt Hurley was acquitted of Mr Doomadgee's manslaughter in 2007.
The trial continues.
Numan Haider's father tells coronial inquest he never saw any indication his son had been "radicalised" [Nine MSN - 7/3/16]:
The family of Numan Haider has told an inquest they are moderate Muslims who feared the 18-year-old was manipulated by the wrong crowd before he stabbed a police officer and was shot dead.
According to his father, Haider was funny and fun-loving, enjoyed playing soccer and helping his mother in the kitchen.
He said they were moderate Muslims, refugees from Afghanistan fleeing the Taliban.
"I never saw any indication he had been radicalised. If I had I would have taken action," he said.
Haider was killed by a single shot to the head after he stabbed a Victoria Police officer and an Australian Federal Police officer outside the Endeavour Hills police station in September 2014.
He had stabbed one officer in the arm, then another in the eye before he attempted to stab the second officer in the stomach, the inquest heard.
The inquest heard of Haider's increasingly radical behaviour, which led to him being monitored by ASIO.
Haider's brother said Numan's behaviour changed when authorities cancelled his passport in mid-2014.
The night he died, Haider had gone to the police station to discuss the cancellation of his passport.
He shook hands with both of the officers, then pulled out a knife when they told him they needed to search him, the inquest heard.
The stabbing followed months of escalating behaviour, counsel assisting the inquest Rachel Ellyard told the inquest.
Following counter-terror raids in Sydney and Brisbane, which were believed to have foiled a plot to behead a member of the public, Haider went to Dandenong Plaza and unfurled a Shahada flag in the presence of police officers.
"I'm not going to blow up the shopping centre today," Haider told police, the inquest heard.
He went on to say: "You will pay for what happened in Brisbane and Sydney today," Ms Ellyard said.
His family said they suffer inconsolable grief but do not seek to lay blame.
"They regret the police officers were harmed," Ms Ellyard told the inquest, reading from the family's statement.
"They regret that their beloved son and brother Numan is not with them today."
The inquest before coroner John Olle continues.
Teenage "terror suspect" held in solitary 23 hours a day and denied visits from family members, lawyer [ABC - 7/3/16]:
... They have not yet cleared me to see my client in custody."
Namoa appeared via video link from Silverwater jail and was wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and brown hijab when she was escorted to the room in handcuffs.
She looked at the floor for most of the hearing.
"Everything about the way they're treating this young woman is unusual. And not in the interests of justice," Ms Toomey said.
"She's a very, very frightened young woman. And there are plenty of people charged with extremely serious offences who are not being treated the way Ms Namoa is."
Namoa is accused of state and Commonwealth offences.
The Crown applied for a detention order on the state charges, in case Namoa later applies for bail on the Commonwealth terror charges.
The judge ruled that both applications should be heard together.
The matter is due to be mentioned in the Supreme Court again on March 14.
Inmates climb onto roof of Youth Justice Centre in Melbourne [Nine MSN - 7/3/16]
Shot man's life was unravelling: mum [Yahoo - 7/3/16]:
A man's struggles with alcohol and drug abuse caused his life to unravel before he was fatally shot by police, his mother has told court.
The inquest into Troy Foster's death in November 2014 began at Southport District Court on Monday.
Foster was shot dead by police in the driveway of his mother's Southport home after allegedly lunging at them with a knife.
Foster's mother Rhonda Ryan told the inquest her son had been becoming increasingly erratic and desperate in the weeks leading up to his death.
"Troy had a turbulent life, but underneath he was a good kid," Ms Ryan said.
"He had issues and he fought those issues all his life. All he wanted was a fair go."
Ms Ryan said her son had been cast out of her home following a domestic violence incident shortly after moving to Queensland following his release from prison in Victoria in August 2014.
Foster was moved to a caravan park she described as "feral" and full of drug addicts.
The night before the shooting the 32-year-old was taken to hospital but a psychiatric assessment cleared him of mental illness.
He left the hospital without staff or police knowledge the next morning and Ms Ryan said she found her son wandering the streets shortly afterwards and took him back to her home.
He then began drinking vodka and smoking cannabis before an argument that evening escalated.
Ms Ryan said she refused to give Foster a set of car keys and he grabbed a knife and began making threats.
Police were called and within minutes Foster had been shot multiple times by two officers.
Ms Ryan said before the shots she saw her son take a step towards her and mumble the word "mum".
"That is the only thing I see every night, every day," she said.
"He could've been getting his balance, I don't know. If he was coming to me he shouldn't have died because of that."
It was the second fatal shooting involving police in as many days in Queensland.
The inquest continues on Tuesday.
If we think you look shifty, expect to be singled out for harassment and intimidation - and don't flinch - we might shoot you: Queensland Police [ABC - 24/9/14]:
There will be more armed police in public and pat-downs will become more frequent as part of a new state of "reduced tolerance" for suspicious behaviour in Queensland.
The Queensland Police Commissioner's warning comes after a "known terror suspect" was shot dead last night by police in Melbourne, as well as a number of counter-terrorism raids which took place south of Brisbane a fortnight ago.
Commissioner Ian Stewart said his officers would be nervous after last night's shooting and it was his duty to protect them, as well as the public.
"You will see officers regularly carrying their firearms more often than you would have seen in the past," he told 612 ABC Brisbane.
"It means when they pull people up or speak to people, they are probably going to ask people to submit to pat-down searches much more regularly.
"Our police are going to be noticeably alert and request people to be very compliant with their dealings with a lower tolerance to policing.
"Any little thing might be a key to how someone is about to react in a potentially bad way and our police will be on guard for those signs."
Commissioner Stewart said the hyped-up measures would not stop after the November G20 summit in Brisbane.
He again confirmed there had been no specific threat to Queenslanders or state assets.
Officers were also invited on Monday to apply to take their firearms home, however each application would be assessed individually.
"I'd be very sympathetic if there was a heightened risk for certain officers," he added.
Counter-terrorism law changes unnecessary, say top criminal lawyers: Changes to threshold from belief to suspicion ‘would allow police to be a little more trigger-happy’ [Guardian - 24/9/14]
Ingleburn shooting: Gunman who shot three people dies from self-inflicted gunshot wound [ABC - 7/3/16]
A 23-year-old man has been sentenced to at least four years behind bars for killing a man with a single punch on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Jesse James Patrick punched 53-year-old Bruce Steensen once in the back of the head as he was walking on Mooloolaba Esplanade on February 22, 2014, causing him to fall to the ground and fatally fracture his skull on the concrete.
Patrick pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday and was sentenced to eight years jail with no parole eligibility date set.
The court heard the New Zealander was on parole at the time for a similar offence and punched Mr Steensen because he wanted to finish a scuffle between them that had happened only moments earlier.
Defence lawyer Simon Lewis said Patrick had a history of violence and anti-social behaviour but felt remorse for his actions.
Mr Lewis said it was likely Patrick, who has lived in Australia since he was 11 and is a permanent resident, will be deported to New Zealand at the end of his sentence.
As part of her victim impact statement, Mr Steensen's mother told Patrick in court that all she wanted was his rehabilitation.
"You can't go through life treating people like a punching bag," Gloria Steensen said.
"Please don't let it happen again.
"There is no shame in just walking away." [Brisbane Times - 7/3/16]
The boss of a man who is facing trial for killing and mutilating a cat has pleaded guilty to extortion.
Nathan Edward Avery plead guilty to one count of extortion against Lewis Hallam over a period in June 2014 at Southport Magistrates Court on Monday. ... [Brisbane Times - 7/3/16]
... Mr Pyne told Fairfax Media his decision to leave the party was not one he had made lightly but, after months of deliberation, he believed was the only one he could make to ensure he best served his electorate and was able to "sleep well at night".
"This decision has been a long time coming. I decided that I can't serve two masters, I want to represent the entire Cairns community and I don't feel I can do that if I am being muzzled or controlled by party machinery being run out of Brisbane," he said. ... Rob Pyne resigns from Queensland Labor Government [Brisbane Times - 7/3/16]
Black lung disease: Ventilation woefully inadequate in mines, Senate hearing told [ABC - 7/3/16]:
... Ian Hiscock worked in Queensland coal mines for more than a decade, and told the hearing ventilation was woefully inadequate.
"It's not enough," he said.
"The bane of the coal mine worker at the start of every shift is we always say we want more air, we need more air, and we're not getting it, because the act and regs (regulations) say 'This is what you need to work to' and the companies supply the minimum amount of air. But it's not enough," he said.
Vijay Prashad: The Foreign Policy of the 1% - Keynote at 2016 Saudi Arabia Summit organised by Code Pink in Washington DC [VIDEO - 5 March 2016]
Which country on this map of South East Asia is a supposedly a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, but is stopping people from seeking asylum, with impunity?
We have some asylum seekers, but that’s pretty much stopped.
We have stopped the boats with our policies, which are regarded as cruel by many people.
But I have to say again, our policy on border protection is harsh, but it has been absolutely demonstrated that it is better than any other alternative.
Israel and Australia: A conversation with Turnbull [Jewish Journal - 25/8/15]
@lucyham [7/3/16]: A #refugee was slashed over the scalp with a machete on #Nauru last night. The resentful amongst locals are dangerous. ...
Refugees settled on Nauru woke on Monday to find an ominous letter, signed “Youth of Republic of Nauru”, had been delivered overnight. Copies had been left at shops, homes, workplaces employing refugees.
The letter campaign is the latest chilling symptom of the toxic effects of Australia’s “no advantage” policy.
That it invokes the horrific spectre of ethnic cleansing is an indictment of the great wrong we have perpetrated in our region. [Manifesto for a pogrom: hostility to exiled refugees grows on Nauru - The Conversation - 20/11/14]
The Straits Times [1/2/16]:
... The UNHCR had 153,850 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with it in Malaysia at the end of September 2015, with the overwhelming majority - 142,630 - from Myanmar and the rest from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Palestine and other nations.
The Rohingya are the biggest by number of migrants in the region. ...
... After five days at sea, their boat reached Australian waters, but the engine failed as they struggled to make their way closer to Christmas Island.
The Rohingya desperately waved to the crew of a passing Australian Navy vessel, which Mr Abdul said did not respond. ... Trapped in Indonesia refugee camp for years after failing to reach Australia [The Straits Times - 1/2/16]
When Rohingya refugees from Myanmar were found adrift at sea in May last year, many Acehnese fishermen helped them - even to the extent of hosting them in their homes.
Their kind acts have inspired some Singaporeans to help in whatever small ways they can.
Among them: Physiotherapist Siti Durriah, 27, who went to Aceh last month to teach English, and three final-year students from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), who want to raise awareness about the refugees by making a documentary film.
The Rohingya, a stateless ethnic minority from Myanmar, were allowed to enter Aceh, in northern Sumatra, in May last year.
Considered one of the world's most persecuted minorities, the Muslim Rohingya have been targets of violence in Myanmar, where the majority of people are Buddhists.
Thousands of Rohingya have made the sea crossing from Myanmar to neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Thailand.
Last month, Ms Siti spent three weeks in a refugee camp in Acehconducting developmental assessments for children, and teaching teenagers English. She got involved after the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees put her in touch with a non-governmental organisation in Aceh, called Yayasan Geutanyoe.
Ms Siti, who works at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, said: "Many of the refugee children I met there did not have basic formal education. I met an 11-year-old who did not know how to read or write."
In a separate effort, NTU students Goh Chiew Tong, Clarissa Sih and Jade Han - all 23 - want to make a documentary to draw attention to the Rohingya refugees.
Entitled Peumulia Jamee, which means "honouring your guests" in Acehnese, it aims to tell the story of how the Acehnese fishermen helped the refugees. ... [The Straits Times - 23/2/16]
Peumulia Jamee: A Documentary [3/3/16]:
After one recce trip, two legs of production in Aceh and one interview in Jakarta, IT'S A WRAP!
Now we can say that we are fully in post-production.
Thanks everyone for your support thus far!
We can't wait for you to see our completed documentary. ...
Many thanks to Mr Thomas Vargas and Ms Mitra Salima from the UNHCR office in Jakarta for the enlightening interview.
Unfortunately the last sentence - re: "push factors" - is wrong headed ---> Refugee-run school in Indonesia a model for governments to emulate [The Conversation - 7/3/16]
Secret federal government documents cast doubt over whether Australia told Indonesia and the United Nations about a retrospective ban on taking refugees from official channels.
In November last year Australia announced it would no longer accept refugees who applied for resettlement through the UN’S refugee agency in Indonesia.
The ban applied to anyone who registered with the UNHCR from 1 July 2014.
An undated draft talking point document, released by the department of immigration under freedom of information, suggests Jakarta and the UNHCR were not consulted before the changes were made public.
“It has always been our intention to discuss these measures with the government of Indonesia and the UNHCR before any announcement was made,” the talking points say.
It was regretted information about the measures had “entered the public domain before these discussions could take place”.
Australia stopped accepting UNHCR refugees in October 2014.
Important lecture about seeking asylum - and how Australia is trashing the UN Refugee Convention ----> Professor Alison Mountz, of Harvard University, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Balsillie School of International Affairs, responds to and challenges the crisis narratives unfolding in the media as she discusses political struggles over the erosion of asylum taking place globally. This talk explores shifting geographies of migration and border enforcement in major transit sites where migrants and asylum seekers seek entry and protection. The talk dwells in islands and enforcement archipelagos, offshore sites where struggles over entry and exclusion transpire and where the infrastructure of border enforcement and detention are growing. ... [VIDEO - Centre for International Governance Innovation - 12/11/15]
The lengths to which the Australian immigration department has gone to facilitate the repatriation of traumatised Syrian asylum seekers detained in offshore detention centres has been extensively revealed in departmental emails obtained under freedom of information laws. ... [Guardian - 19/8/14]
... Can Australia justify its “success” by merely shifting the problems off its borders? From Darfur to Cipayung: refugees are left stranded [The Conversation - 7/4/14]
ALP and Shorten use strong arm tactics in attempt to silence No Pride in Detention float at Mardi Gras [Guardian - 7/3/16]:
... A No Pride float organiser, Amy Thomas, told Guardian Australia the suggestion the float could be removed was “completely unacceptable to us”.
“The compromise was that we would let others go in front of us,” she said.
“The marshals were made to hold us back while a couple of floats which came from further along Oxford Street went ahead of us … Obviously they wanted to avoid the embarrassment of the hypocrisy of Bill Shorten and the Labor party’s position on offshore processing.”
Thomas said she was disappointed in the event organisers.
“The origins of Mardi Gras were a protest for gay rights and it’s long been a venue for that,” she said.
“It is a situation where you have LGBTQI refugees on Nauru and Manus Island in PNG and in both countries homosexuality is illegal and subject to years of imprisonment. [Both parties] know they’re placing people in that situation. You can’t march on the streets against homophobia and not be questioned on what I say is a selective view on homophobia.”
Hundreds of pro-refugee protesters rallied in Melbourne on February 27, calling on political leaders to let refugees stay and close the prison camps.
The action was called in response to a visit by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten to the Lonsdale St Greek Festival.
People chanted “Turnbull, Shorten. Blood on your hands” and “Let them stay" as they arrived on the stage. ... [Greens Left Weekly - 4/3/16]
Anyone who is serious about refugee rights cannot be associated in any way whatsoever with the ALP - or any of its subgroupings - such as the oxymoronically named "Labor 4 Refugees" --> Labor IS NOT - and never will be - 4 Refugees [Safecom.org]
Marshalls anti-nuke cases start in The Hague [RNZI – 73/16]:
An international court in The Netherlands today begins hearings in a nuclear disarmament battle brought by the Marshall Islands.
The Marshall Islands filed lawsuits in the International Court of Justice nearly two years ago against nine states including declared nuclear powers China, France, Russia and the United States as well as Israel and North Korea.
Only Britain, India and Pakistan have made a commitment to respond to the suits and are appearing before the court.
The Marshall Islands has accused the nine countries of flagrant violation of international law for failing to pursue the negotiations required by the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In the hearings, which start today, the court will hear the preliminary objections raised by the UK, India and Pakistan.
The court will determine whether any legal obstacles prevent the cases from going forward for consideration on their merits.
The Marshall islands legal team said the British case differed from the cases of India and Pakistan in that Britain was a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and bound by its Article VI.
That clause requires states to pursue negotiations "in good faith" to end the nuclear arms race and achieve total nuclear disarmament.
The Marshall Islands contends that India and Pakistan are bound by similar obligations under customary international law.
"From a legal perspective, the issues presented by these cases are ordinary ones, but a positive outcome will, spectacularly, change the world, " said Phon van den Biesen, who is leading the team.
"We are, basically, asking the Court to tell the respondent states to live up to their obligations under international law and to conduct negotiations leading to the required result: nuclear disarmament in all its aspects."
Many activists and academics believe getting the three larger nations into court is a victory in itself for the Marshall Islands which is home to just 50,000 people.
It was the site of 67 nuclear tests by 1958 and health impacts from the tests linger to this day.
"The success will be in putting the issue back on the agenda.This is as much as the Marshall Islands can hope for," said Dapo Akande, professor of international law at Oxford University.
"When the Marshall Islands goes to the ICJ, it's equal with Britain and with India," Akande added.
"Big countries get dragged into disputes to which they otherwise would not have needed to pay attention."
7 March 2016