Monday, September 29, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The nuclear war against Australia's Aboriginal people

Jim Green The Ecologist July 14, 2014
Australia's nuclear industry has a shameful history of 'radioactive racism' that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s. The same attitudes have been evident in recent debates over uranium mines and nuclear waste, but Aboriginal peoples are fighting back!
We will be still talking about our story in the communities up north so no one else has to go through this. We want to let the whole world know that we stood up very strong.
The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia.
Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha.
Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.

Many Aboriginal people suffered from radiological poisoning. There are tragic accounts of families sleeping in the bomb craters. So-called 'Native Patrol Officers' patrolled thousands of square kilometres to try to ensure that Aboriginal people were removed before nuclear tests took place - with little success.
'Ignorance, incompetence and cynicism'
The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by ‘ignorance, incompetence and cynicism’. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp…………
Radioactive ransom - dumping on the Northern Territory
Since 2006 successive federal governments have been attempting to establish a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 110 km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.
A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump has been part of this story from the start. The nomination of the Muckaty site was made with the promise of $12 million compensation package comprising roads, houses and scholarships…………..
The politics is no less dirty
The Liberal / National Coalition government led by John Howard passed legislation - the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 - overriding the Aboriginal Heritage Act, undermining the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and allowing the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent………..
Aboriginal owners savour a rare victory
Muckaty Traditional Owners were determined to stop the dump and they have been supported by the Beyond Nuclear Initiative; a pro bono legal team led by legal firm Maurice Blackburn; the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance; key trade unions including the Australian Council of Trade Unions; church groups; medical and public health organisations; local councils; the Australian Greens; and environment groups such as Friends of the Earth, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Environment Centre NT……………
Dumping on South Australia
The failed attempt to establish a dump at Muckaty followed the failed attempt to establish a dump in South Australia. In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia.
Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s…………
Victory in the Federal Court
The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to 'get their ears out of their pockets', and after six years the government did just that.
In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election - after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA - the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan……………..
Nuclear war
Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a significant battle for country and culture, but the problems and patterns of radioactive racism persist. Racism in the uranium mining industry involves: ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners; divide-and-rule tactics; radioactive ransom; 'humbugging' Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false information; and threats, including legal threats……………
Nuclear interests trump aboriginal rights
Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth's Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed……….
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

MEDIA RELEASE – 11th September 2014 Ms Susan Dirgham, National Coordinator of “Australians for Mussalaha (Reconciliation) in Syria”

“Australians for Mussalaha (Reconciliation) in Syria” deplores the decision by U.S. President Obama to take military action against ISIL in Syria without the consent of the Syrian Government. Such military action will be illegal.

Furthermore, AMRIS condemns U.S. military support to what President Obama terms the ‘Syrian opposition’. The vast majority of Syrian people do not support any militarized opposition groups, but rather support the institutions of the state. (NB: There is an internal opposition - parties and groups which eschew violence.)

The Syrian regular army has lost tens of thousands of soldiers in its battle against militias, including ISIL. With very little support from the local population, these sectarian militias depend on foreign fighters who include Sunni Muslims misled by a myth, namely that a minority Shi’a sect is oppressing the Sunni majority in Syria.

Syria is a secular society and its government and army reflect the diverse mix of ethnic groups and faiths in Syria. The ministries are dominated by Sunni politicians and the conscript army is predominantly a Sunni army. The Defence Minister is Sunni. The president’s wife is Sunni. Members of the business elite are mostly Sunni Muslims.

There must be recognition of the inclusive Sunni Islam practised in Syria, which is rooted in Sufi Islam not Wahhabism, the school of Islam aligned with the Saudi royal family the right and responsibility of Syrian people to defend themselves and their country against militias funded by both foreign governments and individuals who condone the killing of civilians who support the secular Syrian state the wide-ranging rights and freedoms that women have in Syria
the rights and freedoms people of different faiths have in Syria to practice their religion (Christmas and Easter are public holidays in Syria, just as Muslim holy days are.)the fact that more than 73% of Syrians eligible to vote participated in the June 2014 presidential election the fact that investigative journalists, members of the U.S. intelligence community, and M.I.T. academics maintain rebels were most likely responsible for the chemical attack in Damascus in August 2013.

Syria could be America’s key ally against ISIL and other terror groups. Instead, the U.S. has chosen to align with Saudi Arabia, a country where churches are banned and women are not permitted to drive, and a country that has funded and directed much of the insurgency, both ‘moderate’ and extreme, in Syria.

By supporting militia groups which are labelled ‘moderate’ but which target soldiers, public servants and secular Syrians just as ISIL does, the U.S. and its allies will entrench the chaos, destruction and death in Syria and the region. The pretext for U.S. military action in Syria is the beheading of two American journalists, Steven Sotloff and James Foley. However, in articles published before they were abducted, Sotloff and Foley exposed the brutality of the so-called moderate rebels. The truths they revealed and their courage in exposing them do not demand an alliance with ‘moderate’ rebels complicit in their killings; they demand support for peace and reconciliation in Syria.

The hatred being incited between Muslims to promote geopolitical wars in the Middle East will impact on communities across the globe. People everywhere risk losing their moral compass and compromising basic human values and belief systems which are needed to unite us and ensure peace and security for us all.

AMRIS calls for rigorous research of events in Syria in order to challenge partisan narratives.

AMRIS calls on the government to heed the wishes of the people of Syria; to support their army’s fight against terror groups; and to respect their right to work for peaceful political changes without foreign interference. We can honour our own freedoms, equalities and responsibilities in Australia by respecting those of Syrians.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Australia's treatment of asylum seekers at facilities like Manus Island has been condemned by the United Nations.

Asylum seeker death: Family's organ donation wish unable to be granted
Australia has been accused of a "chain of human rights violations" in its treatment of asylum seekers by the incoming United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein.
In his maiden address to the UN Human Rights Council, the Jordanian prince has also challenged plans to resettle those found to be refugees in "countries that are not adequately equipped".
In a copy of the address, to be delivered early on Tuesday morning, AEST, Prince Zeid castigates Australia over the policy of offshore processing of asylum seekers and the interception and turning back of vessels at sea.
He says the policy has led to human rights violations including "arbitrary detention and possible torture following return to home countries".
A career diplomat, Prince Zeid took over the role from Navi Pillay of South Africa last month. His rebuke of Australia comes in a speech that begins by addressing escalating human rights violations in Syria and Iraq.
When he turns his attention to asylum seekers, Prince Zeid also expresses alarm at reports of children being detained in the United States and in Cyprus.
"Human rights are not reserved for citizens only, or for people with visas," he declares in the speech, obtained by Fairfax Media. "They are the inalienable rights of every individual, regardless of his or her location and migration status.
"A tendency to promote law enforcement and security paradigms at the expense of human rights frameworks dehumanises irregular migrants, enabling a climate of violence against them and further depriving them of the full protection of the law."
Prince Zeid also addresses the situation in Sri Lanka, urging officials to co-operate with a inquiry by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"I am alarmed at threats currently being levelled against the human rights community in Sri Lanka, as well as prospective victims and witnesses," he says. "I also deplore recent incitement and violence against the country's Muslim and Christian minorities."
Australia's Human Rights Law Centre seized on the address, saying it is "embarrassing". Australia's inhumane policies were listed in the speech along side global human rights challenges like the humanitarian crises in Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine and the spread of Ebola in West Africa.
"In his very first speech to the United Nations, addressing the most serious human rights issues in the world right now, the new High Commissioner devoted an entire paragraph to condemning Australia's treatment of asylum seekers," said the centre's director of legal advocacy, Daniel Webb.
Mr Webb said the speech demonstrated the seriousness with which Australia's "flagrant breaches of international law" were regarded on the world stage.
He said the policies of the current and the former government had clearly damaged Australia's international reputation – at a time when there are more displaced people in the world than since the end of the Second World War.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Cranky Old Man -

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . ... . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . ... lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. ...Babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future ... . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I've known.
I'm now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. .... . ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!

Phyllis McCormack; adapted by Dave Griffith

The best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Papua/Indonesia: French journalists and indigenous leader at risk of prosecution in Papua

Dear friends,

The International Coalition for Papua (ICP) is writing to inform you of an ongoing criminal investigation against two French journalists, Mr. Thomas Dandois and Ms. Valentine Bourrat in West Papua. The journalists are charged with articles concerning treason under the Penal Code and immigration crime under the Immigration Law. In addition to the journalist, the police hold an investigation against an indigenous leader in Lanny, Mr. Areki Wanimbo, whom the journalists met during their trip in West Papua. A human rights defender who has been seen with the journalists, Mr. Theo Hesegem, has also been summoned by the police.

A conflict area where human rights violations are rampant, Papua has been strictly isolated by the Indonesian government from international journalists and bodies. A special permit from the government is required for international journalists and institutions to legally visit the area. No such permit is needed to visit other parts of Indonesia.

In May 2013, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged the Indonesian government to allow international journalists and the UN Special Procedures to visit Papua. Previously, in the UN Universal Periodic Review in 2012, a similar recommendation was given to the Indonesian government.

In accordance with international human rights standards and the international community’s demand, we unequivocally are of the view that restriction on international journalists and institutions visit to Papua should be lifted. We believe that such restriction and the arrest of the journalists as well as the Papuan leader in this case violate freedom of expression to which Indonesia has been repeatedly claiming itself to adhere.

We therefore request you to intervene in this case, by urging the relevant Indonesian authorities to drop the charges against Mr. Dandois, Ms. Bourrat, and Mr. Wanimbo. Activists providing assistance to them shall be free from intimidation, so that their human rights works are unhindered. Please also urge the authorities to open the access for international journalists and institutions to visit Papua.

Facts of the case
Mr. Dandois and Ms. Bourrat arrived in Wamena, West Papua, on August 5, 2014, on tourist visas. The two French journalists were on the mission of gathering information on human rights situation in Papua for a documentary they were working on for Arte TV. They visited the house of Mr. Wanimbo, a Papuan indigenous leader in Lanny, on August 6, 2014, to obtain details regarding the conflict between the Indonesian security forces and the National Liberation Army of West Papua (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat, TPNPB).

The journalists were accompanied by two Papuan human rights defenders, Mr. Hesegem and Mr. Logo, on their way back to the hotel. Mr. Hesegem who gave a lift to Ms. Bourrat on his motorbike, however, was followed and stopped by three unidentified police intelligence officers of Jayawijaya District Police. One of the officers was reported to make a phone call to the Chief of Jayawijaya District Police.

Mr. Hesegem was permitted to continue his trip with Ms. Bourrat, but the journalist was later arrested at the hotel. Meanwhile, Mr. Dandois and Mr. Logo were arrested on their way back in Jalan Bhayangkara. They were all taken to Jayawijaya District Police station.

After arresting the two journalists and Mr. Logo, the police arrested Mr. Wanimbo at his house, along with two other Papuans, Mr. Deni Dow and Mr. Wenda. They were also taken to Jayawijaya District Police station for interrogation.

The journalists and the Papuans were subject to interrogation for 24 hours without being accompanied by any legal counsel. On August 7, 2014, Mr. Logo, Mr. Dow, and Mr. Jornus Wenda were released without charge, whereas Mr. Dandois and Ms. Bourrat were taken to Papua Regional Police for further interrogation. They are charged with misuse of permit to stay under Article 122 of Immigration Law (Law No. 6 Year 2011), punishable by maximum imprisonment of five years and fine of IDR 500 million (approximately USD 42,740). It has been reported that the journalists are also charged with articles concerning treason attempt under Articles 106 and 110 in conjunction with Article 53 of the Penal Code for an allegation on providing ammunition to TPNPB.

For his meeting with the journalists, Mr. Wanimbo is charged with complicity to misuse a permit to stay. As the journalists, Mr. Wanimbo is additionally charged with treason attempt under Articles 106 and 110 in conjunction with Article 53 of the Penal Code, for the allegation on providing ammunition to TPNPB. The treason charge on Mr. Wanimbo is reported to be also based on his activity of collecting donation for a meeting on West Papua’s membership application to Melanesia Spearhead Groups (MSG).

Mr. Wanimbo is currently detained at Jayawijaya District Police, whereas Mr. Dandois and Ms. Bourrat are detained at Papua Regional Police.

Relevant information
International journalists visiting Papua for journalistic works are required to apply for a special permit from the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa has previously expressed that such permit is needed solely to ensure security of the journalists, considering the unstable situation in Papua.

According to Chairperson of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen, AJI) in Papua, Victor Mambor, permits for international journalists to conduct journalistic work in Papua are not easy to obtain. The application may take for up to three months. In several cases where such permits were granted, the journalists had to be accompanied by Indonesian government officials.

Four Dutch journalists were previously arrested and detained for 12 hours in 2009, for covering a demonstration in Jayapura.

Indonesia is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which guarantees the right to freedom of expression. Whereas Article 19 (3) of the ICCPR recognises that freedom of expression may be restricted in certain circumstances, the UN Human Rights Committee in its General Comment 34 has specifically noted that ‘it is normally incompatible with paragraph 3… to restrict the entry into the State party of foreign journalists’.

The Indonesian government has been repeatedly urged by the international bodies and other UN member states to lift its restriction on visits of international journalists to West Papua. At the UN Universal Periodic Review in 2012, France made a specific recommendation for Indonesia to ‘ensure free access for foreign journalists to Papua and West Papua’. In 2012, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for a similar measure to be undertaken.

How to help
Please write to the authorities listed at the end of this Urgent Action, urging them to take the following measures:

1. To drop charges against Mr. Dandois, Ms. Bourrat, and Mr. Wanimbo;
2. To ensure that any activist and human rights defenders providing assistance to the journalists are free from intimidation and legal threats;
3. To provide access for international journalists and institutions to conduct journalistic or human rights related works without restriction, in accordance with international human rights standards.

Urgent action targets
Mr. Marty Natalegawa
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Jl. Pejambon No. 6
Jakarta Pusat 10110
Telp: +62 21 344 1508
Fax: +62 21 280 551

Gen. Sutarman
Chief of the Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3 Kebayoran Baru
Jakarta Selatan 12110
Tel: +62 21 523 4240, 384 8537
Fax: +62 21 720 7277

Mr. Yotje Mende
Chief of Papua Regional Police
Jl. Samratulangi No. 8 Jayapura
Tel: +62 967 531 014
Fax: +62 967 533 763

Ms. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo
General Director for Human Rights
Ministry of Law and Human Rights
Gedung Direktorat Jenderal Hak Asasi Manusia
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav 4-5
Kuningan, Jakarta Selatan
Telp: +62 21 252 1344
Fax: +62 21 4555 55676

Mr. Hafid Abbas
National Human Rights Commission
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4-B
Jakarta 10310
Tel: +62 21 392 5230
Fax: +62 21 392 5227

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Friday, September 5, 2014

Hamid Kehazaei: The Australian government must explain why he received inadequate care

Processing asylum seekers is an immigration decision, but ensuring their health is an issue of human rights. The two positions are not, and must not be, mutually exclusive
Nick Talley, Wednesday 3 September 2014 Jump to comments (88)

Asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei. Photograph: Refugee Action Coalition
We should all be deeply concerned about reports of a 24-year-old Iranian, Hamid Kehazaei, recently flown to the Australian mainland from Manus Island after a cut on his foot developed into septicaemia. He is now on life support and the most recent reports are saying he is brain dead.
This case raises a whole host of questions. Was there a delay in diagnosis? Was there a delay in transferring him for medical treatment? While the facts of this case are still to be determined, what is becoming clear is the inadequate care being provided to people seeking asylum.
The standard of medical facilities in offshore detention must be questioned, as well as the timeliness of medical care. Delays in accessing necessary treatment mean that simple and easily treatable health conditions can deteriorate rapidly and become life threatening. The inadequate medical care received by people seeking asylum is having devastating consequences.
The Australian government says that they are providing health care services that are ‘broadly comparable with health services available within the Australian community’. I don’t believe this standard is being met. Had the Manus Island detention facility been adequately equipped to provide this young man with the healthcare he needed when he needed it, the outcome may have been very different.
The government has a lot of questions to answer. We need to know why this man did not receive adequate medical care in the first place. We need to know why there was a delay in transferring him once his condition deteriorated.
It is critical that the government is guided by independent expert medical advice, and that services are able to address complex health matters quickly and appropriately. Without this, it will be increasingly difficult for the government to respond to the growing concerns over conditions in offshore detention centres and the negative impact on asylum seeker health.
The government’s approach to processing asylum seekers is an immigration decision, but ensuring their health is an issue of human rights. The two positions are not, and must not be, mutually exclusive.
Professor Nick Talley is the president of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
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