Friday, March 18, 2016

Locking up Indigenous kids costs $236 million a year

Bianca Hall Sydney Morning Herald March 16, 2016
On National Close the Gap Day, more than 1500 community and corporate events are being held across the country. Vision courtesy Oxfam Australia.
Locking up Aboriginal children costs Australia almost a quarter of a billion dollars a year, according to new figures compiled by Save the Children and released on the eve of Close the Gap Day.
On an average day last June, there were 480 Indigenous young people behind bars, with each young person costing authorities $1355 a day.
Government data shows that Indigenous young people are 26 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous young people. Most of those Indigenous young people in detention are yet to be sentenced.

Indigenous young people made up 54 per cent of young people in youth justice detention last June, despite comprising about 5 per cent of the population. Photo: Greg Newington
And according to the most recent snapshot, Indigenous young people made up 54 per cent of young people in youth justice detention last June, despite comprising about 5 per cent of the population.
Save the Children's director of policy and public affairs, Mat Tinkler, described the situation as ‘a stain on our nation’………
‘We know that young offenders often end up in adult prison, so it's critical we break the cycle and help give young people a better future,’ Mr Tinkler said………
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

As a child on Nauru I was NR03-283, but my name is Mohammad Ali Baqiri

Mohammad Ali Baqiri The Guardian March 15, 2016

A Spanish company is poised to take over the running of Australia’s offshore detention centres and risks being associated with human rights abuses forever

Mohammad Ali Baqiri addresses school children about being in detention. Photograph: Jason Hill

NR03-283. That was the number they gave me, during the three years I spent in the Nauru detention camp. I was 13 when I left, and took back my name – Mohammad Ali Baqiri.

Now I’m 24, a proud Melburnian in the final semester of a degree in law and business. Today, I write as a survivor of Australia’s cruel offshore detention regime – just as a Spanish multinational, Ferrovial, stands poised to take over Broadspectrum Limited (formerly Transfield Services), and with it the multi-million dollar contract to keep the Nauru and Manus detention camps open.

No Business in Abuse, an organisation I’ve worked with before, wrote to Ferrovial in December 2015 requesting a meeting to discuss the human rights risks inherent in offshore detention. Ferrovial refused.

I’ve also now written to the company, asking them to meet me personally. It’s Ferrovial’s last chance before the takeover bid closes, potentially locking the company into association with human rights abuses that will destroy its reputation forever. If representatives agree to meet with me, this is what I’ll tell them:

I’m an Afghan Hazara. When I was 10 years old, I fled the Taliban to seek safety in Australia without my parents, but with my brother’s family.

I taught myself English in Nauru detention camp. The guards, employed by a corporation, weren’t that interested in speaking to me, but it was the only way I could learn English. These guards, paid by the Australian government to detain a child, grudgingly became my teachers.

International human rights bodies have condemned Australia’s system of arbitrary and indefinite detention as abusive.

I’ve experienced it first hand and it has affected me in ways I can’t yet explain…………

Perhaps Ferrovial genuinely hopes to improve conditions in the centres. Let me tell you first-hand, it is impossible.

Arbitrary detention is, in itself, harmful. It doesn’t matter how well you run the camps; keeping innocent men, women and children indefinitely locked up for no reason is abuse……

On 17 March Mohammad Ali Baquiri will address the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, calling for Australia to close down detention centres.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

A 10-year-old girl has taken her own life. How can we possibly look away?

Stan Grant The Guardian March 9, 2016
A girl who should have been playing with dolls decided her world was so bleak she no longer wanted to live. Look at your children today and think about that.

‘Ten years old. Think about that. Someone’s daughter. A child who came into the world with the joy of all newborns.’ Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP
When is enough enough? What does it take to snap us out of our complacency? How many needless deaths does it take to tell us that Indigenous Australia is in deep, deep crisis?
My mind is flooded with these questions this day as I ponder the suicide of a 10-year-old girl in Western Australia. She is one of so many. Nineteen people have killed themselves in remote parts of the state since December. She is the youngest.
Ten years old. Think about that. Someone’s daughter. A child who came into the world with the joy of all newborns. A child who first smiled, who spoke her first words, who said ‘mum’ and ‘dad’. A child who laughed her first laugh, who took her first step, who held the hands of her parents as babies do, tiny hands tightly gripping a finger. All of this potential, all of this love, all she could have brought to the world: all of it gone.
I can’t speak to the specifics of this girl’s life or death, but I can say she was born into the sadness that too often is our world. She was born into the intergenerational trauma of so many black families. This was her inheritance. In just 10 years this girl who should have been skipping in the playground, singing along to herself in the mirror, still playing with dolls, her mind on the distractions of childhood, instead decided that her world was so bleak she no longer wanted to live……..
A 10-year-old has taken her own life. She was one of my people, your people. Our people. She was a young Australian girl. My heart is heavy as I am sure is yours.
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Monday, March 7, 2016

War, Peace, and Bernie Sanders

Robert C. Koehler Common Dreams March 3, 2016

It’s the day after the big vote and I’m doing my best to dig Tulsi Gabbard’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders out from beneath the pile of Super Tuesday numbers and media declarations of winners and losers.
As a Boston Globe headline put it: ‘Clinton and Trump are now the presumptive nominees. Get used to it.’
But something besides winning and losing still matters, more than ever, in the 2016 presidential race. War and peace and a fundamental questioning of who we are as a nation are actually on the line in this race, or could be — for the first time since 1972, when George McGovern was the Democratic presidential nominee.
Embrace what matters deeply and there’s no such thing as losing.
Gabbard, an Iraq war vet, congresswoman from Hawaii and ‘rising star’ in the Democratic establishment, stepped down as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee in order to endorse Sanders — because he’s the only candidate who is not financially and psychologically tied to the military-industrial complex………………..
Because of Gabbard — only because of Gabbard — the multi-trillion-dollar monstrosity of U.S. militarism is getting a little mainstream media attention amid the reality-TV histrionics of this year’s presidential race, the Donald Trump phenomenon and the spectacle of Republican insult-flinging……………..
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