Toward the end of last year, 150 asylum seekers drowned in a boat accident off the coast of Indonesia. It served as a stark reminder of the extreme risks vulnerable people often take in seeking a safer life and the often fatal consequences.
Twelve months later, the Australian Government has outsourced its obligation to protect such vulnerable people - re-establishing the Pacific Solution in the name of ending these dangerous boat journeys and saving lives. Under this policy, some of the world’s most vulnerable people are now languishing, on Nauru, in leaking tents, in repressive heat - with no end in sight.
What we are left with is a severe lack of accountability and a the clear threat that the human rights abuses which occurred on Nauru and Manus Island, only a matter of years ago, are set to repeat themselves.
Latest 2 of 101 commentsView all comments
Every morning I start my working day scanning the Getty Images, AP and AFP wires, searching hundreds of images from around the world for striking visual stories to share with Australia. Every morning I am reduced to tears by the latest photos from Syria’s bloody civil war.
Most days, these show blood, guts and severely traumatised children amid the most appalling scenes of death and destruction. No one wants corpses with their Corn Flakes, so we do not publish these images.
As a rule, Australian newspapers do not publish photographs of dead bodies.
Latest 2 of 66 commentsView all comments
“Two people posing as journalists tried to kill him, you won’t get access to him.” I’m sitting in a Sydney coffee shop with a Syrian contact. “Nobody knows anything about him.” I retort.
He slowly sips on his coffee, one of the many he’s had since I first proposed getting access to the leader of the Free Syrian Army. “OK, let me see what I can do.”
A few months later I am in Antakya, Turkey, interviewing the almost anonymous Colonel Riad al-Asaad. Reporting for SBS’s Dateline program, I have been granted rare access to him at a military camp where he is protected by Turkish security forces after several attempts on his life. The camp is meant to be strictly off limits to journalists.
Latest 2 of 24 commentsView all comments
In a famous incident on an episode of ABC’s Q&A, almost exactly one year ago, comedian Sandy Gutman (aka Austen Tayshus) berated Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon for her defence of the NSW Greens’ decision to adopt a boycott of Israel.
The implementation of this boycott policy in Greens-controlled Marrickville Council had caused a huge PR disaster for the Greens and probably cost them the State seat of Marickville in the then-recent NSW elections. Referring to Rhiannon’s support for the 2010 “flotilla to Gaza”, Gutman said to her:
Can I just ask you why you’re so obsessed with Israel? Why not, say, North Korea or China or Somalia or Cuba or any other country… In fact, why don’t you send a flotilla to Syria? Because Syria has now murdered 1100 people of its own citizens. Why aren’t you on – why aren’t you on that flotilla? That’s what I want to understand.
Latest 2 of 118 commentsView all comments
Foreign Minister Bob Carr held a press conference yesterday and was peppered with questions on what we’re going to do about Syria.
Over 9,000 Syrian civilians had been killed in the uprising against tyrant Bashar Al-Assad. At least 108 people were killed in the recent Houla massacre, including 49 children and 34 women. Some killed by shell fire, the majority appear to have been shot or stabbed at close range.
But what about Schapelle Corby?
Latest 2 of 97 commentsView all comments
This weekend’s massacre in Houla, Syria, is one of those stories that invites but doesn’t require hyperbole. 108 people killed, 32 of them children. 300 more injured, in an attack that included shelling, guns, and knives.
This took place during a ceasefire, while Syria is subject to the scrutiny of United Nations observers.
Kofi Annan is trying to hold together with duct tape a “six point peace plan”, and is headed for Damascus in the wake of the latest atrocity under the Bashar al-Assad regime. This plan was signed off by Assad on March 27.
Today there are reports gunmen in the town have been positioned with orders to shoot civilians who try to talk with the UN Observers.
Annan and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon today released this:
Latest 2 of 110 commentsView all comments
In October 2010, Syria’s heavy-weight ambassador Tammam Sulaiman left Australia a disappointed man. He had failed to convince Australia to reopen our embassy in Damascus.
In 2008-10 Syrians were very anxious that Australia bolster its credibility building exercise with the United States. Just before the beginning of the Arab Spring, President Obama had very unwisely reopened an American diplomatic post in Syria.
Looking back it’s hard to re-imagine the Middle East before the successful revolutions against authoritarian leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Then, the received wisdom in Western foreign policy circles was that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was a “man we could do business with”. Democrats would now be horrified to recall the prevailing view in Western chanceries that this “London” ophthalmologist and his glamorous wife (who subsequently appeared in Vogue magazine) was a closet democrat.
Latest 2 of 39 commentsView all comments
When Vogue published its February 2011 profile on Asma Al-Assad, the English-born first lady of Syria, her husband’s totalitarian regime already had blood on its hands.
President Bashar al-Assad has ruled Syria since the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad. They are members of the Baath Party, Arab nationalists who have ruled Syria under “emergency law” since 1971. Under emergency law the government can arrest people without warning, launch police operations against suspicious citizens and jail them without trial.
Yet Vogue, the glossy bible of all things fabulous and fashionable turned a blind eye. Describing the regime as “not as secular as we might like” while salivating over Asma Al-Assad’s long-limbed and analytic beauty. A “desert rose” in the heart of Syria. It’s the safest country in the Middle East, they cooed.
Latest 2 of 61 commentsView all comments
Why has the western media provided only a biased, incomplete view of what is going in Syria? Why have the steps taken by the Syrian government to answer the concerns raised by its citizens been ignored?
I am not a Syrian government apologist (more on that later). I just want to read the whole story. If I can find a variety of news sources including the official statements made by government officials and pro-Syrian government supporters why can’t the BBC or ABC or any other well-resourced western media?
And I am not only talking about the bizarre twists in the Syrian conflict such as “Damascus Girl”. If you missed that one, a young Syrian lesbian blogger created an international outcry when she suddenly disappeared. The Syrian government was suspected of abducting and maybe even killing her. One of her great supporters – fellow lesbian blogger Lez Get Real was particularly upset.
Latest 2 of 42 commentsView all comments
The Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt have gone, the President of Yemen is going. The dictator of Libya has lost control of half of his country and is being bombed out of the other half.
But the revolutionary tidal wave of the Arab Spring has now come up against a tougher opponent – the 40-year-old dictatorship of the Assad family in Syria.
It’s clear that President Bashar al-Assad and his security forces have no intention of giving up power, and are now engaged in a violent and bloody crackdown on dissent.
Latest 2 of 14 commentsView all comments
Any relief we may have had when Libya was finally suspended from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in March has certainly been short-lived. It appears Syria, another terror state, is set to take its place.
Syria is one of four candidates vying for four seats on the 47-member body that will go to Asian nations when the General Assembly votes on new members on 20 May.
Unless another Asian country nominates, which seems unlikely at this stage, Syria will win a three-year term on the UN body charged with strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world.
Latest 2 of 44 commentsView all comments
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…