Human Rights

Syrian Rebels dismiss upcoming peace talks; Geneva

In Syria, an alliance of Islamist rebels has dismissed upcoming peace talks set to take place in Switzerland next Sunday, claiming any agreement reached will be difficult to implement on the ground.

On Saturday, Syria’s main opposition group, the National Coalition, agreed to attend peace talks with President Bashar al-Assad's government in Genenva.

Some 130,000 people have been killed and a quarter of Syrians driven from their homes in the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011 with peaceful protests against 40 years of Assad family rule.

Aussie' Sex Party commits to "Dress like a bikie day"

The Australian Sex Party says Friday, January 31 will be National Dress Like a Bikie Day.

Australians around the country are encouraged to dress as bikies to protest against the Queensland LNP’s VLAD laws.

The widely criticised Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment legislation allows police officers to stop and search any member of the public who they suspect of associating with members of an outlawed motorcycle gang.

Organisers of National Dress Like a Bikie Day say governments should punish actual crimes rather than imagined ones.

Invasion Day March this Sunday

The Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy is organising a protest march from Queensland’s Parliament House to Musgrave Park in South Brisbane to mark Invasion Day on Sunday, January 26.

The march will begin at 10am, and will draw attention to ongoing issues of injustice and discrimination, such as rising Indigenous incarceration rates, deaths in custody and government intervention in remote Aboriginal communities.

After the Invasion Day march, the Jagera Arts Centre will host the Brisbane premier of Utopia, a film by renowned journalist John Pilger about the marginalisation and oppression of Aboriginal Australians.

The screening will begin at 4pm on Sunday at 121 Cordelia Street, South Brisbane.

Two arrested at Whitehaven blockade

Two women aged 57 and 60 were arrested yesterday after holding a vigil at Naomi River as part of the ongoing blockade of Whitehaven Coal’s mine expansion project in Leard State Forest.

Front Line Action on Coal says Whitehaven’s mine expansion will destroy the habitat of 26 threatened species,and may degrade surrounding agricultural land.

This morning, the traditional owners of the region, the Gomeroi, released a statement saying that the silence and inaction of Prime Minister Abbott’s and Premier O’Farrell’s governments was confusing and mystifying.

The Leard Forest blockade began on January 13, and eight protesters have been arrested so far.

4ZZZ has attempted to contact Whitehaven Coal for comment but has yet to receive a reply.

British Councillor claims floods act of God

In Britain, the anti-immigration UK Independence Party has suspended a local councillor who blamed recent flooding across Britain on the government's decision to legalise gay marriage.

David Silvester, who left Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party in protest to last year’s move to allow same-sex marriage, claimed that Britain’s recent storms were because the new same-sex laws had angered God.

UKIP party Chairman Roger Bird has told British media that Mr Silvester defied party orders not to give any more interviews after he told BBC radio on Sunday that homosexuality was a disease that could be "healed".

Lack of protection for child brides; Equality Now

Cultural traditions and a lack of legal protections are driving tens of millions of girls around the world into early marriage, subjecting them to violence, poverty and mistreatment, an international human rights group says.

Equality Now, citing the United Nations Population Fund, said in a report over the weekend that more than 140 million girls will be married over the next decade before they turn 18.

The 32-page report found that despite laws that set a minimum age for marriage in many countries, cultural and social norms continue to provide legitimacy for child marriage in several remote villages and even some developed countries.

Indonesia investigating navy turn-arounds

The Indonesian government have confirmed they have begun an investigative report into two recently returned asylum seeker boats found washed up on Indonesia’s far east coast.

Two asylum seekers say the Australian Navy forced the boats to turn around, and one of the boats was allegedly turned around without enough fuel and was left drifting for days.

Indonesian government spokesperson Agus Rookiyan Barnas says they are investigating the claims, and if found true, could breach the 1951 UN Refugee convention, a convention the Australian government has already ratified.

HIV babies need homes too

Australian HIV law experts have called for the process of adopting HIV-positive children from overseas countries to change to move the current discrimination.

HIV/AIDS Legal Centre spokeswoman Alexandra Stratigos has said that whilst she believes safeguards should be in place a child's HIV status should not be a barrier.

Ms Stratigos believe the restrictions on adopting children which desperately need homes down to both Australia’s Medicare system and governmental reluctance to wear the costs of the children's health care needs

Britain begins benchmark child abuse inquiry

Britain’s biggest inquiry into child abuse has commenced in Belfast in Northern Ireland.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry has heard its first testimonies of abuse in church and state run institutions from a period spanning 73 years.

More than 430 people have agreed to give statements about institutional abuses including 61 child migrants who were sent to Australia under a government scheme.

Sri Lankan' refugees hoping for release

Indian and Sri Lankan authorities have agreed to talks, hopefully resulting in the release of fishermen from custody of both countries.

Over 200 Sri Lankan fishermen are currently in custody in India, and almost 300 Indian fishermen are being held in Sri Lanka, in a series of breaches over the border of fishing waters in the region.

A meeting is scheduled for January 20th between India’s Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar, whose portfolio includes Fisheries, the Sri Lankan fisheries minister, Rajitha Senaratne and a team of Sri Lankan legal, naval and external affairs ministry officials.

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