Human Rights

Australia involved in West Papuan persecution

Australia is facing allegations that they have trained a counter-terrorism unit to Indonesia which is currently operating in West Papua as a “death squad”.

West Papua is a province of Indonesia experiencing political turmoil as the Indonesian government squashes appeals for independence and humane treatment of indigenous West Papuans.

300 Auschwitz suvivors mark 70th anniversary

World leaders have joined almost 300 Auschwitz survivors at the site of the former Nazi death camp to mark 70 years since its liberation by Soviet troops.

The gathering in southern Poland may perhaps the last anniversary that survivors could gather in such numbers, given the youngest were now in their 70s.

The anniversary is being held in the shadow of war in Ukraine and a rise in anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe and abroad. Survivors have urged people and leaders to remember what is possible when prejudice and hatred is allowed to flourish adding that action is also needed to curb the tensions developing around the world.

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No reprieve for Bali Nine drug traffickers

After extensive appeals for clemency, the Indonesian President Joko Widodo has once again indicated no chance of reprieve for the two remaining Bali Nine drug traffickers.

Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have been convicted after attempting to smuggle heroin out of the country and face execution.

The men have exhausted all legal avenues but are still appealing for clemency. The call for clemency has also come from Australia, with Prime Minister Abbott making a public appeal on Friday, with the latest gesture coming from renowned artist Ben Quilty’s planned 'Music for Mercy' event, a candle lit vigil and music performance this Thursday in Sydney.

Partner visa applicants unfair target for goverment money raising

Very late last year the Abbott government announced legislative changes would be made to the permanent residency process and a key part of this was a fifty percent price increase for those applying for partner visas.

The government's reasoning according the Department of Immigration and Border Protection: "That those who want to become Australian citizens have a connection to the country rather than an Australian. Citizenship is a privilege and not a right."

Another justification was the accusations of fraud which plagued the system last year.

Islamic State targets educated Iraqi women

In its latest version of brutality, the Islamic State (IS) is waging a war against educated Iraqi women.

The United Nation’s (UN) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) warned last week that professional women are a particular target of IS militants, especially women who have run for office.

Ravina Shamdasani, OHCHR spokesperson, says they have received word of several women being executed in areas of IS stronghold in Iraq, including three female lawyers in just the first few weeks of 2015.

Bishop assures Afghan government of Australia's commitment

Despite the aid budget being cut, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has assured the Afghan government of Australia’s commitment.

Ms Bishop was in Kabul yesterday to participate in discussions with Afghan government officials, female politicians and women’s rights representatives.

Western aid cuts have many Afghans concerned that the achievements of the past decade, particularly in regards to women’s rights, will not be sustained.

Further drops in aid from Australia could lead to more Afghans fleeing to our shores illegally by boat, according to Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Australia.

However, Ms Bishop has assured the progress made “will not be lost through the Australian aid programme”.

Ukrainian government bans citizens from crossing out of rebel controlled territories

The Ukrainian government has cut civilian travel between the rebel and Ukrainian controlled territories, as the conflict heats up once more, effectively stranding its citizens.

The Ukrainian government has cut civilian travel between the rebel and Ukrainian controlled territories, as the conflict heats up once more, effectively stranding its citizens.

Aid organizations have warned that a medical crisis could be on the horizon, without vital medicines, that the government refuses to let through.

People crossing the border must apply for a special pass, which is only obtainable in Ukrainian held territory. A local journalist, Oleg Izmailov, called the system ‘both idiotic and a breach of human rights.’

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French arrests on terrorism charges endangers freedom of expression

In France, a series of arrests related to terrorism charges raise concerns over the right for freedom of expression.

Amnesty International claims the 69 arrests made in the aftermath of the deadly attacks against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a kosher supermarket and security forces in Paris, were all made on vague charges that test France’s acceptance for free speech.

John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International says “how the French authorities act in the aftermath of the horrific killings is the litmus test for its commitment to human rights for all.”

Richest 1% to soon own more than rest of the world's population

The richest one per cent will soon own more than the rest of the world’s population, according to a study by Oxfam.

The anti-poverty charity’s research shows the wealthiest one per cent are expected to own more than 50 per cent of the world’s wealth by the end of 2016.

With the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Oxfam’s executive director Winnie Byanyima plans to demand urgent action to tighten the wealth gap.

Ms Byanyima says the ‘business as usual’ approach “for the elite isn’t a cost-free option [and] failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back by decades”.

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Baby Ferouz released from Darwin detention centre

The Brisbane-born asylum seeker, baby Ferouz, has been released from a Darwin detention centre with his family.

Immigration authorities have allowed Ferouz, his parents and siblings to stay with relatives while their claims for protection visas are assessed.

The child’s lawyer senior associate Murray Watt says “detention centres are no place for babies and children, and it is disappointing that it took the Australian government more than a year to also come to this realisation”.

Other children of asylum seekers born in Australia have been released in recent days.

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