Australia’s right-wing anti-refugee government’s defeat

This 11 February 2019 video says about itself:

Government on verge of historic defeat | Nine News Australia

The Morrison Government appears set for a historic defeat on a bill which would release asylum seekers from off-shore detention on medical advice. The Prime Minister says Labor’s support of the bill proves it is a threat to border security.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Historical defeat of Australian government on asylum legislation

The Australian government has suffered a historic defeat in the House of Commons. For the first time in 78 years, the opposition has defeated the government in an important vote.

The House of Commons voted on a law that provides asylum seekers in detention camps on two islands in the Pacific with improved access to medical assistance. The law would make it easier for them to be transferred to the Australian mainland for treatment.

The minority [right-wing] government of Prime Minister Morrison, which pursues a harsh anti-immigration policy, is fiercely opposed to the amendment of the law. …

Since 2013, Australia refuses to accept migrants who come to the country with boats. The refugees are sent to detention centers on the islands of Nauru and Manus in the Pacific Ocean. The Australian government says it wants to discourage the practices of human smugglers in Asia.

However, in practice the Australian government works hand in glove with human smugglers in attacking refugees, paying the people smugglers with Australian taxpayers’ money.

There have been protests against the detention camps for years, because the conditions are very bad. Doctors say that the medical facilities are not sufficient and the United Nations has called the situation in the camps inhuman.

Final decision

The new law would make it easier for migrants who are stuck in the camps to get medical help on the Australian mainland. In the old situation, the Minister of Home Affairs determined who was eligible; [in the new law] a medical committee would make the final decision.

In recent years, some 500 people have been transferred to Australia for medical reasons.


The Senate will vote on the amendment later this week. It is expected that a majority of parliamentarians there will also support the adjustment.

Prime Minister Morrison has already said that he does not intend to resign if the law would be finally passed. Elections were already planned for this spring.

The federal Liberal-National Coalition government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison suffered a blow on Tuesday, when it lost a vote on legislation amending the Migration Act in the House of Representatives. The Senate passed the laws the following day: here.


French-Italian governments’ conflict on refugees

This 18 February 2018 video says about itself:

Italy: Protesters rally at French-Italian border in solidarity with refugees

Some 150 activists protested at the Italian-French border town of Ventimiglia, Sunday, to demonstrate against the heavy French police presence in solidarity with migrants.

The protest, organised by left-wing group ‘No Borders’, was entitled ‘We tread [on] the border’ (Calpestiamo il confine). The protesters climbed up the hills to the border fence, repeating the route that a number of migrants have travelled in order to reach France.

According to the report, 13 people died in the mountains attempting to cross the border, which is now separated with a chain fence and barbed wire.

Protester (Italian): “This border is not only represented by this physical frontier, but also what happens everyday in Ventimiglia and nearby areas. We are here to stress the fact that we don’t recognise this border. We don’t consider it as a real border. Freedom of movement for everybody.”

Dutch NOS TV reports today that the French Macron administration has recalled its ambassador from Italy because of conflicts between these two governments.

The right-wing Macron government and the Italian government, a coalition between the extreme right Lega and the ‘neither left nor right’ Five Star Movement, accuse each other viciously. The paradox is that in these accusations by both governments there is some truth, but also much hypocrisy.

The Italian government says that the cause of the refugees trying to cross the Mediteranean is ‘French colonial policy’. That is definitely partly true. Until the 1960s, big parts of Africa were French colonies. Much violence, economic exploitation. With consequences till today. After the 1960s, French colonialism changed to neocolonialism. Though the ex-colonies were now officially independent, French governments kept supporting pro-French local dictators and invading African countries for uranium or other resources every now and then. In 2011, French President Sarkozy was a major instigator of the NATO war on Libya. Because he wanted French oil corporation Total to grab Libyan oil wealth; and because he wanted to cover the tracks of payment of his presidential election campaign by the Libyan Gadaffi administration.

That Libya war never stopped, and led to a country in ruin: healthcare destroyed, women’s rights down the drain, slavery brought back after its 19th century abolition, torture, ISIS, bloodshed everywhere. And from Libya at war, the violence spread to many other African countries. Which led to more French neocolonial invasions and war crimes. And this way, indeed, to more refugees.

So, why is the Italian government not just partly correct, but also hypocritical? Because, like France, Italy has a bloody colonial past and a neocolonial present in Africa. Fascist dictator Mussolini, praised now by Italian Deputy Prime Minister Salvini, and his predecessors caused horrible bloodbaths making Eritrea, Ethiopia and ‘Italian’ Somalia Italian colonies. Mussolini’s soldiers and concentration camps in Libya killed hundreds of thousands.

After Italian colonialism came Italian neocolonialism. Eg, by Silvio Berlusconi, participating in the NATO war on Libya to grab some oil and letting the refugees of that war drown or imprisoning them. And by later Italian governments, with their harsh anti-refugee policies and their handing over of Italian taxpayers’ money to torturers and slave traders in Libya to stop refugees from coming to Italy. So, Italian politicians, like French ones (and US American ones … and British ones … etc.), have definitely contributed to the refugee crisis.

The Macron government in France criticizes the Italian government because of its anti-refugee policy. Again: there is truth in that. But also much hypocrisy.

Because the French government violently attacks refugees in Paris, Calais and elsewhere.

Because the French government violently, including with torture of children, tries to stop refugees from crossing the French-Italian border. European Union or no European Union.

Talking about the European Union: that is another reason for conflict between France and Italy. The Macron administration wants a centralized European Union. The government in Rome wants decentralisation. The logical consequence of centralizing the European Union is: making national borders ‘soft borders’. However, ‘pro-European’ Macron is inconsequent; making the French-Italian border a very ‘hard’ border.

The French National Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Monday to approve President Emmanuel Macron’s “anti-riot” law, undermining the right to protest and further expanding police powers: here.

Australians against deportation of refugees

Angela Fredericks with Nadesalingnam, Priya and their two daughters, Dharuniga and Kopiga

By Max Newman in Australia:

Biloela resident: “It is really important that we stand up”

Australian rural town continues to fight deportation of Tamil refugee family

2 February 2019

Angela Fredericks is one of the leaders of a determined campaign by residents from the rural Queensland town of Biloela for the freedom of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees Nardesalingnam (referred to as Nardes) and Priya and their two infant daughters.

On March 5 last year, the family was detained in a pre-dawn raid by Australian Border Force officers and guards from the British-based security company Serco, and imprisoned thousands of kilometres away in Melbourne, pending deportation to Sri Lanka. Nardes was a meat worker at the local Teys Australia abattoir.

Biloela is a town of about 6,000 people, about 120 kilometres inland from the port city of Gladstone, Queensland, on the southern edge of the Bowen Basin, a large coal-mining region. The fight being waged by the town’s residents, and thousands of others around the country, belies the media image of popular support for the anti-refugee policy of successive governments. Almost 180,000 people have signed an online petition to stop the deportation.

The Biloela campaign legal team last month lodged a special leave application in the High Court, challenging earlier Federal Court rulings backing the government. Their deportation was scheduled for February 1. However, Minister for Immigration David Coleman confirmed through his lawyers in the afternoon of February 1, that they will not remove the family while the application for special leave remains pending in the court.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, whose ministerial portfolio previously covered immigration, has refused to intervene to grant visas to the family, and prejudged their appeal by declaring on January 14: “The family has gone through multiple court processes. At every single turn they’ve been found not to be refugees.”

Such deportations are a central component of the “border protection” policy, created and enforced by Labor and Liberal-National Coalition governments alike. This regime denies the basic right to asylum to all people who attempt to reach Australia by boat, either forcing them back to sea, imprisoning them indefinitely or forcibly deporting them.

In 2012, the … Labor government began the “fast-track” removal of Sri Lankan refugees, about 6,000 of whom fled to Australia between 2011 and 2013, fearing persecution.

Labor struck an agreement with the Sri Lankan government for the deportation of all the refugees, without even considering their claims to asylum. This immediately resulted in 700 refugees being sent back to the authorities in Colombo, with about 1,000 more still facing the same treatment, according to Home Affairs Department statistics.

The High Court sanctioned this process in 2017, even though it was proven such refugees suffered appalling conditions of imprisonment, including “torture, maltreatment and violence.”

The World Socialist Web Site recently interviewed Angela Fredericks.

Angela Fredericks outside the Australian parliament

Why have the people in Biloela taken up this campaign?

It began initially because we were all so distressed and broken-hearted at the fact that good friends of ours had been taken away. It started as an outrage at how they were taken. But then, as we have learnt more about their claim for serious protection, it became more about saying that these are the sort of citizens we want, even regardless of refugee status. Why take away people that fill important needs in our community?

Could you describe how the community found out about the dawn raid?

The first thing is the secrecy. It wasn’t until a good week later that we managed to unfurl what had happened, after we spoke to their neighbour, who was traumatised by what she witnessed.

The neighbour described hearing Priya screaming. This still sends shivers down my spine imagining it. She then ran out and saw the house surrounded by police officers and Serco guards, all armed. The neighbour was not allowed to go and comfort Priya, even though she owned the property the family was living in. She then watched as Priya and Nardes were put in a vehicle and the girls were put in separate vehicle.

That was the initial description, but we then heard it again from Priya and Nardes, after they were allowed to use a phone. We heard how they were basically given a very short amount of time to pack up their lives and they had no idea what was going to happen to them.

It was around 5am, and the family were starting the day like any other. Nardes was dressed and was about to head off to work. His keys were left in his car, with his wallet. There was meat in the sink defrosting, a baby bottle left on the bench. They were treated like criminals.

Australian-born daughters, Dharuniga and Kopiga

Why do you think such an operation was carried out?

Honestly, I cannot imagine why the government would do it in such a manner. This only happens if you are taking away dangerous people or those who are a serious threat. The government has said that they did it so they wouldn’t escape, which is, quite frankly, ridiculous. How can you need 20 armed people to stop two adults and two toddlers from going anywhere? I mean, this is a family that wouldn’t hurt a fly.

It really scared me that the government can do this sort of thing and nobody raises a sound. We do like to believe that our government is doing the right thing.

Have there been other instances where refugees were taken and it was not reported to the community?

Definitely. Through this campaign we have been told so by our meat workers, at the local abattoir, where quite a few people who have come as refugees have been employed. We have been told stories about how workers turn up for work one day and somebody is just not there anymore. I find this quite sad as those are often single males who, because of the work hours and time restraints, have not been able to be part of the community.

A meat worker who witnessed losing people at the abattoir made the comment “when do we start hiding people in our houses?” If that is not a return to World War II, I don’t know what is.

The difference in this case is that this is a family we had gotten to know. They had built a network here.

How many people have been involved in the campaign in Biloela?

In terms of those who have written letters [to local MPs], come to events, who have helped fund raising, that is going into the hundreds. There are definitely people who have come on board who have never met them. People who have literally just heard the story.

I have been contacted also by people around Australia, in lots of small communities, who have said they are supporting a family just like Nardes and Priya and they are fearful those families are about to taken.

What has been the response by the abattoir and his workmates to Nardes’ removal?

His colleagues have all been very supportive. They have been distraught that the family has been taken. The difficultly is lots of the other people who work there are subject to immigration status. For lots of them they fear saying anything, but many have been silently supporting.

In terms of higher up in the meatworks, we have had letters of support. However, it has been quite interesting. Companies, councils and those that rely on the government to a certain extent haven’t been willing to say much out front or to the media.

This case has really highlighted to me that it is really important that we stand up and make sure we are not owned by anyone.

Could you comment on the remarks by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton?

Firstly, you tell me one person who decides they want to flee a country for war that is not of anybody’s making or choice. The fundamental flaw in his statement is the idea that it is illegal to seek asylum by boat. The [1951] Refugee Convention, that Australia has signed, states that there is no illegal way to seek asylum.

The other point which is incorrect is where he says the family has been through “multiple court processes” and found to be “non-genuine” refugees. Under the fast-track system, they have never had their claim heard by a court. Their status was looked at only two times. The first was by the Home Affairs Department and the second was by the IAA [Immigration Assessment Authority]. Both those reviews were conducted by a single person, so literally two people have found them not to be refugees.

The key thing is that Tamils are not on the list the government has of who warrants protection and who doesn’t. That is against the advice of the United Nations, Amnesty International and multiple other organisations, who say Tamils do need protection. So, the decision has been made because of that list and not because of their individual case.

Do you see a connection to what is happening to refugees internationally?

Yes. We are seeing the most refugees ever experienced. However, we spend too much time trying to fix this “problem.” Refugees are not the problem. They are the result of earlier problems.

World leaders are not doing enough to stop the creation of refugees. You read in so many statements that “Australia does more than enough for refugees.” Actually, the third-world or developing countries do more for refugees than first-world countries.

The cause of refugees comes down to world conflict, power and control. Any war is going to have casualties. Refugees are the causalities of war. Lots of first-world countries have participated in creating refugees. Even if they are not actually bombing countries, they remain silent.

Where is the campaign up to?

We have used January to create momentum. Throughout January we have had two weeks of letter writing to local MPs. We have followed up with phone calls. From January 19, we held protests and rallies across Australia. Our legal team has submitted paperwork for special leave to take the decision to the High Court. In the meantime, we are encouraging people to make contact with their local MPs and Peter Dutton.

At the end of the day, we don’t have faith that the court system will change anything for us. All the courts are deciding is whether the decision will be sent back to the IAA. So, we need the minister to intervene.

The author also recommends:

Australia: Biloela residents protest at pre-dawn removal of Tamil refugee family
[15 March 2018]

Australia: Biloela residents continue protests against deportation of Tamil refugee family
[2 July 2018]

Imprisoned Kurdish-Iranian refugee wins Australian literary prize

This 31 January 2019 video says about itself:

‘A victory for humanity’: Behrouz Boochani’s literary prize speech in full

Behrouz Boochani wins Australia’s richest literary prize

Asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani has accepted the $125,000 Victorian premier’s literary prize via video link from Manus Island where he has been held for six years.

‘I would like to say that this award is a victory. It is a victory not only for us but for literature and art and above all it is victory for humanity’, the writer said. ‘It is a victory against the system that has reduced us to numbers. This is a beautiful moment. Let us all rejoice tonight in the power of literature’.

Translated from Knack magazine in Belgium, 1 February 2019:

Iranian-Kurdish asylum seeker on Manus island wins major Australian literature prize

The Iranian-Kurdish writer and journalist Behrouz Boochani, an asylum seeker who has been imprisoned for years on the Papuan New Guinean Manus island by Australia, has won one of the most important literary awards Down Under. Boochani wrote the book via text messages.

On Thursday in Melbourne, Boochani won the Victorian Prize for Literature, the literary prize of the state of Victoria, with its 100,000 Australian dollars (approximately € 63,500) the highest-rated literature prize in the country. But Boochani could not accept the prize himself. He can not leave Manus island, where he lives since 2013.

The asylum seeker received the prize for his book ‘No friend but the mountains: writing from Manus prison’.

‘No friend but the mountains’ is a Kurdish proverb about governments oppressing Kurds.

His debut also received the prize for best non-fiction book, worth 25,000 dollars (about 16,000 euros). Boochani wrote the book according to his publisher with text messages that he sent from Manus to helpers in Australia.

Australia since 2012 has imprisoned on Manus asylum seekers who tried to reach Australia with boats. Doctors and refugee workers have already sued the government because of the precarious situation there several times. Australia also gets a lot of criticism internationally.

In the absence of Boochani, his translator Omid Tofighian received the prize. Boochani himself spoke in an interview with the newspaper The Age of ‘paradoxical feelings’. “I don’t want to celebrate this achievement while I still see many innocent people suffering around me.”, he said. “I demand freedom, give us freedom. We have committed no crime, we are only seeking asylum.” He accused Australia of a “barbaric policy.”

Boochani lived for years with hundreds of other refugees and migrants behind a steel fence in an asylum center on Manus. After the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court decided their detention was illegal, they were transferred to another, open center on the small island in the Pacific.

According to his publisher Boochani has a degree in political science, which he obtained in Tehran. He calls himself journalist, writer and filmmaker.

Why, Australian right-wing government, do you imprison Mr Boochani? Did he murder? Did he abuse children? Did he steal one Australian dollar? Did he steal one Australian dollar cent? No, no, no and no!

Anti-xenophobia rebellion in Dutch xenophobic party

Shirley Soenjoto, Dutch Purmerend local councillor

On 20 January 2019, Nadia Ezzeroili wrote in Dutch daily De Volkskrant about Geert Wilders’ xenophobic PVV party.

This party strongly supports deporting refugees.

However, last week there turned out to be an exception to that among local councillors in Purmerend town. Of the three elected PVV council members, now local leader Ms Shirley Soenjoto and Rob van Dongen want to stop the government deporting refugee children who grew up in the Netherlands.

The leftist parties in parliament wanted that already years earlier. So did two of the four parties in the right-wing government coalition: the Christian Union and D66. However, in the coalition agreement, these two parties gave in to the Big Business VVD party and the conservative Christian CDA party, who wanted a harsher policy.

The pro-refugee statement by Soenjoto and Van Dongen led to sarcastic comments that in the CDA there was now less Christian charity than in the far-right PVV.

This week, the CDA parliamentary caucus changed its mind. So, now three out of the four coalition parties say that they want a less harsh policy. However, the VVD does not. It is still uncertain what the government will do.

Ms Soenjoto is from a Christian mixed Dutch-Indonesian background. Her and Van Dongen’s unexpected pro-refugee stand caused a conflict with the third PVV council member and with national party leader Wilders. Wilders says Soenjoto and Van Dongen no longer have the right to call themselves PVV.

However, Ms Soenjoto says that she never got any message of being sacked from the PVV. Sacking someone from the PVV is a bit of an iffy issue, as the party has officially just one member, Wilders.

Translated from De Volkskrant:

Shirley: ‘At national level the PVV did not want to talk about solutions at all. We were expected to only talk about Islamization in the city council. But I wanted to find a connection and talk to the Islamic community.’

Didn’t Shirley Soenjoto join the wrong party? A friend says: ‘She is rather naive’.

Dutch government deports refugee to Bahraini jail

This November 2015 Human Rights Watch video says about itself:

No End to Torture in Bahrain

Bahraini security forces are torturing detainees during interrogation. Institutions set up after 2011 to receive and investigate complaints lack independence and transparency. Human Rights Watch has concluded that security forces have continued the same abuses the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) documented in its November 2011 report. The commission was established after the fierce repression of pro-democracy demonstrators in February and March of that year. Bahraini authorities have failed to implement effectively the commission’s recommendations relating to torture, Human Rights Watch found.

The dictatorship in Sudan kills its own people. The dictatorship in Sudan helps the Saudi crown prince and United States President Trump in their bloody war on the people of Yemen.

The dictatorship in Sudan helped the NATO war on Libya. The dictatorship in Sudan helps the European Union to stop refugees.

As long as the Sudanese dictatorship continues to do that, they will be in the good books of NATO countries’ governments.

They are also in the good books of governments which are not NATO members themselves, but allies of NATO members. Like they are in the good books of the United Arab Emirates absolute monarchy, another government joining the Saudi and Sudanese dictatorships in waging war on Yemen.

Sudanese dictator Bashir also has a good relationship to the absolute monarchy Bahrain. The king of Bahrain has sent his torturing sons to wage war on the people of Bahrain. The Bahraini regime harshly punishes subjects who want peace in Yemen.

Being in NATO governments’ good books means for Bashir that NATO country Belgium deports Sudanese refugees to his torture jails. And that NATO country the Netherlands deports Sudanese refugees to his torture jails.

The royal dictatorship in Bahrain is likewise an ally of NATO governments. Meaning that the Dutch government deports Bahraini refugees to Bahraini torture jails.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

“Asylum seeker deported by the Netherlands jailed in Bahrain”

An asylum seeker from Bahrain who was deported by the Netherlands was arrested immediately after arriving in the Arab country last October. Amnesty International and [pro refugee organisation] Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland report this. According to the organizations, Ali Mohammed al-Showaikh has been imprisoned ever since and there are strong indications that he has been tortured.

Amnesty and Vluchtelingenwerk also write in a letter that the man does not have confidential access to a lawyer and has signed a confession under pressure. The organizations call on the Netherlands to address the Bahraini government and to investigate the deportation of Showaikh.

Ali Mohammed al-Showaikh fled from Bahrain to the Netherlands in 2017 for fear of persecution. His brother had already fled the country because of his political activities. According to Amnesty, Bahrain has in the past more often pressured, abused or arrested family members of dissidents. Since 2016, the human rights situation has deteriorated seriously and more than 150 critics or their family members have been subjected to severe repression, writes Amnesty.

IND investigation

According to the human rights organizations, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) could have known that activists and their family members are at risk, but the asylum application of Showaikh was nevertheless rejected. The organizations state that they are concerned about the thoroughness of the IND procedures.

They call on the Netherlands for the time being to stop deporting anyone to Bahrain and to conduct an independent investigation. It must also be checked whether the Netherlands has violated the non-refoulement principle. That is the ban on expulsion to a country where a refugee is at risk or may be prosecuted.

A protest in favour of Hakeem Al-Araibi outside the Thai Consulate in Melbourne, Australia on December 4 2018

By Sue Bolton, Melbourne, Australia, December 21, 2018:

#SaveHakeem – Stop deportation of Bahraini refugee

Bahraini refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi has been held in detention in Thailand since November 27, facing the terrifying prospect of deportation to the country where he was tortured.

Al-Araibi fled to Australia in 2014 and was accepted as a refugee. In November, he travelled on UN travel documents to Thailand for a short holiday with his wife. When he arrived at Bangkok airport, Al-Araibi was arrested under an Interpoll “Red Notice” (an international arrest warrant) issued by the Bahrain government.

Interpol is not meant to issue red notices for refugees, so this red notice should never have been issued for Al-Araibi. The Interpol system of red notices has been widely discredited, because countries with terrible human rights records use them against political dissidents.

Interpol realised that Al-Araibi was a refugee on December 3 and withdrew the notice. Al-Araibi should have been released on December 11, but the Thai authorities decided to extend his detention for 60 more days to prepare for his extradition to Bahrain.

The international outcry over the detention and possible deportation of Al-Araibi has drawn attention to the discredited system of Red Notices, the threat to refugees, and the role of the Australian government in the whole affair.

The Australian government initially told the Thai authorities they had no responsibility for Al-Araibi because he was not an Australian citizen. The Australian officials should have said the Australian government had a responsibility to defend Al-Araibi because he had been granted refugee status due to political persecution. That might have resolved the situation.

Instead, the Australian government has been shamed by the international outcry into taking a stronger position in support of Al-Araibi. The Bahraini diaspora, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all campaigned strongly for the release of Al-Araibi and for him to have the right to return to Australia.

Since then, the football community has joined the campaign. Al-Araibi played soccer for the Bahrain national team and in Australia he plays for the Pascoe Vale Football Club. Former Socceroo and current SBS commentator Craig Foster has been outspoken in calling for Al-Araibi to be returned to Australia. Other senior soccer players to speak out in support of Al-Araibi are former Socceroo Craig Moore and ex-captain Paul Wade. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and the Football Federation Australia (FFA) are also supporting the campaign.

However, the Asian Football Confederation president, Bahraini royal Sheik Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, has been silent. Craig Foster has called on him to support Al-Araibi or resign.

The international pressure and local community pressure has forced the Australian government to reveal its own shady role in the detention of Al-Araibi.

A statement from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the detention of Al-Araibi had been carried out in response to the red notice alert received from the Interpol National Central Bureau of Australia as well as the formal request from the Bahraini government for Al-Araibi’s extradition.

The question that needs to be asked is on whose authority did the Australian Interpol office issue a red alert, especially when this is in breach of Interpol’s protocols that such notices cannot be used against refugees? Secondly, why didn’t the Australian authorities intervene immediately after Al-Araibi’s arrest to tell the Thai authorities that Al-Araibi is a refugee?

Al-Araibi’s lawyers have lodged a request for ministerial intervention to grant citizenship to Al-Araibi.

Fatima Yazbek of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights called on the Australian government, especially the Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton, to grant Al-Araibi Australian citizenship to save him from the imminent danger he will face if deported to Bahrain.

Yazbec said: “Bahraini prisons lack the minimum standards of prisoners’ rights, and the political prisoners are suffering from miserable conditions and lack of basic rights.

“The repression against the opponents of the Gulf States, especially following the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the death penalties issued against Saudi human rights activists, gives an indication of what is awaiting Hakeem Al-Araibi in the Bahraini prisons.

“We call on all the sports and football community to demand granting Hakeem the Australian citizenship”, she added.

Al-Ariabi has good reason to be terrified at the prospect of being sent to Bahrain. He was arrested and tortured by the Bahraini authorities, allegedly due to the political activities of his brother. After Al-Araibi fled the country, the Bahraini authorities sentenced him for vandalising a police station. Al-Araibi was known to be playing football at the time the authorities claim he was vandalising the police station.

According to Human Rights Watch, Bahrain’s human rights situation continued to worsen in 2017: “Authorities shut down the country’s only independent newspaper and the leading secular-left opposition political society. The country’s preeminent human rights defender remained in prison on speech charges. The government, ending a de facto moratorium on use of the death penalty, executed three people in January following unfair trials, despite their alleging that they had been tortured and their confessions coerced.”

Naples helping refugees, defying right-wing Italian government

This 3 January 2019 video says about itself:

Naples is ready to defy Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and let in a charity-run ship carrying 32 migrants that is blocked in the stormy Mediterranean, the city mayor said today.

His offer adds to a growing challenge from opposition politicians to Salvini’s far-right League [party], which has vowed to bar migrants and make life difficult for those already here.

Both Italy and Malta are refusing to let the Sea-Watch 3, a ship operated by a German non-governmental organisation (NGO), dock and set down the migrants who were rescued off Libya on Dec. 22. …

Naples’ centre-left mayor Luigi de Magistris said Salvini was playing politics with peoples’ lives. “To leave people and children in the middle of cold and stormy seas is a crime — not simply indecent, immoral and appalling”, de Magistris told Radio Crc. “I hope that this boat approaches the port of Naples because, unlike what the government says, we will launch a rescue operation and we will let it enter the port,” he said.

“I will be the first to lead the rescue.” …

Malta overnight allowed the boat into its waters to sail closer to land where the seas are less choppy, but is refusing to let it dock.

Several local politicians from opposition parties have defied Salvini’s anti-migrant policies. On Wednesday, the mayor of the Sicilian capital Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, said he would join other cities in ignoring a new security law because it abolishes asylum protection for many migrants. Salvini on Thursday threatened mayors with legal action. “Anyone who helps clandestine migrants hates Italians. … ” Salvini tweeted. …

On taking office last year, Salvini barred NGO boats and moved to help Libya

Which of the warring governments and paramilitaries in Libya?

prevent people leaving its shores.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant today:

Naples wants to allow migrant ship Sea-Watch 3 in, ‘whatever the government says’

The Italian city of Naples is prepared to admit the ship Sea-Watch 3 to its port and to accommodate the 32 migrants on board. Mayor Luigi de Magistris said on Thursday. He thus expressly opposes the line of the Italian government, which believes that there can be no question of admitting them. …

The ship Sea-Watch 3, sailing under the Dutch flag, has been floating around the Mediterranean for almost two weeks. On 22 December, 22 migrants from countries such as Sudan, Congo and Mali were picked up from the sea off the coast of Libya by the German NGO Sea-Watch, which manages the ship. They have been wandering since then. None of the countries around it wants to let the migrants in. Italy, Spain and Malta keep their ports closed. …

According to the center-left mayor De Magistris, this is an inhumane attitude. “To leave people, including children, in the middle of the cold and stormy sea is not only indecent, immoral and terrible, it’s a crime”, he said in front of the radio. “I hope the ship will come to Naples because, whatever the government says, we will start a rescue operation and allow it in the harbour.” …

Among the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 are seven children: four teenagers without their parents and three small children, including a baby.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Naples wants to allow the ship the Sea-Watch 3 with 32 migrants on board to land. The left-wing mayor of Naples said that. With this he defies the right-wing Italian Interior Minister Salvini, who does not want any migrants at all.

In Italy there is increasing opposition to the harsh anti-immigration policy of Salvini and his right-wing Lega party. Mayors from several large Italian cities have announced that they will not comply with Salvini’s law on security and immigration. …

The Netherlands is said to be willing to allow a maximum of six people in. They would then enter the ordinary asylum procedure, so it would not be certain that they can stay. …

Malta has allowed the Sea-Watch, under pressure from the Netherlands, to shelter close to the coast for a storm that has been going on for days. Many people on board have become seasick. But the ship is not allowed to moor in Malta. …

The Sea-Watch saved the migrants before Christmas in the vicinity of Libya and since then has been trying unsuccessfully to find a port where they are welcome. According to a Sea-Watch spokesperson, they are traumatized and weakened.