Monthly Archives: February 2019

‘Dehumanisation and stigmatisation’ of Rohingya Muslims based on Nazism: report

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A refugee bathes his child at the Kutupalong Camp in Teknaaf, Bangladesh. Photo: New York TimesWho are the Rohingya, and why are they being persecuted?Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi criticised for silence on Rohingya
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Bangkok: ​Nazi ideology and Islam-phobia are being used to stoke hatred of more than a million Rohingyas in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, according to the findings of an 18-month investigation.

The country’s military-backed government, state-level officials and Buddhist monks are orchestrating the mass annihilation of the Rohingya, say researchers at Queen Mary University of London.

Drawing on leaked government documents, researchers say they have uncovered evidence that the persecution of the stateless Rohingya – including corralling them into ghettos, sporadic massacres and restrictions on movements – amounts to a longer term strategy by Myanmar’s government to isolate, weaken and eliminate the group.

In a report titled Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar researchers from the university-based International State Crime Initiative concluded that “dehumanisation and stigmatisation” techniques being used against Rohingyas warrant comparison with Germany in the 1930s and Rwanda in the early 1990s.

Researchers said they found Nazi and SS paraphernalia such as t-shirts and helmets in official documents of the Arakan National Party, a Rahkine party.

Copies of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf are being sold on  Rakhine’s streets, they said.

The report quotes an editorial in an Arakan National Party magazine declaring in 2012 that “in order for a country’s survival …crimes against humanity or inhuman acts may be justifiably committed.”

“We will go down in history as cowards if we pass on these [Rohingya] issues to the next generation without getting it over and done with,” the editorial said.

Professor Penny Green, director of the initiative, said weakened and traumatised Rohingyas in camps and ghettos “endure the barest of lives and denial of basic human rights, with the ever-present fear of attack.”

Myanmar’s government officially refers to Rohingya as “Bengalis” from Bangladesh and claims they are mostly illegal immigrants in the country where 90 per cent of its 53 million people are Buddhists.

The report’s release comes ahead of landmark elections in Myanmar on November 8 that are seen as a test of progress in the country’s transition from half a century of often-brutal military rule to democracy.

Despite being described as Myanmar’s first free poll in 25 years, Muslims have been prevented from contesting and been the target of racial and religious abuse during campaigning by ultra-nationalist Buddhist groups like Ma Ba Tha, an acronym for the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have warned of an imminent humanitarian disaster as Rohingya families take to unsafe people-smuggler boats to escape Myanmar now that the monsoon season has ended in the Bay of Bengal.

While many reports have documented the decades-long persecution of Rohingya, the Queen Mary University report controversially finds they face the final stages of genocide, which it said was not always visible in Rakhine.

“It can be stopped but not without confronting the fact that it is, indeed, genocide,” Professor Green said.

The finding is backed by Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN’s special rapporteur of human rights in Myanmar between 2008 and 2014.

“At this point, the situation of the Rohingya cannot be understood without considering a possible genocide,” he said in comments released with the report.

“For decades, the Rohingya people in Myanmar have been victims of widespread government violations that, when considered hollistically, and analysed systematically, reveal a bleak conclusion: the Rohingya people are being gradually decimated,” Mr Quintana said.

“This dramatic conclusion has not been drawn powerfully or often enough,” he said.

The report said Rohingyas “have been subjected to a virulent and official nationwide policy and propaganda campaign which has incrementally removed them from the State’s sphere of responsibility.”

“The State’s persistent and intensified ‘othering’ of the Rohingya as outsiders, illegal Bengali immigrants and potential terrorists has given a green light to Rakhine nationalist and [Islamophobic] monks to orchestrate invidious campaigns of race and religious hatred reminiscent of these witnessed in Germany in the 1930s and Rwanda in the early 1990s,” it said.

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Malcolm Turnbull defends plan to build $1b icebreaker overseas

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An artist’s impression of ‘s new icebreaker. Photo: Supplied An artist’s impression of ‘s new Antarctic ship. Photo: Supplied
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the government’s decision to select a British-based operator and Dutch shipyard for ‘s $1 billion Antarctic icebreaker project.

The British Serco-owned n company, DMS Maritime, is close to sealing a deal with the government over the yet-to-be named icebreaker, to be commissioned in 2019.

It is being designed by Danish naval architects, Knud E. Hansen, and built by Damen Shipyards in the Netherlands, which claims broad experience with commercial and naval vessels.

The choice of the foreign build marks another loss of a major vessel to the n ship-building industry.

Mr Turnbull said the business of building icebreakers was clearly a northern hemisphere speciality.

“I don’t think it’s surprising that all the tenderers were involved with an overseas yard,” Mr Turnbull said.

The current icebreaker, the P&O owned Aurora Australis, was built at Newcastle in 1989.

The new design that was unveiled in Hobart on Thursday shows a ship almost twice the size of Aurora.  It is expected to be central to the n Antarctic program until mid-century.

The new 156-metre long, 23,800-tonne vessel will have increased cargo and marine science capability but is expected to carry around the same number of passengers.

Its crucial ice-breaking capacity will give it the power to steam through 1.65-metre ice, compared to Aurora’s 1.23 metres.

DMS Maritime was the sole tenderer for the project after P&O withdrew in January, saying the tender forced the contractor to unnecessarily pile up costs.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the final stages of the tender were being overseen by the Department of Finance and accountants KPMG.

“Both have verified that we are on track to a very successful result for ,” Mr Hunt said. “We’re driving a hard bargain.”

The $1 billion cost would include building the ship and its lifetime operation, he said.

A national naming competition is to be held for the vessel, and Mr Turnbull said that would be a chance to engage young people with n Antarctic history.

Aurora has been refitted to take it through to May 2017. No decision has been taken yet on filling the gap until the new icebreaker is ready in late 2019, a Senate estimates hearing was told.

Comment was sought from DMS Maritime.

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Malcolm Turnbull’s five mistakes about coal

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants a ‘clear-eyed, cool-headed, rational’ approach to coal. Photo: Andrew Meares Train of thought: what’s the future of coal? Photo: Glenn Hunt
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Brown-coal fired power plant in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley. Photo: Paul Jones

The young woman leading the energy revolution

This week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that when it came to coal, it was “important to take the ideology out – just approach it in a very clear-eyed, cool-headed, rational way”.

The PM’s comments were made in response to a call by 61 leading ns for an international halt to new coal mines and mine expansions.

The signatories included Nobel-winning scientist Peter Doherty and former Reserve Bank Governor Bernie Fraser, individuals who may not be unfamiliar with logic and rationality.

Mr Turnbull’s comments drew widespread applause from the mining industry, so it is likely that we’ll hear them echoed repeatedly between now and the Paris climate summit next month from both the PM and his colleagues.

Here are some of his comments and why the PM failed his own test:

Coal is a very important part…the largest single part of the global energy mix and likely to remain that way for a very long time. So that is not my forecast but the International Energy Agency’s forecast and many others.

​True, coal vies with oil as the largest share of the energy mix, at 29 per cent versus oil’s 31 per cent stake, according the IEA’s 2014 World Energy Outlook.

But the IEA, like Nostradamus, says many things about the future.

In its Energy and Climate Change report released in June, the agency proposes a peak in energy-related within five years in order to ensure global warming can be limited to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels (we are about half way).

“In the Bridge Scenario, coal use peaks before 2020 and then declines while oil demand rises to 2020 and then plateaus,” the agency says.

That prospect doesn’t point to the need for a lot of new coal mines. Opening up the giant Galilee coal province in Queensland could raise the amount of internationally traded coal by as much as 273 million tonnes if all 10 projects got developed, according to Tim Buckley, a former Citi analyst and now director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Not taking action to curb coal and other fossil fuels would leave the world on a course to 3.6 degrees of warming. Yes, that is also an IEA forecast, but to avoid that fate would require the entire world becoming “carbon neutral” – with emissions countered by storage – by 2040.

“Since emissions are not going to drop suddenly to zero once this point is reached, it is clear that the 2-degrees objective requires urgent action to steer the energy system on to a safer path,” the IEA said in its outlook report.

I don’t agree with the idea of a moratorium on exploiting coal…If stopped exporting coal, the countries to which we export it would simply buy it from somewhere else.

Actually, very few groups demand that every bit of the black rock has to be left in the ground. The call is for an end to new coal mines or the expansion of them – at home and abroad.

If, as the IEA calls for, coal use peaks with a few years, implying that the issue won’t just be a matter of buying the fuel from elsewhere.

But let’s entertain the prospect of an export halt by  – would that make a difference to prices?

Well, last year accounted for 186 million tonnes of the 310 million tonnes of internationally traded coking coal used in steel making – that’s 60 per cent, according the government’s own figures.

Even for thermal coal used in power stations – which is really the fuel substitution issue at stake – ‘s 201 million tonnes of coal exported in 2014 amounted to just under one-fifth of the globally traded commodity.

Mr Buckley says that as a major player in global coal markets, ‘s actions – even to cap exports – would have a big impact on markets.

“It’s just nonsensical from an economics point of view, what Turnbull was saying,” Mr Buckley said.

So if were to stop all of its coal exports … it would not reduce global emissions one iota. In fact, arguably it would increase them because our coal, by and large, is cleaner than the coal in many other countries.

Two problems here.

As above, ‘s actions to limit, cut or even ban exports – even taken alone – would likely lift the price of coal.

Alternative fuels almost always produce fewer emissions, especially if the source is renewable, such as solar, wind and hydro, all of which have virtually zero emissions once the plants are installed. The higher the price of coal, the more “iotas” of emissions reduction.

But how clean is n coal?

The Newcastle thermal benchmark is typically cleaner than Indian domestic coal. The energy content per tonne of the former is 6000 kilocalories per tonne, with a 12-14 ash content, Mr Buckley notes. By contrast, the Indian variety typically generates 4400 kcal with a 20-45 ash content.

However, the big Galilee coal province – which a focus of much of the opposition in to new coal mines – has a relatively poor quality.

According to details released to Mr Buckley by Adani, the proposed developer of the giant Carmichael mine earmarked to supply India, the average energy content will be 4950 kcal, with a 25-30 per cent ash content.

Once the coal has been dug up and carted hundreds of kilometres to the coast and shipped thousands more to India, the Carmichael coal will struggle to be cleaner than whatever it displaced.

People talk about different forms of energy and often, and some people talk about it in an ideological way, as though one type of coal is better or worse than wind which is better or worse than solar which is better or worse than nuclear power.

These are all things. They don’t have any moral characteristics. They are things. They have certain physical characteristics and financial characteristics.

One this point, Mr Turnbull is closer to the mark, although his comments do contradict his own Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg, who argued earlier this month  had a “strong moral case” to proceed with the $16 billion Carmichael mine.

Mr Frydenberg’s argument is that the coal would help ease the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of Indians by lowering the cost of electricity to a point where more of them could afford to join the grid for the first time.

If morality were the driver for such a worthwhile goal, then why not take a smaller profit to start with by lowering the coal price? Or perhaps donate our royalties to ensure more poor people could enjoy our coal (rather than slashing our aid budgets)?

But back to Mr Turnbull. Does every thing really have a value solely for its “physical and financial characteristics”?

Does it matter whether we exclude the cost of burning fossil fuels from its price, given the impact we know the greenhouse gas will have on global warming?

We know from Mr Turnbull’s turbulent time as Opposition Leader that he used to think a carbon price was a good thing. (The US government has made this stab at estimating the social cost of a tonne of CO2.)

Does it matter that those most likely to bear the brunt of the impacts of the more extreme weather we can count on from climate change are the very people whom we purport to be so concerned about when it comes to “energy poverty”?

Finally, what price, say, does a species made extinct by our actions have, or perhaps that is an “ideological” question.

Hugh Bowman hopes his good fortune rolls again in the Victoria Derby

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Ready for the Derby: Hugh Bowman is hoping Shards will continue his great run in the Victorian Derby. Photo: Bradleyphotos杭州龙凤论坛m.auWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all RacingFollow our Derby Day tips to find a winner
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There is a  healthy dose of serendipity when it comes to the Victoria Derby for Hugh Bowman.

He has won the blue ribbon  three times and two have been like his ride this year, Shards, late pick-ups.  “It has been a lucky race for me,” said Bowman, who has won Derbies on Sangster, Lion Tamer and Polanski in the past five years.

“Lion Tamer is the only one I would say I was riding a long way out. I rode him in Sydney first-up and then I missed a couple of runs on him and was back on in the Vase when was a good second,” Bowman remembered.

“Then a week later he came out and scored a huge win on a very wet day. Sangster I was lucky to pick up when they were looking for another jockey after [the] Caulfield Classic. It was the same with Polanski, I picked him up because his jockey was suspended for the Caulfield Classic. I managed to win it on him and retained the ride for the Derby.”

So getting the call up from Godolphin on Sunday morning to ride for them doesn’t faze Bowman. Either does the fact that he was shifted from Etymology to Shards after retained  jockey James McDonald changed his mind on what he wanted to ride in the Derby.

There is not a better jockey in the country than Bowman at the moment and he is riding on a high after winning four of the past five group 1s he has ridden in, including the Cox Plate on Winx.

Bowman is one of the best judges of a staying race in the land as  his Derby record shows. He feels there are similarities in Shards’ Vase second to the effort of Lion Tamer in the same race.

“I take confidence that he ran very well in the Vase last week. My horse ran second and is double figures and the $2.40 favourite for the Derby [Tarzino] ran third,” Bowman said.

“Look, Lion Tamer ran a very similar race to what Shards did in the Vase. I’m not anticipating that he will come out and do what Lion Tamer did but he is a live chance going into the race.”

Tarzino has been the punters’ elect since an impressive win at Caulfield in September and his runs in the Caulfield Guineas and Vase have caught the eye. He looks like 2500 metres will suit but the draw of 10 has to be of concern because of his lack of tactical speed.

Blake Shinn, who rides Lizard Island, made the point that because of the nature of the Derby, where horses don’t stay and drop out, those back in the field often have run their race before they get to the business end.

“I have watched a few Derbies on preparing for the race and horses like Complacent and Criterion got back and gave up too much ground to the leaders,” Shinn said. “They are great horses but they had to make runs that were too long.

“I think you need to be in the first half of the field and my bloke [Lizard Island] is going to be from the good draw.”

Lizard Island was runner-up in the Caulfield Guineas and Caulfield Classic, which would usually entitle him to a single-figure quote but he is $13 at Crownbet.

“I think people believe he is suspect at the trip but watching his last run in the Caulfield Classic over 2000m, I’m comfortable,” Shinn said. “I thought he was fairly strong at the end of 2000m after doing some work and he is going to get the gun run from the barrier on Saturday.”

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Dear Nauru: Why Chinan journalists will keep asking you questions

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n journalists keep asking questions, trying to find out the truth of life on the island. Photo: Angela Wylie Asylum seekers during recreational time at Nauru detention centre. Photo: Angela Wylie
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Nauru President Baron Waqa Photo: Michelle Smith

We don’t need to answer your questions: Nauru

Dear government of Nauru,

Thanks for your note on Wednesday. I wanted to reply by sending a friend request on Facebook, but, well, you banned it in your country.

That’s one sure way to stifle any domestic dissent. But your other strongarm tactics have been inspired. Suspending the opposition from Parliament without pay – genius! Revoking visas and deporting the judiciary – bravo!

And then stripping the pensions from citizens who dared to participate in a protest this year at the Parliament, which you called a riot, even though they have not been convicted of a crime. Way to exert control.

Oh, but there I go again, just another n journalist displaying what you dismiss as “great arrogance and an air of racial superiority”. Pesky questions and all.

But here’s the thing. I was on Nauru in 2013, and I still have my blue “Nauru sport fishing” hat. It was just a few months before you slapped an $8000 price tag on a visa application for a media visit (that’s for the application, remember, not necessarily an approved travel document).

I went to report on the aftermath of an undisputed riot, one that levelled the detention “camp” – President Baron Waqa’s word when I interviewed him beforehand.

That riot was started by the asylum seekers that you – and your predecessors, remember, those opposition MPs? – had agreed to host on behalf of .

And I reported the distress of the Nauru people, their fear at events potentially spiralling out of control and what might happen to their kids. And I heard the resentment of people who believed the asylum seekers “had it all good and they burnt it down”.

But I was also there when you began censoring the local television, to stop the opposition from questioning your deal with a desperate Labor government in to resettle people found to be refugees. Questions like are they to live in Nauru permanently, or not quite? Will these refugees be given passports to travel off the island and return with supplies, as many local like to do?

Then followed your refusal to allow United Nations officials to visit, the selective lock-out of foreign media (no ABC, no al-Jazeera), the shrill allegations against the opposition MPs before they have been convicted of any crimes, and complaints they have spoken critically of you to people like me in the international media.

And how about those rude Kiwis, huh? Scrapping aid to you over concerns about meddling with the judiciary. Outrageous.

Yes, there are all the claims, and counter-claims, about the treatment of refugees. If journalists were allowed on the island, you say, “refugees who are now living peacefully would – under the direction of n based advocates – start to protest and riot for the cameras”.

But that didn’t happen when you finally allowed The n to visit last week, and good on you for testing this out.

What little trouble I had on the island two years ago was with overly-zealous n officials, and never with Nauru’s. Locals warned me of “Naurumours”, and there is no doubt these stories get around.

The key reason n journalists keep asking you questions, trying to find out the truth of life on the island, is the n government is paying you to be a deterrent for asylum seeker boats.

And like any country, I found many contrasting views in my week on Nauru. Ain’t democracy a tremendous thing? (So look forward to watching your elections in June. Reckon opposition will be in jail by then?)

So before you next summarily declare someone a “prohibited immigrant” and deport them from the island, or take aim at “biased international media”, keep calm.

You are indeed a “sovereign” country, as you declare, and that is precisely why wants to keep you on side.

Oh, and don’t forget to friend me.

Daniel

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