If we sum up the major events during 2009 that fall within Project SafeCom's areas of interest, then a number of highly significant issues emerge to compete for frontline attention.
First, there is the Copenhagen Climate Summit at the end of the year where virtually every nation on earth was represented.
That was brilliant - but spectacular failure to reach clear target agreements became one of the main outcomes, even while there were smaller but significant agreements like the pact to not allow global warming to exceed two degrees.
Then there was the report of the Coroner's inquest into the cruel road transport death of Warburton Elder Mr Ward, who died in searing heat in the back of a police van in the West Australian desert. Every time we are reminded of that death, a death which should have been prevented, we should - and indeed do - shake with horror, and wonder how this could happen in a society where we can perform sheer miracles in many areas of technology, medical science and life.
Later in the year, Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a phone call to the Indonesian president to ask for help in intercepting boats with asylum seekers. It appears that the only pay-off of that phone call was the extarordinary debacle of the Oceanic Viking as well as the stand-ff of the Jaya Lestari 5, the vessel with 250 Sri Lankan asylum seekers on board, stranded since October 2009 in the Merak harbour. Both vessels have become the 2009 central theme around Australia's avoidance of its obligations to the United Nations Refugee Convention under international law, and they became glaringly visible to the Indonesian authorities during the last months of the year.
Finally, we should stand still for a moment by the death of Mr Andrew Moore, cruelly deported - while any sensible and truly independent advice would have condemned such deportation - to London by the Immigration Department, a city which he did not know, only to be found dead two days later.
Below are all pages added to the website during the calendar year 2009, followed by our 2009 press releases.
28 December 2009: Some are lucky, but we killed Andrew Moore - "Accepting the legitimacy of section 501 elevates the formalities of citizenship above all other factors used to justify punishment by the state, it undermines the principles of rehabilitation and reintegration, and enforces permanent separation from social and family networks beyond any measure contemplated by the sentencing court."
8 November 2009: Kevin Rudd, stuck and becalmed in Merak - Australia's Prime Minister dreams of an Indonesian Solution that fails within a week. Rudd may have made 'that phone call' to President Bambang Yudhoyono, promising even more funding 'to stop the boats' before they would arrive in Australian waters, but he had not counted on local resistance and to fury from Australia and the rest of the world..
6 November 2009: John Pilger: Breaking the Australian Silence - In Pilger's 2009 Sydney Peace Prize acceptance speech he describes the "unique features" of a political silence in Australia, and how these affect the national life of his homeland and the way Australians are manipulated by great power against our own first people and those seeking refuge...
21 September 2009: Seeking asylum: Non-protection horrors in Indonesia - An expose of media debate and coverage of the rapidly detoriorating warehousing situation in Indonesia, sponsored by the Rudd government - where the International Organisation for Migration, UNHCR Jakarta and the Australian and Indonesian government all 'assist' to wreck the lives of thousands who seek protection and a better life in Australia.
2 September 2009: In 2009, it's getting crowded on Christmas Island - Slowly Christmas Island is filling up with refugees - but in August 2009 it seemed that senior and high-profile advocates all flocked to the place. Human Rights Consultation Chief Frank Brennan, Psychiatrist Louise Newman, and Sydney Morning Herald Journalist David Marr all looked in on the bizarre scenery.
24 August 2009: Reaching Australia: Iraqi asylum seekers in transit in SE Asia - This paper considers the relationship between asylum seekers and people smugglers, based primarily on interviews with Iraqis settled in Australia and Iraqis stranded in Indonesia since 2001. The study is responsive to recognition within forced migration research of the importance of giving voice to the main agents - refugees and asylum seekers - as part of the research process.
23 August 2009: Growing Christmas Island Troubles - It started all so subtle, and immediately after the November 2007 Federal election. But while the Inquiry into Detention condemned the caged walkways, perspex barriers and electrified fencing, how disappointing was the reply to the report by the Immigration Minister, who almost wholeheartedly dismissed the bipartisan recommendations.
17 August 2009: Iranians on a journey fraught with dangers - A page with a message via friends from someone in Iran, who was worried about two Iranian families who had to run away from Iranian authorities after becoming associated with the Bahai'i faith. A friend's cousin and family are on the run, and he asked us to help publish the summary of their story and some photos.
14 July 2009: Chris Evans tables Immigration Reform Laws - "This Bill makes provision for suitably risk-assessed persons in immigration detention to be given some effective control and personal responsibility for their own circumstances ... for persons in immigration detention to attend an educational facility to undertake a course, to visit a doctor unescorted, or attend a wedding or funeral of a close friend or relative..."
26 June 2009: The 2009 Detention Debt Bill Atonement speeches - Four Liberal backbenchers dissent with their Opposition party and speak out about the Government's Migration Amendment Bill 2009. Liberal Petro Georgiou was close to tears as he argued for the "dehumanising" charges to be dropped, and Russell Broadbent stated in his speech: 'God forgive me that I was part of the parliament that did that, which caused so much distress to so many families over such a long period of time.'
18 June 2009: Christine Milne: The climate nightmare is upon us - Greens Environment spokesperson Christine Milne's June 2009 address at the Press Club: "It is not a lack of climate science that holds back action. It is how we respond to the challenge that the science poses, and that is deeply cultural. It is the values that we bring to bear, what we think is good for us, our religious underpinnings, our view of power and opportunity, of what is possible in the world and Australia's place in it. All these value judgements stop us from embracing change."
16 June 2009: Elder Mr Ward: Coroner delivers damning findings - West Australian Coroner Alastair Hope delivers his damning report on the death of Indigenous Elder Mr Ward. This page brings together some resources, links, documentation and media items around the release by the WA Coroner of his Inquiry Report into Mr Ward's death on 12 June 2009.
2 June 2009: Mohammed and Juliet: A Modern Tragedy - Finally, here's the full 2003 text transcript of SBS reporter Sophie McNeill's Award-winning documentary, as screened on SBS Insight Television on 8 May, 2003. The transcript was posted to this website because its original version has been deleted from the SBS website.
18 May 2009: Kevin Rudd's vile band of people smugglers - Kevin Rudd, with his media remarks, had escalated the issue of people smuggling, and remarkably, a crack appeared in their vileness. For the first time in Australian history, media opinion started to turn against his line, and reporters and opinion writers started to open the issue and, almost unaware of it, started to 'humanise' people smugglers. Thank you, Prime Minister!
10 April 2009: Privatising human rights abuses with Serco Australia? - Given its history where its 'jailed clients' abused or died in custody, UK jail contractor Serco is not an organisation that should have been chosen to jail Australia's refugees. But that's what seems to happen: the Immigration Minister announced in April 2009 that this company's Australian subsidiary Serco Australia is his preferred tenderer to run Australia's Immigration centres...
5 April 2009: Addicted to Growth: the Economy's Road to Perdition - "The wheels have fallen off the wagon, but the world's politicians are fiercely divided between those who feed the monster billions of dollars at a scoopful in hope that it recovers, and those who think that it's just the wheel bearings that have run hot. Both of the groups are prisoners of the paradigm or their own making that has kept them elected: promising growth, better welfare, more jobs and better services."
28 March 2009: Earth Hour: Shhhh, we're in the dark in Australia ... - Can a website participate in Earth Hour? Well, at Project SafeCom we say 'Yes We Can'. If you see this page when you visit safecom.org.au, Earth Hour has arrived, and none of the more than 1,000 pages can be accessed: all of them point to this page.
21 March 2009: Cleansing out the Internet you would never see - "[Communications Minister Stephen] Conroy's filter proposal represents the greatest assault on free speech and an open society in the country's history. By its very nature, it is categorical and self-concealing, far beyond the sleazy and capricious 'sedition' laws of the Howard government."
20 March 2009: The Inquest into Mr Ward's death - The damning indictments against Global Solutions Ltd, the company Australia uses to lock up refugees and detainees in immigration detention, the same company that has a contract for prisoner transportation in Western Australia, grew rapidly as the Inquest into Mr Ward's death progressed. This page brings together the media reportage about the inquest.
17 March 2009: Thanks for everything, Jean Oates and Nancy Cooper! - A page that remembers two fiercely devoted advocates who left us: As dedicated as Jean was, was Nancy Cooper, who acted as the secretary of the Whyalla RAR group, and who together with Jean and many others, carried a deep commitment to visiting all "their friends" in the Woomera and Baxter detention centres, and who wrote and wrote and wrote to their politicians in an effort to change the policies and politics in Canberra during the Howard years.
14 March 2009: What if no one had spoken out against this policy? - 'The Rise of Asylum Seeker and Refugee Advocacy in Australia'. By Diane Gosden, "...this paper examines the rise of an asylum seeker and refugee advocacy movement in Australia in recent years. A harsh onshore refugee policy with mandatory detention has existed for more than a decade, and had been contested by small numbers of concerned individuals and core refugee, human rights, professional and church groups."
9 March 2009: Kevin Rudd's The Monthly Essay: The Global Financial Crisis - Kevin Rudd established himself in 2006 as a philosopher and thinker on social issues with an article about John Howard's views on the economy with the essay "Howard's Brutopia". For a second time, also in the respected magazine The Monthly, Rudd wrote about Politics and Religion, and about his respect for Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theology - just a month later. This is his third contribution, of February 2009.
3 March 2009: The jailing of Daniel Snedden: an Australian gets jailed for years, without charges - "Any Australian can lose his liberty, be put in custody along with other criminals, can be removed from this country for however long it takes in another country that the government has accepted as an extradition country and it is said that that is not punishment and he never has an opportunity for a judicial officer of this nation to have a look, even on the papers, as to whether or not..."
::: E-ACTION ALERT ::: March 2009: Time for Climate change action: Tell Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong! - Kevin Rudd's 5% reduction targets are not enough, Australia's worst polluters should stop getting obscene subsidies from Australian taxpayers, and it's high time to tell the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Climate change Minister Penny Wong, and Peter Garrett MP, that we need some "real" climate change policies!
26 February 2009: Australia's Climate Action Summit: Time for Climate change action - Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong avoid the issues, while thousands of people respond by 'Encircling The Parliament' ... The Rudd government's climate change policies, strategies and carbon reduction targets may well have been announced with much fanfare, but most of the announcements have amounted to a big sell-out to the polluters and they seem to pander to ....
22 February 2009: The Hazaras of Afghanistan - Some say they descended from the Moguls and from Ghengis Khan. Others argue that they were the ruling group in Afghanistan before the British came, who ordered the undermining of these rulers, starting the continuous period of oppression. Here's a documentary by the BBC about the Hazaras, now the most trampled group in the country - and amongst those who still need protection under the UN Refugee Convention.
20 February 2009: Australia takes its sun for granted - How Australia ignores its abundant sun and its energy contribution to a post-carbon society. An investigation into the Australian government's avoidance to use its main asset, the sun, and how it could power much, if not all of Australia's energy needs. Australia is not just avoiding its role in building a post-carbon economy, but more disturbingly, that it keeps itself beholden to the lobbying powers of the polluting industries that use coal as its core energy source.
19 February 2009: Black Saturday 2009: Reflections after the Victorian Fires - "It's possible some people may feel upset by the link being made in the media here and overseas between bushfires and climate change. I understand that people are shocked with grief. But there are many things we can and must learn from this tragedy, and one of them is this: The climate has changed. Our 5 per cent by 2020 carbon pollution reduction target is no longer politically viable. We are facing a climate emergency and [are] running out of time."
19 February 2009: A Possie in Aussie: Nayano Taylor-Neumann's response to Tampa - Since Tampa 2001, thousands of ordinary Australians stood up and baulked at the treatment of 'unannounced and boat-faring' arrivals on our shore. This page is the story of one of those advocates and activists: Nayano Taylor-Neumann from South Australia. She became a worker at a settlement program, a Blogger and a PhD student. And she became one of Project SafeCom's supporters and members.
7 February 2009: Linda Briskman at Project SafeCom's 2008 AGM - "Organisations like Project SafeCom are not out to win the popularity stakes with government; like other organisations the emphasis is on bringing about an inclusive society where human rights are not violated and where human rights tenets are to the forefront of our thinking."
25 January 2009: President Barack Obama's Inauguration Speech - Barack Obama, America's 44th president, was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 as the first Afro-American president in US history. Here's his historic inauguration speech, both as a video and in the full transcript, followed by an excerpt of Guy Rundle's latest book 'Down to the Crossroads'.
::: E-ACTION ALERT ::: January 2009: Gaza Petition: Letter to Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith - 18 Israelis were killed as a result of Hamas rockets in the last eight years, yet in the last few weeks the Israeli army has killed almost 900 people in the Gaza area, amongst them at least a hundred women and more than 230 children. Australia should have a firm and unwaivering commitment upholding democracy, international law and human rights. This commitment includes the capacity to be 'frank and fearless', also to those countries that show destructive and aggressive behaviour.
11 January 2009: Rudd government opens John Howard's Gulag - The horrendous centre suddenly had to be opened. In early December 2008, just before the Immigration Minister Chris Evans was due to retire on his Christmas holidays, there was talk in the immigration department, duly 'leaked' to the media, that "another seventy" arrivals should be expected soon, and a week after this information became public, just before Christmas, it was announced that the 800-bed Gulag was open for business.
9 January 2009: Broadcasting our news alerts - In August 2002 we sent our first and eleborate News alert, followed by another one in November that year. We repeated the initiative when country-wide outrage erupted as a result of the Anti-terrorism Bill 2005. From 2009, after the creation of our new database platform by David Coulter, we've started to use the pure HTML News alerts again to broadcast our news and progress periodically.
8 January 2009: Climate Troubles: the condemnation of Australia's Climate targets - The Rudd government's 'softly-softly' 5% targets have been roundly condemned by NGO's, climate scientists - and also by Ross Garnaut, Australia's climate change consultant, who was commissioned to write the papers, and now the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor James Hansen, has written an open letter to Barack Obama about Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong's targets.
Media Releases 2009
|7 December 2009||Sri Lankan refugee boat shoot-to-kill linked to Kevin Rudd/Stephen Smith lobbying|
|25 November 2009||Mandatory jailing for Indonesian 'smugglers ferrymen' fills jails but serves no purpose|
|19 November 2009||Kevin Rudd should face Senate Inquiry over asylum issues and Oceanic Viking handling|
|15 November 2009||Kevin Rudd is to blame for Indonesians opening fire on asylum seekers|
|9 November 2009||Polls show Australians know nothing about protection obligations|
|3 November 2009||Indonesia Detention Report a grave indictment against UNHCR, IOM, Australia and Indonesia|
|1 November 2009||Oceanic Viking UNHCR refugees show up failure of Howard & Rudd's Indonesian warehousing|
|29 October 2009||Australia's violence vs Indonesia's decency soon on show?|
|24 October 2009||Hungerstrike aboard: Rudd's Indonesian Solution already a flop|
|21 October 2009||Rudd Alert to Yudhoyono: Catch Our Rabbits and We'll Pay you Rich|
|15 October 2009||PM should show some guts and fly the 260 Sri Lankans to Australia|
|6 July 2009||Rudd and Turnbull both miss the boat with Malaysian people smuggling spin|
|1 July 2009||Rudd Govt no-privatisation backflip complete with $370 million Serco detention contract|
|20 June 2009||2009 World Refugee Day: Christmas Island harbours more secrets than Woomera and Baxter|
|3 June 2009||Sharman Stone and Turnbull should remember the Dachau gas chambers|
|6 May 2009||Chris Evans should end 'Christmas island community jailing' after health and ID checks|
|28 April 2009||(website) UK Children's Commissioner releases damning report on Australia's preferred detention services tenderer|
|20 April 2009||Should Oskar Schindler 'rot in hell' too, Prime Minister?|
|17 April 2009||Boat incident: Govt Medical and Rescue shines against 'A political Heart of Stone'|
|10 April 2009||Rau family slams proposed new refugee jailing contractors|
|8 April 2009||Border protection nonsense does not exist if you're a refugee on the run|
|2 April 2009||Human rights abuser becomes Chris Evans' preferred tenderer to run detention centres|
|31 March 2009||Aboriginal Custody Death: 'Furious' and considerable turnout expected at 'civil descent' on WA A-G's Office|
|20 March 2009||Immigration and Customs should now clean up all Australian debts from customs computer records|
|15 March 2009||Bob Debus needs some "people smuggling" training|
|6 March 2009||Manipulative Howard left-overs: 'People Movers' and broke fishermen are not 'People Smugglers'|
|9 February 2009||Deep grief and distress over fires needs to transform into climate change disaster intensification deliberations|
|16 January 2009||Australian government needs to shoulder blame for asylum drownings|
|8 January 2009||West Australian Daily sets national tone on 'Illegals Tag'|