Thursday 2 September 2010

A United Nations comittee has critized Australia's handling of indigenous Issues

The United Nations has criticized Australia for its treatment of indigenous Australians and for not enshrining indigenous rights in its constitution.

UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION, AUSTRALIA ABC - The United Nations human rights panel has rebuked Australia over its treatment of aboriginals.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) released the observation on Friday (August 27) after the conclusion of it's 77th session.

The report said "the Committee's concerns regarding Australia mostly centred on the status and treatment of indigenous peoples in the country," and noted "the slow implementation of the principle of indigenous peoples' exercising meaningful control over their affairs."

In 2007 the Howard Government suspended the racial discrimination act to be able to intervene in remote Aboriginal communities. The act was re-instated in June 2010 by the Rudd government.

At a national forum in Brisbane on Saturday (August 28) the suspension of the racial discrimination act was discussed.

"I don't know if Australia wants to be that sort of country, that sort of creates laws to protect people, then suspends it and I think it's great that the United Nations picked up on that and has made comment," said Australian human rights commissioner Mick Gooda.

Bill Grant of the Law Council of Australia said the whole issue needs to be re-examined.

The committee also "reiterated its concern about the disproportionate incarceration rates and the persisting problems leading to deaths in custody of a considerable number of Indigenous Australians over the years."

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Migrants stalked by fear en route to US

Hundreds of migrants board trains for northern Mexico as they attempt to make their way to the United States, stalked by fear in wake of last week's ranch massacre.

IXTEPEC, OAXACA, MEXICO (AUGUST 31, 2010) REUTERS - In a heavy rain storm, a cargo train pulls into the city of Ixtepec, Oaxaca, carrying hundreds of poor migrants from Central America.
The 300 or so migrants aboard this train have travelled for more than 11 hours from the city of Arriaga in the southern state of Chiapas as stowaways, and once in Oaxaca, their objective is to jump on another locomotive that will carry them north to the U.S. border.

Tens of thousands of Central Americans make this long trek north through Mexico each year on their way to cross the U.S. border illegally as they search for a better life.

They don't just face an arduous journey - they are also risking the wrath of Mexico's violent drug gangs.

The drug gangs are increasingly kidnapping illegal migrants for ransom and forcing them to carry narcotics into the United States as they muscle into the lucrative trade of smuggling people across the border.

The dangers faced by these vulnerable people were highlighted by last week's massacre of 72 migrants at a ranch in northern Mexico, whose blood-spattered bodies were found blindfolded with their hands tied and riddled with bullets.

In a typical scenario, traffickers armed with automatic weapons snatch weary migrants and hold them in cramped houses with little water or food until families pay ransoms of up to $12,000, officials say.

The Mexican army and U.S. border officials say that those who cannot pay are killed, stripped and dumped in shallow graves in remote stretches of the desert frontier.

Thousands are still prepared to make the journey in spite of the risks.

"One takes more risks but has more probabilities to survive. Salaries in my country are low and I can't continue supporting my family any longer," said Guatemalan migrant, Jacobo Coronado.

Jose Alberto Rodriguez, who runs the "Migrantes en el Camino" (Migrants on the road) shelter in Ixtepec, said that when migrants are targetted by gangs, they normally confiscate and destroy their documents so that they cannot be identified.

"The fact is they found them (migrants). Many remain disappeared. The migrant who managed to escape, who was injured, managed to inform authorities. There are many cases where migrants are killed, they are cut into pieces, they throw petrol on their bodies and are set on fire to erase all evidence," he said.

An Honduran migrant, Mario Eduardo Tercero, said a heavy police presence was needed to avoid further deaths.

"More support from the police. I think that if they pinpointed locations (where murders take place) they would prevent more deaths because sometimes they just patrol highways, they stay on the beaten track and it's rare to find a policeman on the road, one tends to find more murderers and rapists."

Despite the worst U.S. recession in decades, poor Latin Americans are still trying to cross illegally into the United States in search of higher wages than at home, walking for days through hot desert or swimming the Rio Grande.

Powerful drug cartels began taking over the trafficking of undocumented migrants into the United States at the start of the decade, seeking to make even bigger profits along their trafficking routes and pushing out small-time smugglers.

As rival gangs wage a lethal war over drug routes into the United States, cartels are kidnapping each others' immigrants or turning on their own clients, using them to smuggle drugs.

The cartels' diversification into migrant trafficking poses another challenge to President Felipe Calderon as he fights a war that has killed more than 28,000 people since he took office in late 2006.

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Attack on muslim taxi-driver an isolated incident say fellow drivers amid controversy over a planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero

Taxi drivers in New York interviewed by Reuters say the attack on a fellow muslim driver was an isolated incident, although it does worry them. The attack comes amid angry protests over a planned Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (RECENT - AUGUST 26, 2010) REUTERS - Amidst controversy over a proposed mosque at Ground Zero, many taxi drivers in New York say an attack on a fellow-muslim driver was an isolated incident, although they say it does make them more fearful.
43-year old Ahmed Sharif, a Bangladeshi immigrant, said he was stabbed by a passenger who asked him if he was Muslim and celebrated Ramadan. Sharif described at a news conference on Thursday (August 26) how the passenger slashed his neck, face, and shoulders.

"The knife was in front of my throat, when I go little bit back this came right over there. If this one if can put it here (pointing to his throat) I'm not supposed to be talk right now, I'm dead," said Sharif.

Sharif said he thought he was attacked because of his religion, but did not know if it was provoked by the angry opposition to a planned Islamic cultural centre and mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero, the site of the attack on September 11, 2001 on the Twin Towers. Sharif said he did not talk about the mosque with his attacker.

Since news of the planned Islamic centre was unveiled earlier this summer there have been several angry protests near Ground Zero.

U.S. President Barack Obama and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg have said they support the right of Muslims to build the centre, though the majority of New Yorkers oppose it. Polls have also found at least 60 percent of Americans are against building the centre about two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks that demolished the World Trade Centre and killed nearly 3,000 people.

"If they are so dead set on putting it here, there has to be a reason why it has to go here. If it's not about 9/11, then it wouldn't have to go here, it would go anywhere. This is a big beautiful city with lots of space, so why should it have to go here? It is like a slap in the face to the victims and their families," Dante Walls said to Reuters near the site.

Ken Sylman added, "It's an issue of where it will be, because of what has happened here, back then at that time. If there is any other place, but why here? And another thing is, the plans for it, when it goes up, it looks really lavish, really expensive. Where is that money coming from to build it? It's a silent answer to that, so I have my doubts about why here."

A man who would not give his name said, "No I don't like the idea. I don't think it should be built over there because of what happened over there, because I was down here when it happened, and we lost a lot of people."

New York is home to about 800,000 Muslims, around 10 percent of the city's population. About half of the city's cab drivers are Muslim, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

"For sure, I am afraid now, but it's an individual action I think, maybe this guy was sick, I don't know, but this does not usually happen, you know, but I am a little bit afraid," said taxi driver Mohamad Attia, who recently moved to New York from Egypt, when asked about the attack on his fellow driver.

"It's very unnecessary that thing happened. It is a very civilized society. I've been driving almost 20 years, never happened to me like that, maybe some individual have a personal problem. You don't see that too often and thank God it never happen like that," added Mohammad Raz.

Another driver said he couldn't understand the opposition to the proposed mosque.

"We have a lot of Muslims near Ground Zero, I go and pray there all the time. Last night I prayed there, nobody make a problem with that, so why they make a problem for this one?" asked Abboulaye Camara, a taxi driver and Muslim from Senegal.

When asked what he would do if a passenger asked if he was Muslim, taxi driver and Bangladeshi immigrant Matin Chowdhury said, "Right now, I would not even answer that. I try to find a safe place and drop him off, I think. I don't want this conversation, and I'd be more alert, to save myself."

Sharif's accused attacker, 21-year-old Michael Enright, is being held without bail on assault, attempted murder, and hate-crime charges.