Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Tram In Sarajevo

The trams in Sarajevo is one of the oldest networks in Europe, as it was actually Vienna's test line! Part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was first opened in 1885, and they were horse-drawn.

Now they are quaint, old and rattly, but do the job with character.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Help Make The World A Little Better: Wrap Of Reads And Links

Since Nauru, I have been actively involved in advocacy in many ways. I am also working within the asylum seeker sector again, which means keeping up to date with policy, current issues and changes, and being aware of stories, conflicts and their impacts.

So I want to start sharing some of that reading, and knowledge. To help you, my readers, be more informed. To be aware of some of the issues, the current situation for the many people war, conflict and persecution impacts, both here in Australia and around the world.

So here is a snapshot of some things you can read, watch and do to stay informed, and help make the world a little better.


The world media has been awash with the situation in Syria, and the impact the ongoing war there has on the flow of people seeking safety in Europe. But can you name the place where more people have been killed this year in conflict?
It's Yemen, where Saudi bombings are happening every day, for the past 200 days.

You can read the 200 Days Of War in Yemen, by UN Dispatch
the statistics that Explosions Hurt More Civilians In Yemen Than In Syria This Year.

Yemen is the place of safety and refuge for many asylum seekers and refugees from parts of Africa like Somalia, and so targeting them causes more stress and turmoil for these people.


Watch this pretty amazing video on Human Rights, by Rights Info:


To your MPs!
Julian Burnside has shared these tips about keeping it short, and with a question, to gain a response and create some dialogue and thought.
Aussies writing to their Labor MP is particularly important between now and November 10, when the party is set to debate it's stance on offshore detention. So let them know what you think!


A Welcome To Australia walk next weekend, October 31, all around Australia. Details of gathering events can be found here, on the Facebook page.


The old bike that you no longer use, and is collecting dust, to the Australian Red Cross bike program - they will tinker with it to run like new, and provide it to an asylum seeker in the community in need. This gift of a bike may help a young person get to school every day, or to let someone ride to a potential new job for a new start at life. This makes a huge positive impact on people's lives!


Any spare change you can to the fund to support asylum seekers in the Australian community have access to legal assistance for their refugee claim process. Access to funded assistance has been cut, and so organisations who are helping in this most crucial process are doing so on the smell of an oily rag, and donations!

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre legal support and Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre (RILC) both here in Melbourne, servicing Victoria
RACS (Refugees Advice and Casework Service) in Sydney

Know of anything else? Share it in a comment below!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Exploring The Cobbled Streets Of Kotor

Kotor is the biggest village around the Bay of Kotor, but still the size of a village, really. It's grand entrance is moat and castle-like, as the Sea Gate was built when the area was under Venetian rule, and paints an initial impression that quickly vanishes from your mind once through the tunneled gateway.

After that first royal-like structure, the stature of the village is quite small, filled with streets of stores, cafes, squares and churches. The tallest points of the village are the church bells and domes, for which there are many.

The streets fill with cruise passengers when the daily ship arrives at port, but once they clear back out to their next stop, it's peace and quiet again.

Little squares to linger in, an unbelievable amount of churches to take in in awe, and a maze of little streets with regular village life going on around you.

Working our way through the streets, we eventually found the very far back street where the city walls began, ready for the climb up for a view across the town and Bay.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Twilight In Sarajevo Old Town

The old town of Sarajevo has charm and history, beauty and a diversity of architecture. An old feeling of a city with many stories to tell.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

How Did We Get Here, Australia? The Lasting Impact Of Politicising Tampa And SIEV X

It's 14 years this weekend since the sailing and subsequent discovery of the tragedy of the "SIEV X". This August it was the same anniversary of the Tampa affair. Both these events involving the boat journey of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia for protection have had profound effects on Australia's immigration policies and treatment of asylum seekers, and refugees.

The story of the Tampa affair is stepped out via these photos of the amazing Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children Ballarat, on their Spring Stroll last month.  Each card held by a grandmother sets out the main points.

The SIEV X - or so called 'Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X' as the Australian government of the day labelled it - was a boat that set off from a tiny fishing village in Indonesia with 421 passengers aboard. Overcrowded and unseaworthy, the boat sunk.

353 people are thought to have died in the water, including 146 children. These were reportedly families attempting to join other family members who had already made the journey to Australia. 45 people from the boat were rescued, and returned to Indonesia.

Evidence suggests that Australia knew the boat was there, in trouble, and did nothing to help the people on board.

You can read a full chronology of the SIEV X here.

These two on-water events happened amid an Australian election. John Howard used the Tampa story in his campaign, and whipped the media into a frenzy about 'boat people'. He then used another SEIV in the same October as his example of "children overboard", which was received by the boarder Australian community, but proved to be lies in later Senate Inquiry evidence.

Howard's solution for Tampa was the birth of the Pacific Solution, and the first use of the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru as a "processing centre", in a deal agreed on on September 10 2001.

The date before the Western world changed it's view of Muslims, and developed a never-before-seen awareness of terror and terrorism, as 9/11 in New York City happened. The climate for foreigners in Western nations, including Australia, changed.

Julian Burnside QC paints the impact of this world event, the treatment of the Tampa, and subsequent Australian fear-mongering about asylum seekers coming by boat in many speeches, as it was his full introduction to the refugee policy of Australia. You can read a transcript of his Hamer Oration here, delivered just last month.

The Howard government in full election campaign mode used this post-9/11 attacks fear to whip up further a public fear of 'boat people', linking those on the Tampa. Because there were Muslims onboard the Tampa. The old White Australia rhetoric was powerful to the voting age at the time.

The Muslims on the Tampa were mostly Hazaras from Afghanistan, actually fleeing the Taliban. But that fact would never be mentioned in the press buzz of fear of the day.

Most of those on the Tampa were transferred to a camp Nauru, and held there until 2004 when the refugees in this group were finally brought to Australia and placed in the community under restricted temporary conditions.

The notion of "classified" information about events such as the SIEV X, and today's call of "On-Water Matters", draws obvious parrallels in Australia's current turn back policy.

Nauru has been closed, reopened, closed, and reopened to it's current status - many men, women and children have currently been held there, now as declared refugees, since October 2013. The end of the current chapter of this blight on Australia's human rights records, treatment of the world's asylum seekers and refugees, and enduring legacy of the Tampa is not yet closed.

Additional Links:
How Tampa Become A Turning Point - Amnesty International Australia

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