‘Was Donald Trump right?’: Turnbull questioned over death on Manus Island

Refugee advocates say the death of Iranian asylum seeker Hamed Shamshiripour on Manus Island was avoidable, and on Tuesday prime minister Malcolm Turnbull called it ‘regrettable’.

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“We all regret the death the honourable member referred to (of) the person detained in PNG,” Mr Turnbull said in question time.

Hamed Shamshiripour reportedly had a history of mental illness, and refugee advocates and other asylum seekers say they had been calling for extra support prior to his death.

It’s believed the 31-year-old had spent the last four years in detention.

Mr Turnbull told parliament: “We stand for the integrity of Australia’s borders.”

“We are not going to outsource our borders to people smugglers ever again.”

The prime minister was quizzed about Mr Shamshiripour’s death and Mr Trump’s praise of Australia’s tough border policies by Greens MP Adam Bandt.

“People’s lives have been broken in immigration detention and yesterday another asylum seeker died on Manus Island,” he put to the prime minister.

“Was Donald Trump right when he said that you are worse than he is?”

The question referenced the recently leaked transcript of Mr Turnbull and Mr Trump discussing a refugee swap deal in January.

A photograph of a protest at Manus Island in wake of the death of Hamed Shamshiripour. (Amir Taghinia on Twitter)Amir Taghinia Twitter

The prime minister assured the new president the US was not obliged to accept a single refugee, needing only to go through the vetting process for those held in detention to honour the bargain.

Greens senator Nick McKim also disrupted parliament on Tuesday to demand the immediate evacuation of all of those held in detention on Manus Island and Nauru.

“The overwhelming majority of people that Australia has detained on Manus Island and Nauru have been found to be genuine refugees, that is, they have a well-founded fear of persecution, which means they cannot, without being placed in danger, in some cases danger of death, arbitrary imprisonment and torture, be returned to their home countries,” Senator McKim said.

“There are now eight people who have died on Manus Island and Nauru whilst being Australia’s responsibility. They have effectively died at Australian hands.”

Dear Australian friends. Please tell to every other Australian to join and follow me because with solidarity we can be like an army .

— shahriar hatami (@Shahriarhatami1) August 8, 2017

Senator McKim read aloud the names of eight people who have died while in offshore detention since 2013, before pausing for a minute’s silence.

Cabinet minister Michaelia Cash labelled his move “way worse than disgusting”.

Iranian journalist and asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani on Manus Island accused the prime minister of being more concerned with politics than people.

“The PM is more concern with his political party than the Australian people. People are dying in Manus and Nauru in Australia’s name, (sic)” he wrote on Twitter.

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The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says it is gravely concerned by deteriorating conditions at the Manus Island regional processing centre as authorities shuffle detainees around ahead of its October closure.

“The UNHCR is deeply saddened by the tragic death of a young refugee yesterday, which also highlights the precarious situation for vulnerable people on Manus Island,” the agency said.

The day that we walked and sat silent.#ManusProtest #SOS #auspol #[email protected] do not let us die in PNG, let us live again pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/gucJqwaUAM

— Amir Taghinia (@TaghiniaAmir) August 8, 2017

The UN believes the looming closure of the processing centre, along with the withdrawal of medical care, torture and trauma support and security services, is exacerbating a highly stressful situation for those on the island.

The agency says many of the nearly 800 refugees on Manus Island fear for their safety outside the centre following violent incidents in recent years.

The UN insists critical services on Manus Island must continue, warning any further reduction of fundamental supports for refugees and asylum-seekers would add to the serious health and security risks of detainees.

Hamed Shamshiripour’s death is being investigated by PNG authorities.

The refugees in #Manus are calling for an independent investigation into Hamed’s death. The refugees argue that its suspicious.

— Behrouz Boochani (@BehrouzBoochani) August 8, 2017

Following news of the death on Monday, asylum seekers in immigration detention on Nauru posted images and video of a protest calling for the shutdown of offshore immigration centres. There has also been a vigil held on Manus Island.

A protest was held on Nauru calling to shutdown offshore detention centres following the death of a refugee. (@Shahriarhatami1 on Twitter)Twitter

On Tuesday afternoon Mr Boochani said on Twitter he was concerned about the well-being of another asylum seeker he said was “in critical condition” with “a fractured skull”.

He called for the man who was receiving treatment in hospital to be transferred to Australia.

The refugee in critical condition must be taken to Australia now. He has been vomiting blood for two days. Why wasn’t he sent urgently?

— Behrouz Boochani (@BehrouzBoochani) August 8, 2017

SBS World News has sought comment and further information from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection who are yet to confirm the claims. 

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467. MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

– With AAP 

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Anti-migrant boat stuck off Tunisia

“To all staff and (security) agents we say: do not let this racist ship soil Tunisia’s ports.

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Keep them out as our brothers in (the ports of) Zarzis and Sfax have already done,” the UGTT union said in Facebook post.

The UGTT, the Tunisian General Labour Union, is best known as a joint winner of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.

Any plans the C-Star had to dock at Zarzis in southeastern Tunisia on Sunday were scuppered when local fishermen warned they would block access to a refuelling channel.

Chartered by extremist group Generation Identity and crewed by activists from France, Germany and Italy, the C-Star’s declared aim is to disrupt the flow of migrant boats from north Africa to Europe.

They have dubbed their mission “Defend Europe” and say they want to expose what they see as a taxi service for illegal immigrants being operated by privately-funded boats helping to patrol waters off Libya.

Humanitarian organisations operating the rescue boats have branded Defend Europe a potentially dangerous stunt. Two of the NGO vessels were contacted by the C-Star when it passed through waters off Libya on Saturday.

“We start our operation off the Libyan coast and we advise you to leave the SAR (Search and Rescue) area because you’re acting as a pull factor for human traffickers, making them millions,” the crew was recorded as telling their counterparts on the Aquarius, a boat operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders.

“We will watch you and the days of your unwatched doings here are over.”

A similar, apparently intimidatory, message was delivered to the crew of the Golfo Azzurro, operated by Spain’s Pro-Active Open Arms, who responded by telling C-Star’s staff to stop using a radio channel reserved for emergency communications.

If the C-Star cannot dock in Tunisia it is unclear where else it could go.

Tentative plans to refuel in either Greece or Sicily on the way down to Libya were scuppered by opposition to their mission in both places.

The mission has been dogged by setbacks since the boat was chartered in Djibouti in mid-May with funds raised by crowd-funding. 

The boat was held up for a week in the Suez Canal by Egyptian authorities looking for weapons then delayed further in Cyprus, where some of the Sri Lankan crew got off and claimed refugee status, embarrassingly adding to the list of asylum-seekers the mission is supposed to help cut.

The mission did not respond to a request for comment from AFP.

‘Uncontrollable’ North Korea could unleash a nuclear war in next 18 months: analyst

The US, South Korea, China, Japan and Australia are trying to reach a peaceful solution with North Korea, according to Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Dr Malcolm Davis, but adds that diplomacy has little prospect of working.

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“We’ve tried since 1994 and North Korea has only accelerated its nuclear weapons and missile programs in return,” the senior analyst in defence strategy and capability tells SBS World News.

He says the country could launch a nuclear strike as early as next year.

“We have been rushed towards a precipice with a war in the next 12 to 18 months in the Korean peninsula, and I can’t see any way out of it.

“We’re going to continue placing pressure on North Korea to step back from the brink, but North Korea will probably not do that.” 

Pyongyang responded defiantly after being slapped on Saturday with UN sanctions drafted by the US for testing intercontinental ballistic missiles last month. 

The tests are the latest in a series conducted by North Korea this year, including a medium-range ballistic missile in April, a ballistic missile in May and four anti-ship missiles off its east coast in June.

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North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told an annual meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila on Monday that the country’s possession of missiles and nuclear weapons “is a legitimate option for self-defence in the face of clear and real nuclear threat posed by the US against the DPRK.”

In a recent statement in the official Korea Central News Agency, Pyongyang said the sanctions were a “violent violation of our sovereignty”, adding the US would “pay the price for its crime… thousands of times.”

Dr Davis says, “if we get to the point where North Korea is about to, or can, mount a nuclear warhead on an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] and demonstrate an operational nuclear-tipped ICBM capability… the US and its allies in Asia have some difficult decisions to make in not a great deal of time.”

Deterrence

One decision could be to ramp up deterrence measures against North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons, through threatening to retaliate against the regime.

This could see forward deployment of US tactical nuclear forces to the Korean Peninsula. It could also involve enhancing missile defence options.

Pre-emptive measures

The other option would be to consider preventative war or pre-emptive strikes, using conventional (non-nuclear) forces, against the North’s nuclear weapons capabilities and its ability to retaliate against South Korea and Japan. 

0:00 Australia welcomes new UN North Korea sanctions Share Australia welcomes new UN North Korea sanctions

‘No win situation’

Dr Davis believes the Trump administration will most likely choose the route of deterrence against “an uncontrollable regime, determined to threaten its neighbours.” 

But he adds that using deterrence to prevent North Korea from conducting a nuclear strike will unlikely be effective.

“[The US] would know that the risk then is that North Korea can continue to develop their nuclear weapons capabilities such that their coercive capability increases over time, and thus deterrence becomes more challenging over time.”

He cites North Korea’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles as an example – the US is only able to target land-based missiles.

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And if the US and its allies chose to take the pre-emptive route, then they’d have to be prepared for North Korea to respond with weapons of mass destruction against South Korea and Japan, he says.

“But we’d know that chances were very high that North Korea would retaliate against South Korea and Japan in a devastating manner.”

North Korea may use artillery against Seoul, or conduct chemical or nuclear strikes against South Korea and Japan, he says.

“It’s a no win situation for US, South Korea and China.”

0:00 North Korea claims ICBM missile launch successful Share North Korea claims ICBM missile launch successful

Does China hold the key?

While it’s “entirely possible” for conflict to break out, it is likely there will be “some sort of negotiated outcome,” says Dr Ben Zala, a research fellow at the Australian National University’s Department of International Relations.

Dr Zala tells SBS World News while China likely doesn’t want a denuclearised Korean peninsula, he believes it “might be able to lower tensions.”

China could leverage its economic power over North Korea – which relies on its major trading partner – to compel Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear and missile testing.

But China will only do this if the US is rational and gives it incentives, Dr Zala says.

“At present I don’t see any signs at all that the US is able and willing to think [carefully about negotiating with China].”

He believes China may negotiate with North Korea if the US reduces its 28,000 troops deployed to the Korean peninsula and its joint military exercises with South Korea.

It may also negotiate if the US less frequently condemns China’s involvement in the South China Sea dispute.

RELATEDThe role of rationality

Mr Zala believes North Korea’s threats may deescalate if the US is willing to accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.

“And that comes down to whether they think Kim Jong-un is rational.”

He believes the North Korean leader is more likely a rational character, saying it’s feasible that Kim Jong-un has amped up his country’s nuclear threat based on the US’ track record of toppling regimes.

“They say, look what happened to Gaddafi – that’s not what’s going to happen to us.

“If Kim Jong-un is rational, therefore seeing that nuclear war would be suicidal, then he won’t do it.”

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0:00 North Korea top diplomat faced stern talks from other top diplomats Share North Korea top diplomat faced stern talks from other top diplomats

Trump launches ‘real news’ with help of former CNN commentator

Kayleigh McEnany, 29, quit her role with CNN as a pro-Trump contributor, announcing the move on August 5.

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Only a day later she appeared as the face of Trump’s ‘News of the Week’ video posted on Facebook.

She was also named the spokeswoman for the Republican Party.

The promotional video, filmed at Trump Tower in New York, was billed as the “realnews”. 

The 90 second video shows Ms McEnany speaking about the US president’s accomplishments, prompting criticism Ms McEnany has become his “chief propagandist”.

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Republican National Committee (RNC) chairperson Ronna McDaniel said that as spokesperson Ms McEnany “will be an integral part of our party’s ongoing commitment to promoting the Republican message to Americans across the country”.

“Her wealth of experience will be invaluable to the RNC as we continue to support President Trump and build on our majorities in Congress,” Ms McDaniel said in a statement.

While I have enjoyed my time at CNN, I will be moving to a new role. Stay tuned next week!

— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) August 5, 2017Join @kayleighmcenany​ as she provides you the news of the week from Trump Tower in New York! #MAGA #TeamTrump pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/CTi7l6j5Ub

— Official Team Trump (@TeamTrump) August 6, 2017

Ms McEnany said she was “excited to be joining the RNC at such an important and historic time in our country”.

“I’m eager to talk about Republican ideas and values and have important discussions about issues affecting Americans across this country,” she said.

Ms McEnany is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School.

– With AFP 

Lawyer reveals UK model’s kidnap ordeal

A British model who was allegedly kidnapped in Milan was too terrified to try to get away from her captor when he took her shoe shopping and to buy groceries, her lawyer said.

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Italian police said Chloe Ayling was snatched last month by a group calling itself Black Death and is believed to have been drugged and transported in a bag to an isolated village near Turin, where she was held for six days as her captors tried to auction her online.

The 20-year-old was told people were watching her and she would be killed if she tried to flee, meaning she complied with what her captor asked her to do, her lawyer Francesco Pesce said.

“She was told that she was going to be sold to somebody in the Middle East for sex,” he told Radio 4 .

“She was told that people were there watching her and ready to kill her if she tried anything.

“So she thought that the best idea was to go along with it and to be nice in a way to her captor because he told her that he wanted to release her somehow and sometime and she thought that the best thing to do was not to go in conflict with him.

“So she abided to his request, ‘let’s go and buy groceries’ and ‘you need shoes, let’s go buy shoes’ and she didn’t try to flee.

“But I believe she was terrified at the moment and even if she could’ve asked for help she didn’t because she was subjugated to this person, or people as she was given to understand.”

The Sun reported she told police she had developed a trusting relationship and even shared a bed with her kidnapper, who gave her chocolate and underwear, but she said he had not sexually assaulted her.

There was no sign of Ayling at her terraced home in Coulsdon, south London, on Monday.

“I’ve been through a terrifying experience. I feared for my life, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour,” she said.

“I am incredibly grateful to the Italian and UK authorities for all they have done to secure my safe release.”

A Polish man who lives in Britain was arrested on July 18 on suspicion of kidnap and extortion, state police said.

Officials released a mugshot of the suspect, named as 30-year-old Lukasz Pawel Herba.

The UK’s National Crime Agency said it has been assisting with the investigation.

It’s alleged the men tried to sell Ayling online for more than $US300,000 ($A378,780) and demanded the model’s agent pay to secure her release.

She was kept handcuffed to furniture in the village of Borgial but was freed after six days and taken to the British Consulate in Milan, despite the ransom not being paid, police said.