Victory on Asylum seekers, libelling al-Maliki, long haul in Afghanistan, and Honduras

I think libel laws in general are bad.This is a good proof of why.

AN IRAQI court has ordered The Guardian to pay the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, damages of 100 million dinar ($95,000) after supporting a complaint by his intelligence service that he had been defamed by a story in the British newspaper in April describing him as increasingly autocratic.

This is in liberated Iraq.

Meanwhile, Turkey may begin granting Kurds basic rights.

Media reports suggest the plan may include lifting restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language, allowing the return of 12,000 Turkish Kurds at present in a camp in Iraq and investing millions of dollars to tackle poverty and unemployment in the south-east.

Imagine: allowing them to speak their own language. Putting aside long years of struggle and brave Turkish dissidents, I wonder what connection this may have to the new Turkish foreign policy. If Turkey continues to drift from Israel, then it may find its relations with the US cooler (and whilst the Turkish people at least strongly opposed the war on Iraq, Turkey has been conducting its own war on Iraqi Kurdistan. The increased Kurdish autonomy in Iraq presumably has been unhelpful to the chauvinist nationalists in Turkey). If Turkey drifts from the US, it will not have the same political and military and economic support to commit crimes against the Kurds.

This is a victory!

This letter is to let you know that you can apply for resettlement, and to inform you of the procedures that will be followed by the Australian Government after you leave the ship and are safely onshore in Indonesia.

The Australian Government guarantees that mandated refugees will be resettled.

Procedures will differ slightly:

1. If UNHCR has found you to be a refugee – Australian officials will assist you to be resettled within four to six weeks from the time you disembark the vessel.

2. If you have already registered with UNHCR – Australian officials will assist with your UNHCR processing. If you are found to be a refugee, you will be resettled within 12 weeks from the time you disembark.

3. If you have not yet registered with UNHCR – Australian officials will assist with your UNHCR processing. If you are found to be a refugee, you will be resettled within 12 weeks from the time you disembark. When you are safely onshore in Indonesia an Australian immigration officer will be in contact with you every day.

You have asked if:

You could have English classes while your case is being processed – We will arrange for English language and orientation classes.

It would be possible to contact with families – We will arrange for you to let your families know that you are safe. The Red Cross has agreed to assist.

You could have assistance with your refugee applications – Australian officers will be working with you every day.

Accommodation: discussions with the Indonesian Government have not been finalised.

-Jim O’Callaghan, Australian embassy, Jakarta

I think this reflects the real change in public debate since 2001. In the Daily Telegraph, in the vast majority of op eds in Fairfax, people have called for more humane treatment of asylum seekers. Even conservatives got on board, and the Liberals said Rudd wasn’t being tough or humane. Indonesia eventually refused to cooperate, and so Rudd turned left rather than further right. What this reflects, in my view, is that the real battles are always won in the struggle for public opinion.

Rudd says Australia is in Afghanistan for the long haul. That’s what you think. This war is a complete disaster. Iraq and Afghanistan will go down as terrible disasters for the US and its puppets (Australia, UK and so on), the only question is of scale.

More on Honduras. Zelaya’s administration is beginning to lobby Europe against recognising any government produced from the coup. Hopefully, Europe will back Zelaya and add to the international pressure on the US to end its support for the illegitimate coup regime.



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