Friday, November 15, 2019

Boochani makes bid for freedom

Behrouz Boochani, the Kurdish Iranian refugee and journalist detained by Australia in Papua New Guinea for six years, has flown to New Zealand. He has been granted a visitor visa to New Zealand to appear at the WORD Christchurch literary event, and told Guardian Australia he planned not to return to PNG. “I just want to be somewhere where I am a person, not just a number, not just a label ‘refugee’,” he said. It is not clear if the Australian government was aware of the complex and secretive process to get Boochani to New Zealand. Boochani, who won Australia's richest literary prize for his book No Friend But the Mountains, is considering whether to apply for asylum in New Zealand, or to fly on to the United States, where he has been accepted for resettlement but may still have to wait months for final approval. Boochani noted many asylum seekers remain in PNG, including dozens of men held in Bomana prison in Port Moresby.

The policeman accused of murdering Warlpiri teenager Kumanjayi Walker has flown to his hometown of Canberra, reports the NT News ($). Zachary Rolfe, who was yesterday granted bail, is alleged to have shot Walker three times at the 19-year-old’s home when he and his partner went to arrest him for breaches of a suspended sentence. In a statement, the Northern Territory Police Association said: “a decorated member has now been charged with murder ... Whilst we acknowledge the tragic circumstances of the event, the member has made it clear that he will plead not guilty and will vigorously contest the charge.” Rolfe, who was awarded medals for rescuing tourists in 2016 ($), is to appear in court on December 19 in Alice Springs, where protesters gathered in solidarity with the Warlpiri community on Thursday. Associate Law Professor at the University of Sydney, Thalia Anthony, expressed concern to NITV that less than 1 per cent of jurors in Alice Springs were Aboriginal. “It does shift the scales,” she said. Elders from Walker’s remote-area community are calling for a ban on police carrying guns into town.

Australian National University’s Matthew Robertson has co-authored a study published today that finds China is engaged in the “systemic falsification” of voluntary organ donation data.  The study concluded that official national and provincial transplant data was likely falsified based on a “mathematical model”. Robertson said a formula familiar to many high-school students” predicted what the tally would be in 2017 ahead of time. China claims to have ended the forced-harvesting of organs from prisoners. The news comes as a 70-year-old man has died after being struck by a brick during clashes between Hong Kong's pro- and anti-government groups. It is the second death in the space of a week connected with the protests.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland will tonight hear Chinese swimming star Sun Yang’s doping appeal case, in what is being seen as a test case for balancing the rights of athletes against a complex anti-doping system. At the Rio Olympics, Australian swimmer Mack Horton labelled Yang a “drug cheat” and refused to share a podium with him. Horton has since been targeted by online trolls and vandals that damaged his family’s home, The Age reports.

The burning truth
As fires burn through NSW and Queensland, a fundamental shift can be detected in Canberra: the politics of climate change have altered. It is no longer viable to do nothing. Paul Bongiorno on how the Coalition is dealing with this new reality.


“Catholic priest Giorgio Licini is blunt about the fate of those who sought asylum in Australia but are now stranded in guesthouses and motels across Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby. The men left behind, says Licini, who is the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, ‘will die in a short span of time’.”


“On September 9, Rachel Evans and Susan Price received an apology from New South Wales Police for being unlawfully strip-searched. Almost two years earlier, on November 10, 2017, the long-time activists were protesting the detainment of refugees on Manus Island when they were taken in a paddy wagon to Newtown Police Station.”


“Although the trilogy cries out for dramatisation because of the intensity of its vision and the soaring brilliance of its articulation, His Dark Materials is seriously weird and disturbingly creepy, and its atmosphere is difficult to capture. But this superb adaptation somehow succeeds in penetrating the idiom of an original so strange in its richness and wildness that it poses a challenge comparable to Peter Jackson’s in The Lord of the Rings, which the New Zealand director translated so indelibly into film.”


“The Australian Capital Territory’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr, our first openly gay government leader, has married partner Anthony Toms. The couple tied the knot at a ‘small family ceremony’ on Wednesday at the historical Longworth House in Anthony’s hometown of Newcastle, New South Wales. Barr posted to Instagram a collage of wedding snaps. The ACT Labor leader thanked everyone who voted ‘yes’ in the 2017 same-sex marriage postal survey.”


“Suicide rates among those in same-sex relationships have fallen significantly in both Denmark and Sweden since the legalisation of gay marriage, according to a study, although whatever their marital status, homosexual people remain more likely to take their own life. The joint study by the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention and researchers from Stockholm University compared suicide rates for people in same-sex and heterosexual relationships in the periods 1989-2002 and 2003-16.” Lifeline 13 11 14


“While concerned citizens have taken to the streets, demanding an overthrow of the discriminatory practices that ensure the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, they have carried with them the image of a true socialist hero: a black, bandana-wearing dog named Negro Matapacos. The dog has been spray-painted onto the side of buildings; printed on t-shirts; distributed on flyers. He is, for so many of the protestors, a symbol of resistance — of the desperate need to speak truth to power. But who is Negro Matapacos, and why has he become the canine face of reform?”

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.