Christmas in Afghanistan

A few days before Christmas, the US announced it was easing aid sanctions against the Taliban, rag-tag rulers of Afghanistan. The hard-line Muslims insurgents over-ran the capital, Kabul, in August. Thousands of citizens were evacuated from Kabul Airport, with tens of thousands left behind. Since then, Afghans have been forced into starvation by a combination of famine and US aid sanctions. The US has been trying to use aid sanctions as a lever to force…

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Australia’s refugee shame

It took a little refugee girl to become gravely ill while held in an Australian detention centre to attract the attention this issue deserves. The plight of refugees and asylum seekers has been somewhat diminished in the public eye over the past 18 months because of Covid-19. But some issues just won’t go away. As cartoonist Peter Broelman observed last week in a two-panel cartoon: an Australian going stir crazy inside four bare walls, while in…

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Australia’s flawed human rights record

There’s not too much coincidence about the timing of China’s social media campaign, accusing Australia of human rights abuses. The photo-shopped meme which has outraged all sides of the Australian government targets alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. Timely, given that next Thursday (the 10th), is International Human Rights Day. China, of course, is campaigning from a blood-stained corner, its long record of human rights abuses and accusations thereof, lurking in the shadows. I mention the…

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Asylum seekers and the seven-year itch

If Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton ever had a lapse in judgement, it would be thinking that asylum seekers and their supporters have given up. Over a seven-year span, Mr Dutton and his predecessors have exposed asylum seekers to a punitive system (which is outside the UN Convention on Refugees). As you may hear this weekend, Sunday marks seven years of detention for those who were sent to centres on Manus Island and Nauru. At…

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