Monday, September 23, 2013

Operation: Breach Indonesian Sovereignty

With Tony Abbott's new foreign policy stances on immigration in full swing, the Coalition government is getting heaps of criticism from the UNHCR to, most recently, the Indonesian government.

Indonesian MP, Tantowi Yahya, stated in an interview with Lateline his concerns over Abott's policies interfering with Indonesian sovereignty. The policy dubbed, "Operation Sovereign Borders," mentions that if boats carrying asylum seekers are found coming from Indonesia, Australian authorities will "turn the boats around" to their port of origin; forcing the Indonesian government to deal with the immigrants themselves.

I foresee potential damages to Australia-Indonesia relationships if this policy is carried out accordingly...

Serco Watch

Interesting article about Serco, the multinational corporation that is in charge of Australia's Immigration Detention Centers (IDC). I had the opportunity to visit one of the IDCs in Northam called Yongah Hill. I'm not sure what to make of what seems like a "for-profit" prison...

Brief Issue Update- Sudanese President al-Bashir trying to come to U.S. to Speak at the UN

Last Monday I began my internship with United to End Genocide here in Washington, DC!

So far, my duties have included compiling lists of human rights events around the city, gathering news stories dealing with the countries our organizations works with and those countries on our "Watch List," and creating a weekly policy update sheet for our staff meetings.

Our office has been buzzing just this last week with the United Nations 68th General Assembly meeting beginning this week. In particular, we found out last week that Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir plans to attend the General Assembly meeting this Thursday to speak.

Bashir has been charged by the International Criminal Court on ten counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for his involvement in the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

As part of our advocacy and awareness campaign, I have posted a blog on United to End Genocide's website for you all to read. It discuss a little bit about the current situation, and whether or not Bashir will get to the United States.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

David Bosco- Syria

Perhaps a little off topic from Australia, but I wanted to share this tweet from the Washington Post about David Bosco because I am currently reading his book, "Five to Rule Them All."

The exciting fact about Mr. Bosco is that I get to meet him in October when he comes to speak to my International Law and Organizations class! It will be interesting to hear his take on the functionality of the UN first person.

Here's the link to his interview:

The man who wrote the book on the U.N. Security Council tells how it’s handling Syria

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Human Rights Watch on the New Government

Today, Human Rights Watch writer, Elaine Pearson, discussed what the new Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, should do to address the treatment of asylum seekers.

Abbott, a member of the country's Liberal party, won the election on September 7th against incumbent Kevin Rudd. The new Liberal-National Coalition government has the opportunity to improve the country's immigration processing centers, or continue its "race to [the] bottom" in refugee/asylum seeker policies.

Pearson provides an interesting look at the current situation. With the new government in place, it is the perfect time to alter policies... however the question remains: Will they? 

"A more effective and humane solution would be to encourage more neighboring countries to adhere to international law and adopt the 1951 Refugee Convention and help them develop their capacity to protect refugees. On September 9, the United Nations human rights chief urged Australia, a party to the treaty, to follow the spirit and letter of the Refugee Convention."

Friday, September 6, 2013

How I Became I Human Rights Major

This is why I can confidently say that I am proud to be an SMU student, because I get to interact with my hero on a daily basis. Thank you Dr. Halperin for reminding me how choosing to be a Human RIghts major was the best decision I have ever made.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 5th- Here's Australia For You...

This article puts an individual face to the injustices faced by many asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. At this very moment, people all over the country are suffering like Ranjini, stuck "indefinitely" in detention centers, separated from their loved ones, with no legal right to work.

The human rights violations committed by the Australian government can no longer be ignored.

Right now, Australia is in the climax of their Prime Minister elections. Both sides have radical viewpoints on how to address the issue of the "boat people." Neither Kevin Rudd nor Tony Abbott are doing anything to better the situation.

Maybe after the elections one side will realize the gravity of this issue and try to rectify the damage before Australia's reputation as a free, democratic, human rights oriented country is completely destroyed.

Australian refugee Ranjini in court challenge

Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 18, 2013- Refugees and Business

Here's an interesting article about the success of refugees in the business world in Australia. However, the article fails to address that after August 13, 2012, any refugee that arrived by boat would no longer have the right to work. An arbitrary date divides the economic success of certain refugees from others.

That doesn't seem just to me...

The link to the article:

August 16, 2013- The Opposition's Plan for Immigration

Most Australians that I spoke with regarded the intensified stances on immigration issues from both parties to be  part of election strategies. Hopefully that is the case... 

"Australia's opposition leader has outlined tough new immigration and asylum proposals, three weeks ahead of the country's general election.

Tony Abbott has said some 30,000 asylum seekers already in Australia will be limited to temporary visas and required to work for welfare benefits.
He has previously said he wants to introduce a military commander to lead operations against people smugglers and asylum boats."

Video link here:

August 16, 2013- Immigration and Election Battles

Here is a news clipping I found on the BBC website regarding immigration issues in Australia.

"With just three weeks until the Australian general election, the candidates appear to be attempting to outdo each other on who will be toughest on immigration.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott said he would appoint a military commander to lead operations to tackle people smugglers and asylum boats.
Kevin Rudd unveiled a plan last month to send boat arrivals to Papua New Guinea, where those found to be genuine refugees would be resettled."

Rudd's plan denies refugees the right to repatriate in Australia, even if they are detained and processed in the country, however Abbott's plan isn't much better; he would just "turn the boats around."

You can watch the video at:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Well, here's my first blog post!

Sorry for the slight delay, but these past few weeks have been incredibly hectic. After returning from Perth on August 14th, I only had one week to prepare for my semester in Washington D.C.! I have been in D.C. exactly one week now, and I think that I have finally settled into life in the Capitol.

As an introduction to my blog, I want to explain why I am doing this in the first place...

This past spring I proposed a project to the Engaged Learning office at Southern Methodist University. I was granted a scholarship to do independent research and travel to Perth, Australia with the Embrey Human Rights Program in order to study the current status of Aboriginal (or indigenous) rights in the country, and the efficacy of organizations promoting restorative justice and equality. I hoped to achieve this information by meeting with leaders in the Aboriginal community, interviewing human rights activists, and recording recent news relating to the progress of combatting discrimination.

Upon my arrival, our group witnessed the distinct beauty and culture that is AUSTRALIA

 The gorgeous Swan River that winds around Perth

Past students from Professor Dennis Simon's Civil Rights Pilgrimage reunited with a photo of Dr. King

The modern Perth skyline gleaming at sunset of our first day

The Bell Tower

Some of the group posing with the kangaroos!

Isn't that a pretty sight?

Our first official meeting of the trip was with Simon Forrest, an indigenous elder who works at the Curtin Centre for Aboriginal Studies. Simon performed a traditional Aboriginal "Welcome to Country" ceremony explaining the significance of King's National Park, or Kaarta gar-up, to the indigenous Noongar people.

Another interesting fact: Before the Europeans settled some 200 years ago, Perth was called Boorloo by the Noongar people. This is the name that was used for 40,000 years... so I think it is fitting that I use it as well.

Simon used sandalwood and gum from the grassroot tree in the smoking ceremony to symbolize the origins of his mother and father.

Yes, that is a kangaroo pelt...

Here is most of the Human Rights group with our WONDERFUL guide and friend, Gary Hepworth, without whom this trip would never have existed

Our first sighting of authentic Australian wildlife: the kookaburra! 

I just thought this tree was too beautiful to pass up a photo...

Dr. Halperin, as always, representing the program.

I think this is a good place to stop as far as an introduction to the trip...

I will continue to update the blog while I am here in D.C. with more information regarding the trip to Australia, my research project, and other relevant news/media that have to do with human rights in Australia!