10 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Exclusive: The largest cache of documents to be leaked from within Australia’s asylum seeker detention regime details assaults, sexual assaults and self-harm

Children on Nauru

Allegations involving children make up more than 50% of the 2,000 leaked reports of the Nauru files from the detention centre on the remote Pacific island. Composite: The Guardian Design

The devastating trauma and abuse inflicted on children held by Australia in offshore detention has been laid bare in the largest cache of leaked documents released from inside its immigration regime.

More than 2,000 leaked incident reports from Australia’s detention camp for asylum seekers on the remote Pacific island of Nauru – totalling more than 8,000 pages – are published by the Guardian today. The Nauru files set out as never before the assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and living conditions endured by asylum seekers held by the Australian government, painting a picture of routine dysfunction and cruelty.

The Guardian’s analysis of the files reveal that children are vastly over-represented in the reports. More than half of the 2,116 reports – a total of 1,086 incidents, or 51.3% – involve children, although children made up only about 18% of those in detention on Nauru during the time covered by the reports, May 2013 to October 2015. The findings come just weeks after the brutal treatment of young people in juvenile detention in the Northern Territory was exposed, leading to the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announcing a wide-ranging public inquiry.

The reports range from a guard allegedly grabbing a boy and threatening to kill him once he is living in the community to guards allegedly slapping children in the face. In September 2014 a teacher reported that a young classroom helper had requested a four-minute shower instead of a two-minute shower. “Her request has been accepted on condition of sexual favours. It is a male security person. She did not state if this has or hasn’t occurred. The security officer wants to view a boy or girl having a shower.”

Some reports contain distressing examples of behaviour by traumatised children. According to a report from September 2014, a girl had sewn her lips together. A guard saw her and began laughing at her. In July that year a child under the age of 10 undressed and invited a group of adults to insert their fingers into her vagina; in February 2015 a young girl gestured to her vagina and said a male asylum seeker “cut her from under”……..

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Australia is obliged to offer protection to refugees. Instead, many are processed at a detention centre on the remote, independent island of Nauru, 3,000km from Australia. Two teenage refugees on Nauru, an 18-year-old Iranian and a 13-year-old Rohingyan, talk about their experience of life in the detention centre

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Newly declassified files show the former secretary of state jeopardized efforts to crackdown on bloodshed by Argentina’s 1976-83 military dictatorship

Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger speaks with NBC news on 1 May 1976. Photograph: NBC NewsWire/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger jeopardized US efforts to stop mass killings by Argentina’s 1976-83 military dictatorship by congratulating the country’s military leaders for “wiping out” terrorism, according to a large trove of newly declassified state department files.

The documents, which were released on Monday night, show how Kissinger’s close relationship to Argentina’s military rulers hindered Jimmy Carter’s carrot-and-stick attempts to influence the regime during his 1977-81 presidency.

Carter officials were infuriated by Kissinger’s attendance at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina as the personal guest of dictator Jorge Videla, the general who oversaw the forced disappearance of up to 30,000 opponents of the military regime.

At the time, Kissinger was no longer in office after Carter defeated Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election, but the documents reveal that US diplomats feared his praise for Argentina’s crackdown would encourage further bloodshed.

During his years as secretary of state, Kissinger had encouraged Argentina’s military junta to stamp out “terrorism”. In contrast, Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski, his national security adviser, made human rights a cornerstone of US foreign policy and were exerting pressure on Argentina’s military regime by withholding loans and sales of military equipment.

The newly declassifed cables show how Kissinger lauded Videla and other officials for their methods during his 1978 visit. “His praise for the Argentine government in its campaign against terrorism was the music the Argentine government was longing to hear,” says one of the documents.

A state department memorandum from 1978 relating to Kissinger and human rights in Latin America and Argentina.

A state department memorandum from 1978 relating to Kissinger and human rights in Latin America and Argentina. Photograph: Handout

Another diplomatic cable describes how, during a lunch with Videla, “Kissinger applauded Argentina’s efforts in combatting terrorism” and lamented that “it was unfortunate many Americans thought Argentina was a soft drink. He said this indicated that Americans are not aware of Argentine history nor of its struggle against terrorism.”………..

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Witnesses say young man was knocked down and shots rang out as people gathered two years after notorious police shooting of unarmed black teenager

People hide behind cars after shots rang out in Ferguson, Missouri, during a demonstration on the second anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.

People hide behind cars after shots rang out in Ferguson, Missouri, during a demonstration on the second anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. Photograph: Robert Cohen/AP

Gunfire broke out after a protester was knocked down by a car during a demonstration in Ferguson, Missouri, on the second anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, witnesses said.

A video posted online shows a car hitting a young man who was standing in the road, knocking him to the kerb. Onlookers gather around and call for help. About a minute later, gunfire erupts.

“A lady came down and hit a protester — knocked the shoes off his feet,” said Sharon Cowan, who was at the scene in Ferguson. “Hit him and he rolled and he bounced.”

The man was put into a private car to be taken to a hospital, she said.

Heather De Mian, who frequently livestreams protests in the St Louis area, said she screamed when the man was hit.

“Then when the bullets flew, I started screaming some more,” she said……….

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The investigation, launched after the death of Freddie Gray, identifies a ‘pattern’ of unconstitutional conduct in the Baltimore police department

A gathering to remember Freddie Gray, and all victims of police violence, during a rally outside city hall in Baltimore, Maryland.

A gathering to remember Freddie Gray, and all victims of police violence, during a rally outside city hall in Baltimore, Maryland. Photograph: Bryan Woolston/Reuters

The Baltimore police department regularly conducted unlawful stops and used excessive force on residents of the city, federal officials found in a civil rights probe.

The damning findings by the US justice department (DoJ), set to be officially announced Wednesday, identify a “pattern or practice” of unconstitutional conduct in the city.

The justice department launched its investigation into the city’s policing a month after Freddie Gray’s death last year. Gray, a 25-year-old African American man, died a week after he was arrested from a spinal injury sustained while he was held in the back of a police van. The city erupted in weeks of unrest, including numerous mass demonstrations against police brutality and a day of rioting.

The report found a vast racial disparity in enforcement, especially in stops, searches, and discretionary misdemeanor arrests. African Americans, for instance, account for 91% of “failure to obey” and trespassing charges, and over 80% of charges such as making a false statement to an officer or disorderly conduct, even though they account for roughly 60% of the population. African Americans were arrested for the possession of drugs more than five times as frequently as their white counterparts, although drug use, the report notes, is roughly the same…………..

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US politics

Election 2016

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When he darkly invoked the second amendment as a means of stopping Hillary Clinton, Trump violated the most basic rule of democratic civilisation

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was speaking at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, about supreme court justices on Tuesday. Addressing Clinton’s ability to choose members of the supreme court, he said, ‘If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,’ he said, adding: ‘Although the second amendment people – maybe there is, I don’t know’

Donald Trump has long held that Hillary Clinton is stealing the election. But today he suggested something even darker and more sinister: that his supporters resolve the issue with their guns.

Specifically, he suggested that using the constitutional right to bear arms may be the only way to stop Clinton from appointing supreme court justices should she win in November. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said, before adding: “Although the second amendment people – maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Whether Trump was suggesting his supporters use their weaponry against Clinton herself or any liberal judges she might go on to appoint is somewhat open to interpretation. Most people are reading it as the former, but either way it’s unacceptable and a violation of what it means to live in a free Democracy.

This is a new low even for Trump, who’s been accused of inciting general violence and has verbally attacked individuals from Khizr Khan to Rosie O’Donnell. But he’s never seemed to incite it against individuals – until now.

Gabby Giffords drove home that point and the pernicious effect those words could have on the unstable, in a statement released Tuesday. “We must draw a bright red line between political speech and suggestions of violence,” she said, adding. “Responsible, stable individuals won’t take Trump’s rhetoric to its literal end, but his words may provide a magnet for those seeking infamy. They may provide inspiration or permission for those bent on bloodshed.” Those words have special meaning coming from Giffords, whose time in political office was cut short by an assassination attempt that left six dead; she survived but with a critical gunshot wound to the head.

Now Trump is pulling the tricks he always does when he says something beyond the pale politically. He’s blaming the media for getting it wrong.

Before when he’s implicitly encouraged or used the language of violence – at rallies when he’s told supporters if they punch a protester he’ll pay the legal bills, or at campaign stops when he’s boasted murder wouldn’t drive his supporters away – he’s walked it back as just another quirky part of his humor. “Obviously it was a joke,” he later said of the murder brag………………

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