Guantanamo Blues

Download ‘Guantanamo Blues’

Today Guantanamo Detention Centre is 13 years old, and I just finished making a clip for The Justice Campaign called ‘Guantanamo Blues’. Produced by Dr Aloysia Brooks, wife of the ex-detainee David Hicks, it features the art of Molly Crabapple and the music of Les Thomas.

During a visit to Guantanamo, Molly did a number of portraits of men who had not been charged with any crime. Most of the 127 prisoners have been cleared for release – some, years ago – but they are still malingering there in conditions that amount to torture. According to a recent talk by David Hicks, most would be incapable of functioning independently again as human beings.

The song was written to raise awareness about the ongoing situation of those detained in the facility. ‘Guantanamo Blues’ songwriter, Les Thomas said:

“It is important that President Obama is aware that people from all over the world are counting on him to adhere to his promise to close Guantanamo and ensure fair trials.”

An unknown number of men are participating in a hunger-strike to protest their ongoing detention without charge or trial, and their conditions and treatment. Upon the release of the summary of the US Senate Committee Report on the CIA torture program, there is a renewed call for the Obama administration to hold those who orchestrated the torture program to account. One of the most disturbing revelations is that it was largely futile, and almost never produced any actionable intelligence. Hina Shamsi, Director of ACLU’s National Security Articulate Projectspace, commented:

“[JTF-GTMO assessments] are one-sided assessments that are full of uncorroborated information, information obtained through torture, speculation, errors, and allegations that have demonstrably been proven false.”

NB Quite by accident, we included a drawing by Steve Mumford – ‘Sgt Trisha Pinczes Reading by Camp X-Ray Disused since 2002, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba’ – believing it to be one of Molly’s. We are currently trying to contact him for permission to leave it in. Steve, if you’re reading this, please drop me a line at EDITIONS@THING2THING.COM.

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Daniel Ellsberg – TOXIC SECRETS

I visited Daniel Ellsberg as a citizen journalist in 2012, to talk about Wikileaks. He talked for a long time, with dismay, about why people haven’t leaked in the past – neither in government, the corporate sector, nor the church – about even the most heinous of crimes.

Thus, the importance of leaking; for justice, peace, democracy, well-being and the health of our planet. But if wrongful secrecy abounds, and at such a cost, surely we need more than one in a million addressing the issue…

“We must challenge the systems that make this secrecy possible”.

Daniel Ellsberg is a co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is best known as the whistleblower who gave the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971. Ellsberg is also the author of three books: Papers on the War (1971), Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (2002), and Risk, Ambiguity and Decision (2001). In December 2006, he won the Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” in Stockholm, Sweden, “for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to inspiring others to follow his example.”

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Abbott Government cripples the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

It was roaring at the Sydney Town Hall yesterday as Labor and Greens politicians united with media personalities to say no to the Abbott government’s crippling financial attack on the ABC. This comes after a litany of protests from our climate change denying, refugee punishing right-wing government, claiming that the channel was, as one hashtag described it, a…


Tanya Plibersek, Member for Sydney and Deputy Leader of the Opposition reminded us that Tony Abbott said: “No cuts to the ABC”, the night before he was elected. Word had it however, that as punishment for being too left-leaning – showing asylum seekers’ burnt hands, for example – the damage was going to be around $50 million. Plibersek now assures us that we can add a zero…

“A broken promise is a broken promise and a lie is a lie. Before the election: “No cuts to the ABC”. How much have they cut? $43 million in the May budget… $223 million from Australia Network… Now, $254 million from the ABC… and almost $54 million from SBS. We’re talking about, probably 500 jobs… You cannot maintain quality.”

“These are real people doing valuable work, telling Australian stories. They deserve their jobs to be protected, and I know that all of you will SUPPORT THE MEAA, THE CPSU, THE STAFF ASSOCIATION AND ALL THOSE OTHER ASSOCIATIONS FIGHTING TO PROTECT THESE JOBS AND YOUR ABC.”

The Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull has denied that the cuts – half a billion dollars and ramping up, according to Senator Ludlam, over the next 5 years – will impact upon programming. The reality is that ABC South Australia will be closing its doors soon, and we have already had ‘Stateline’ axed, along with its Walkley award-winning journalist Quentin Dempster.

Dempster opened his speech with an acknowledgement of wide-spectrum support for the ABC:

“Those of us who are about to be industrially executed are buoyed by your solidarity. I thank the Media & Arts Alliance; the Community Public Sector Union; the Friends of the ABC; GetUp; Jonathan Holmes; and our professional colleagues, friends and allies throughout the Australian Media Industry – including commercial television and radio; the now many online news, conversation and analysis websites; the print media, including Fairfax; and our closet supporters in News Limited.”

Michael Tull of the CPSU distinguishes our national broadcaster from its US counterpart by way of its principled dissociation from commerce and corporate ownership. Therein he says, lies the force of its of checks and balances. Tull thinks that an attack on our ABC’s capacity to report independent news is an attack on our democracy. Rightly so, if only compliant media is to be heard in the future, and little of what the government wants silenced… The penalty of 10 years jail for journalism has already been set.

Actor Geoff Morrell makes it clear that this is about the Australian stories that will not be told; the programs that will not be made; and the talent that will never get a chance. It is a looming nullification of the arts and local culture, and most disturbingly, on regional news, most of which is only reported by the ABC.

But as most of the speakers pointed out, the ABC belongs to the Australian people… and they pay for it! Constitutionally, they would have to be on a winner if they stood by the firm recommendations of their broadcaster, regarding how their much-loved, and much needed services can be maintained.

The rally was as joyous and determined as it was mournful and nostalgic, but there was one exquisite moment. After the president of the Media and Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA) – Australian entertainer Patricia Amphlett (Little Pattie) – reminded us of a song she had once sung, she asked:

“What Gough would say…”

Old man, the timing was perfect. We will maintain the rage and the enthusiasm!

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Senator Ludlam Raps Knuckles with Tony Abbott pre G20 Summit

Senator Scott Ludlam is back! with another viral video addressing Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony “Dum Dum” Abbott. Aussies were wowed by Ludlam’s fiery “Welcome to Western Australia” speech, in anticipation of Abbott’s visit to WA earlier this year. The speech got close to a million views within days, and Ludlam is indeed widely followed and cited by Australians across social media. So why all the politicians leave the Senate when Ludlam speaks is a mystery. Could it be as simple as Metadataphobia?

Meanwhile, news from Rap News…

“The G20 Summit is happening and the leaders of the wealthiest nations on the planet are converging on Australia to come and learn directly at the feet of the master of fascist dystopian fuckwittery: Tony Abbott. Join the noble Australian Prime Minister as he lists his recent achievements and launches the opening of the G20 Summit in Australia, backed by a faithful and compliant mainstream media, represented by our favourite local correspondent Ken Oathcarn.

This episode features a magical cameo from Wizard Senator Scott Ludlam, who has been campaigning tirelessly in speeches to empty Senate rooms to stop the Government’s proposed mandatory data retention laws – coming up soon for a vote in the Senate. After this G20 episode, no one will be in any doubt why Australia is leading the civilised world in the global race to towards 1984.”

Written and created by Giordano Nanni and Hugo Farrant in a suburban backyard home studio in Melbourne, Australia, on Wurundjeri Land. Juice Rap News

Special thanks to Scott Ludlam for working on this video, and for all his tireless work to fend off the forces of Mordor.


BREAKING: Ludlam Senate address (28/10/14)

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In the wake of a High Court break-through concerning Operation Sovereign Borders, AUSTRALIANS ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS to refugee specialists, Dr Joyce Chia and Dr Lucy Fiske, live at Politics in the Pub. Joyce Chia works at the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW, and Lucy Fiske is a Chancellor’s Post Doctoral Fellow at UTS.

In this highly candid Q and A session, we hear heart-breaking accounts and questions raised about children in detention; how Australia’s actions may influence those of other countries, and importantly, what federal Labor should be doing to oppose the Abbott Government’s appalling treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees.

Australians are becoming increasingly skeptical about the Government’s claim to be “Saving Lives at Sea”, given that two asylum seekers have died on Manus Island, and that self-harm has become commonplace, even among children. In February this year, asylum seeker Reza Barati was allegedly murdered by detention centre staff, two Papua New Guinean Nationals who worked with the Salvation Army, and G4S Security respectively.

This month, vigils were held Australia-wide for another Manus Island detainee, Hamid Kehazaei, who died of blood poisoning from a cut foot…

With countless reports of neglect and unsanitary conditions, and the torture of seemingly endless detainment, one might well ask what quality of life the Australian Government is offering as an alternative to drowning at sea? Refugees are after all, the people Australia pledged to keep safe – not drive to the depths of despair, criminally neglect or murder.

Read Dr Joyce Chia’s article in the Guardian – ‘High court verdict spells the end for Australian immigration detention as we know it’ – to see what kind of changes the High Court is likely to impose, so as to insure that ‘protection’ is what Australia is really giving.

Starring the questions of the audience - Politics in the Pub - Q&A on Refugees

After learning that the very legality of ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ is on the line, we wait with fond anticipation the outcome of a refugee case currently before the High Court, and the upcoming challenge to the Australian Government, concerning the refoulement of Tamils to Sri Lanka.

If Julian Burnside QC is correct, Australians can look forward in the longer term, to seeing Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott in the dock, in the Hague. We’ll soon see if the High Court deems Operation Sovereign Borders to be illegal. Then comes the case of the Tamils…

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Dr Joyce Chia on Australian High Court’s Refugee Stance

Dr Joyce Chia, from the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW, spoke and answered questions from a live audience on Thursday evening at Sydney’s ‘Politics in the Pub’, regarding surprising developments earlier that day in Australia’s High Court. In her article for the Guardian, entitled ‘High court verdict spells the end for Australian immigration detention as we know it’, she made clear the implications of the Court’s ruling:

“Thursday’s decision has profound implications for asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. The detention of thousands of people who arrived irregularly before July 2013 is now potentially unlawful and the government will have to either release these people or at least resume processing. Prolonged cases of detention can be challenged before the courts. The policy of locking people up indefinitely, without carefully considering whether it is justified in the individual case, is unlawful under Australian law.” Read more…

Dr Joyce Chia spells out the High Court's position on prolonged detention

Also speaking on the subject of the Australian government’s “barbaric” policy on refugees was Dr Lucy Fiske, a Chancellor’s Post Doctoral Fellow from UTS, Sydney. Ms Fiske focused on the impact Australian Refugee Policy is having on the practice of our near neighbours, and the increasing criminalisation of asylum seekers’ crossing of borders.

Dr Lucy Fiske, speaking on Refugees at Sydney's 'Politics in the Pub'.

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Antony Loewenstein on Gaza

Tensions grow again in Gaza with Israeli official reports of “attack tunnels” being repaired by Hamas, and calls for EU troop deployment in the region. Countless tunnels have been dug under Gaza, often with bare hands, to smuggle food, medicine, gas, building materials and other items, all of which remain scarce since the enclave was “put on a diet”.

Water too, of the drinking variety, has been in direly short supply, with access limited to a few hours a week. That there has been a long-term need for “smuggling tunnels” is supported by the medical reports of Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who noted back in 2009 that one child in three had stunted growth, due to prolonged malnutrition and starvation. He stated:

“As a result of the Israeli siege, there has been widespread development of anaemia among children and women due to malnutrition as a result of siege and poverty. Stunting, where a child is more than two standard deviations shorter than what it should be, is sharply on the rise. In 2006, around 13.5 percent of children were stunted. In 2009, 31.4 percent under age two were stunted.

In other words, every third child is less developed than he or she should be. And stunting does not only affect growth. It also affects brain development and the ability to learn. This is a direct consequence of malnutrition.

Remember, this is not caused by drought or natural disasters, but a deliberate, man-made lack of food and water, imposed, planned, and executed in the most detailed way by the Israeli government. They even calculate how many calories to let in to Gaza to avoid outright starvation, but to “just” cause malnutrition since that goes under the radar of human rights abuses.”

Antony Loewenstein on Gaza at Politics in the Pub

According to Antony Loewenstein, in a recent talk at ‘Politics in the Pub’ in Sydney, and Noam Chomsky on numerous occasions, liberal Zionists and the younger generation have become increasingly uncomfortable with the actions of the Israeli State and its US backers.

There has been little dispute that Gaza’s tunnels leading into Egypt are for the purpose of smuggling live-saving supplies. Whether those that lead to Israel are for the purpose of attacking Israelis “in their beds” is questionable.

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Since hactivists get jailed for longer than rapists…

Everyone can hack if they know how, but it is only government intelligence agencies that are afforded true anonymity to do so. If as an individual or group, you have done the right thing by shining the light on crime, corruption, or any backdoor business that is potentially harmful to people or the environment, you deserve help if you get into trouble for doing that. If you have acted in the public interest, communities will most likely support you – and you may have a case that will change history! All you need is a voice…

Free All Arrested Anons from @AnonymousVideo on Vimeo.

    Anonymous FreeAnons Press Release

The Anonymous Solidarity Network exists to provide legal, financial and moral support for activists facing prosecution for involvement, alleged or otherwise, in Anonymous actions. The use of information networks to perform community acts of protest is neither a crime nor an act of conspiracy, and should not be prosecuted as such.

When internet activists are getting longer prison sentences than rapists you have to wonder what kind of world we’re leaving for our kids. A world where we see every day how governments, banks and corporations strip away our privacy and freedoms in the name of greed, power and control.

Read about the case of Jonathan Moylan and the #standwithjono campaign

The storm has yet to pass and what ships remain out at sea are desperately seeking refuge from the relentless waves of prosecution but there is one ship sailing alongside these troubled waters…

We are the Anonymous Solidarity Network. We are a collective of Anons and the friends and family of Anons facing prosecution for alleged involvement in Anonymous activities.

Read more ►

AnonOps IRC Network (Anonymous Operations) ►>

Radio AnonOps » The Official Radio Station ►

Join us at

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Operation Transparent Borders – Citizen Journalism at its Best

Australian citizens are calling for urgent public support from around the world to send a boat full of journalists and observers out to report on what the Australian Government are doing with asylum seekers at sea. The Abbott government, which may be in breach of international law, has become increasingly secretive over the last year regarding its extreme measures to “Stop the Boats” – a hard-line Border Protection policy that won it the last election, but which has seen it fail to protect the lives of asylum seekers.

The eruption of violence in a detainment facility on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, earlier this year, saw scores of detainees injured by hostile locals, and one man, Reza Berati, beaten to death by staff. Instances of self-harm and attempted suicide among stir-crazy detainees have become alarmingly wide-spread, and mothers of young children on Christmas Island recently announced a suicide pact, in order for their young to be allowed to stay in Australia.

The reaction however from the Abbott government has remained pitiless and grossly insensitive. Besides implementing ongoing Protection of Injury surveillance, it has denounced the intended mass suicide as “emotional blackmail”.

Over the last few months, on-shore detention facilities have been emptied, despite robust protest from concerned Australian citizens, and the detainees whisked off to remote locations where it is difficult for them to have access to legal representation, whose funding in any case has been cut. The ‘policy’ is ostensibly to do nothing with refugees, besides letting them rot in perpetuity in places where Australians are likely to forget about them.

A recently leaked video address to asylum seekers by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison reveals him saying that they will spend “a very long time” in detention, even if deemed to be genuine refugees, and never settled in Australia. These measures have been seen as coercive, to get asylum seekers to opt for returning to their country of origin, rather than facing what may be a life-time of incarceration.

Off-shore detention was implemented by the previous Labor government, and already harsh and seemingly endless, but in a bid to halt the arrival of asylum seeker boats completely, the Liberals mounted a quasi military Operation (Sovereign Borders) to block their passage, and stipulated that these “illegals” would never be admitted to Australia, even if found to be genuine refugees. Their fate would be ‘indefinite’ detention in off-shore camps, in tortuous limbo, while the government ‘processed’ them.

TOO YOUNG TO HOLD: Victorian Legal Aid argues that the original decision to detain four children on Christmas Island was made unlawfully. Picture: AP

An Australian Customs vessel intercepted two boats last week in its “contiguous zone” – not territorial waters – a zone that is not yet Australia, and where right of “innocent passage” should normally apply. One boat contained 41 asylum seekers and the other 153, reportedly all Tamils who were fleeing persecution in Sri Lanka. Citizens, organisations and governments around the world looked on in shock, as the Australian government handed over all 41 asylum seekers on the first boat to the Sri Lanka authorities.

An injunction has now been placed by the Australian High Court – see live updates provided by The Guardian – to prevent further refoulement of the 153 refugees on the second boat. There appears to be doubt that the government’s radical new practice of “enhanced screening” – four questions only, that resulted in 100% negative outcomes for the 41 people – constitutes fair consideration of an asylum-seeker’s’ case.

Sri Lankan asylum seekers sit on the deck of their boat stranded on the water in Pagai Selatan, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia. Picture: AP

Although the interception of these fleeing boatloads happened outside Australian territorial waters, the “prison ship” has now absconded, pirate-fashion, to the high seas. And it would seem that there are legal implications associated with both locations. The government’s legal representative, Gleeson QC, is claiming that since the the asylum seekers were picked up outside of Australia, they can not be afforded protection under the Migration Act. On the other hand, It is also illegal for a government to detain people without disclosing their whereabouts – *somewhere* on the high seas. Refoulement (delivery of refugees to their persecutors) is a violation of international law, and it breaches Australia’s obligations under the Refugee Convention, and of course asylum seekers have the right to fair screening and protection from harm in the interim.

Former liberal candidate, Mark Hoysted, outlines some of the key issues before the court.

The High Court has specified that although none of the 153 asylum seekers can be delivered to Sri Lankan authorities, pending an investigation, they may be transported elsewhere to be processed. Manus Island and Nauru are not looking like the easiest of destinations at the moment, given certain conditions of Maritime Powers Act, but it is unlikely that our government will cede to motions being led by Senator Sarah Hanson Young and human rights groups such as Plan International Australia who are particularly concerned about the children on board, to bring these people to Australia. For the moment, all we know is that they are being detained on the high seas, with conditions aboard unknown.

Articles 31 to 33 of the 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees prohibit REFOULEMENT - the return of any refugee 'to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened'

This government needs to be placed under maximum surveillance! Its employees are unlikely to speak out, since they have been threatened with dismissal if they disclose or criticise the government’s “Operational Matters” – a term that has been employed by Prime Minister Abbott to characterise the battle against refugees as a war. It therefore falls upon ordinary citizens and independent journalists to expose the human rights atrocity this government’s actions appear to have become. Please support Operation Transparent Borders by donating generously.

Three-year-old Febrina is among the 153 missing asylum seekers © Tamil Refugee Council

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Visit the Aboriginal Embassy in Sydney

I caught up with Jenny Munro, Wirajuri Elder, and her friend Judex at the new Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Redfern, near Sydney. She extended an invitation to one and all, to visit and camp around the Embassy, on the condition that Aboriginal protocols and camp rules are respected while on the grounds. And grounds they are for visiting, given their “million dollar view” of the city.

That of course is part of the reason Aboriginal people have been struggling to remain on the ‘The Block’, whose name may be familiar from the TV Series made about it. It is probably little known however that no Aboriginals have lived there for a long time. There were plans to build low-cost accommodation for Aboriginal people on this site, but they seem to have been thwarted. Many families were moved elsewhere while this was being done, but it’s now looking that they will have to struggle to get back in.

This community needs people power and good will. In return, it offers warm hospitality and a unique cultural experience. After a week at the Canberra Tent Embassy, I personally, didn’t want to leave…

Jenny Munro, Wirajura Elder and voice of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Redfern

The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy is located just across the road from Redfern railway station. The best time to arrive is for JULY 6th, where there will be talks and activities around the subject of returning Aboriginal people to their neighbourhood.

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