Monthly Archives: July 2014

RISE exclusive media release (24 July 2014) : RISE WITHDRAWS FROM NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK’S SERVICES

RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees has withdrawn from the use of National Australia Bank’s banking services because of its involvement in Australia’s inhumane, unlawful and unconscionable offshore detention industry.

We have been a National Australia Bank (NAB) customer since our founding in 2009. However, concerning information about NAB’s investment activities was brought to our attention in the last few months.

As recently as May, NAB was a substantial holder of shares in Transfield Services Limited. Transfield operates the Australian government’s offshore internment camps on Nauru and Manus Island. It stands at the heart of this country’s immigration detention–industrial complex. During the extended period that NAB held a substantial stake in the company, Transfield announced that it had reached an agreement with the Australian government to take over the Manus Island facility, on top of its existing contract to run the Nauru camp.

RISE’s governance structure includes refugees who are ex-detainees, and many of our members have also directly experienced and continue to experience the cruelty of Australia’s immigration detention system. After NAB’s investments in Transfield were brought to our attention, we were compelled to review our position as a NAB customer.

We sent a letter to NAB asking for an explanation. NAB responded that it had not directly invested in Transfield for its own benefit. It said that investment divisions within the group had traded in Transfield shares for the benefit of investors. It said that the decisions to invest in Transfield were not taken by NAB itself, but rather by investment managers who were bound to act solely based on financial considerations.

We have carefully considered this justification, but have indicated to NAB that we are not satisfied with it. It ignores the fact that NAB provides investment services as part of commercial activities from which it derives profit. It also ignores the fact that NAB created the investment products whose terms allegedly require the investment managers to invest unethically.

We have reached the view that it is untenable to stay with a bank that cultivates an “ethical” image but involves itself financially with policies that degrade the mental and physical well-being of persecuted people. We have therefore ended our own involvement with NAB.

We note that the Ethisphere Institute recently rated NAB as one of the “world’s most ethical companies”. We urge Ethisphere to review its decision in light of the serious concerns that we have raised.

Finally, we call on all refugee advocacy and welfare organisations to audit their activities to ensure that they are not implicated with the dirty profits of the immigration detention industry.

Federal republic of West Papua executives released from prison – 18 July 2014

The Indonesian government has claimed it is releasing the President and Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of West Papua (FRWP) on Monday 21 July 2014.  President Forkorus Yaboisembut and Prime Minister Edison Waromi were convicted of treason, along with Selfius Bobbi, Agus Kraar, and Domiinikus Sorabut, after the 3rd Papua Congress established the independent state of West Papua on 19 October 2011.

Jacob Rumbiak, FRWP Minister for Foreign Affairs, believes President Yudhoyono should use the final months of his office to negotiate with the FRWP executives he has just released.  “Edison and Forkorus were elected by the West Papuan people to negotiate our status as an independent state, and the president should be talking with them under the formal auspice of a UN Security Council member like Australia.  Otherwise his country will humiliate itself again, as it did in East Timor in 1999”.    

Rumbiak believes President Yudhoyono is obliged to release all the other Papuan political prisoners.  “There are another seventy-six West Papuan political prisoners illegally incarcerated on convictions of treason; President Yudhoyono needs to release them before his second term finishes in October”.

Minister Rumbiak said Waromi and Yaboisembut are being released on the same day that the new president of Indonesia is being announced.  “General Prabowo’s brother, the influential businessman who funded the general’s election campaign, warned (former American president) Clinton not to visit Jakarta next week.  ”He would be safe in West Papua” said Rumbiak, “because the FRWP has eight-thousand West Papuan police well capable of protecting him, as well as the Indonesian citizens who live with us”.   

Minister Rumbiak, speaking from the Federal Republic of West Papua’s new five-star-energy office in Docklands (Melbourne), wants Greg Moriarty, the Australian Ambassador in Jakarta, to visit Waromi and Yaboisembut in West Papua next week.  “As Indonesia’s key financial sponsor, with a seat on the UN Security Council, Australia has a duty to protect our heads of state” he said.   

INQUIRIES

West Papua
Jack Wanggai, Spokesperson for Prime Minister Waromi; +62 813 4458 9878
Agus Ayamiseba, FRWP Spokesperson in Pidgin;   +62 821 9757 2939

Australia    
Ronny Kareni, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, 0401 222 177
Melkias Okoka, Media Liaison, 0403 588 796

Urgent request to the international community to investigate disappearance of 153 Asylum seekers : 04/07/2014

RISE has sent a second communication in the early hours of the morning to the UN High Commissioner for Human rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment requesting an urgent investigation into the disappearance of the asylum seekers who are reported to have arrived in Australian waters last week.

It is extremely important the International community make every effort to act now because as reported in The Australian on 3 July 2014, Sri Lankan Human rights lawyer Lakshan Dias said:

“…if the handover happened in international waters and no one was there to witness it, both governments could claim the asylum-seekers were rescued after experiencing boat trouble.

“The violation is by the Australian government which is blocking the legal movement of people in international waters,” he said.

“You can’t blame the Sri Lankan government. Australia is Sri Lanka’s best friend at the moment. They support them in international forums, they have donated coastguard boats, and so if your friend asks you for a favour you try to help. Australia won’t want to come into a Sri Lankan port to hand over these people because it would tarnish their image…”

A copy our communication to the UN Human rights commissioner is as follows:

Urgent Request for investigation into whereabouts of Missing Tamil asylum seekers-reports they are being pushed back by Australia to International waters & handed to Sri Lankan Navy.

This is an urgent communication from RISE: Refugees, survivors and ex-detainees in Melbourne.

On 1 July 2014 we sent you an email urgently asking for assistance regarding the disappearance of 153 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, men, women and children on a 21m long boat who were last in contact with Refugee advocates in Australia on 28 June 2014 after it arrived in Australian waters as well as the possibility of another boat load of 50 whose whereabouts are also unknown.

To date the Australian Minister of Immigration and Border protection, Mr. Scott Morrison, and the Prime Minister Tony Abbott have refused to reveal what has happened to these asylum seekers.

However since Tuesday 1 July 2014 there are disturbing reports that the Australian government has loaded them onto an Australian customs vessel and is planning to handover the asylum seekers mid-ocean to the Sri Lankan Navy, directly into the hands of their persecutors.  The Australian government still refuses to confirm to NGOs and the media if this has happened.

Looking at the number of calendar days since the news was first reported, it is likely that the asylum seekers would now be in international waters.  In fact a news report yesterday (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/ocean-transfers-of-asylumseekers-expected-today/story-fn9hm1gu-1226975765268) also says they are likely to have been transferred to the Sri Lankan navy on international waters by now.

Once the detained asylum seekers are on international waters it is the UN that has the competence to investigate the fate of these detainees and we therefore ask for an urgent investigation into the whereabouts of these prisoners and confirm if they are now in the hands of those they are seeking asylum from.

We have also made a similar request to other UN human rights bodies as well as ICRC (International committee of the Red Cross).