Eritrea, a small country in the horn of Africa, generally receives little attention in the international media. But in recent years there have been occasional reports of mass drownings of Eritrean refugees in the Mediterranean. As of June 2015, there were 383,869 refugees from Eritrea registered with the UNHCR. There were also 60,157 asylum seekers who had applied for refugee status.
University of Jaffna students stage hunger strike in solidarity with fasting prisoners. Photo: Tamilnet.com. Fourteen Tamil prisoners have been on hunger strike since February 22. They are demanding the release of all Tamil political prisoners and prisoners of war.
February 4 protest in Vavuniyaa. Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka held protests on February 4, the former British colony's independence day.
A six-year-old boy, Tharshan Kugathasan, was found dead near a navy base at Champoor on the east coast of Sri Lanka on January 26. The boy's body was found in a disused well. The body had been weighed down with a large stone tied to his body by military-style shoelaces. He had earlier been seen with Sri Lankan navy personnel who used to offer him food and chocolates, according to local residents quoted by the Tamilnet website. Evidence indicates that he was raped and murdered by navy personnel.
A former member of Bahrain's parliament, Jassim Hussain, who resigned in protest at the repression of the 2011 reform movement, spoke about the current situation in Bahrain and the broader Gulf region on January 24. Hussain said the falling price of oil has caused economic problems for the Gulf States. They have also spent a lot of money on the wars in Yemen and Syria. As a result, there have been cuts to government subsidies for meat, fuel and electricity, as well as cuts to unemployment and retirement benefits.
Tamils protest for the release of political prisoners. Colombo, October 2015. When Maithripala Sirisena was elected as president of Sri Lanka in January last year, he promised to end human rights violations by the security forces. Under Sirisena's predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, it was common practice for the army and police to abduct people and torture them. Some were later released, while others were murdered.
"What do we want? A fair deal. When do we want it? Now!" more than 1000 firefighters chanted as they marched through the streets of Melbourne on December 8. The Victorian Labor government, like its Liberal predecessor, has refused to reach an agreement with the United Firefighters Union (UFU) that would guarantee firefighters' working conditions. December 8 was the 977th day without a workplace agreement.
The entire northern province of Sri Lanka, an area mainly inhabited by Tamils, was "brought to a standstill" on November 13, according to the Tamilnet website, in support of Tamil prisoners on hunger strike for their freedom. All private and public activities, except for medical services, came to a standstill. Students did not attend schools. Roads remained deserted except for the army and police.
Forty people attended a public meeting in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick on the campaign against conscription during World War I. Michael Hamel-Green, a draft resister during the Vietnam War who is now an emeritus professor at Victoria University, gave a talk on the history of the anti-conscription campaign, with a particular emphasis on the role of local residents. Prime Minister Billy Hughes called two referenda on conscription for military service outside Australia, in 1916 and 1917. Both were defeated, the second by a greater margin than the first.
The Refugee Action Collective Victoria has filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court over the Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. The complaint requests the ICC to investigate and prosecute ministers and former ministers of the Australian government, specifically former prime minister Tony Abbott, former immigration minister Scott Morrison, current immigration minister Peter Dutton, and attorney-general George Brandis.