Tony Iltis

The Bulgarian Prisoners Rights Association (BPRA) has made progress in its attempts to bring due process into Bulgaria's parole laws.

Founded in 2012, the BPRA has been represented on a Ministry of Justice working group on prison reform since May. Their representative is Valio Ivanov, who was released from Sofia Central Prison in February after serving 22 years — 20 in solitary confinement.

Ivanov succeeded in getting the working group to recommend changes in parole laws, BPRA chairperson Jock Palfreeman told Green Left Weekly.


YPJ fighters defending Kobanê, June 26. Photo: ypgrojava.com.

The “Islamic State” (IS) terror group attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France have grabbed global attention and condemnation. But the group's attack on Kobane in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) — and the fierce resistance — has been largely ignored.


Turkish-backed terrorists have massacred civilians in Kobanê. Photo: Kurdish Resistance & Liberation/Facebook.

The Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria was attacked on June 25 by forces from the self-styled Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, which crossed from Turkey. This was the first significant IS attack on the town since a five-month siege was repulsed in January.

The attack appears to be a Turkish-backed response to recent military gains made by the Kurdish-led forces of the Women's Defence Units (YPJ) and People's Defence Units (YPG).

It has become a disturbing hallmark of the current government that the degree to which Prime Minister Tony Abbott adopts the style of a Nazi leader addressing the Nuremburg Rally is a reflection of the policies being foreshadowed. At Abbott's June 23 press conference, the flag count was up to 10. The parliamentary sitting week that followed was an assault on democratic rights.

Reports of physical and sexual violence, including against children, continue to emerge from Australian refugee detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Allegations have also emerged that Australian authorities had paid people smugglers to take a boat of asylum seekers away from Australian waters.

But the government has continued to respond with secrecy, vilification of critics and increasingly draconian government measures to prevent information coming out.

The Bulgarian Prisoners' Rehabilitation Association (BPRA) won a victory on May 22 when it was invited to send a representative to a Ministry of Justice working group on prison reform.

The BPRA was founded in 2012 by Jock Palfreeman, an Australian anti-racist activist serving a 20-year sentence in Sofia central prison after he was framed for murdering a neo-Nazi. It is the first inmate-run prisoners' rights group in Bulgaria's history.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has turned playing the national security card into a cliche in his desperate attempt to reverse his unpopularity by promising to protect Australians' lives from a serious threat of terrorism.

On May 26, he again gave a press conference in front of half a dozen Australian flags, arguing that stopping Australians from being harmed by terrorists was his government's overriding priority and foreshadowing announcements in the coming parliamentary sitting week of a new round of legislation attacking fundamental civil liberties.

The toll of Australia's bipartisan anti-refugee policies in death and suffering is rising. In the past fortnight more than 3000 Rohingya refugees from Arakan state in Burma (Myanmar) have turned up on the shores of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, having either swum ashore or been rescued by local fishing boat crews. An estimated 7000 more are trapped on boats that have been described as “floating coffins”.

Already struggling to cope with the devastation caused by the April 25 earthquake that measured 7.8 on the Moment Magnitude Scale, Nepal was hit on May 12 by a major aftershock with a magnitude of 7.3 MMS. By May 14, there had been 158 aftershocks.

The May 12 aftershock appears to have killed far fewer people than the initial quake, but the combined death toll is more than 9000 and rising. Most casualties have been in Nepal but there have also been deaths in India, Bangladesh and Tibet.

Pages

Subscribe to Tony Iltis