Daily Archives: February 24, 2013

Pakistan Refugee confusion grows

As Hazaras are grieving for their families who are being killed daily by militias in Pakistan, the confusion about who said what and who promised what, grows.

The fact is that the Australian government is desperate to stop Hazaras coming by boat. They are talking to groups around Australia and Indonesia urging them to tell their families to wait and “come the right way”.

Trouble is the increase in visas promised as the only positive out of the Expert Panel offshore program, has not materialised. Families who have waited up to 5 years for visas are seeing no hope of ever getting out. Meanwhile a quick trip to the shops for food can result in death. No one is sure that children will come home from sschool or mothers from the market place. Both the Humanitarian visa path and the Sponsored visa pathways are blocked by bureaucratic hurdles such as DNA tests, Health tests and ID can only be done in Islamabad-, a life threatening journey of 900 ks from Quetta by bus.
My informant tells me that often the Pakistan bus companies are refusing to carry Hazaras because they say that they are a risk, that the Taliban will target them if they see two or three Hazaras sitting in the bus. as if this hurdle was not enough now DIAC are demanding that wives travel back to Kabul inorder to get their taskeras stamped by the ministry there. The DNA tests can only be done by DIAC accredited laboratories in Australia. The test which costs an Australia $300, costs an adult Hazara $1500 and a child $750. The test is a simple mouth swab.

Those without family who are in danger have to rely on applying as a refugees.they too have insurmountable hurdles. See below Australia says plan only for refugees but they don’t say that no one can get into the Quetta office of the UNHCR to place an applicction. this office was closed for two years because of security concerns. Now the UN office is open but impossible to get in. Hazaras have to pass through 4 checkpoints showing a letter of invitation, ID documents and or Passport. As we know only too well refugees don’t often have documents. As for the letter of invitation, one man I spoke to said that UNHCR could help by posting this letter out after a phone call invitation. While many live in houses without numbers etc- letters could be sent to local shops. Without a letter they have no hope to get in the door. Until they ghet in the door they cannot get a letter. This man who has come through the system told me that only 2 or 3 out of a hundred are ever accepted- that is 97%. In 2010 there were 700 applications in process- few were accepted.

Meanwhile buses and the market places carry Australian posters telling people not to travel by boat because it is too dangerous.

So when Australia says that they will only accept UNHCR designated refugees – this means that there is no formal pathway to Australia as a refugee.

Australia’s asylum plan ‘only for refugees’


ISLAMABAD, Feb 21: Australia on Thursday denied it had launched any special asylum programme for the Hazaras, the target of the recent terrorist attacks in Quetta.

“Australia is sympathetic to communities affected by sectarian violence and acts of terrorism. While Australia’s offshore Humanitarian Programme has been increased in 2012-13, there are no new arrangements for particular ethnicities or people from a particular part of any country,” the Australian High Commission said in a statement, contradicting a report in Dawn on Thursday headlined “2,500 Hazara families offered asylum”.

Terming the report “incorrect”, it said: “Australia is not introducing a new programme to resettle Hazaras out of Pakistan and Australia’s ongoing resettlement programme is only for refugees.”

Australia’s priority is to assist those refugees who are the most vulnerable. Refugees, including the Afghan Hazaras wanting to be resettled in Australia, must be recognised by the UNHCR as meeting the criteria for refugee status.

To be considered for resettlement, they must be among the most vulnerable, said the statement.

New Drone Base in Niger Builds U.S. Presence in Africa

[Editor’s Note: The French military have become bogged down
in Mali. As a result the US has intervened and provided support using
its superior logistics and use of extra-judicial
assassinations with drones. Thousands of people have been killed in
this way across Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.]

Eric Schmitt and Scott Sayare in the New York Times:

In a letter to Congress, Mr. Obama said about 40 United States military service members arrived in Niger on Wednesday, bringing the total number of those deployed in the country to about100 American troops had been sent to Niger in West Africa to help set up a new base from which unarmed Predator aircraft would conduct surveillance in the region.

“the greatest enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words.”


The Canyons is the greatest story being told

A movie might save Lindsay Lohan from Hell – no not jail, reality TV.

THE crazy true story of the making of the neo-noir Hollywood film The Canyons for $250,000 will be turned into a film one day and it will make hundreds of millions of dollars one day.
If you have not caught up with the tragi-comedy, which would make Samuel Beckett jealous, get on-board straight away.

This unintentional black comedy of the making of The Canyons stars best-selling author/ Twitter assassin Bret Easton Ellis, screenplay writer of Taxi Driver, Paul Schrader, wild child Lindsay Lohan and a porn star named James Deen.

I have been following the saga which is almost too good to be true.
Here is a background account of the juicy story which has the promise of more delights to come.
The latest news is the film has a distributor IFC  Films when no wholesaler seemed keen after the flick was brushed for inclusion in the Sundance Festival and ridiculed in the media.
IFC plans to release it simultaneously in theaters and on the internet (Video On Demand) early in the American summer.
The distributor – the I stands for independent – picked up My Big Fat Greek Wedding in 2002 which had to be a good score.
·        Subsequent ICF releases include
·        Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) – by Michael Moore
·        Land of Plenty (2004) – by Wim Wenders
·        Paranoid Park (2008) – by Gus Van Sant
·        Che (2008) – by Steven Soderbergh
·        My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009) – by Werner Herzog
·        Looking for Eric (2009) – by Ken Loach
·        The Angels’ Share (2012) (as IFC Midnight) – by Ken Loach
 The point is that IFC has given some credibility to overcome the bizarre marketing efforts of The Canyons producers who dissed their own film in three trailers:          
I won’t inflict the other two on you but below are the links

Commenting on the distribution deal, director Paul Schrader said, ‘The Canyons is a visually and tonally precise, acid-etched horror story of souls wandering through a hyper-materialistic hell.’
PLEASE Paul, promise not to do any more promotion from a pen dipped in purple ink.
Meanwhile, the Guardian newspaper, which makes some strange cultural deliberations, has panned the film without seeing it – remember it is out in the American summer.
TheGuardian might like to declare the film a dud, but I would like to go on the record for predicting it will make a huge bundle of moolah. IFC apparently put down $1m on the table to secure the rights which puts the flick in the black already. Thanks go to the Guardian and the New York Times for the “negative” publicity.
I cannot wait to see it and in a cinema. It may be a passable film but I will love it, anyhows. It will be the final chapter in a magnificent evolving narrative.
Paul Schrader says The Canyons is a horror story: