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Home for Christmas? Not everyone is so lucky

As we prepare to share Christmas with our families, we're thankful that we have a roof over our head, food on our table, and family and friends to share the festive season with. Not everyone in our community is so lucky.

Report on Sri Lanka war crimes exonerates SL government

When one’s expectations are low, it is difficult to be disappointed. But even with almost no expectation that the report of Sri Lanka’s ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’ (LLRC) would seriously address prima facie evidence of war crimes, it has still left a wide range of observers dismayed. The only lesson that appears to have been learned is that the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa has worked out how to get away with murder.
The Journal of Foreign Relations said the report ‘exonerates the military, does not touch on the question of accountability and includes some touchy-feely language about the country’s need to move forward, celebrate its diversity and be grateful for the defeat of terrorism’.

SHALL WE TALK ABOUT WHALES AND WHALING? (8)

To whale or not to whale … THAT should be the question

I was simply amazed when I read a small online Japanese article about a week ago.  It was reporting the departure of three whaling ships from Shimonoseki, former whaling town in the western Japan, heading for the Antarctic.  I was amazed not that I was surprised by the fact that the Japanese had decided to return to the Antarctic yet again but that one official from the Japanese Fisheries Agency was quoted as saying that they had beefed up the fleet’s security level to counter the attack from activists and they were releasing the information beforehand because it may work as a “deterrent effect” .  

     Excuse me?  Deterrent effect?  Are you serious?  

Reconciling cultural diversity and public law

I have just arrived in Ottawa, Canada,  as a  visiting professor hosted by the Audio Visual Lab for the Study of Culture and Society, and only a few hours ago delivered my first public seminar about the  transnational practices of migrants in multicultural societies.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by local radios on the broader topic of migrant settlement policies and what Canada and Australia had in common and also where their respective policies differed.

However,  the most interesting media interaction happened to me in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, a leading newspaper here.

What was rather surprising about the interview is the reporter’s questions about the very contentious issue of domestic law and whether this needed to be amended in some cases to take into account cultural practices of the specific migrant communities.

Against bringing civilians into war zones

Presentation to the Asia-Pacific Civil-Military Centre for Excellence, 8 November 2011.

How Australian aid in Asia can benefit those at home

Australians are a generous people.

On a per capita basis, public donations to help those affected by natural disasters are amongst the highest in the world.

Studies show that it does not hinge on where these emergencies occur, nor what type of emergencies they are, and nor finally does it depend upon how long it has been since the last public appeal.

Full item at The Conversation

Winning the war, but what about the peace?

Gadhafi’s death brings to a close the war for liberation that has wracked Libya for much of this year, but pushes to the forefront a host of new issues that have only just remained under the surface, particularly over the few weeks. How these issues are handled will shape Libya’s foreseeable future.
There are a range of criteria that indicate the likely success or failure of a post-conflict state, high among which are ethnic or tribal distinction, and institutional capacity. Institutional capacity includes not just a functioning administration and the provision of basic services, but the extent to which rule of law is embedded in society and the legitimacy of ruling groups or individuals.

One against a thousand: The politics of the Gilad Shalit deal

When Gilad Shalit was dragged away in a cross-border raid in June 2006, it’s doubtful he or his captors would have imagined five years’ of negotiations lay ahead.

Nor in their most fevered imaginings would they have expected 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of them with multiple life sentences for murder, would be the price of his release.

theconversation.edu.au/one-against-a-thousand-the-politics-of-the-gilad-shalit-deal-3903

 

Dark forces still at work in Aceh, Indonesia

In early October, Aceh will hold its second gubanatorial elections since the 2005 peace agreement that ended almost three decades of separatist war. After five years of relative peace and stability, the main political tensions appear to be between competing factions of the former Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Other, more troubling tensions are, however, just below the surface.
There is little to divide the main factions competing in the elections. The incumbent governor, Irwandi Yusuf, has overseen the development of a universal health care system, expanded education, overseen underlying economic growth and banned logging in Aceh’s spectacular rainforest.
His main electoral opponent, GAM’s former ‘Foreign Minister’, Dr Zaini Abdullah, also supports such programs. Apart from personalities, the division between them might be characterised as one of the latter being more conservative and the former more progressive.

Indonesia and East Timor - odd bedfellows

The announcement by East Timor’s prime minister, Xanana Gusmao, that his country will begin military to military links with Indonesia has caused widespread surprise, given the deeply troubled history between the small, recently independent state and its large and previously belligerent neighbour. There are a number of benefits to this new arrangement, which will also see police to police links established. But there are also many unresolved issues.
Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor in 1975 led to the deaths of more than a quarter of its population, almost 200,000 people, with its final farewell being the destruction of most of the country and the murder of around 1,500 more civilians. According to Prime Minister Gusmao, it is now time to forgive and forget.

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