November Asia-Pacific News Roundup

This is a compilation of the tweets by the Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator of the International Detention Coalition. For live updates, follow @IDCAsiaPacific


Regional: During its human rights review at the United Nations, Nauru has encouraged transparency in detention by inviting international bodies to assess its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

The UN Secretary General appoints Filippo Grandi of Italy as the new High Commissioner for Refugees.

Australia: Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton gave out the first refugee visas granted to Syrian and Iraqi families under Australia’s resettlement program, which has been temporarily expanded in response to the Syrian conflict and the growing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

Australia’s asylum seeker policies – border control policies in particular- have been heavily criticised by a number of countries at the UN Human Rights Council review in Geneva.

Fazel Chegeni, an Iranian Kurd died after escaping from the Christmas Island Detention Centre. Mr Chegeni was granted refugee status more than two and a half years ago and was released into the community for a short period, only to be returned to detention in Christmas Island. There are still many questions surrounding the details of his death.

The Senate passed a bill calling for the release of all children in immigration detention in Australia, a significant moment for child’s rights. This however, is now resting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and colleagues, who have been urged by various stakeholders to pass the bill through the House of Representatives.

At the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Ban Ki-moon urged Malcolm Turnbull to rethink refugee policy, voicing unease over offshore detention.

Asylum seekers on a boat sighted close to Christmas Island had not been seen or heard of a week after an Australian Navy vessel was seen towing the boat back out to sea. The federal government refused to discuss the whereabouts of the boat. Finally found stranded near West Kupang in Indonesia. A police officer assisting in getting the asylum seekers of the boat at Tablolong beach in West Kupang said: “They could’ve died if they sunk or if no one found them”. The captain of the vessel and the 16 people on board are currently being detained by police who are investigating.

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Myanmar’s first free nationwide poll in 25-years took place, with the National League for Democracy’s Aung San Suu Kyi claiming a majority in parliament. Her win symbolises the end of half a century of dominance by the military, and means that she will now be able to form a government and handpick a president.

While the elections in Myanmar marked an important step towards building a democratic state, attention has been drawn towards the Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic minority who were not able to vote in the recent election. This serves as a reminder of the continued discrimination that the Rohingya people face, and which is driving many to make dangerous sea journeys in search of protection in Thailand and Malaysia.