Maiden speech – Golriz Ghahraman

A big maiden speech from Green MP Golriz Ghahraman, with strong references to immigration and patriotism and refugees.

She talks of hardships involving war that most of us who have always lived in New Zealand have very fortunately not had to experience or suffer.

My parents.

Both strong, Iranian feminists. You lost everything. You lost your friends, your family, your professions and your language, because you weren’t willing to raise a little girl in oppression.

Thank you.

Closing comments:

Mr Speaker.

I stand here as a child of revolutionaries, as a child asylum seeker, as a international human rights lawyer, as an activist, and as a Green, and my standing here proves New Zealand is a place where a nine-year-old asylum seeker, a refugee, a girl from the Middle East can grow up to one day enter Parliament.

It proves the strength and the goodness of New Zealand’s values.

We all should be grateful and proud that Golriz can become an MP in New Zealand, and speak openly and passionately about her past and about her passion to bring about positive change.

Full draft transcript:


Mr Speaker, I congratulate you, and I look forward to your guidance in this House. I acknowledge also that we stand on land that was neve ceded, so I have acknowledged tangata whenua.

I begin by acknowledging what a breathtaking honour it is to sit among this Green caucus. It’s a dream. I also acknowledge those who’ve sat among you before now, in particular Catherine Delahunty and Keith Locke—you spoke to injustice wherever it happened, and, to someone like me, that meant a lot. Mojo Mathers, you taught me and us all that we are far more than our labels. And Metiria Turei, for baring your scars to highlight the pain of others, I thank you.

But today I also want to acknowledge those who tell me every day that I don’t belong here, that I should go home where I came from, that I should have been left to die, or that I have no right to criticise any politician in the country or take part in public life, because this isn’t my home. Some of them call for rifles to be loaded—it gets frightening.

I’m numb to it because that actually is the reality for those of us in this country from minority backgrounds if we do stand up and become visible. I want it noted that it’s also the consequence every time someone in this House scapegoats migrants, every time a TV presenter is allowed to ask the Prime Minister when our Governor General is going to look like a Kiwi and sound like a Kiwi and that Prime Minister just laughs, every time we call refugees “the leftovers from terrorist nations” for our political gain. We feel it on the streets; we can’t shed our skin.

Patriotism that seeks to quash dissent and divide us is archaic. It’s dangerous for our democracy. We can’t tolerate that. It’s antithetical to our culture. I love this country, but a love of this country—patriotism—means expecting the very best for her. It means fighting for the country we know is possible. So I criticise leaders who fall short, I protest, and I fight for equality and justice, because that is what loves looks like in public—that’s Dr Cornel West; that’s not me. So today I stand here proud and determined because today is about democracy and equality—values that New Zealand embodies, stands up for so boldly.

I am a child of revolutionaries. My parents faced tanks for democracy, at gunpoint fought for human rights. They faced torture to take back their country’s resource from imperialists, from dictators, and from corrupt corporate interests and put it back in the hands of the people. The Iranian revolution was one of the biggest popular revolutions in modern history. Everyone was out on the street—students, communists, socialists, and Islamists—fighting against inequality.

But their revolution was hijacked, and ultimately my life was shaped by one of the most repressive regimes in modern history. Everyone knew someone that disappeared into a torture chamber for speaking out; everyone knew a woman flogged for disregarding Islamic dress—and that wasn’t our culture, even for those of us who were Muslim. Everyone feared their phones being tapped; that was my childhood.

But it was also just the backdrop to a bloody eight year war we fought against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. I remember the bombs and the sirens, running to a basement and just waiting, but mostly I remember kids my age who stopped talking from the shell shock. I still don’t know what happened to them. Then scarcity set in, because America was on Saddam’s side and we were sanctioned. We had to use coupons to buy food. Years later, we realised that the West had backed both sides of that war—sold weapons to both sides.

That is what refugees are made of.

I feel a kinship with first nations people, with tangata whenua, because we too have been alienated from our land and our resources by imperialism—by wars that we did not profit from. We share the same degradation and prejudice; I want us to work closer together. Migrants, refugees, Pasifika people, tangata whenua—we have far more that unites us than that which divides us. I want Te Tiriti o Waitangi to be a living constitutional document in this country, leading policy, even on immigration.

My mum was a child psychologist, but she never worked because she didn’t believe in taking religious exams, especially in a mental health field. My dad was an agricultural engineer who worked on research trying to extract energy from plant sources—Green to the core. So let’s remember that our values exist in all cultures. The Middle East, just like the West, has fierce feminism, environmentalism, Government selling us off to multinationals, and—yes—religious fundamentalism. I want us to amplify the voices in all cultures who speak of democracy and equality above those who would silence them.

When that repression got too scary, my family and I fled. We landed in Auckland Airport and the fear was palpable. I can still feel it now. I was nine years old. We didn’t know what would happen if we were sent back, but we weren’t; we were welcomed here. That warm welcome is my first memory of my homeland. New Zealand recognised our rights and our humanity; that’s what that was, though I didn’t know it then. My second memory is that this country was so green. Those two vivid first impressions are going to lead my work in this House.

I became a lawyer—I never intended to do that, but I wanted to make human rights enforceable. The criminal justice system leads on human rights in our system. The most frightening thing that I’ve seen in about 15 years of being a lawyer all over the world is the sight of a 13-year-old child sitting behind a very large table awaiting his trial for murder at the Auckland High Court. I was part of his defence team. He’d thrown a rock over an overbridge, tragically taking another young life. He was tried as an adult because our system requires it. He suffered from mental illness, as do most people that come through our justice system. He was brown. He was from South Auckland. His family was so poor that they shifted houses every so often just so that they could have electricity for a while. He didn’t have a lot of schooling, because of that, and his Child Youth and Family file was the stuff of nightmares. Our most vulnerable.

The front lines of our justice system is where I learnt about unchecked prejudice. That’s what turned me into a human rights lawyer, and I focused on children’s rights. But it was living in Africa, working on genocide trials for the UN, where I learnt how prejudice turns to atrocity. It starts with dehumanising language in the media. It starts by politicians scapegoating groups, as groups, for social ills—I think that every time I see it happen here. I saw it in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, and when I prosecuted the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia—holding politicians and armies to account for abusing their power, and giving voice to women and minorities, because we are always most viciously attacked by abusers. These experiences have instilled in me a commitment to human rights that I first got as someone who has seen the world without them.

Human rights are universal. We don’t have fewer rights because of our religion, because of where we were born, or because of who we love. We don’t have fewer rights because we had our children out of wedlock, or because we’ve been charged with a crime. We don’t have human rights because we are good, but because we are human—there is no such thing as the deserving poor or the good refugee.

Human rights are indivisible. We have a bundle of rights. We can’t realise one without the others—you can’t say we have a democracy or free speech unless we also have the right to education, and we don’t have the right to education unless the kids we are teaching have food and homes. For too long, for about 10 years now in New Zealand, our very democracy has been undermined because too many of our rights—our economic, our social, and our cultural rights—have been breached. I want to entrench those.

Finally—and of most interest to this House—human rights are enforceable against Governments. These are our obligations. This our mandate to govern. We can’t privatise them away. They are not charity—people don’t have to beg.

I want New Zealand to get back to a culture of expecting this from us, and none of that is inseparable from the environment. Protection of people’s rights and nature’s rights are intrinsically linked. Just ask the people of the Pacific—our neighbours—whose homelands are being drowned out because of waste pollution consumption that they have not participated in or benefited from.

One of the greatest threats to both human and nature’s rights right now is subjugation of our democracy to corporate interests. A rampant market on a finite planet cannot exist. New Zealand must lead by example on this, as we have done before. We’ve stood up against status quo interests on the world stage, and I want us to be that righteous little nation again.

I never intended to run as the first ever refugee MP, but I quickly realised that my face and my story meant so much to so many, so my fear of tokenism dissipated. I had such an outpouring of support from all over New Zealand and the world—even Trump’s America—and I remembered getting notes and emails from my female interns, mostly of minority background, back in the UN, telling me what it meant to them to have someone like them forging that path. Some of them are carrying that mantle right now. I realised then that it was important for that process to have a former victim of governance by repression and mass murder stand up in those courtrooms, which are normally dominated by Western men.

So this is a victory for a nine-year-old asylum seeker. But it’s also a victory for everyone who has ever felt out of place, who has been excluded, or who has been told that she has limits to her dreams.

For getting me here, I thank the voters. You’ve humbled me for ever. You voted for diversity and fairness and nature this election when you voted Green.

I thank our Green activists and our staff, especially our Auckland staff. You worked harder and harder as things got harder this election. You will inspire me for ever. To my campaign team—especially Ron and Daniel, who are up there—and my second, political family, the Chalmers clan, I’m so happy you are here. Your support is life affirming to me.

My parents, both strong Iranian feminists—you lost everything. You lost your friends, your family, your professions, and your language because you weren’t willing to raise a little girl in oppression—thank you.

And to maybe the most political person I know, although a very large, loud white boy—my partner. Thank you for stopping me mid-rant—it seems like a lifetime ago now—when I was lamenting the loss of activism in politics and some of my favourite MPs. I was saying, “Who’s going to be the candidate that will stand up to the GCSB? Who’s going to be the candidate who will be the new Keith Locke?”, and you said, “You will be that candidate.”—and I was. We’re both political, we are both adventurers, but you are also patient. I thank you for that, and for love, but mostly courage, on that day and every day.

I stand here as a child of revolutionaries, as a child asylum seeker, as a international human rights lawyer, as an activist, and as a Green, and my standing here proves New Zealand is a place where a nine-year-old asylum seeker, a refugee, a girl from the Middle East can grow up to one day enter Parliament. It proves the strength and the goodness of New Zealand’s values.

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

Manus Island refugees

There is a lot of coverage of Manus Island refugees. From RNZ:

PNG govt hints Manus deadline won’t be enforced

13 Nov 2017
101st daily protest 101, 9-11-17.

The Papua New Guinea government is hinting that the deadline for refugees to leave the shuttered Manus Island detention centre will not be enforced.

PNG minister says no to NZ on Manus

13 Nov 2017

Papua New Guinea’s immigration minister says he will not deal directly with New Zealand to resettle up to 150 refugees on Manus Island. AUDIO

To push or not to push Australia over Manus Island refugees

13 Nov 2017
A banner from 104th day of protest on Manus Island

Gerry Brownlee says not to push Australia too hard over Manus Island refugees AUDIO

Manus Island refugees refuse to budge

13 Nov 2017

Personnel from the PNG immigration department inside the detention centre.

None of the refugees occupying the former detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island left the facility today, despite pressure from authorities.

Manus detainees stay put as new deadline passes

14 Nov 2017<

Another deadline has passed for refugees on Manus Island to leave the detention centre there which was officially slated to close on October 31. But around 300 men are still refusing to leave the… AUDIO

 Listen duration4′ :44

People smugglers see new Govt as easy target – reports

14 Nov 2017
The report says this photo was taken by an asylum seeker and shows a two-deck boat from Indonesia before it was intercepted by Australia in May 2015.

Australian authorities have intercepted four boats bound for New Zealand, run by people smugglers emboldened by the change of government, according to media reports. Jane Patterson reports. AUDIO

Don’t take them – warning from a former Manus Island guard

14 Nov 2017
Don't take them - warning from a former Manus Is guard: RNZ Checkpoint

A New Zealand man who worked at the Manus Island refugee detention facility is warning the government against taking any refugees, saying the ones still at the centre are dangerous men.   VIDEO, AUDIO

PM denies NZ becoming a soft target for people smuggling

14 Nov 2017
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney.

The Prime Minister has hit back at claims New Zealand has become a soft target for people smugglers with the change of government, saying this country is helping to combat the problem on the ground.

Manus detainees reject NZ guard’s claims they’re criminals

 

Refugees occupying the former detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island have rejected the claims made by a New Zealander who says he worked at the centre. The man, known as Ian, says he was… AUDIO

NZ to give $3m for Manus refugee aid

 
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand will give Papua New Guinea and aid agencies up to $3 million to help care for Manus Island refugees. VIDEO

 

 

 

The Manus mess

The treatment of refugees on Manus Island has long been a festering sore for Australia, and it has become worse. New Zealand has offered to help but that may come to nothing.

RNZ:  Manus stand-off: ‘We need to find a compassionate solution’

The new immigration minister has reassured refugees on Manus Island that New Zealand will do all it can to help ease the crisis.

Up to 700 refugees are refusing to leave the detention centre in Papua New Guinea, which was officially closed by the Australian government on Tuesday.

They fear for their safety if they move to new accommodations in a nearby township and have begged for help from New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will meet the Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull Sunday and the Papua New Guinea detention centre is expected to be high on the agenda.

Canberra has so far rejected New Zealand’s offer to take 150 refugees because if they gain citizenship, they would then have the right to live in Australia.

Iain Lees-Galloway, the new Minister of Immigration, told Morning Report the current stand-off was not an ideal situation and a compassionate solution needed to be found quickly.

“That’s ultimately in the hands of the Australian government but our offer to take 150 of the refugees is still on the table.

“I really hope Australia does take up our offer. We’re here to help.”

One refugee on the island said Australia was torturing the men and their only hope was New Zealand.

New Zealand’s first former refugee MP Golriz Ghahraman said she hoped Australia accepted New Zealand’s longstanding offer to take the 150 refugees.

She said 150 was the comfortable number that could be housed at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.

“My understanding is from that sector is that with bunking we could take it up to 250, and of course they do require wraparound services. The offer is there, so I think if they raise it seriously and it is accepted, that’s 150-250 lives.”

Ms Ghahraman said she was heartened to think Ms Ardern would raise the issue with her Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, when they meet in Sydney on Sunday.

The Australian Government has a record of being very unsympathetic to the plight of refugees.

Bad timing by Greens on refugees

Greens want to substantially increase the number of refugees coming into New Zealand.

Newstalk ZB:  Greens push for even bigger intake of refugees

The Green Party is pushing for an even bigger intake of refugees into New Zealand.

It is looking to further extend the country’s refugee policy, and is committing to do more than double the current quota.

Co-leader James Shaw said they would aim to increase the quota to 4000 refugees a year, to be phased in over six years.

“We would need to build an additional refugee resettlement centre, that would not be in Auckland. We would be asking council to apply. We know that there are number who are already keen,” he said.

Shaw said they would also introduce a new community support programme that would allow NGOs and support agencies to take in another 1000 refugees annually.

“When the Syrian crisis really hit the front pages last year, we did hear from a lot of community organisation, church groups and NGO’s to say actually we do have capacity, we do want to be able to support refugees. And so we are taking them up on that offer,” he said.

Immigration is a hot topic leading into the New Zealand election campaign.

Winston Peters and New Zealand First wants to substantially reduce immigration numbers, but they don’t seem to have any policy on refugees – see their Immigration Policy.

Labour announced policy last week that would reduce overall immigration by tens of thousands – see Time for a breather on immigration – but that doesn’t mention refugees. A fact sheet states “These changes won’t affect the Refugee Quota”. It also gives numbers:

Labour will increase the refugee quota to 1,500.

This will continue Labour’s proud tradition of welcoming victims of war and disaster to our shores, which extends back to taking in refugees during World War II and is just as needed today, with conflicts such as in Syria creating the largest number of displaced persons since 1945.

The Green proposal is substantially more, with an eventual aim of 4,000 refugees per year.

There may be many more Syrian refugees looking for a safe haven as their civil war escalates yet again – see US shoot down Syrian jet – but with an escalation in Muslim tensions in the UK – see London Finsbury Park Mosque attack – there are likely to be growing concerns and opposition.

The timing of Green proposal may have been pre-planned but it is unlikely to be well received with the current international situations deteriorating.

 

 

More brainless sheep?

In researching Labour attack ‘brainless sheep’ I came across another use of the term ‘brainless sheep’ that was used recently – at Whale Oil.

SB posted: The National Party on Immigration and the refugee quota

I contacted National, Labour, Act, The Maori Party, NZ First, the Greens, the Opportunities Party, the Conservatives and United Future to ask them all three questions. The fourth party to respond to my questions was the National Party. My questions and the Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse’s answers are published below in full and un-edited.

Question:

The perception of many of our readers is that left-of-centre political parties prefer immigrants from low socio-economic countries who are highly dependent on the state and poorly educated because immigrants like that will naturally vote for the left-of-centre parties who allowed them in. Which immigrants get priority under your party’s policy and why?

Why do many Whale Oil readers (SB doesn’t quantify or say how she knows) think “that left-of-centre political parties prefer immigrants from low socio-economic countries who are highly dependent on the state and poorly educated because immigrants like that will naturally vote for the left-of-centre parties who allowed them in”?

This poorly informed political generalisation is as brainless as Labour Tauranga.

Answer:

Majority of our immigration policies are based on skill level and the Government is constantly making changes to improve the skill level of migrants coming to New Zealand.

Perhaps SN could learn about the objectives of Immigration New Zealand and educate her WO readers:

INZ Operational Manual – Residence

a The objective of New Zealand’s residence programme is to contribute to economic grow
th through enhancing the overall level of human capability in New Zealand, encouraging enterprise andinnovation, and fostering international links, while maintaining a high level of social cohesion.

b This objective is achieved through selecting a broad mix of migrants on the basis of either their skills and experience or their family links to New Zealand.

https://www.immigration.govt.nz/documents/ops-manual/residence.pdf

Question:

Many of our readers do not trust the UN to decide which refugees we will get and are concerned that they are not being vetted properly. There is also the problem that Christian and non-Muslim refugees who are more easily able to integrate and assimilate into New Zealand are not safe inside the camps and flee them which results in an almost 100% Muslim refugee intake for New Zealand. Given that we are a Christian and secular country where does your party stand on our refugee quota?

SB seems to state as fact “an almost 100% Muslim refugee intake for New Zealand”. I would be interested to know how she knows this, and if it is accurate.

Answer:

In regards to refugees, refugees are referred by the UNHCR to New Zealand for resettlement based on need for protection and are robustly screened by NZ Government agencies.

I thought this screening process (by NZ immigration) was common knowledge.

Question:

Our readers would also like to know if your party would support putting persecuted minorities such as Christian and non-Muslim refugees at the front of the queue?

Answer:

Under international conventions, religion is not a criterion that can be used for selection.

Using a poorly informed blog like Whale Oil to determine which religions were acceptable for consideration for refugee intakes is unlikely to happen, fortunately.

The ‘brainless sheep’ reference came up in comments.

Win: The answer “Religion is not a criterion that can be used for selection” – so why are all of these so called refugees muslim?

That SB states they are does not make it fact.

Shalice: That phrase only means “if we choose Christians we will be accused of not being diverse enough and being PC is infinitely more important than the safety of NZ citizens”

deja vu: At best it’s lazy thinking – at worst cowardice.

Who’s lack of thinking is lazy?

deja vu: Actually they’re not so private agendas. Can’t be, if even we stupid brainless sheep can find out what they are. There has to be another explanation which dares not speak its name in public – surrendering to the ultimate ambitions of the NWO.

I presume NWO refers to New World Order (conspiracy theory). That went unchallenged.

Trevor Hughes appears to have some detail:

Under the 1951 UN Convention a refugee is a person with a well founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, social group or political opinion. New Zealand is free to take whichever refugees it wishes. Currently in the Middle East religious minorities like the Christians and Yazidis are the most severely persecuted groups.

Yazidism is an ancient religion in northern Mesopatamia (mainly Iraqi Kurds) and they have been persecuted by ISIS. Some of their own practices aren’t that flash either, with recent reports of stonings and ‘honour’ killings.

One of the largest Yazidi populations outside the Middle East is in Germany, something around 100,000 of them have gone their as refugees. Germany has been strongly criticised on Whale Oil for it’s immigration policies.

They have suffered unspeakable atrocities at the hands of radical Islamists and they dare not enter the UN run refugee camps which are largely muslim.

Many have suffered in the Middle East in Syria, Iraq, Yemen – mostly Muslims.

There won’t be many Muslims in the Yazidi refugee camp either. See “The first thing one notices upon entering the Yazidi refugee camp is the children. They seem to be everywhere—chasing each other between the UN tents…”.

Yet these people at present make up only about two percent of our refugee intake, the overwhelming majority of the intake being muslim.

Perhaps because most refugees currently in dire need are Muslim? Interesting he has quantified Christian and Yazidi refugees but not Muslims.

New Zealand could easily bypass UNHCR, which has a history of corruption running the camps, and work with agencies like the Barnabas Foundation to redress this travesty. Perhaps however we are afraid of upsetting our Saudi mates and the free trade deal?

Odd comment. Bypassing UNHCR and bypassing refugee camps would require a lot more work and vetting by New Zealand.

Trump versus Australia

 

Donald Trump is trying to talk tough, with one of his latest targets being Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but mixed messages are making a mockery of Trump’s so-called toughness. Perhaps he should start getting tough on his inconsistencies.

Dumping on one of the USA’s closest allies seems to be quite stupid.

Washington Post:  ‘This was the worst call by far’: Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader

It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.

Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.

At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”

When the phone conversation was leaked (in itself a notable thing to have happened) Trump turned to Twitter.

It may look like a dumb deal, but Trump’s way of dealing with it is dumber.

Since then he has continued. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph: Donald Trump ‘upset and angry’ over refugee deal discussed with Malcolm Turnbull

US President Donald Trump has continued his public stoush with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull by declaring he needs to make “tough phone calls” because nations are taking advantage of America.

At a speech in Washington DC overnight, Mr Trump said the world was in trouble but he was “going to straighten it out”.

“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it,” Mr Trump told the audience. “Just don’t worry about it.

“They’re tough. We have to be tough,” he said. “It’s time we have to be a little tough folks.

“We are taken advantage of by every nation in the world virtually. “It’s not going to happen anymore.”

On top of this there has been conflicting information from trump’s administration.

From RNZ in US ‘taken advantage of by every nation’ – Trump

The tweets threw more confusion about the status of the controversial deal that Australia made with former President Barack Obama late last year.

The United States would resettle up to 1250 asylum seekers held in offshore processing camps on Pacific islands in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. In return, Australia would resettle refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The swap is at odds with Mr Trump’s executive order last week suspending the US refugee programme and restricting entry to the United States for travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer and the US Embassy in Australia have both said Mr Trump would honour the deal. In several media appearances after Mr Trump’s tweet, Mr Turnbull reiterated that he believed the deal stood.

“He is saying that this is not a deal he would have made, but the question is will he honour that commitment? He has already given it,” Mr Turnbull said.

Not surprisingly there has been a lot of criticism. Stuff details some in US media, congressmen stunned Donald Trump has picked a fight with Australia

I don’t know that Trump has deliberately picked a fight, it could be just his normal boorish arrogant behaviour.

Lawrence O’Donnell, the left-wing commentator and host of MSNBC’s The Last Word, lambasted the president for insulting Turnbull, “while having no idea that Australia has stood by us like no other ally, marched into battle with us where no other ally would go, including Vietnam, something Donald Trump would have known if he had served in Vietnam and heard those men beside him with those Australian accents, men who saved the lives of American troops”.

David Gergen, a former presidential adviser to Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, who is now an analyst for CNN, accused Trump of bullying a friend.

“Are they playing some sort of game in the White House – how many countries we can they alienate in 100 days? The list is in double digits now,” he said on the network.

“We have never had a president in my memory who has bullied our friends in this way, especially heads of government.”

Kevin Madden, a former adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said people had long expected that Trump, a mogul and reality television star known for his combative, impudent manner, would eventually conform to some level of political protocol, but that a pivot of that nature was never going to come.

“He’s just not going to change but that’s what’s problematic,” he said on the same CNN panel.

“Here we have in instance where we are already alienating one of our closest allies just over a phone call … just the tone of it was what’s already caused some consternation.”

Dealing with Trump will be difficult for probably every country. he seems to think he can abuse any one and any country he likes. He may end up isolating the US far more than he envisaged.

Deliberately or not Trump is making America grate.

Reversing views on refugees

Turned upside down this poem tells a different story.

REFUGEES

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

(now read from bottom to top)

https://brianbilston.com/2016/03/23/refugees/

A gruff sounding man from Dunedin

The call I just got will brighten your Friday afternoon, read on.

Dunedin, Syrian refugees and Saudi Arabia

The anti-refugee campaign continues at Whale Oil, with Spanish Bride using ‘Face of the Day’ as an excuse to repeat nonsense.

She posts what looks like an out of date file photo of Dunedin mayor Dave Cull and a report on violence in the city.

Dunedin’s Mayor is urging caution after a spate of violent incidents in the city…

In a sense there’s nothing that the community can do to prepare or prevent in some circumstances that sort of thing, you just have to deal with it.”

“But Dunedin is probably one of the safest communities in New Zealand” added Mayor Cull.

-newstalkzb.co.nz

Atkins uses this as an excuse to launch into another anti-refugee rant.

I am glad that Dunedin is a safe place to live. It will not stay that way if it takes too many Islamic refugees. At the moment the numbers appear small but as each person can apply to bring family members into the country after they settle, the numbers we are told are not the true numbers.

The numbers are small. Dunedin will be one of six centres taking 750 refugees over two and a half years. It’s likely some of them will already be family groups.

Saying “the numbers we are told are not the true numbers” is meaningless.

Even if a hundred or so refugees settled in Dunedin – and stayed in Dunedin – and that number doubled through more family being able to join them – that’s a very small proportion of the Dunedin population, a fraction of a percent.

Atkins launches into bigger bull:

All the rich Muslim countries who are part of the UN like Saudi Arabia, have taken ZERO refugees…

The Guardian: Saudi Arabia says criticism of Syria refugee response ‘false and misleading

Saudi Arabia has said reports about its response to the Syrian refugee crisis are “false and misleading” and it has in fact given residency to 100,000 people as war rages in their country.

The kingdom’s statement followed a similar defence issued by the United Arab Emirates after questions were asked about how wealthy Arab states had reacted to the outflow of more than four million Syrians.

Saudi Arabia “made it a point not to deal with them as refugees” but had issued residency permits to 100,000 Syrians who wished to stay in the kingdom, the official said.

“With that came the right to free education, healthcare and employment according to a royal decree in 2012 that also states that Syrian students visiting the kingdom be admitted in public schools,” the official added.

The kingdom had supported Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and other countries in co-ordination with the host countries, while providing a total of about $700m in humanitarian aid, he said.

More on this in Western Media’s Miscount of Saudi Arabia’s Syrian Refugees.

And from Wikipedia:

Syrians in Saudi Arabia include migrants from Syria to Saudi Arabia, as well as their descendants. The number of Syrians in Saudi Arabia is estimated at around 500,000 people in August 2015 and consists mainly of temporary foreign workers.

According to the UNHCR’s representative for the Gulf region, there are 500,000 Syrians in Saudi Arabia, but in “official documentation they are referred to as “Arab brothers and sisters in distress”” and not as Syrian nationals

So the “ZERO refugees” claim is at least highly debatable.

Record number of refugess in 2015

The UN Refugee Agency has warned in a report that for the first time ever the number of people displacements could exceed previous records and could exceed 60 million people in 2015.

That’s equivalent to the population of the UK or France.

2015 likely to break records for forced displacement – study

GENEVA, Dec 18 (UNHCR)  With almost a million people having crossed the Mediterranean as refugees and migrants so far this year, and conflicts in Syria and elsewhere continuing to generate staggering levels of human suffering, 2015 is likely to exceed all previous records for global forced displacement, the UN Refugee Agency warned in a new report today.

UNHCR’s Mid-Year Trends 2015 report, covering the period from January to end June, and looking at worldwide displacement resulting from conflict and persecution, shows markers firmly in the red in each of the three major categories of displacement  Refugees, asylum-seekers, and people forced to flee inside their own countries.

The global refugee total, which a year ago was 19.5 million, had as of mid-2015 passed the 20 million threshold (20.2 million) for the first time since 1992. Asylum applications meanwhile were up 78 per cent (993,600) over the same period in 2014. And the numbers of internally displaced people jumped by around 2 million to an estimated 34 million.

Indications from the first half of the year suggest 2015 is on track to see worldwide forced displacement exceeding 60 million for the first time. In a global context, that means that one person in every 122 has been forced to flee their home.

“Forced displacement is now profoundly affecting our times. It touches the lives of millions of our fellow human beings  both those forced to flee and those who provide them with shelter and protection,” High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said.

“Never has there been a greater need for tolerance, compassion and solidarity with people who have lost everything,” he added.

New refugee numbers are also up sharply: Some 839,000 people in just six months, equivalent to an average rate of almost 4,600 being forced to flee their countries every day. Syria’s war remains the single biggest generator worldwide of both new refugees and continuing mass internal and external displacement. However, the report notes that even with Syria’s war excluded from the measurements, the underlying trend remains one of rising displacement globally.

A consequence of more refugees being stuck in exile is that pressures on countries hosting them are growing too  something which unmanaged can increase resentment and abet politicization of refugees. Despite such risks, the first half of 2015 was also marked by extraordinary generosity: On an absolute basis, and counting refugees who fall under UNHCR’s mandate, Turkey is the world’s biggest hosting country with 1.84 million refugees on its territory as of 30 June.

Lebanon meanwhile hosts more refugees compared to its population size than any other country, with 209 refugees per 1000 inhabitants. And Ethiopia pays most in relation to the size of its economy with 469 refugees for every dollar of GDP (per capita, at PPP). Overall, the lion’s share of the global responsibility for hosting refugees continues to be carried by countries immediately bordering zones of conflict, many of them in the developing world.

Forced displacement is a major problem in parts of the world. Living safely here in New Zealand it’s easy to underestimate the problems this causes individuals, families and countries.