Asylum seeker boat smashed at Christmas Island

Desperation and death at Christmas Island. Picture: Channel Nine

The death toll rises by the hour; local people weep and hug one another as a woman slips beneath the waves; the Prime Minister, the navy, customs officials are accused of having blood on their hands.
In the wake of this unspeakable horror on Christmas Island – and how poignant a name at this time of the year – accusing fingers are being pointed everywhere.
They shouldn’t have come, say those who believe the asylum seekers should have remained in Iraq and Iran. The navy should have stopped the boat before it reached the treacherous rocks in wild seas, say others.
And then there is the woman at the top – Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Is it her fault…is her Labour Party’s ‘open door’ policy for asylum seekers the reason this group of between 80 and 100 desperate people headed for Australia to start a new and happy life?
Only a full inquiry will provide the answers and there is no doubt one will be called.
In the meantime we can only pause and reflect on the terror those people faced at the very end of their long journey. They could never have imaged that the freedom they longed for, freedom that was literally only a few meters away, would have ended in cries of terror as the rocks smashed their flimsy wooden boat to pieces and the waves engulfed them.
‘It is heart-stopping,’ said one resident as she watched people struggling in the wild sea. ‘It’s carnage, a terrible tragedy.
‘The sea is awash. None of us can get out to rescue them from the shore. It took a customs boat ages to get to them.’
Mr Simon Foster, an island resident, told the West Australian newspaper from a cliff overlooking the crash site that the boat was upside down in the sea and debris was scattered across the surface of the Indian Ocean.
‘It seems the boat crashed into jagged rocks below the cliffs as it tried to land at Flying Fish Cove.’
Mr Foster said the seas were as rough as he had seen in many months, and it was through the wild weather that the boat had attempted to land at Flying Fish Cove, the only landing point on the island for vessels.
‘There is so much stuff in the water that you can’t tell what is debris and what is people.
‘I have heard that a navy boat was cruising around picking people out of water but it it’s hard to tell what’s going on. I definitely would not want to be out in that water at the moment whether you were in the water or in a boat – it’s shocking out there’
Mr Kamar Ismaill, a local councillor, rushed to the cliff top and saw at least two or three bodies in the water.
‘We were throwing out ropes and lifejackets but no-one could grab on to the ropes.
‘I saw children hanging onto the side of the boat, just holding on.
‘There were others hanging on to rocks and what was left of the boat.
‘Wave after wave was coming in and it was very, very rough. The rocks were very jagged and it’s a very steep area around there.
‘It was just a horrible situation, just so sad.’
Hundreds of asylum seekers have made their way to Australia in the past year, most from Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka.




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Baby koala shot 15 times

Who could be so cruel? Frodo baby koala that was blasted with a shotgun. Picture: Australia Zoo.

Outraged Australians have called for the person who shot a baby koala

up to 15 times to receive the same punishment.

The tiny animal, nicknamed Frodo, remains in a critical condition in

the late Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo after it was found riddled with

pellets beside its dead mother.

The joey – as baby koalas are called – received a fractured skull and

gun pellets were found scattered throughout her body, damaging her

intestines.

Vets at the zoo said it was touch and go whether Frodo, who was

blasted from a tree with a shotgun on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast,

north of Brisbane, will survive.

‘She’s in a critical condition, but if she can be stabilised she will

undergo further surgery to remove pellets and repair damage,’ said vet

Amber Gillett.

Miss Gillet said Frodo was receiving intravenous antibiotics, fluids

and pain relief, as well as blood transfusions.

‘We are stunned to see this kind of animal cruelty and cannot begin

to fathom why somebody would want to shoot a koala that poses no

threat to them.’

Mr Mark Townend, a senior officer with the RSPCA, said his

organisation would provide any help needed to search for the culprit

and bring cruelty charges.

‘I just can’t believe the ratbags we’ve had to deal with over the

past 12 months.

‘We’ve spent a lot of money on education about animal welfare. If

people don’t like animals why don’t they just leave them alone – they

don’t have to shoot them.’

Sickened Australians have taken their comments further, one writer to

a newspaper’s comment pages saying: ‘Shoot the idiot who did this 15

times. See how they like it.’

Anne of Brisbane said: ‘This is absolutely disgusting. Those poor

defenceless koalas. Whatever did they do wrong? There are some really

sick people around.’

One writer was determined to take the law into his own hands.

He said he was from that area and ‘if you, the perpetrator are

reading this, if I find you first I am going to ensure your “heroic”

act does not go unpunished. Mark my words, it’s a very small place up

here.’

Another commentator said: ‘Words cannot express…these people do not

deserve to live.’

Yet another wrote: ‘Speechless and disgusted at these people’s

actions. I can’t believe you are allowed to walk this earth with us.

Your day will come.’

Scores of people sent their good wishes to Frodo, saying they hoped

she would pull through.

* UPDATE: Surgeons have removed about half of the 15 pellets but admit that it’s ‘touch and go’ whether baby Frodo will survive.

The big fear is that she will succumb to lead poisoning. In the meantime, they are taking the pellets from her at the rate of a few at a time so as to not stress her.

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Rudd says sorry to forgotten Australians
AAP
November 16, 2009 11:18am
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KEVIN Rudd has apologised to forgotten Australians saying the nation is sorry for their physical suffering, emotional starvation and the cold absence of love and tenderness during their forced care.
“Sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where often you were abused,” he said.
Hundreds of people, many of them forgotten Australians, have gathered in parliament’s Great Hall to hear both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull offer an apology.
They welcomed the Prime Minister with rapturous applause and hooting.
The audience included former child migrants separated from their families in Britain.
They and others were placed with foster parents or in orphanages run by the states and churches up until the late 1970s.
Many suffered ill-treatment and some sexual abuse.
Mr Rudd told those gathered that Australia was “Sorry for the physical suffering, emotional starvation and the cold absence of love, of tenderness, of care.”
He said that part of Australia’s history was filled with shame.
“As a nation we must now reflect on those who did not receive proper care.
“We look back with shame that so many of you were left cold, hungry and alone and with nowhere to hide and nobody, absolutely nobody, to whom to turn.
Mr Rudd acknowledged the pain of children shipped to Australia as migrants.
“Robbed of your families, robbed of your homeland, regarded not as innocent children, but regarded instead as a source of child labour.
“To those of you who were told you were orphans, brought here without your parents’ knowledge or consent, we acknowledge the lies you were told, the lies told to your mothers, fathers and the pain these lies have caused for a lifetime.”
—-
Thousands of British children forced to make the long sea journey to Australia in the belief that their parents had died finally received an official apology today (Mon) for the abuse they suffered in their new country.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has shown the way to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown into apologising to the abused and neglected child migrants by uttering a word the former migrants had waited years to hear:
‘Sorry’.
Mr Rudd went further, to say that he was ‘deeply sorry’ for the pain caused to not only the British migrants but to hundreds of thousands of Australian children who were placed into state care where they were sexually abused, beaten and humiliated.
‘We look back with shame that so many of you were left cold, hungry and alone and with nowhere to hide and nobody, absolutely nobody, to whom to turn,’ said Mr Rudd.
Mr Rudd said the nation was sorry for the physical suffering, emotional starvation and the cold absence of love and tenderness during the forced care suffered by the children who arrived on ships or who were already in Australia.
He said he was ‘sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where often they were abused.’
Hundreds of those children, now in their 50s and beyond gathered in parliament’s Great hall in Canberra to hear the apology, not only from Labour Prime Minister Mr Rudd but from the Liberal (conservative) leader, Malcolm Turnbull.
As youngsters, they were placed with foster parents or put into orphanages in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, where they suffered ill-treatment and in some cases sexual abuse.
Part of Australia’s history, said Mr Rudd, was filled with shame and ‘as a nation we must now reflect on those who did not receive proper care.’
Speaking of the British child migrants, he said: ‘Robbed of your families, robbed of your homeland, regarded not as innocent children, but regarded instead as a source of child labour.
‘To those who you who were told you were orphans, brought here without your parents’ knowledge or consent, we acknowledge the lies you were told, the lies told to your mothers, fathers and the pain these lies have caused for a lifetime.’
Mr Rudd’s apology comes after an announcement by the British government that Mr Brown would apologise for the forced migration policy next year.
The policy saw many children, who were shipped to Australia to increase the white population and build up the work force, educated only for farm work.
The founder of the Child Migrants Trust, Margaret Humphreys, travelled from England to Australia to hear the apology today.
For more than 20 years, she said, the trust had campaigned for recognition of what had happened to children.
‘This is a moment – a significant moment – in the history of child migration. The recognition is vital if people are to recover,’ she said.
Up to 10,000 children were forced to go to Australia, among them Harold Haig, now a spokesman for the International Association of Former Child Migrants and Their Families.
He said the apology should be followed by compensation from governments.
‘Federal governments played a direct role in the migration scheme,’ he said.
‘We were told we were orphans and we found out in our 40s, 50s and 60s that was all a lie. We see the national apology as the first step, but our struggle for compensation will not end.’
Eight years ago a Senate inquiry held in Australia into child migrants heard from people like Cliff Walsh, who was deported from the UK in 1954 without the knowledge of his parents, and Margaret Gallagher who was wrongly told she was an orphan with no family in England.
They and others told the inquiry of physical and sexual abuse, deprived of food and education and healthcare and often forced to work as slave labour.
Child Migrants

Child Migrants in the 1940s

Half a million Australian children and thousands more from Britain forced to make the long sea journey to Australia in the belief that their parents had died have finally received an official apology for the abuse they suffered in state ‘care’.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has shown the way to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown into apologising to the abused and neglected child migrants and ‘stolen’ Australian children by uttering a word they had waited more than half a century to hear: ‘Sorry’.

Mr Rudd went further, to say that he was in fact ‘deeply sorry’ for the pain caused to not only the British migrants but to hundreds of thousands of Australian children who were placed into state care where they were sexually abused, beaten and humiliated.

‘We look back with shame that so many of you were left cold, hungry and alone and with nowhere to hide and nobody, absolutely nobody, to whom to turn,’ said Mr Rudd.

Mr Rudd said the nation was sorry for the physical suffering, emotional starvation and the cold absence of love and tenderness during the forced care suffered by the children who arrived on ships or who were already in Australia.

He said he was ‘sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where often they were abused.’

Hundreds of those children, now in their 50s and beyond gathered in parliament’s Great hall in Canberra to hear the apology, not only from Labour Prime Minister Mr Rudd but from the Liberal (conservative) leader, Malcolm Turnbull.

As youngsters, they were placed with foster parents or put into orphanages in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, where they suffered ill-treatment and in some cases sexual abuse.

Part of Australia’s history, said Mr Rudd, was filled with shame and ‘as a nation we must now reflect on those who did not receive proper care.’

Speaking of the British child migrants, he said: ‘Robbed of your families, robbed of your homeland, regarded not as innocent children, but regarded instead as a source of child labour.

‘To those who you who were told you were orphans, brought here without your parents’ knowledge or consent, we acknowledge the lies you were told, the lies told to your mothers, fathers and the pain these lies have caused for a lifetime.’

Mr Rudd’s apology comes after an announcement by the British government that Mr Brown would apologise for the forced migration policy next year.

The policy saw many children, who were shipped to Australia to increase the white population and build up the work force, educated only for farm work.

The founder of the Child Migrants Trust, Margaret Humphreys, travelled from England to Australia to hear the apology today.

For more than 20 years, she said, the trust had campaigned for recognition of what had happened to children.

‘This is a moment – a significant moment – in the history of child migration. The recognition is vital if people are to recover,’ she said.

Up to 10,000 children were forced to go to Australia, among them Harold Haig, now a spokesman for the International Association of Former Child Migrants and Their Families.

He said the apology should be followed by compensation from governments.

‘Federal governments played a direct role in the migration scheme,’ he said.

‘We were told we were orphans and we found out in our 40s, 50s and 60s that was all a lie. We see the national apology as the first step, but our struggle for compensation will not end.’

Eight years ago a Senate inquiry held in Australia into child migrants heard from people like Cliff Walsh, who was deported from the UK in 1954 without the knowledge of his parents, and Margaret Gallagher who was wrongly told she was an orphan with no family in England.

They and others told the inquiry of physical and sexual abuse, deprived of food and education and healthcare and often forced to work as slave labour.

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A 28-year-old man is talking to police after the mother of an Irish backpacker fatally injured in a Sydney fight pleaded with his attacker to come forward.

The man walked into a Sydney police station with a lawyer and has been answering detectives’ questions.

Gearoid Walsh, a 23-year-old floor contractor from Dublin, had been on life support since he was found close to death on a footpath in the Sydney seaside resort of Coogee last week end.

But his mother said she did not want her son’s attacker to go to jail.

‘I’d really like to say that as a mother I really feel for this guy who got into a fight with Gearoid,’ said Mrs Tressa Walsh at a Sydney news conference. ‘I am heartbroken for him because we don’t blame him.

‘We don’t want him to serve time in prison. I think he was just very, very unlucky.’

Police had earlier released CCTV footage of a man they believe could assist with their inquiries into the attack on Mr Walsh, whose life support system was switched off as his mother sat at his bedside.

Paramedics called to a street in Coogee feared at first that Mr Walsh was dead. He appeared to have stopped breathing.

Police said he had become involved in an altercation with another man and received severe head injuries when he was struck and fell to the footpath.

He had been drinking with his brother – who lives in Australia – at a number of hotels in the Coogee area and became involved in an argument with a man at a take-away food shop.

Things quietened down and Mr Walsh and his brother left, but returned shortly afterwards and the argument started up again. It was then that Mr Walsh was injured.

Police said a man they believed could help with their inquiries was aged between 25 and 30, of average height and build with short brown, slightly curly hair.

His mother said the one positive thing that had emerged from her son’s death was that six other Australians had been given the gift of life from Gearoid’s organs.

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