There have been several allegations made against Australian naval personnel by asylum seekers in recent weeks, but today's are the most dramatic.
According to the ABC's George Roberts, "Asylum seekers have accused the Australian Navy of beating them and inflicting burns by ordering passengers onboard a boat being towed back to Indonesia to hold on to parts of the engine."
Indonesian police say they had to get treatment for 10 asylum seekers, and ABC News has video footage of asylum seekers receiving medical assessments of burns that Indonesian police say were inflicted by the Australian Navy.
The allegations have been rejected outright by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
The secrecy around recent 'on-water' episodes and Morrison's ambiguous and misleading recent public statements leave many questions unanswered. His approach leaves the Navy unable to defend itself. How can these serious claims against its personnel be tested if the public has no information about the circumstances of these tow back/turn backs – when, where and what happened? The government claims credit for stopping boats, but no responsibility for the fall-out.
Elsewhere, Human Rights Watch has criticised Australia in its annual world report, saying it has damaged its human rights record by "persistently undercutting refugee protections," and has engaged in scare-mongering politics at the expense of asylum seekers and refugees. And in other news, the Pope is a Catholic.
"Asylum seekers have accused the Australian Navy of beating them and inflicting burns by ordering passengers onboard a boat being towed back to Indonesia to hold on to parts of the engine... The Federal Government denies the claims, but Indonesian police say they had to get treatment for 10 asylum seekers, seven of whom had severe burns on their hands after they were picked up in Indonesian waters on January 6."
"Customs and Defence have issued terms of reference for an inquiry examining how Australian vessels strayed into Indonesian waters – a development that has further inflamed diplomatic tensions between Canberra and Jakarta. In a statement issued about 10pm on Tuesday evening, Customs and Defence confirmed an investigation covering the period between 1 December 2013 and 20 January 2014."
Also: "The regime under minister Scott Morrison never fails to produce new shocks" - Michelle Grattan, The Conversation
"The Abbott government will exclude the age pension and family tax benefits from its review of Australia's welfare system, with Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews indicating he will target unemployment benefits and disability pensions."
"Pubs and clubs in Sydney's most popular entertainment districts will be hit with a 3am alcohol curfew - and harsh mandatory sentences for drunken attacks will be introduced within weeks under radical reforms to drive down violence."
Also: ‘Drunken violence’ as moral panic, pure & simple (Left Flank)
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