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The week saw freed Bali Nine smuggler Renae Lawrence turn herself in for previous outstanding charges, an American missionary killed in India, and an enthusiastic father going too far to ensure his son’s football team’s win.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had a fatal case of misadventure for an American evangelist, a consulate attack in Pakistan, the PM trying to extend the long arm of the law back home and the worst case of helicopter parenting you’ve ever seen.
An American evangelist has been killed on the remote North Sentinel Island in India after illegally kayaking to the restricted location. The Sentinelese inhabitants are believed to be the world’s last pre-Neolithic tribe on the planet and have been consistently resistant to visitors from the outside.
John Allen Chau, aged 26, had reportedly been keen to preach to the Sentinelese and organised his visit to the island via a friend who hired seven fisherman to take him to the protected island by boat as well as tow his kayak. Chau reportedly made his way ashore on the 15th of November via kayak and interacted with some of the tribespeople, offering a variety of gifts including a football and fish. His visit wasn’t welcomed with the tribespeople shooting an arrow at him which hit a book he was carrying. His kayak had been damaged so he swam back to the boat which was waiting at a pre-arranged location.
Chau decided to try again the next day; after diarising his first failed attempt and giving the pages to the fisherman, he made his way back ashore on November 16th. Exact details are not available but the fisherman reported seeing the tribesmen drag Mr Chau’s body and that he appeared to be deceased. They returned to Port Blair and broke the news to Chau’s friend who then passed the bad news on to his family. His family then notified the Indian police and the US Consulate; soon after the seven fisherman were arrested and charged with endangering Chau’s life by taking him to a prohibited area.
Dependera Pathak, director-general of police on India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, told the media that it’s believed that Mr Chau was shot and killed by arrows but the cause of death cannot be confirmed until his body is recovered.
How that recovery might take place is a completely different matter. Officials don’t travel to North Sentinel usually, both due to the danger and also due to the legal and cultural issues involved. Pathak said, “It’s a difficult proposition… We have to see what is possible, taking utmost care of the sensitivity of the group and the legal requirements. Police are consulting anthropologists, tribal welfare experts and scholars to figure out a way to recover the body.”
Whilst there is sympathy for his family, many have criticised Chau for making the illegal trip; it not only endangered, and ultimately cost him, his life, but it also represented potentially significant danger to the Sentinelese themselves. PC Joshi, an anthropology professor at Delhi University who has studied North Sentinel, described it as “a foolish adventure” suggesting that Chau “invited that aggression”. Joshi also pointed out that the islanders have little resistance to many diseases due to their isolation, saying “They are not immune to anything. A simple thing like flu can kill them.”
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The Chinese consulate in the southern Pakistan city of Karachi was attacked by three suicide bombers this week. The attackers managed to kill two police officers but failed to make it inside the compound. In addition to the two Pakistani police who were killed, a security guard was injured as well. The bombers reportedly attempted to enter the compound via the visa section and also had a vehicle filled with explosives.
The Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, reassured the public that all 21 of the Chinese staff at the consulate were unharmed and had been moved to an alternative location. In a news conference in Islamabad, Mr Qureshi said, “The attackers couldn’t hurt any of them, nor they could take hostage any of them.” Multiple explosions were also heard around the time of the attack, however no information as to the cause has been provided as yet.
A Pakistani separatist insurgent group by the name of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) have claimed responsibility for the attack, with spokesperson Jiand Baloch saying “They stormed the Chinese embassy in Karachi. China is exploiting our resources.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign ministry, Geng Shuang, condemned the attack and indicated they had asked the Pakistan government to ensure that Chinese citizens and organisations based in the country remained safe. Shuang also expressed sympathy to the families of the dead police and injured security guard.
Convicted drug smuggler, Renae Lawrence, was released from Bangli Prison in Bali after serving 13 years inside the Indonesian prison system for her role in the Bali Nine smuggling operation. Lawrence had to push past a large group of media blocking the doors to the prison before being transported to Denpasar airport where she flew overnight back to Australia.
Lawrence’s long awaited freedom may be short lived, however, due to outstanding warrants in NSW dating back to 2005, relating to allegations that she led police on a high-speed chase in a stolen car in that year. On Friday afternoon, the day after she arrived back in Australia, Lawrence handed herself in at the Waratah Police Station in Newcastle.
Lawrence was granted court bail and is scheduled to appear in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday December 6th. Whilst it’s unknown how the judiciary may treat her case in the circumstances, Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, made it abundantly clear that her time in prison in Bali won’t earn her any leniency back home. He told Sky News, “It doesn’t give you credit when you get back to Australia… If you’ve committed offences in our country, you need to face the justice system here.”
NSW Police commissioner, Mick Fuller, appeared to have a different take, saying “I know she’s sinned, and I think she’s paid a fairly heavy price for that. There are other circumstances where…we’d arrest the individual when they got off the plane. Others will judge me and think we should have been waiting at the plane for her to pay a price. I think she paid the price for her sins. Nevertheless, we will still take those two matters to court in terms of the two matters that are still outstanding.”
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a plan which would see citizenship revoked for Australian citizens identified as serious terror threats. The proposed idea would only relate to Australians whose parents or grandparents weren’t born in Australia, which would then allow then to obtain citizenship elsewhere.
Jason Wood, Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration, also suggested that residents who were born overseas but later obtained Australian citizenship to be immediately deported if they were flagged as extremists.
The unprecedented proposal has drawn backlash and concern from many corners of the community, however Morrison is sticking to his guns. When asked on the Today show this week what would happen if other countries refused to take Australian citizens back, he simply replied that we will “just deport them there.”
Our PM continued, “We do it for others who we deport back who commit crimes in Australia – we cancel their visas and deport them. They would fall into this category, just like someone who was on a visa who committed a crime. Once they got out of jail, they’d be on a plane and we would send them home. If we have reasonable belief someone is a citizen of another country as well as Australia – that could be because they were born overseas or inherited by descent – if you are convicted of a terror offence you lose your citizenship.”
“What we’re calling on the Federal Government to do is to justify why, in the absence of any change to our national threat level, there should be such a radical change to such a fundamental question of stripping citizenship away from a person.
Further details of the proposed legislation were released later in the week by Morrison and Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, which suggest that those convicted of terrorism offences could be held indefinitely in immigration detention centres if their Australian citizenship is revoked and other countries refused to take them.
Of most concern is the wording of the proposal which states that the Home Affairs Minister would only have to be “reasonably satisfied” a convicted terrorist had valid citizenship of another country to revoke their Australian citizenship. Former Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Bret Walker, told the media of raised serious concerns about the possibility for mistakes to be made by the Home Affairs Minister without consequence. “These amendments, some of which seem to me to be perfectly justifiable, contain this element which out and out says we want to be able to attach this sanction of depriving people of Australian citizenship,” he said, “even if the Minister was wrong, so long as the Minister was reasonably satisfied.” Fair point, considering our current Home Affairs Minister’s reported attention to detail when it comes to au pairs.
The Law Council of Australia have also hit back at the government, arguing that the approach is neither necessary nor proportionate. Law Council of Australia president, Morry Bailes, said “The loss of citizenship denies a person potential administrative remedies.” Bailes also indicated that elements of the proposal could leave people stateless in violation of Australia’s international obligations, saying “What we’re calling on the Federal Government to do is to justify why, in the absence of any change to our national threat level, there should be such a radical change to such a fundamental question of stripping citizenship away from a person.”
Whilst most would agree that elements of the proposal merit further discussion, the speed at which the government are trying to push these changes through without proper debate does suggest they are simply trying to capitalise on the fear from the recent terror attack in Bourke Street – committed by a man who has been in Australia since the ’90s, offering the government ample opportunity to deal without resorting to such drastic legislative changes.
Wacky and wonderful
It’s fair to say that parents can sometimes get a little over competitive when watching their children participate in sport. We’ve all heard stories of parents abusing coaches, referees, other children and other parents before; sometimes funny but almost always disturbing given the example it sets to their children.
A father in Illinois, it appears, has taken it to a new level.
He is currently the subject of a lawsuit after it’s alleged that he turned up to his son’s high school football game dressed as a referee and used his disguise to influence calls during the course of a playoff game between Nazareth Academy and Batavia High School.
The father in question also allegedly took credit for his influence, saying he was doing “what was needed to make sure (Nazareth Academy) won”. He also allegedly said, “I didn’t make one bad call. I made sure the best team won.”
That’s it from me, TBSers. Have a cracking week!