Category Archives: asylum-seekers

Footsteps across Continents: Hedi Simon and the Stadlens of Austria and Britain

Matthew Stadlen, in The Telegraph, 11 November 2013, where the title is “Family history: retracing the steps of a romance disrupted by war”

In 1938 my grandfather, the pianist Peter Stadlen, was returning to his native Austria from a concert tour of Ireland when he happened to meet a girl on the ferry home. As a result he caught a cold from chatting to her on deck, and had to stop over in Amsterdam. The fates were with him, because the following day – 75 years ago – the Nazis marched into Austria; Peter was a secular Jew. He was able to communicate with his mother and sister, who were still in Vienna, and urge them to leave by the next train to Holland. From there, all three made it to London as refugees, and that is where my family has been based ever since. They were lucky.

 Hedi Simon … also known as Heidi Keuneman before her second marriage to Peter Stadlen

My great-great-uncle, known as Onkl Friedl, did not escape. He was one of the very first to die at the hands of the Gestapo when they moved into Vienna. He had been chief economic adviser to pre-Nazi Chancellors of Austria, and was immediately put under house arrest. A paraplegic, he always kept cyanide in his ring in case he should ever be caught in a fire, unable to escape. He tricked the Nazi guards into leaving his room and took the poison. I have red hair but neither of my parents do: Onkl Friedl was a redhead and I’ve always believed it comes from him.

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Face Our Future: Jihadist Offshoots and Continuing Maelstrom in Middle East

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European Mayhem in World War Two and Their Refugees in the Middle East

Ishaan Tharoor, in The Washington Post, where the chosen title is “The forgotten story of European refugee camps in the Middle East”

Tens of thousands of refugees fled a war. They journeyed across the Eastern Mediterranean, a trip filled with peril. But the promise of sanctuary on the other side was too great. No, this is not the plight faced by Syrian refugees, desperate to escape the desolation of their homeland and find a safer, better life in Europe. Rather, it’s the curious and now mostly forgotten case of thousands of people from Eastern Europe and the Balkans who were housed in a series of camps across the Middle East, including in Syria, during World War II.

aa-fs11As the Nazi and Soviet war machines rolled through parts of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, vast civilian populations were displaced in their wake. In areas occupied by fascist troops, Jewish communities and other undesired minorities faced the harshest onslaught, but others, particularly those suspected of backing partisan fighters, also were subject to targeted attacks and forced evacuations. Continue reading

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Manipulative Distortions & Duplicity in ABC Programme on Nauru Detention Centres

Carolina Overington & Rosie Lewis, in The Australian, 19 October 2016,  where the title runs “ABC’s Four Corners slammed over old, selective Nauru footage.” Go to http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/broadcast/abcs-four-corners-slammed-over-old-selective-nauru-footage/news-story/f80ceeb432f4ec5907a10beff3697877 for Blog comments from Aussies and note the Caustic Summing up by The Editor, Thuppahi at the end of this post.

The ABC has endured excoriating criticism of its flagship current ­affairs program, Four Corners, after Monday’s episode about refugee children on Nauru was found to include old photographs of facilities no longer in use, and random footage of brawling adults, previously published on YouTube by a user known only as “NoRulz”. During intense questioning at Senate estimates yesterday, ABC editorial director Alan Sunderland admitted the ABC did not film the footage that went to air on Monday night, but said he was satisfied the vision was “appropriate” for a program devoted to the lives of refugee children on Nauru.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton last night accused the ABC of irresponsibility and said Four Corners had declined to use new photos and videos, offered by his office, of schools upgraded at a cost of $8.3 million. The Australian has established that the program included what appears to be random footage of a group of men on Nauru hitting each other with steel poles that can also be found on a YouTube channel run by NoRulz. On YouTube, the footage is in a video called “Who Let The Dogs Out”. It is one of a series of fight videos posted by NoRulz, who has also posted clips called “Nauru Shit Shit Fight” and “Batud the Deadly”.abc-11

The ABC used the footage to ­illustrate the Four Corners argument that Nauru is a violent ­society where refugees feel unsafe, because they have witnessed and been subjected to acts of violence. Continue reading

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Returned Tamil Asylum Seekers Today: A Jaundiced and Gullible Australian Reporter’s View

Greg Bearup, in The Australian, 31 October  2016, where the title isIn the Wash-Up Asylum Loser Wins” …. with emphasis in this presentation being t e work of The Editor, Thuppahi.

The crab-trapper of Jaffna is a happy man; he has a sturdy boat with a new Suzuki motor. Each morning he rises before dawn to motor out to a vast lagoon in his new auto rickshaw to fish for prawns and crabs — partly funded by the $5000 given to him by Australian taxpayers. In August 2012, when Marcus Pireesan fled Sri Lanka for ­Australia in search of a better life, Jaffna, the northern Tamil capital and his home town, was a very different place from what it is today.

marcus Pireesan with some of his childrenPic Greg Bearup

The long civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ended in 2009 – a UN report estimating that 40,000 people died in final months of the conflict, mainly civilians – but the Rajapaksa regime, which brutally obliterated the Tigers, was still in power; young Tamil men were still being bundled into government vans and never seen again. “We lived in constant fear,” Pireesan, 40, tells me, “just knowing information was dangerous. You could be stopped at a roadblock and kidnapped (by the government forces) and no one would ever know.” And fishermen like him were told where and on what days they could fish. Continue reading

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Lavan Tharmarajah: From Tamil Refugee to Major in Australian Army

Kresant Mahilal, 16 October 2016, whose title stressesSix Life Lessons in Self Leadership” … see http://www.kminspires.com/how-a-sri-lankan-refugee-became-an-australian-army-major-six-life-lessons-in-self-leadership/

I couldn’t be happier and prouder of one of my best mates Major Seralaadan Tharmarajah aka Lavan.  This week, he became a Major in the Australian Army. 19 years ago we both landed on Australian soil to call this land home. Both from single parent households, both from developing countries with a history of racial tensions and violence and both of us looking to find our place in multicultural Australia. We had a lot in common as we sat next to each other in our Homebush Boys, Year 10 ESL class!

Lavan is not one who usually talks about his journey. However his journey has taught me many lessons and I believe it’s important to share it.  At a time when many question the value of letting refugees into a country, when racial tensions everywhere are high and when people give up hope on their dreams and following their passions because of a fast changing world and an uncertain future– the lessons I have learned from Lavan, and now Major Tharmarajah stick with me because of its simplicity and his walking the talk on his life philosophy.

alavan-1  Major Seralaadan Tharmarajah alavan-2 alavan-3

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Oh to be Koala in the Wet !!

aakoala………. Courtesy of The Australian, 15 September 2016

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