Inside the system

Police ramp up harassment to try to silence Dylan Voller

Police have ramped up their harassment of Dylan Voller and his family after he spoke at a protest against youth prisons and Indigenous deaths in custody on 29 September. Photos of Voller shackled and in a spit hood at Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre shocked the country when they were broadcast on Four Corners last year. Dylan was arrested at the rally in Alice Springs along with his mother after police viciously slammed her to the ground. He did nothing wrong and the only charge police have been able to come up with against him is “disorderly conduct”.

Following the arrest Dylan said, “They can put me in jail, it’s not going to silence me. I’ll still be talking from jail.” Police are arguing the charge against Voller is a breach of his parole conditions and he should be sent back to prison. At the time of the incident he had only a few days left on parole.

Police have also targeted the Vollers for harassment at home. On 3 October approximately 18 police officers and three police vehicles swarmed the Vollers’ house in response to their use of a small campfire to cook Kangaroo tails. It was the third similar police visit to the house in two weeks. Voller said, “I feel disgusted that the police keep targeting the family over and over”.

Facial recognition scanners to target Commonwealth Games crowds

State and territory premiers met in Canberra for a “national security summit” with Malcolm Turnbull early this month. NSW Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the media the states were in “violent agreement” over the threat of terrorism to national security. Premiers agreed to new rules that would allow terror suspects to be held for 14 days without charge anywhere in the country.

They also enthusiastically agreed to hand over millions of driver’s license photos. This will allow Australian Federal Police to construct a national identity database for use alongside facial recognition cameras to scan crowds and identify people in close to real time. The system will be available for any kind of criminal offence. Turnbull also said private companies could request the information. Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews dismissed concerns of civil liberties groups as a “luxury”. Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April would likely see sports fans face a test run of the digital drag-net.

Surge in Afghan deportations leads to violence and death

A new Amnesty International report has exposed the consequences of deporting asylum seekers to Afghanistan. Its author, Anne Shea, says deportations are, “putting people at risk of torture, kidnapping, death and other horrors”. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are at their highest level ever. No part of the country is safe from attack.

The report catalogues case studies from a research trip to Afghanistan in May. Returned asylum seekers had been killed and lived in constant fear of persecution. Sadeqa and her husband Hadi fled to Europe in 2015 after Hadi was kidnapped and terribly beaten. After they were returned in mid-2016 Hadi was kidnapped and killed. Sadeqa told Amnesty, “Not a single word of what we said was a lie, but Norway didn’t believe us. If we had been accepted, my husband would be alive today”.

Europe’s acceptance rate for Afghan refugees has halved between September 2015 and December 2016 to just 33 per cent. According to Shea this, “did not reflect the facts on the ground, but rather the political situation in Europe” as countries have sought to tighten their borders. Last year the EU and Afghanistan signed a deal that allows European countries to carry out unlimited deportations to the war torn country. Australia is the only non-European country with a similar agreement.

Woman shoots homeless man who asked her to move Porsche

Tennessee woman Katie Quackenbush has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly shooting a homeless man who asked her to move her Porsche. She was arrested by Nashville metro police after a 54-year-old homeless man, Gerald Melton, was critically injured in the shooting.

Police say that Quackenbush drove her Porsche SUV close to where Melton was sleeping, with the exhaust fumes and loud music impairing his ability to rest. There was a verbal altercation where Melton asked Quackenbush to leave. She then allegedly exited her vehicle with a gun and shot him twice in the abdomen leaving him in a critical condition before fleeing the scene in her car.

Male primary school teachers disappearing

The number of male teachers in primary schools is dropping so rapidly there could be none left in 50 years.

Since 1977 male teacher numbers have fallen by 10 per cent in primary teaching, and 14 per cent in high schools.

Macquarie Uni’s Kevin McGrath, whose research uncovered the trend, says it is a result both of low pay and the stereotyping of teaching as a female profession.

“Men, and young men in particular, face social pressures to conform to particular masculine ideals,” he says.

Primary school teacher Daniel Steele, who works at St Jude’s Primary in Melbourne told the ABC he had faced, “[Comments] all the way through to, ‘Why would you want to work with young kids? That’s for women and mums to do’ [and] really terrible comments with regards to you touching kids”.

It shows how ridiculous society’s gender expectations really are.

British soldiers face neo-Nazi charges

Two British soldiers have faced court as alleged members of a neo-Nazi terror group. The September court appearance saw them charged with terror offences in relation to a group called National Action. The organisation was banned in the UK last year due to its “virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic” ideology.

Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen and Private Mark Barrett were allegedly members of a chat group where they planned race war and a white-only Britain. Vehvilainen is alleged to have been in possession of the 600 page manifesto written by Nazi mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who massacred 77 people in Norway in 2011.

Research and writing by Adam Adelpour


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