Sunday news round-up: April 13th-19th

Top Story: 700 migrants feared dead after Mediterranean boat capsize: Save The Children estimates that up to 700 Libyan migrants may have drowned after their ship capsized off the coast of an Italian island. Italy’s coast guard responded to reports that a ship was in danger on Monday, having rescued about 144 from the sea before human traffickers interrupted the operation. Thousands of fleeing migrants are lost at sea each year, while many Western governments fail to accept their fair share of refugees due to internal right-wing opposition. The EU’s commissioner for migration is expected to unveil a new strategy to deal with migrants at sea next month. Over 7,000 migrants have been rescued from the Mediterranean sea since last Friday.

Australian immigration guards granted power to “beat detainees to death”: An inquiry into Australia’s immigration detention facilities has suggested giving guards the power to resort to violence, should it be necessary. Australia’s Supreme Court made the recommendation after repeated riots and disruptions at detention facilities, where rape, torture, and other human rights abuses are common. The new powers would allow a guard to subdue and even murder a detained refugee with impunity. According to reports, detained refugees in the Wickham Point Detention Centre have been deliberately harming themselves to avoid being transferred to Nauru Island, home to the most cruel and brutal detention facility.

Former Blackwater personnel sentenced for killing civilians: Four former Blackwater security personnel have been sentenced for the massacre of Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square. The personnel were accused of massacring at least 14 unarmed civilians in September of 2007 – one of the most infamous instances of U.S. war crimes during the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. None of the four accused expressed any remorse for the killings, and hundreds of supporters wearing Blackwater shirts flooded the courtroom during the later stages of the trial. One of the accuse will spend the rest of his life in prison, while the other three will serve 30 years. Since the Iraq War, Blackwater has changed its operating name to Academi.

Chicago offers compensation for victims of police torture: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other officials are to propose a $5.5 million reparations package for victims of police torture under the ironclad rule of Police Commander Jon Burge. Burge tortured over 200 suspects between the 70’s and 90’s in order to gain false confessions, and a massive coverup operation by successive administrations meant he didn’t serve jail time until 2011. Although many have praised the reparations package, there are allegations that the Chicago PD is still torturing people at the unconstitutional Homan Square detention centre.

ISIS razes ancient Assyrian city to the ground: Videos have emerged purportedly showing ISIS militants bulldozing the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in modern-day Iraq. A UNESCO cultural site, Nimrud is thousands of years old and home to countless artifacts and archaeological delights, but the city has now been irreversibly destroyed for its “un-Islamic” nature, according to ISIS. Archaeological sites aside, ISIS has caused untold human destruction since it began seizing territory early last year, throwing suspected gay men off rooftops and executing political prisoners en masse in widely publicized online videos.

Tory candidate suggests mentally ill should wear wristbands: A Conservative Parliamentary candidate in the UK has sparked outrage for suggesting that mentally ill people ought to wear identifying wristbands to let people know they are ill. Speaking at a hustings event, Chamali Fernando, standing in Cambridge, suggested that colour-coded wristbands would allow police and medical officials to understand destructive behaviour when dealing with people so they can “spot [the illness] earlier and deal with it”. Some social media users drew a comparison between her comments and the Nazi-era yellow stars and pink triangles, used to identify Jews and gay people respectively in concentration camps.


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