How to navigate a fuel crisis

Nepal is under siege from the earth, from winter, its politicians and India.

American Filmmaker and expat Hamilton Pevec  explores the unravelling Himalayan state as it undergoes its first winter post earthquake and nears 200 days into border blockade with India devastating food and fuel supplies in his new podcast ~ American Immigrant.

American Immigrant is written and produced by Hamilton Pevec.

Co-Produced by  Neesha Bremner ~ The Storyteller Project/ Storyteller Productions.

Music for this episode was Written by Brain Albert Planas and Alex Formosa www.alexformosa.com

 

 

 

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Blockades & unfolding madness around Nepal

The current situation in Nepal is lunacy.

This year Nepal has been shaken to the ground by a catastrophic earthquake and has a haphazard and inefficient relief effort due to years of unstable government and corruptible systems.

Nepal finally approved a flawed but actual constitution in the last month after eight long years of one up man ship which has unstablised the southern region escalating ethnically based protests over the last ten days.

Following skirmishes on the India Nepal border an unofficial border blockade is in place with no essential supplies crossing the land border from India.

Now Nepal can no longer refuel international flights leaving the country and the fragile nation is running out of fuel, food supplies and other essentials in a post natural disaster situation with winter just around the corner…diabolical.

China has now stepped in offering to come to the rescue “giving Nepal all the supplies it needs” according to one publication.

Geo -political posturing ironically punctuated with Southern China Airlines being the first to cancel all flights to the Himalayan nation until at least October 10.

Ke’Garne?

Swanson Street & the Racial Discrimination Act

Walking through the lower reaches of Swanson street towards Flinders Street Station is an interaction with the cultural vibrancy and underbelly of Melbourne – a interweaving of Melbourne’s communities of lack and abundance, multi and mono-culturalism, illustrating their complex and sometimes unsubtle relationships.

These interactions of Big Issue vendors, tourists, shoppers and commuters can led to telling observational moments.

Yesterday while walking through the busy weekend throng of humanity near the transportation hub of Flinders Street Station a drunken individual abused an Aboriginal man sitting near entrance to the lower Swanson Street McDonalds.

” Piss off you N****R, go back to where you came from.”

Perhaps the incident and the use of the word ‘n****r’ could be dismissed under the guise the ‘gentleman’ in question was drunk  but in reality there is no excuse for any form of racist language.

And using the term “go back to where you come from” is  redundant when spoken to a member of Australia’s indigenous people. Where exactly is this Aboriginal man meant to go to?

Racial abuse in Australia brings up complex issues of belonging and ownership within the ‘lucky country ‘ which is potentially about to take on new forms as the Liberal Coalition government reviews key sections (sections 18B -E) of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Under the proposed changes to the act (as covered in the SMH), led by Attorney General  George Brandis,  it looks likely that it will no longer be unlawful to ”offend, insult and humiliate” someone because of their race, colour or ethnic origin while making it illegal to incite hatred or intimidate. On face value these changes seem contradictory or far more allowing of hate based speech against race unless it is extreme.

How are law enforcement meant to police legal racially skewed language while making the judgment that it may or may not be being used to incite hatred or intimidation when the language itself comes from a place of hatred and intimidation? It is a net with very large holes. It is understandable that numbers of ethnic groups have raised concerns with the government over the proposed legislative changes.

But what is the real solution to addressing racially based hatred or how does government limit the use of hateful language in order to engineer an aspirational societal change? Or is that even what the proposed legislation changes are trying to achieve? Are the changes an issue of  free speech? Or are the legislative changes a complicit acceptance of the prevalence of racism in Australia and a reflection that it is too difficult to address through law except in extreme cases such as the 2005 Cronulla race riots?

 Australian Guardian contributor Antony Loewenstein, who supports aspects of the proposed changes from a free speech perspective writes;

  “I share some of the concerns of learned law experts, such as Andrew Lynch, a director at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the  University of NSW, who writes in the Melbourne Age that the government has a wilful blindness to the profound power disparity between those individuals or groups who may be offended or hurt by hate speech and those most likely to be using them (such as media personalities or politicians). It’s a position utterly lost on cocooned editorial writers and also on columnist Andrew Bolt, who this week praised his ability to receive an apology for hurt feelings, forgetting that his requests come with the power of the massive corporation behind him. Bolt is neither a fair arbiter of how the law should work in relation to hateful speech, nor in a position to understand the awful effect that verbal abuse can have on an Aboriginal, refugee, Jew, Muslim, or Greek.”

If the government’s justification for changing the Racial Discrimination Act is about free speech, what is it exactly they want speech to be free to do? As going on the current proposed changes it is possible to argue, as Loewenstein does later in his column, that the major backers of the freedom to use racially charged language as part of free speech principles are all white, privileged and male.  So why do people of cultural and societal privilege need to legimitise language that rarely affects them except if they are caught out using it?

A poll carried out by Fairfax  in March this year indicated that 78 per cent of  2242 respondents thought that the current Racial Discrimination Act does not limit free speech.

Debates about the use of racially based  language and the need to protect those whom are the most common recipients of it are complex and necessary. But legislative moves to remove protections of those vulnerable to racist language while potentially protecting the users of racially based hate speech through the guise of free speech seems counter intuitive.

 

 

 

 

 

March in March ~ Melbourne

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On March 16 30,000 Melbourne residents took to the streets, alongside thousands of others across Australia, to protest the Tony Abbott led Coalition government and their policies around refugees, the environment, education, the economy, gender issues and a plethora of other issues.

Images Copyright Neesha Bremner & The Storyteller Project 2014.

 

SBS interview on orphanage voluntourism in Nepal

Last week I was interviewed by the SBS Nepali show in Australia on my investigative journalism into the issues surrounding orphanage voluntourism in Nepal.

The interview covers the possible links to child trafficking and what volunteers need to consider before embarking on a paid for volunteer experience in the developing country.

You can listen to the interview here.

Vigil for indefinitely held Tamil refugees – January 20 – Victoria State Library

 IMG_5495 IMG_5514 IMG_5525 VIgil for in definitely held Tamil refugees

Images Copyright Neesha Bremner 2014 and cannot be used without permission.

On Christmas Island and at Broadmeadows on the outskirts of Melbourne, 46 refugees, 42 of whom are Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, are sitting in indefinite detention despite being recognised as legitimate refugees by the Australian government. The refugees received a negative viewing from ASIO who deem them a risk to national security. The reasoning behind the negative ruling has not been disclosed but it is assumed because as Tamil they may have supported the Tamil Tigers resistance during the genocide against their people by the Sri Lankan government.

The UN has labelled the detention “cruel and arbitrary” and in breach of international law. The Australian government refutes this despite some of the legitimate refugees being now held for five years without trial or charges and with no clear course for resolution  even though there is the possibility of spending their lifetime behind bars.

Advocates for the refugees speaking at yesterday’s vigil say that the detainees include women, men and a child, Pari, who was born into detention. The refugees are suffering physiologically with many self harming and suicidal.

Around forty people attended the vigil with proceedings overseen by more than 10 representatives from the Victorian Police.

I play where I was born

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Children are born into life on the streets and for some of them this is the only life they know. It is not a life full of hope but one of  violence, abuse, disease and malnutrition as a baseline of  their existence. The following images of a little girl were taken on the outskirts of Thamel, the tourist hub of Kathmandu. This girl, of around 18 months, ironically lives with her two brothers and mother outside a popular tourist attraction called the Garden of Dreams. The children all show signs of malnutrition. But regardless of this, this toddler still plays. Copyright Neesha ( Alexandra) Bremner 2013

Children are born into life on the streets and for some of them this is the only life they know.
It is not a life full of hope but one of violence, abuse, disease and malnutrition as a baseline of their existence.
The following images of a little girl were taken on the outskirts of Thamel, the tourist hub of Kathmandu.
This girl, of around 18 months, ironically lives with her two brothers and mother outside a popular tourist attraction called the Garden of Dreams. The children all show signs of malnutrition. But regardless of this, this toddler still plays.
Copyright Neesha ( Alexandra) Bremner 2013

Poverty and homelessness is an ongoing problem throughout Nepal.

In Kathmandu many live on the streets or in tenuous slum communities in order to survive. Figures from Homeless International indicate that out of Nepal’s 28 million citizens, 2.8 million live in slums, with 59 percent of urban populations living in slum communities. According to UNICEF there are an estimated 30,000 street children alone in Nepal, of which 3,700 are homeless.

In slum communities (which can be bulldozed down )  or for those living on the streets access to clean water, food and the fundamentals of a “good life”  is highly limited if not non-existent.  Living on the streets near tourist hubs gives access to income sources through begging and the ability to access foreigners wanting to “help” as well as being situated near the proliferation of NGO’s who assist street populations on an ad hoc or in a more systematic manner depending on the organisation, time of year, the political situation and the availability of funds.

Children are born into life on the streets and for some of them this is the only life they know.

It is not a life full of hope but one of  potential violence, abuse, disease and malnutrition as a baseline of  their existence.

The following images of a little girl were taken on the outskirts of Thamel, the tourist hub of Kathmandu.

This girl, of around 18 months, ironically lives with her two brothers and mother near a popular tourist attraction called the Garden of Dreams. The children all show signs of malnutrition. But regardless of this, this toddler still plays.

To support the ongoing work of The Storyteller Project – documenting the human stories of the developing world – please donate through the provided link on the left hand side of the page here. It is the intention of the The Storyteller Project,  with your support, to document this family further and to learn more about their situation.