Activist found guilty of refugee graffiti

Demonstrators show support for refugee rights activist Stephen Langford, outside Downing Centre courts, Sydney, on May 31.

Protesters outside the Downing Centre court in Sydney on May 31 denounced the prosecution of Stephen Langford for his “close the camps” graffiti. Langford, representing himself, was found guilty by Magistrate Julie Huber, who rejected the “duress” defence and ordered him to pay $2421.

Langford read out the names of the twelve asylum seekers killed by the Australian state on Manus Island and Nauru, from Reza Barati to Fariborz Karami, at the rally and in court. Since the May federal dozens of asylum seekers have attempted suicide, largely unreported in Australia. The position of refugees was hardly mentioned by the mainstream media in the recent election. 

The protest received messages of support from Brendan Doyle of the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group and Sam Castro from Melbourne’s Whistle-blowers and Citizens' Alliance (WACA).

Castro's message of solidarity included information and requests for donations towards a flotilla of boats to sail to Manus Island under the hashtag #Sail4Justice. She also said that on the same day in Melbourne, three WACA refugee solidarity protesters were charged with protesting offences, described by Castro as “vexatious”.

Other speakers at the rally included: Rachel Evans, Socialist Alliance; Phil Glendenning, Refugee Council of Australia; Sister Susan Connelly, campaigner for Bernard Collaery and Witness K; David Shoebridge, NSW Greens Senator; Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition; and the Solidarity Choir.

Weekly refugee solidarity demonstrations continue in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle and Albany (WA).