Easter has become synonymous with protests for refugees' rights. Woomera, Baxter and Villawood detention centres have each been the target of Easter convergences that have shone the national and international spotlight on the Howard government's blatant disregard of human rights.
PM John Howard's attempt to excise the Australian mainland from the migration zone has been defeated. The numbers in mainland detention centres have fallen, as some people previously demonised as "failed asylum seekers" finally got visas.
Yet the construction of the $300 million, 800-bed detention centre on Christmas Island is nearing completion, with the backing of the Labor opposition. The recent attempt to turn back 83 Sri Lankan asylum seekers shows that the government's "fortress Australia" mind-set persists.
The Refugee Action Coalition has called a protest for Easter Sunday at Kirribilli House. The Howard government is in trouble on a number of fronts: the worsening debacle in Iraq; the five-year incarceration of David Hicks; the unpopularity of Work Choices; the push for uranium mining and nuclear power; and the incessant attacks on public education.
Uniting around these issues, we can push Howard back and send a message to any alternative government that we need a fundamental break with the priorities of the Howard years. The protest has been endorsed by the Stop the War Coalition and the NSW Social Justice Network.
[The protest will take place from noon on April 8 in Bradfield Park, under the Harbour Bridge. For more information, or to endorse the rally, email email@example.com.]