'Get rid of mandatory detention!'


BRISBANE — Fifty people gathered in Brisbane Square on April 16 to speak up for refugee rights. The action was sponsored by the Refugee Action Collective, and demands include that the government immediately resume processing Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum claims and respect its international obligations.

Sonia Caton, a refugee lawyer and former director of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service, said she had recently returned from the Christmas Island detention centre. The centre was now full, she said, and there was "an overflow to onshore detention centres, including in Brisbane, at Pinkenba".

"Australia has led the world in bad processes, with its offshore processing of asylum seekers", she said. "Now Italy is doing it too."

Brian Senewiratne, a member of the Sri Lankan Sinhalese community and advocate for Tamil rights, said: "Sri Lanka is veering toward a totalitarian state. Tamils are suffering under a genocidal policy."

Refugee Action Collective spokesperson Ian Rintoul said another hunger strike had just started on Christmas Island. "We need to fight to keep the partial changes introduced over the past couple of years, and move to get rid of mandatory detention entirely", he said.