Greens candidate: Desperate asylum seekers fleeing here should not be punished

Mehreen Faruqi speaks at an August 15 refugee rights rally in Sydney. Photo: Peter Boyle

Greens candidate for Heffron in the August 25 NSW by-election Mehreen Faruqi gave the speech below at a refugee rights rally in Sydney on August 15.

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Seeking asylum is a legal and a human right. But our current government and the Coalition are bent upon stripping these rights and protections from vulnerable people who most need them.

The Labor party was elected on the platform of abolishing the Pacific Solution and to their credit they did. But what we are seeing now is this deal that Julia Gillard has done with Tony Abbott. This is worse than what we saw in the dark days of John Howard and worse than what we saw under Phillip Ruddock.

Opening up Nauru and Manus Island only means that the cruelties asylum seekers have been facing will continue. These are policies designed to lock up people indefinitely with no legal protections or human rights. That’s the deterrent that the government and coalition want to use — to treat persecuted people so badly and with such cruelty that others are scared to come here. Where is our compassion? Where is our humanity?

We should be proud to share the wealth and resources of our lucky country with those who most need them and show compassion, not toughness, for those who have already been through persecution and horrendous experiences. It is our obligation to care for asylum seekers.

The Greens reject the recommendations on offshore processing and will not sign up to a plan that strips people of their legal and human rights. We are the only party that has put forward solutions that will save lives and recognise refugee rights such as increase number of humanitarian refugee intake, more money for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and codification of safety at sea measures.

Rather than working with the Greens in the interest of refugees, Labor has taken the easy way out and chosen to go for a policy they think the Coalition will support.

This new policy that Labor and the coalition are lining up to support is not in the best interests of people fleeing persecution. Let’s send a clear and loud message to the politicians in Canberra, we will not stay silent while desperate people fleeing persecution are punished for seeking asylum.

Thank you for coming out here today and helping get this message out. We need to build an even stronger movement and I look forward to working with you all to do so.