'Not another Tampa election' - thousands to rally for refugees

June 17, 2010
Photo by Peter Boyle.

Thousands of people are expected to join the World Refugee Day rallies around Australia between June 19 and June 26.

In Melbourne, the rally - to be held on Sunday June 20 - has the theme “Not another Tampa election”.

Patrick McGorry, Australian of the Year will speak at the Museum Square to refugees, asylum seekers, human rights agency staff and volunteers, refugee advocates and activists before the marchers move off to the EMERGE FESTIVAL at Fitzroy Town Hall.

Refugee speakers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka will describe the unsafe situation in their countries, particularly for Hazaras and Tamils..

Fifty-nine community groups, including unions, churches, welfare groups, refugee communities, refugee advocacy groups and others have endorsed the rally.

Rally organisers say that people are so shocked at the freeze on new asylum claims for asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka that a broad range of groups including churches, Amnesty International, refugee advocacy groups, Labor 4 Refugees and the Greens has formed the Refugee Advocacy Network.

“Each new announcement on refugees from Tony Abbott and the Federal government is harsher than the last. It’s as if the two major parties are having an auction on harsh policies towards refugees”, says Sue Bolton, a member of the network.

The rally’s message is that “Refugees are Welcome in Australia” and that Australians do not want another Tampa election, Bolton added.

In Sydney the WRD rally theme is "Refugees are Welcome!" and it will be held on Saturday June 26, 1pm at Sydney Town Hall. A broad colition of groups is also demanding "Say No to another Tampa election; No visa freeze; and: Close the detention centres.

In Perth the rally will be on Sunday, June 20, 1pm at the Wesley Church, corner of William and Hay Streets, Perth. In Brisbane the rally will also be on Sunday June 20, 1pm at Brisbane Square. In Canberra the rally is on Saturday June 19, 1pm, Garema Place, Canberra and in Newcastle there will be a vigil on Saturday June 19, 10am to noon, at the Beaumont Street clocktower, Hamilton.

Phil Chilton from the Perth Refugee Rights Action Network today said “Stoking the fires of xenophobic anxiety appears to be ‘good politics’ for both sides but the human consequences are entirely bad.”

“Asylum seekers appear caught between death and detention. There are clearly more humane ways to treat the traumatised, the violated, and the persecuted,” he added.

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