BY RUSSELL PICKERING
PERTH — Four hundred people marched through Perth city centre on March 2 demanding the closure of all refugee detention centres. Organised by a broad organising committee initiated by the Refugee Rights Action Network, the rally was the latest in a series of such actions to occur in Perth and Fremantle during the last month.
Speakers at the action included Rosemary Miller from the Uniting Church, Greens MLC Dee Margetts and Theo McKay, who is involved in the Anglican Social Justice Commission. McKay argued that detention centres should be closed, not just "improved". He said that the Anglican Church had called for a royal commission into the treatment of asylum seekers at its last synod meeting. Such a commission should be held, he said, even if the detention centres were closed.
Louise Pratt from Labor for Refugees and Phil Chilton from the Socialist Alliance also addressed the rally. Chilton argued that the government's treatment of refugees was part of its broader anti-worker platform. He welcomed the participation in the march of Maritime Union of Australia and Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union representatives.
Resistance member Fred Fuentes said that growing numbers of rallies across Australia indicated support for refugees was growing. More people, he argued, are realising that only mass pressure can reverse the racist policies of both major parties.
Rally organisers urged people to attend the Palm Sunday vigil for refugees' rights to be held at noon, March 24 at the Wesley Church in the city. For more information phone (08) 9218 9608 or (08) 9388 6009.
From Green Left Weekly, March 6, 2002.
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