BY JAMES CAULFIELD
Rallies were held in several Australian cities and towns on August 29, the second anniversary of the federal government's armed seizure of a Norwegian cargo ship, the MV Tampa, to prevent rescued asylum seekers disembarking on Australian soil.
In Melbourne, around 1000 people rallied outside the State Library to demand an end to the incarceration and deportation of refugees. A letter from Iranian refugees facing deportation was read to the crowd.
Kevin Bracket from the Maritime Union of Australia highlighted the link between refugees and the growing poverty of the Third World countries. Jess White from No-one is Illegal condemned the hypocrisy of the federal government, which has declared that it is now "safe" for Afghan refugees to go home. Yet, at the same time the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade describes Afghanistan as being "extremely dangerous" and "not safe for tourists".
In Sydney, 200 supporters of refugees' rights gathered outside Sydney Town Hall to mark the anniversary of the "Tampa crisis". After the speeches, a three-metre red cardboard "Tampa" set sail down George Street, followed by the marchers, who chanted: "No borders, no nations, no deportations".
In Hobart, 50 people held a silent vigil at Parliament House lawns. A similar vigil was held in Launceston.
Two hundred people demonstrated in Canberra's Garema Place on August 30. Instead of focusing on past injustices, the rally demanded an end to deportations of Iranian, Afghan and other refugees. Participants signed letters to be sent to trade unions that may be involved in forced deportations.
The rally and letters were organised by the Refugee Action Collective. There were speakers from the Anti-Deportation Alliance, the Socialist Alliance and refugees.
From Green Left Weekly, September 3, 2003.
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