The Refugee Advocacy Network organised a rally against mandatory detention on November 7, in response to the federal Labor government’s huge expansion of the system. About 400 people attended the protest.
A keynote speaker at the rally was visiting Afghan activist Malalai Joya. She drew the link between the occupation of her country (in which Australia takes part) and Afghans becoming refugees.
“Afghans are leaving because of catastrophe in their country”, she said. “You can’t bring democracy with occupation.”
This was echoed by West Papuan refugee was Gilios Kogoya, representing RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees).
“We ask the Australian government to work with us to find a global solution to wars and conflicts”, he said. Kogoya was locked in detention after arriving in Australia by boat with a group of other West Papuans.
Other speakers included Michele O’Neil from the textile union, Cambodian-born state Labor MP Hong Lim and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.