The Whistleblowers , Activists and Citizens’ Alliance released this statement on July 25.
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Refugee supporters broke through security barriers at the ALP conference today, dropping a banner reading “No refugee tow-backs” and wearing shirts saying “turn back the votes” in opposition to Labor's boat turn-back policy.
Spokesperson Nicole Curby said: “This is the most unimaginative policy to date. If Labor, or the Liberals for that matter, wanted to save lives at sea they would start by further increasing their refugee intake, getting rid of TPVs, which don't allow for family reunification, implement speedier processing of claims, and end mandatory detention and offshore processing, which push so many people to suicide and self-harm.
“Why punish people after they've already made the journey, and then make them do it again? This approach looks to the symptoms, not the cause. Overwhelming statistics show us that people risk their lives on boats because they see no other option, not because of 'evil' people smugglers coercing them to do so.
“Asylum seekers are stuck in Indonesia, unable to work or go to school and with no chance of resettlement — yet they can’t go home because it’s too dangerous.”
Another spokesperson for the group, David Power, said: “We saw the horrifying regional flow-on effect of our tow-back policy with the multilateral rejection of the Rohingya refugees in the Mallacca Straits. We watched as they were condemned to starve, suffer and die in another place, out of sight.
“Our interception and turn-back of boats has already resulted in fires, sinkings, disappearances and drownings and jailing of those intercepted. Turn-backs prevent asylum seekers from exercising their right to seek protection in Australia. They are also a direct violation of non-refoulement obligations that are the cornerstone of refugee rights.
“The ALP needs to grow a political backbone and regain a morality that's guided by humanitarian outcomes and which looks after refugees, not punishes them.
“Delegates cannot compromise on this. As refugee supporters we will continue to put pressure on the ALP in every way we can until their refugee policy reflects this. Otherwise just as they turned their backs on refugees, we will be turning our backs on them.”