BY VIRGINIA BROWN
PERTH — Thirty refugee supporters protested outside a meeting addressed by immigration minister Philip Ruddock at Subiaco Oval on October 3. Organised by the Refugee Rights Action Network, the peaceful protest highlighted Ruddock's verbal attacks on refugees and the government's failure to prevent escalating attacks against Muslim and Arab Australians.
Many of those attending the protest told Green Left Weekly that they were outraged by both the government's and the ALP's simultaneous support for the United States' war on Afghanistan, which is already forcing more Afghans to flee their homes, while accusing Afghan refugees of being potential terrorists.
The protesters chanted while distributing fact-sheets debunking the myth of refugee "queue jumpers" to those attending the meeting. Many appeared to welcome the protest, and several meeting-attendees signed campaign contact lists.
Several of the protesters then attended the meeting, using the opportunity to condemn the government's treatment of refugees, particularly the treatment of the Tampa refugees who, one protester told the meeting, had a right under international law to make an asylum claim on Australian soil.
A different approach was taken by several members of the International Socialist Organisation attending the protest, who shouted at the people entering the meeting, including two Afghan refugees, calling them "lackeys of the Liberals".