BY JENNY LONG
SYDNEY — Around 400 people gathered for the ChilOut (Children Out of Detention) and NSW Teacher's Federation's "Suits against detention: Middle Australia protests!" rally on March 7. Chilout's Junie Ong opened the speaking list, calling on the government to release child asylum seekers and their families "today!"
Ong said that the only line in the national anthem that rang true today was "our land is girt by sea".
Six children from Yagoona Public School also addressed the rally, including Nicholas, who told the rally that not everybody believed that asylum seekers were "line jumpers", but instead that they were rightfully fleeing dangerous situations.
Feminist sociologist and refugee from Hitler's invasion of Vienna, Eva Cox, likened the government's demonisation of refugees to Hitler's rhetoric against Jews. She said that protesters must convince others that refugees are "people like us".
Sister Susan Connelly from the Mary McKillop Institute for East Timorese Studies said that popular support for the government's refugee policy was testament that if you "tell a lie often enough, people will believe it".
Marie O'Halloran, president of the NSW Teachers Federation, said that if the government wouldn't "let the children go to school", NSW teachers would teach from outside the barbed wire fences.
The final speaker, a self described "Chilout mum" railed at the inhumanity of the government's policy towards children, and called on the crowd to "protest at every opportunity".
The Solidarity Choir sang three rousing songs and statements were read out from Justice Marcus Einfeld and Peter Andren, independent MP for Calare.
From Green Left Weekly, March 13, 2002.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.