Vigil for refugees' rights



NEWCASTLE — A solemn 80-strong protest in Civic Park on July 12 was the culmination of a week-long vigil in solidarity with hunger strikers in the Woomera detention centre.

Dave McKay, who is visiting Newcastle from the Refugee Embassy at Woomera, condemned the deafening silence in the mainstream media about the recent hunger strike and its demands.

Mike Hamill, representing the Australian Psychological Society (Hunter Branch), noted that he was speaking with the almost unanimous support of the society's 300 members in the Hunter region. "This is the first time we've ever spoken out [on such an issue]", Hamill stated.

Nonie Hodgson from the Australian Association of Social Workers explained the AASW opposed mandatory detention and temporary protection visas, acknowledged global inequality was the cause of the refugee crisis and called for money spent on detention to be spent on settlement of refugees in the community.

Newcastle Action for Refugee Rights, which has attracted much support through the vigil, will be organising actions on August 26 as part of the "Tampa Day of Shame", a public meeting on August 31 featuring Anne Coombs from Rural Australians for Refugees. It is also campaigning to make Newcastle a Welcome Town for refugees. For more information about NARR activities, phone Kathy on 0412 388 869).

From Green Left Weekly, July 17, 2002.
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