Protest demanding investigation of war crimes. Jaffna, Sri Lankan-occupied Tamil Eelam, February 24. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has dissolved parliament and called elections for August 17. Sirisena was elected president on January 9, replacing Mahinda Rajapaksa.
On June 24 about 150 people attended a forum organised by the Refugee Action Collective, Labor for Refugees and the Refugee Advocacy Network on the theme “How can we get Labor to oppose offshore detention?” Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney told the meeting that the ACTU has recently adopted a stronger policy on refugees, based on recognition that “seeking asylum is a human right”.
About 200 people attended a meeting on Islamophobia on May 31. The meeting was co-chaired by Steve Jolly, a Socialist Party member and Yarra city councillor, and Monique Toohey, a board member of the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV). Toohey told the meeting that the harassment of Muslims had made many of them fearful of going out in public. Ghaith Krayem, the president of the ICV, said that under proposed new laws people could be deported by the decision of a minister, based on suspicion, with no right to challenge claims made by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
“Iran is not a safe space,” Bahman, an Iranian refugee living in Australia and active in Iranian Workers Solidarity, told Green Left Weekly. Bahman was responding to Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop’s recent visit to Iran, where she tried to persuade the Iranian government to accept asylum seekers sent back to Iran involuntarily.
Melbourne Fair Go For Pensioners protest, May 20, 2015. Photo: Annaki Rowlands Pensioners rallied in Melbourne on May 20 to protest against the federal government's budget. The rally was organised by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition.
Refugee Council of Australia president Phil Glendenning spoke at a public forum in Melbourne on May 13 about the fate of refugees deported from Australia. Glendenning is also the director of the Edmund Rice Centre, which has investigated the fate of asylum seekers deported to their homeland, or pressured to return "voluntarily".
People who regularly visit refugees and asylum seekers detained in the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation in Broadmeadows have reported that the rules for visiting have recently become much more restrictive. Visitors must now give 24 hours notice. They must give the names of the specific detainees they wish to talk to, and are not allowed to talk to any others. This makes it hard for them to make contact with new arrivals in the detention centre. Requests to visit are often refused on the pretext that the visiting room will be full, whereas in fact the room is often half empty.
The Global Tamil Forum issued a statement on May 1 evaluating the first months of in office of Sri Lanka's new president Maithripala Sirisena. In presidential elections in January, Sirisena defeated the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had presided over a genocidal war against the Tamil people and then kept them under military occupation. The GTF praised Sirisena for amending the Sri Lankan constitution to cut the power of the president and increase the power of parliament.
About 80 people gathered at the Eight Hour Day monument opposite Melbourne Trades Hall on April 24 to commemorate the second anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. In the collapse, 1139 garment workers are known to have died, with others still missing.
This speech was given at the Refugee Action Collective protest in Melbourne on April 8. * * * We are here to protest against the indefinite detention of a group of refugees who are claimed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to be a security threat. These are people who have been officially recognised as refugees who were at serious risk of persecution in the countries they fled. Yet they are detained indefinitely because of negative ASIO assessments.