The refugee rights movement is gaining momentum, but the establishment is looking for ways to placate and demobilise it. The growing breadth of the campaign is evident in the response to the Guardian's release of the Nauru Files, which contained more than 2000 reports detailing sexual assault, child abuse and acts of self-harm in Nauru detention centre. Almost immediately, "Love Makes A Way" actions were organised, involving a diversity of organisations protesting outside more than 40 Coalition and Labor MP's offices across the country on August 15.
The fence outside Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek's office in Ultimo was adorned with cardboard cut-outs of children trapped behind bars on August 15. Some had messages urging Australia to bring refugees from Manus and Nauru to Australia. The action was one of more than 40 across the country. They were organised as a response to the bipartisan cruelty towards refugees exposed in the Nauru files released by the Guardian the previous week.
Labor's deputy leader Tanya Plibersek's office fence on Broadway in Ultimo was adorned with cardboard cut-outs of children trapped behind bars on August 15, with some holding messages urging that the refugees be bought to Australia. The Sydney-based action was part of more than 40 nation-wide that were initiated by Love Makes A Way and organised by local groups, including the Uniting Church.
A boy is grabbed around the throat, his head is smashed against the ground twice and then a chair is thrown onto him by a security guard. Many people witnessed and reported the incident.
The Australian government has once again showed it is a law unto itself. The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court asked it to provide information by August 4 on how it planned to relocate the people in Manus Island detention centre. No one showed up to court. PNG lawyer Ben Lomani, who has represented the refugees and asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention centre throughout the case, sent documents relating to compensation for the men on Manus Island to the Australian High Commission last year. He has still not received a reply.
In the dead of night on July 26, a young Sudanese man, whom we will call “Walleed”, was forcibly removed by police from a van. Video footage shows a dozen protestors shouting “We love you” and “We will not let you be forgotten” as he is dragged into Melbourne airport. Refugee activists had surrounded the van and blocked it from entering the airport for a few hours before police moved in.
Election after election of racist and Islamophobic rhetoric from both major parties, combined with a growing swarm of far-right outfits, is resulting in violent hate crimes. A car firebombed at the Thornlie mosque in Perth on June 28 and racist graffiti on the wall of an Islamic college are the latest in a string of attacks. Hundreds of people were praying inside the mosque and it was only a matter of luck that no one was injured or killed.
Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Photo: Tony Iltis. Millions of people fleeing storms that flood major cities within hours, or intense fires that burn towns to the ground — welcome to a climate change apocalypse. It is not a scene from science fiction film, but a fast approaching reality.
This election campaign has seen the Coalition blustering that its harsh policies are stopping the people smugglers and deaths at sea, Labor trying to ignore the issue, and the Daily Telegraph running front page headlines such as “The boats are back”. But standing in defiance for more than 100 days is a group of refugees and asylum seekers protesting inside the Nauru detention centre. Through low-resolution photos and shaky video footage, images of the protesters have reached the world, despite intimidation from guards and new fences built to keep cameras out.
Where were you in May when the New South Wales state government announced it will scrap the free rides the Opal card currently gives you after having paid for eight trips in one week? I was not gazing out the window of a train daydreaming that I was on a catbus — the magical type of public transport in Hayao Miyazaki's 1988 anime classic, My Neighbour Totoro.
In May 1939 the St Louis, carried 935 Jews seeking asylum from Nazi Germany. Many countries refused to let them in, including the US, which used coast guard ships to stop the St Louis from docking. Eventually they were forced to return to Europe, and most of the passengers died in the Holocaust they were fleeing.
Chasing Asylum Directed by Eva Orner Selected cinemas Chasing Asylum is a new documentary that shows the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres for the “Hell on Earth” and “human dumping grounds” they are.
Thousands of people took part in the Newcastle #BreakFree2016 protest that stopped coal exports in Newcastle for the day. Photos:
Several hundred people rallied outside the department of immigration in Sydney on April 29. They were part of nation-wide #BringThemHere actions, demanding the federal Coalition government bring the 850 asylum seekers and refugees currently in Manus Island Detention Centre to Australia. Earlier in the week, the PNG Supreme Court had ruled that the detention centre was in breach of its constitution. Aboriginal activist and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Ken Canning said: "The way this government is treating these people, a lot of them will die — and that is murder."
After three years of murders, hunger strikes, mass protests and forcing people to live in some of the worst conditions imaginable, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled on April 26 that detaining asylum seekers in the Manus Island Detention Centre is a breach of the country’s constitution. In the same week, Omid, an Iranian refugee who had been forcibly resettled on Nauru, self-immolated in front of UNHCR inspectors because he could not “take it anymore”.
Sun filters through as a golden blur in low-resolution photos and a few seconds of shaky video clips — evoking the difficulty of getting footage of a protest the Nauru government does not want you to see. But even with three fences in the way, you can still see the 144 asylum seekers, including children, who are protesting against their detention in the Nauru Regional Processing Centre.