Zebedee Parkes

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.
I moved to Sydney at the start of this year. For months I have spent every Sunday I'm not working rushing around the Inner West being interviewed as a flatmate, only to suffer rejection after silent rejection.
Immigration minister Peter Dutton announced on April 2 that for the first time in a decade there were no children in Australian detention centres. “When I got the call,” he said, “it was something I was proud of.” With the announcement came news that 196 of the 267 asylum seekers who lost the High Court case challenging the government's legal right to deport them to Nauru would be moved to community detention in Australia.
That the Australian government can find $6 million to fund a film aimed at convincing asylum seekers to not come to Australia and yet cut more than $50 million from Screen Australia speaks volumes about its priorities.
Yingiya Mark Guyula, a spokesperson for the Yolngu Nations Assembly, will stand as an independent candidate for the seat of Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory elections in August. He kicked off a national Treaty awareness and fundraising speaking tour with a meeting in Darwin on March 7, before speaking in Adelaide, Geelong, Melbourne and Sydney. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Peter Robson in Darwin and Zebedee Parkes in Sydney. * * * Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
“Thank you for these protests. We love you and our hearts are with you in this moment.” This message was sent from a refugee inside Northam Detention Centre in West Australia to activists who were protesting outside in 2014. Messages like this inspire many of us to get active and persist with campaigns to make the world more humane. A whole generation, to which I belong, has only known mandatory detention: it was introduced by “left” Labor immigration minister Gerry Hand in 1992.
“These girls have stories that would make the biblical movies that we grew up on look tame,” Pamela Curr told a forum on women in Nauru in Sydney on February 29. The journey of women seeking asylum in Australia is filled with misery, fear, shame, sexual harassment, vulnerability and torture. It is a story of survival against all the odds meeting an Australian government with a detention system designed to be worse than what they are fleeing from.
Punks For West Papua Directed by Anthony Brennan 46 minutes www.punks4westpapua.com A friend's request to film a punk rock concert and a rushed drive across Sydney to do a last-minute interview with West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda — without even knowing who the twice Nobel Peace Prize-nominated activist was — was the catalyst for filmmaker Anthony “Ash” Brennan to make his award-winning film Punks For West Papua.
Protestors took to the streets around Australia on February 20 against the federal government's proposed cuts to health care in #TheseCutsAreKillingUs rallies. Protesters in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth came out to defend Medicare and to oppose government plans to charge for previously free pathology tests. This could lead to doctors having to charge at least $30 for blood tests, MRIs, X-rays, pap smears, urine tests, ultrasounds and more.

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