After months of protests, mass meetings and failed talks with the University of Sydney administration, about a dozen Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) students started an occupation of the Dean's office at its Callan Park campus in Rozelle on August 22.
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.