Protesters demand release of Iraqi prisoners

January 26, 2000

Protesters demand release of Iraqi prisoners

By Paul Benedek and Susan Barley

SYDNEY — Forty people demonstrated at Greece's consulate here on January 19 to protest against the ill-treatment of 69 asylum seekers detained in the Greek island prison of Kios.

The protest was organised by the Worker Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) and called on the Greek government to grant political asylum to the Iraqi and Afghan refugees, who have fled brutal repression in their home countries. Many of the refugees, who include women and babies, are ill and malnourished.

Speakers from the WCPI and the Democratic Socialist Party addressed the rally, pointing out the disgraceful treatment of refugees by governments around the world, including in Australia. "In locking up asylum seekers for months or years, these racist governments are saying refugees do not have a right to exist. The message they're sending is clear — stay in your country, even though you face bombs, slaughter, persecution and torture", one participant said.

The protesters included recently released refugees who fall under the Australian government's new anti-refugee laws. "We only have a three-year (temporary) visa — we don't know what will happen then. And we can't get a Medicare card or any government assistance", one Iraqi refugee said. "For two weeks, I have slept in a mosque."

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