Just three days after the federal election, with the result still in the balance, the Refugee Action Coalition held a protest outside the Sydney law courts in support of a High Court case that is challenging the legality of off-shore processing of asylum seekers.
If the case fails, there will be no further legal barrier to deporting refugees currently held in detention centres.
Seventeen-year-old Afghan Hazara refugee Farida Dad made an impassioned call: “Am I not a human being? World War I and II lasted five years — in Afghanistan we have had 30 years of war … If I go back, I will be an orphan, eating scraps of food from the gutter.”
She explained how difficult it was to find refuge. “We've suffered, we were kicked out of Pakistan, kicked out of Syria....are we now going to be kicked out from here too?
“If Hazaras are sent back, we will be able to count one by one those that will be killed.”
Referring to the scapegoating of refugees throughout the election campaign, she pleaded: “Use me as a political kick if you must — but not my father, not my people.”
Greens state parliament member Sylvia Hale told the rally: “Australian policy is contemptible. One of the richest countries, that has boasted of escaping the global financial crisis, can't accept a couple of thousand refugees.”
Refugee researcher Louise Boon Kuo, poet and Iranian refugee Mohsen Sultani, and RAC’s Ian Rintoul also spoke.
In Brisbane, Jim McIlroy reports about 100 people marched on election-eve, August 20. “Stand up for refugees: Say no to another Tampa election!”, “Let the boats land”, “Close all detention centres”, were the main slogans at the Refugee Action Collective-organised protest.
Speakers condemned the victimisation of asylum seekers by the Gillard Labor government and the Abbott-led Coalition opposition and called for a change of direction by any new government.