About 25 people attended an October 5 Green Left Weekly forum on "The Fight for Refugee Rights".
Paul McKinnon, convenor of the Refugee Action Collective, said: “While the refugee rights movement is still not up to the strength it was three years ago, the achievement of the earlier movement didn't disappear. There is a large reservoir of largely passive support for asylum seekers, which needs to be mobilised.”
Yogi Srikantha, Queensland president of the Australian Tamil Congress, described the crisis facing the minority Tamil population of Sri Lanka a year after the civil war ended.
He said the Sri Lankan government was colonising Tamil areas with majority Sinhala people, just like the Israeli government’s program of Jewish settlement of the Palestinian territories.
There are still 73,000 displaced people in camps, which the International Commission of Jurists called “the largest mass administrative detention anywhere in the world”, Srikantha said.
Ewan Saunders from Socialist Alliance condemned the US, Australian and NATO war against Afghanistan. “We need to shout from the rooftops about the real causes of the arrival of the ‘boat people’ — the wars we are engaged in and the repressive regimes our government supports.”