The Tony Abbott government’s illegal “Turn Back the Boats” policy is under further scrutiny, following media revelations that in late May, Australian customs officials paid $US30,000 to six crew members on a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, which was heading to New Zealand, from Indonesia.
Thirty refugee rights activists rallied outside Commonwealth offices in Sydney, to coincide with the June 17 presentation of a 65,000 strong petition to the Federal Parliament in Canberra, calling for the immediate closure of Manus Island and Nauru detention centres. The petition is here and can still be signed. Nicole Judge, Manus Island detention centre whistleblower, and Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) spoke at the rally.
A small symbolic protest in the rain was held outside the Commonwealth government offices in Bligh St, Sydney on June 16. The action marked the submission of a petition to the Senate with 65,000 signatures calling for the immediate closure of Manus Island and Nauru asylum seeker detention centres. These Australian offshore asylum seeker detention centres were disasters that could not be fixed, Nicole Judge, a whistleblower and former worker at both centres, told the protest which was organised by the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition.
Reports of physical and sexual violence, including against children, continue to emerge from Australian refugee detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Allegations have also emerged that Australian authorities had paid people smugglers to take a boat of asylum seekers away from Australian waters. But the government has continued to respond with secrecy, vilification of critics and increasingly draconian government measures to prevent information coming out.
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa announced radical plans to support asylum-seekers and stateless people. Ecuador’s socialist government is proposing a new law to make all migrants legal in the country. Correa said during his weekly address: “The right to migrate is guaranteed in the rules. No human being will be considered illegal.”
If you listen to most Western politicians you could be forgiven for thinking that refugees are a pesky annoyance, greedy “economic refugees” from the Third World illegitimately trying to break into this wealthy country. Their now monotonously routine scapegoating of refugees for the pain and insecurity that more and more people feel, even in the richest countries in the world, translates into plain abuse out there in the public.
Newcastle based group Hunter Asylum Seeker Advocacy (HASA) held a successful fundraiser for the asylum seekers who have been given so-called 'residency' on Nauru. Earlier this year one of the asylum seekers had opened up a Pakistani restaurant in Nauru. HASA asked The Love Tree Cafe in Newcastle if they could host a solidarity dinner there, following the recipes of the Pakistani restaurant. To their astonishment, The Love Tree not only agreed to do it, but did so gratis. Staff volunteered their time, and the venue and food were provided free to maximise the returns.
In 1939, as Europe stood on the verge of all-out war, Nazi Germany, true to their promise, had issued and implemented 400 different decrees for the regulation of the public and private lives of Jews. Their properties were confiscated, and their businesses and synagogues were burned down. These laws effectively purged Jews from schools, academia, business and public life, and declared them “undesirables”. Many Jews were forced to seek asylum in other Western countries.
A 23 year-old Iranian asylum seeker has been savagely attacked on Nauru. The young woman had been on day-release from the detention centre on May 16, visiting refugees in the community. She was expected back at 5pm so at 4.30pm she left the house she was visiting to catch the bus back to the detention centre. She never arrived. At about 8pm Nauruan police were seen wrapping the woman in a blanket and trying to place her in a police car. She had been found naked, distressed and disoriented.
On May 14 a group of 10 asylum seekers and their families began a case in the High Court challenging the legality of the government’s policy of offshore detention. The Human Rights Law Centre is running the case on behalf of the asylum seekers. The Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy Daniel Webb, who is part of the legal team representing the families, said the group has been temporarily returned to Australia but are facing imminent removal back to Nauru.