Refugees

Born Free
Ben Iota
Butterthief Records
June 20, 2013
www.beniota.com

Radical rapper Ben Iota stands out in Australian Hip-Hop like a refugee boat in an empty ocean. Green Left's Mat Ward spoke to him about his new EP "Born Free".

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Verbal Reality Volume One
Provocalz
Native Sun / Hustle Hard, 2012
$15
www.provocalz.bigcartel.com

"Every time you see in the media someone's been killed by police it always just happens to be an Aboriginal," says radical rapper Provocalz.

It's 9.30 on a Saturday morning and the south-west Sydney spitter is telling Green Left why he made his hard-hitting horrorcore track, "Cop Shot".

Photos taken by refugees of their living conditions in the Australian detention camp on Manus Island have led to a new round of “systematic assault on asylum seekers’ basic rights”, according to Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Nick Riemer.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a report on the Christmas Island detention centre on October 29, and again called for an end to mandatory detention and offshore processing.

The 75-page report detailed the hostile conditions faced by asylum seekers, including the island’s remote location and limited access to essential services such as legal help, health care, torture and trauma counselling and religious support.

The report said Australia’s detention system breaches fundamental human rights.

An Essential Research poll released October 25, asked the question, “Do you approve or disapprove of the federal government’s decision to move children and their families out of immigration detention centres and allow them to live in the community while their cases are being processed?”

Alarmingly, only 33% approved while 53% disapproved and 13% said they didn't know. Furthermore, 29% strongly disapproved, while only 11% strongly approved.

One hundred people gathered in Brisbane’s King George Square on October 22 to commemorate the tragedy of the SIEV X, an Indonesian fishing boat bound for Australia, which sank on October 19, 2001, drowning 353 asylum seekers — 146 of them children.

The rally and the march through the city was organised by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC).

A RAC statement said: “The Australian government knew of this disaster and allowed these refugees, fleeing war and persecution, to die.

The Pacific Solution
By Susan Metcalfe
Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, 2010

Review by Julian Gormly

This year is the 15th anniversary of the Nargar Kovil school massacre in Tamil Eelam, the Tamil area of Sri Lanka.

On September 22, 1995, the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) bombed Nargar Kovil Maha Vidyalayam schoolyard, which was crammed with 750 children on their lunch break. Reports of the number of children killed vary from 26 to 70.

Twelve of the children killed were six or seven years old. One hundred and fifty were injured, including 40 seriously. Twenty-two children had their limbs amputated. Ten of the amputees were under 12.

On August 23, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) reported that a 30-year-old man found unconscious in the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia had died.

After his collapse on August 21, the man was taken to Derby hospital, 40 kilometres away. That night, he was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, more than 2000km south of Derby. He died the next day.

DIAC would not tell Green Left Weekly the man’s name, but said it didn’t believe there were suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. A Coronial inquiry

Immigration officials accept about 99% of claims for refugee status by people who have arrived by boats in Australia. But this hasn’t stopped mainstream politicians from punishing those seeking asylum in this way.

In April, the government announced it would temporarily freeze visa applications from newly arrived Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers. In June, about 70% of Afghan (mostly Hazara) claims were rejected, according to the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC). Such rejection figures have never been seen before.

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