asylum seekers

The federal government and its offshore detention contractors will pay more than $70 million in compensation to 1905 refugees and asylum seekers for illegally detaining them in dangerous and damaging conditions on Manus Island.

In what may be Australia's largest ever human rights-related settlement, on June 14 the government settled out of court before the class action, brought on behalf of the refugees and asylum seekers detained on the island, began.

Refugee Art Project is a not-for-profit community art organisation that holds art workshops for asylum seekers and refugees — both within the Villawood detention centre and in its studio in north Parramatta. Eila Vinwynn spoke to Safdar Ahmed, who founded the group about its work and aims.

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The Australian Refugee Action Network (ARAN) held its inaugural conference on May 20-21 at the Australian National University in Canberra. It brought together more than 150 activists and representatives of 48 refugee advocacy and activist groups from around the country. 

Participants included a large number of activists from Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) groups. RAR held its own national meeting over the conference, and elected a new leadership. The proposal to form ARAN came out of discussion at last year’s RAR conference.

Veteran Canadian-based socialist and activist Ernie Tate has been writing to English group Left Unity on the struggles in Canada provoked by the rise of Donald Trump south of the border.

A lifelong revolutionary who migrated to Canada from Northern Ireland as a young man, Tate was one of the most important activists of the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign in the 1960s and has recently produced a two volume memoir, Revolutionary Activism of the 1950s and 1960s.

Australians overwhelmingly believe keeping asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru indefinitely is cruel, but are evenly split on whether they should be resettled in Australia. 

This was the result of a survey by Roy Morgan Research over February 18 to 19.

The poll found a majority of voters in Victoria (52%), NSW (51%) and Tasmania (58%) supported bringing those on Manus and Nauru to Australia.

A majority of voters in Queensland (53%), WA (57%) and SA (54%) opposed resettlement in Australia.

As the people on Manus Island prepared to see in the New Year, drunken immigration officials and police beat up asylum seekers who were then taken into police custody and denied food and medical treatment. PNG politician Ronny Knight responded by tweeting “They deserved what they got”.

Barely a week earlier Faysal Ishak Ahmed, a Somali asylum seeker in Manus Island detention centre, died on Christmas Eve after months of being denied adequate medical treatment.

This week, brave teachers from across the country will bring a message of hope to their class rooms. They will declare that they support refugees — and especially those on Manus Island and Nauru.

The simple act of wearing a T-shirt with the words — “Teachers for refugees” on the front and “Close the camps, Bring them here” on the back — is enough to reinforce to thousands of students that there is an alternative to cruelty.

Three activists scaled the roof of immigration minister Peter Dutton’s Brisbane electorate office on November 2 to protest the government’s proposed new immigration law.

Activists Scarlett Squire, Kelly Purnell and Ellen Sargent climbed the roof and unfurled an Australian flag covered in blood.

Under the proposed law, any asylum seeker attempting to enter Australia by boat will be banned from ever entering the country.

Every day, people’s human rights are violated. In detention centres like those on Nauru and Manus Island, such violations are not just allowed but enforced by the Australian government. However, last month people stood together for nine hours to tell the Australian government that they would not accept it any longer. 

The vigil was held in the Hobart CBD from 10am to 7pm. People took turns reading to onlookers from the Nauru case files that were recently leaked by the Guardian. Others held placards and banners with messages of solidarity for the people in detention centres at Manus and Nauru. 

Refugee supporters rallied in Sydney on October 5 in solidarity with asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru who held their 200th consecutive day of protest against their illegal detention that day.

Speakers included Danielle Austin, a former nurse on Christmas Island and convener of Mums for Refugees; Dr Barri Phatarfod, a convener of Doctors4Refugees; and Judith Reen, a former teacher on Nauru.

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