refugee rights

After a record high vote for the Greens in the August 21 federal election, it did not take long for the corporate media to get its claws out.

In particular, Rupert Murdoch-owned News Ltd’s flagship newspaper The Australian has been called out for its string of critical stories and headlines targeting the Greens.

In a September 9 editorial, the paper responded to Greens Senator Bob Brown's criticism that the paper was openly attacking the Greens-Labor deal, saying the Greens “are bad for the nation; and ... should be destroyed at the ballot box”.

Three of the 12 Tamil asylum seekers accused of rioting at Christmas Island detention centre in November 2009 have had their charges dismissed.

The lawyers for detainee Mr Suntharalingam successfully argued that it would not be fair to use his record of interview against him, as he did not fully understand the caution given to him by the Federal Police at the start of the interview.

Without the interview Commonwealth prosecutors were unable to continue the charges against him.

On September 15, Leela Krishna, a Tamil refugee in Villawood Detention Centre, was removed to Melbourne's Maribyrnong Detention Centre. Supporters of Leela protested and leafleted Sydney Airport's domestic terminal on the day.

Despite being recognised as a refugee by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in April, Leela is still being imprisoned while ASIO conducts “security checks”. A gay man, he has experienced sexual harassment, bullying and physical assault in detention and has attempted suicide several of times.

In late August, Mexican authorities found the bodies of 72 migrants from Central and South America. They had been kidnapped on their way to the United States, brutally shot and left to die in a remote, abandoned ranch near a small town in northeastern Mexico.

Eighteen-year-old Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla was one of two survivors of the massacre who managed to escape and lead authorities to the crime scene. He claimed he and his fellow US-bound migrants were kidnapped by the Zetas drug cartel and told they would either have to pay a ransom or work as drug couriers and hit men.

Hazara asylum seekers, who broke out of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin on September 1 to hold a peaceful seven-hour protest, have been transferred to the WA Curtin detention centre.

On September 3, Australian Association of Hazaras spokesperson Arif Fayazi told ABC radio he was concerned for their welfare.

Fayazi said that when he was in detention in similar circumstances in 2000, many of his fellow detainees became so distressed they harmed themselves.

On September 6, 35 people attended a meeting held by the Perth Refugee Rights Action Network to hear a reportback from participants of the RRAN “Compassion Caravan”.

The Compassion Caravan involved 25 people traveling to the Leonora detention centre, in remote Western Australia, where 200 men, women and children refugees are detained. The caravan delivered toys and welcome notes to the refugees, written by Perth primary school children.

Independent Andrew Wilkie won the Tasmanian seat of Denison at the recent federal elections. Previously, the seat had been held by Duncan Kerr for 23 years and was considered a safe Labor seat.

Wilkie came to prominence in 2003 when he resigned from his job at the Office of National Assessments in public protest against the then Liberal/National Coalition government's decision to invade Iraq. The invasion was based on the claim Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, a claim that later proved false.

Prisoners detained without trial at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin have staged dramatic protests. On August 29 and 30, about 120 Indonesian detainees, accused of (but not charged with) “people smuggling”, staged protests on the jail’s roof and set fire to garbage. On September 1, about 90 Afghan Hazara refugees broke out of the jail and held a peaceful protest on the Stuart Highway.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told AAP on August 30 she believed the Indonesians were poor fisherpeople who had been conned into making the journey.

A high court challenge to Australia's offshore processing, on behalf of two Tamil refugees whose asylum claims were refused, has questioned the legality of the refugee processing policy.

The case, heard in Canberra's High Court over August 24-26, occurred amid rising numbers of refugee claims being refused.

Australia imprisons refugees in offshore detention and denies them full right of appeal in Australian courts. Access to legal advice and fair processing is greatly restricted.

The lawyers acting on behalf of the Tamils labelled this practice unlawful and unconstitutional.

A 21-year-old Tamil refugee has allegedly been the victim of an assault while in detention.

Leela Krishna was recognised as a refugee by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in April this year, but is still held in Villawood detention centre.

He was waiting for security clearance from ASIO before release. But, on August 21, he was allegedly assaulted in an isolation unit by a former professional kick boxer.

The police are investigating the attack, and Serco — the private contractors who manage the centre — have placed Krishna in the “housing” component of Villawood.

Pages

Subscribe to refugee rights