refugee rights

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.

Three important recent events are intensifying the pressure on the federal government and opposition over their bipartisan cruel treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, particularly those held in offshore detention.

The first event was the tabling of a damning UN report, the second was the world premiere of a new documentary, Chauka Please Tell Us the Time, (filmed inside the Manus Island prison) and the third was news of an out-of-court settlement by the federal government over the wrongful imprisonment of detainees on Manus Island.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton has become so despised by sections of society that some are questioning if he has a soul or heart.

This could also apply to any Coalition or Labor immigration minister over the past couple of decades.

Watch videos of refugees protests over the past decade and it will not be long before you hear chants such as “Lock up [insert current immigration minister] throw away the keys, we won’t stop till we free the refugees” or “Blood on your hands [insert name]”.

Two major anniversaries recently marked the significant change that has taken place on the Spanish left in the last several years.

May 15 was the sixth anniversary of the Indignados mass mobilisations and protests against the brutal austerity unleashed by Spanish government in the wake of the economic crisis. Meanwhile, May 25 marked the third anniversary since the emergence of Podemos as the political voice of the anti-austerity movement with the election of the five Podemos candidates (including key leader Pablo Iglesias) into the European Parliament.

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.

Newcastle Students Against Detention (SAD) culture jammed the University of Newcastle’s rebranding launch on May 15, putting pressure on the administration to cut ties with Broadspectrum which runs Australia’s detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

The students were leaked the designs which they parodied to better reflect the University of Newcastle’s (UON) odious business ties, and stuck them over the official ones.

The rebranding focused on the word “New”, so SAD made posters stating: “New Abuses. New Human Rights Violations. Lose Your Ethics at UON.”

In recent weeks, there have been some worrying developments in the Italian political scene. Extremist, anti-refugee and xenophobic ideas are increasingly gaining ground.

In a growing climate of uncertainty and social instability, all major political forces seem to be riding the wave of discontent to raise their electoral profiles, rather than trying to calm things down.

Immigration officials told asylum seekers and refugees in Manus Island detention centre on May 15 that the centre will be closing, beginning on May 28 and completely shut down by October 31. This comes after a PNG supreme court last year ruled the detention centre was unconstitutional and must be closed.

The Australian government has refused to bring any refugees to Australia and is widely reported to be pressuring them to accept deportation with threats and bribes.

An ISIS attack on May 2 near the Rajim Salibi border crossing between Iraq and Syria left 37 refugees dead and at least 20 injured. Victims were as young as three months. “The attack was repelled [by] the intervention by Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] fighters,” Firat News Agency reported.

Most of the refugees were fleeing the Iraqi city of Mosul, which for months has been the scene of heavy fighting as Western, Russian, Iranian, Iraqi government forces and allied militias try to retake the city from ISIS.

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