refugee rights

A wave of rallies and marches commemorating World Refugee Week swept across the country in the past week.

On June 20, people rallied in Melbourne, coming from across the city and regional areas.

Given the rain, organisers were happy with the turnout of 2000 people. It was the biggest protest in support of refugees for several years.

Tamil refugee Arun Mylvaganam described his experiences escaping Sri Lanka and traveling to Australia, where he spent three months in detention. He was only 13 at the time and had no family members with him.

The deaths of three Australian commandos in a helicopter crash on June 21 should bring home the message: it's time to leave Afghanistan.

The deaths bring the total number of Australians killed in the occupation to 16. This, not to mention the countless thousands of Afghan deaths, should be enough reason to call an end to Australian participation in this war.

Michael Kumarasamy, one of the asylum seekers accused of being involved in a riot between Tamil and Afghan detainees at Christmas Island detention centre in November 2009, attended his trial on June 18 … about two hours late.

Kumarasamy’s lawyer, Simon Freitag, had emailed Perth Immigration Detention Centre to ensure staff there knew when the case was on. When his client was late, he again rang Perth IDC.

A wave of rallies and marches commemorating World Refugee Week has begun to sweep across Australia.

On Sunday June 20, people came from all over Melbourne as well as Ballarat, Geelong and other regional areas for the rally, indicating that refugee rights networks are being re-established. Given the rain, organisers were happy with the size of the rally, between 1000-2000. This has been the biggest protest in support of refugees for several years.

Rallies also took place in Canberra, Perth (200) and Brisbane (300) over the weekend.

Ruth Ratcliffe works in the community sector in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. She is an activist in the Adelaide climate action movement and has supported many other campaigns for social justice including the campaign against the racist Northern Territory intervention. Below she outlines why she is standing for the Socialist Alliance for the South Australian senate.

***

Andrew John Brent is an activist with Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH). He recently visited Villawood dentention centre to speak with Leela, a queer Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka. This is his story. More information on the campaign to free queer refugees can be found at the CAAH website.

***

Late last year Western Australian artist Nathalie Haymann exhibited thirty-six artworks based on the book "A Certain Maritime Incident — the Sinking of the SIEVX" in Fremantle. The showing commemorated the 2001 sinking of a refugee boat off the coast of Australia — a crime against humanity about which many controversial questions still swirl.

The entire exhibition is now available for viewing at www.sinkingofsievxpaintings.com.

It’s an unlikely scenario, but former refugee and now human rights advocate Riz Wakil says he’s even willing to take a surfing lesson from Tony Abbott if that means he has the chance to knock some sense into the Coalition leader’s head about his racist refugee policies.

On June 15, GetUp! won a charity auction prize — a surfing lesson with Abbott –— and donated it to Wakil, who arrived on Ashmore Reef in 1999 and was held in Curtin detention centre for nine months. Now a permanent resident, he runs a printery.

Jeff Carrol, Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) seafarer, was on the Front Puffin when the burnt bodies of Afghan refugees from Ashmore Reef were hauled onboard a year ago.

On June 7, he was with the Tamil refugees from the Oceanic Viking in the union rooms as they received the donations mining and maritime unions pledged to them last year at the height of the controversy.

Green Left Weekly’s Niko Leka spoke to refugee advocate Saradha Nathan. Last year, Nathan travelled to Indonesia with other refugee advocates, to inspect conditions in Australian-funded detention centres there and take aid and visa application forms to the Tamils stranded on the boat at Merak.

She spoke about the fate of those refugees, some of who are now in detention, and some who recently tried again to come to Australia — with fatal consequences.

* * *

Pages

Subscribe to refugee rights