refugee rights

If elected, Liberal opposition leader Tony Abbott would not only bring back the punitive measures carried out under the previous Howard government's “Pacific Solution” — including temporary protection visas (TPVs) and offshore processing — but introduce extra cruel measures against refugees that arrive in Australia by boat.

Abbott and opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison released the Liberal/National Coalition policy for so-called border protection on May 27.

On May 30, big protests were held in most Australian capital cities against recent killings in the Afghan province of Behsud. Fifteen hundred people rallied in Sydney and up to 400 in Melbourne.

Initially, the protest was to demand the Australian government stop deporting Hazara asylum seekers to Afghanistan, because the situation is not safe for the Hazara ethnic minority.

However, when news broke that some Hazara had been massacred by Afghan Pashtun nomads in the province of Behsud, the protest’s focus shifted to calling for international support for the Hazara.

Refugee advocates have launched the “Bring them home, minister Evans!” campaign in response to the news that 92-year-old Irene Joseph, deported to Sri Lanka with her 68-year-old son on March 5, had collapsed and almost died in the village where they now live.

Joseph is permanent resident of Australia and had lived here since 1979. In 1996, when she re-entered Australia after a holiday, she was mistakenly issued with a temporary visa.

In 2006, as Labor opposition leader, Kevin Rudd, made much of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, pastor and pacifist.

Bonhoeffer took part in the German resistance to the Nazi regime and helped German Jews escape the country.

Bonhoeffer was murdered by the Nazis in 1945.

For Rudd in 2006: “Bonhoeffer is, without doubt, the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century. He was a man of faith. He was a man of reason. He was a man of letters … He was never a nationalist, always an internationalist. And above all, he was a man of action …”

The federal Labor government’s freeze on processing visa applications by Afghan and Tamil asylum seekers is being challenged in many quarters.

Legal advice published by the Human Rights Law Resource Centre on May 23 said many of the factual and legal assumptions of the policy are open to “substantial challenge”.

Socialist Alliance media release: "The six asylum seekers that are still at large after escaping from Villawood Detention Centre are in the right place---out of the Villawood hell-hole, and in the community where they belong," Duncan Roden, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Parramatta, said today.

Fijian-born Roden visited Villawood Detention Centre two days ago, along with 17 refugee rights activists to examine conditions.

Tamil and refugee rights groups have demanded the Rudd government reverse its suspension of refugee claims from Sri Lanka. This follows the release of an international report that provided more evidence that the decision to suspend the claims was based on a lie.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) released War Crimes in Sri Lanka on May 17, a report into the Sri Lankan Army’s assault on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the entire Tamil population in the country’s north and east between January and May last year.

I have been selected as the Socialist Alliance federal election candidate for the seat of Gellibrand in Melbourne’s western suburbs. I have spent much of the last 13 years as a union activist here, working in the manufacturing industry.

This is the “rust belt” — the old industrial heartland, and also one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the country.

Five Australia-bound Tamil asylum seekers vanished in shark-infested waters near the Cocos Islands over May 5-9. They were seeking help for the 59 other men, women and children aboard a wooden fishing boat that had travelled from Sri Lanka and spent more than 20 days at sea.

Australian border patrol had let the boat flounder without food, fuel or water for at least eight days before the refugees were finally rescued on May 9. But the Labor federal government has refused to call an inquiry, referring the tragedy to federal police and immigration.

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