refugee rights

Refugee supporters interrupted question time and occupied the public gallery and foyer of Victorian parliament on June 19, demanding the state government cancel its contracts with Wilson Security over its role in Australia’s offshore refugee detention centres.

The activists, members of Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA), held banners that read “Refugee abusers are guarding our parliament” and “Vic govt  — refuse to be complicit”.

Washington has a long history of using deportations to strike fear among undocumented workers. In recent years, deportations have multiplied — previous president Barack Obama became known as “Deporter in Chief”.

But President Donald Trump has greatly stepped up the drive, mainly against Latinos without papers. He has unleashed Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) to carry out indiscriminate raids where Latinos congregate, deporting the undocumented. These include those without criminal records or who are guilty of only minor offensives, often separating families.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is holding a Telethon on World Refugee Day, June 20, to give people from around the nation is a chance to champion a more compassionate Australia, while supporting and empowering refugees and people seeking asylum.

Now in its third year, the ASRC Telethon is hoping to exceed last year’s total of $660,000, double the amount raised in the first year of the event. This enabled the ASRC to provide food, housing, medical care, employment support, legal aid and advocacy to almost 5000 people.

At the recent Victorian Labor state conference, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) delegation and the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA) and Labor’s Right faction to close the conference early. That meant that a range of good motions, including for a Shorten government to close the offshore detention centres, were not debated. Union leader John Setka didn't think this was a problem but others, including rank-and-file CFMMEU members, do.

The Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) held its state conference over the weekend of May 26 and 27.

The conference was held amid rising tensions within the Victorian ALP; with several prominent unions including the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union (CFMMEU) splitting from the Socialist Left to form the new “Centre Unity and Industrial Left Alliance” faction with a number of right-wing unions including the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

While the architect of Australia’s detention system Liberal Senator Jim Molan was rehearsing his lines to promote this cruel system on ABC’s Q&A, a woman was arrested for the crime of standing outside and peacefully holding a banner reading “Close the Camps, Bring Them Here”.

PNG has asked that someone be tasked

To examine Manus as a destination

For tourism indeed, so let’s take heed!

They’re awaiting a recommendation.

               Dear Sir or Madam

For your disposal I have a proposal

For the Manus tourism survey,

They need some actions, they need attractions

For the industry they want to purvey.

Another person who came to Australia seeking safety and security died on Manus Island on May 22. The Rohingya man is the seventh person to die on Manus Island since Labor re-established offshore detention.

The man died after jumping out of a bus — it is being reported as a suicide. Doctors for Refugees had been calling on the government to bring him here for more than a year as he suffers from epilepsy.

The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) released this statement on May 7.

* * *

Refugee advocates have serious fears for the welfare of Omid, a 24-year-old Iranian refugee from Nauru, who has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days.

His condition has significantly deteriorated since he was hospitalised a couple of weeks ago. He has reached a critical stage in the hunger strike with growing concerns that he may have already suffered some long-term damage to his health.

After a journey of more than a month, more than 150 members of Viacrucis Migrante — known as the Central American Migrant Caravan — arrived at the United States border on April 29. They were met with a hostile response.

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