refugee rights

The United Nations said that nearly 4000 people have been driven out of their homes in Myanmar (also known as Burma) in April as the country’s north is gripped with violence.

About 100 people attended a forum on April 23 with the theme: "Change the rules for refugees".

The forum, organised by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC), aimed to show the links between the struggles for union rights and refugee rights.

Chairperson Lucy Honan, a member of RAC and the Australian Education Union, said that unionists and refugees are under attack by the same Coalition government. She noted that many refugees are themselves workers.

Medical students and professionals are taking inspiring action, in defiance of the Australian government, to assert that health is a human right as the crisis on Manus Island and Nauru rapidly worsens, writes Zebedee Parkes.

“We have a system of detention for people arriving by boat which is deliberately designed to cause harm,” psychiatrist Dr Peter Young told a rally of hundreds of medical students in Sydney on April 7.

Medical students rally for refugees in Sydney on April 7.

Below is the text of the speech by Tamil refugee and member of the Tamil Refugee Council Lavanya Thavaraja to the Melbourne Palm Sunday refugee rally on March 25.

* * *

I am really happy to see so many people here in support of refugees. This rally is very important for many refugees. This is what gives them hope in the face of danger.

Members of the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) blockaded the Home Affairs Department building and the Wilson Security Car Park in Canberra on March 28.

They were protesting the treatment of refugees held in indefinite detention and at risk of being deported to danger. The activists held banners that read “Border Force Tortures Refugees”, “Deportations = Death”, “#Justice4Refugees”, “#SackDutton” and “All Refugees in Detention are Political Prisoners”.

Seven protesters who superglued their hands to a balustrade in the public gallery of Parliament House were found not guilty on March 29 of intentionally damaging Commonwealth property.

The seven were part of a Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) campaign that on November 30, 2016, disrupted Question Time in protest at the government's treatment of refugees. The parliamentary session was halted as security officers removed the protesters one by one.

Thousands of people rallied across Australia for refugee rights at the annual Palm Sunday rallies on March 25. Melbourne had its largest rally in years as people called on the government to close down the detention centres, bring them here and let them stay. Walid Zazai, one of the men on Manus Island, sent this speech to refugee activist in Australia. The speech was read out at Palm Sunday rallies across Australia.

For nine months I have volunteered at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney.

For the past few months, an African woman has also been visiting the centre. She is Somalian and was once in detention in Villawood. Before that she was on Christmas Island, and before that on Nauru.

On this day we all sat together laughing, as volunteers do. This was the first time I had properly spoken to her. She seemed happy, calm and free.

Hunger strikes by detainees at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire — one of 13 detention centres in Britain — ended after a month on March 22. However, campaigners have vowed to continue protests.

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