RALLY TO WELCOME REFUGEES
Rally 1pm Saturday June 26, Sydney Town Hall
Andrew Bartlett (The Greens)
Shiko Zaher (Afghan refugee)
Fashid Kheirollapour (former Curtin detainee)
John Dowd (President, International Commission of Jurists Australia)
Bala Vigneswaran (Tamil community)
Plus performances by Solidarity Choir and Sydney Trade Union Choir
Supported by Refugee Action Coalition, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (Sydney Uni), Communist Party of Australia, Community Action Against Homophobia, Edmund Rice Centre, Hazara Voice, Maritime Union of Australia (Sydney Branch), National Tertiary Education Union NSW, NSW Greens, NSW Ecumenical Council, NSW Teachers Federation, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Tamil Youth Organisation, The Social Justice Party, Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Solidarity, Solidarity choir, Stop the War Coalition, Sydney Uni Post-Graduate Representative Association (SUPRA), Trade Union choir
Why you should come to the protest
The Rudd government’s decision to freeze new visa applications for Sri Lankan and Afghan refugees and re-open the notorious Curtin detention centre is a return to anti-refugee policies of the Howard government. Their claim that the situation in Sri Lanka is improving was exposed as false by a UNHCR update report on the country just days after their decision which found Tamils and other opposition figures continue to suffer imprisonment, killing and discrimination. Afghanistan remains war-torn and unsafe due to occupation by US, Australian and other troops. The UN recently closed its mission in Kandahar and evacuated foreign staff due to safety concerns.
Curtin detention centre is being re-opened to hold asylum seekers whose claims for refugee status have been frozen. Curtin was the worst of the worst of the detention centres operated by the Howard government—located in the desert 28 hours by road from Perth. The visa freeze decision is likely to lead both to people being deported back to danger and indefinite detention of asylum seekers who cannot be sent back to their country of origin.
The fact that refugees are prepared to undertake the lengthy, dangerous journey to get to Australia by boat is proof enough of the danger they face at home. The numbers arriving by boat are tiny—in 2009 there were 2887 arrivals and 2900 up to May this year—less than 2 per cent of annual immigration.
The Labor government has tried to pose as a humane alternative to the Liberals, while keeping most of the infrastructure and processes in place that marked out the Liberal government as a human rights violator. But this new development shows the lengths Labor will go to make themselves indistinguishable from the Liberals.
Come to the rally to demand that the visa freeze be lifted immediately, that detention centres like Curtin are closed and that the Australian government welcome refugee boats and put an end to the Howard government’s policy of offshore processing by closing the Christmas Island detention centre.
Invite your friends to the Facebook event at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=117825658253518
Refugee Action Coalition meets 6pm most Mondays, at the NSW Teachers Federation, 23-33 Mary St Surry Hills (between Reservoir and Albion Sts).
NEXT MEETINGS: 6pm Mon 31 May, 6pm Mon 7 June, 6pm Mon June 21. For more information contact Ian 0417 275 713.