REFUGEE GROUPS SUPPORT DARWIN PROTESTS
FREE THE REFUGEES, DROP THE PEOPLE SMUGGLING CHARGES
Refugee groups today expressed their support for the weekend protests of the Indonesian fishermen and this morning’s break-out protest by Afghan asylum seekers in the Darwin detention centre.
“The Afghan asylum seekers are victims of mandatory detention, offshore processing and the freeze on Afghan refugee visa applications. Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have used refugees for cheap political advantage, but the protests have helped expose what is really happening inside the detention centres.
“In the last couple of weeks, there have been a large number of rejections inside the Darwin detention centre. Despite the evidence that Afghanistan is not safe for Hazaras, there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of rejection of Afghan asylum claims since the Rudd government froze visa applications in April.
“The increased rejection rate is a direct result of the government’s visa freeze announcement, and shows the degree to which offshore processing is open to political manipulation,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“Offshore processing has condemned these people to long term detention. There are Burmese Royhinga refugees found to be refugees months ago who are still waiting for their security clearances
“We are also calling for the government to drop the people smuggling charges against the Indonesian crew of asylum boats, and allow them go home. The poor fishermen who crew the asylum boats are not people smugglers. They the victims of draconian laws introduced to criminalise asylum seekers.
“They are subject to mandatory jail terms of five years for nothing more crewing boats of asylum seekers trying to find protection in Australia. The vast majority of the people on the boats are found to be genuine refugees, yet the government is prosecuting people for helping get them to safety.
“Neither the Indonesian fishermen nor the Afghan asylum seekers are criminals yet they are imprisoned. The people smuggling laws should be scrapped.
“The government should end mandatory detention, offshore processing and end the visa freeze on Afghan applications. The detention centres on Christmas Island, Darwin, Curtin are Leonora represent a return to worst of John Howard’s brutal treatment of asylum seekers. The detention centres should be closed. Until they are closed, we should expect more protests.”
For more information contact Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713