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April 23, 2011

Villawood protest on Anzac Day – demanding a fair go for refugees

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Wayne Swan is wrong to criticize Monday’s planned refugee rights protest at Villawood detention centre, refugee supporters say.

Following this week’s unrest at Villawood, refugee rights advocates will stage a mass show of support for Villawood detainees on Easter Monday, 25 April. The 25th is also Anzac Day.

Refugee supporters will meet at Chester Hill station at 12 noon, before marching to the Gurney Rd side of the detention centre for a rally in support of detainees.

Reacting to news of the planned rally, the deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, described the show of support as ‘not necessarily appropriate’, and criticized the ‘unacceptable behaviour’ of protesting detainees.

“There is nothing inappropriate about Monday’s rally,” said Nick Riemer, from the Refugee Action Coalition. “We will be there to show refugees our support. What we’re demanding is respect for their human dignity, a fair go, and support for democratic freedoms.”

“It’s an extraordinary irony that both Labor and Coalition politicians talk of refugees having committed crimes,” Riemer continued. “The damage to property on Wednesday night is nothing compared to the brutalisation of innocent lives caused by mandatory detention itself.”

“As one of the banners of the rooftop protesters emphasises, they are human and deserve to be treated that way. If we’re talking about crimes being committed, it’s the government who are the wrongdoers by sticking to their failed and discredited policy of mandatory detention.”

“All asylum seekers want is to escape the war and persecution that have driven them from their home countries”, said Mark Goudkamp, also from RAC. “But instead of treating them with decency, and allowing them to contribute to Australian society, the government locks them up. Australia is the only Western country that does this.”

“Mandatory detention is deadly,” continued Goudkamp. “There have been five suicides of detainees since September, three at Villawood. Monday’s rally will be addressed by, among others, Dr Michael Dudley, chairperson of Suicide Prevention Australia, who will be telling us just how serious an abuse detention is. Anyone who wants to stop unnecessary human suffering should be in favour of Monday’s rally.”

“Last year’s election effectively saw both major parties declare a war against boat arrivals,” Goudkamp concluded. “Given many of those now locked up fled war zones themselves, it is entirely appropriate that a strong show of support take place for them on Anzac day.”

More information: Contact Mark Goudkamp 0422 078 376 or Nick Riemer 0435 533 027.

See also yesterday’s press release click here

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