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April 28, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

The Refugee Action Coalition has called a protest outside Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s Fairfield electorate office (115 The Crescent, Fairfield), Friday 12.30-2.00pm.

Friday morning, Eastern Australian time, will also see a protest outside the Australian Consulate in Vancouver Canada, in solidarity with asylum seekers in Australia.

These protests are an immediate response to the Minister’s announcement that refugees convicted of a criminal offence while in detention would not be eligible for a permanent visa.

“This is a wildly draconian move, that potentially inflicts a life sentence on refugees and their families, out of all proportion to any property offence that might be committed in detention. Detention is the real crime. It creates the conditions in which people are forced to protest. Asylum seekers have committed no crime, but they face indefinite detention,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“There has always been a problem with linking criminal conviction with the right to asylum, but any measure to automatically refuse permanent visas to anyone convicted for a crime will mean that discrimination is locked in law. Chris Bowen is proposing to punish people twice – a sentence imposed by the courts for any crime they commit, and then a life sentence, denying them security, travel, family reunion, for the asylum seeker and their family.

“The move to re-introduce any form of TPV is a step towards Labor embracing the very worst of Howard’s anti-refugee policies.

“It is domestic politicking of the worst kind – that will do nothing to address the underlying causes of protests in the detention centres. The fires are in the detention centres for the same reason fires were set in Woomera, Port Hedland and Villawood under the Howard government – mandatory detention. The determination process takes too long, off-shore processing is discriminatory and there is no transparency about what is happening with asylum seekers’ cases.

“No amount of draconian law will stop the protests. If the Minister was concerned about stopping the protests, he would guarantee that all those waiting for security clearances will be finalised by 30 April as he promised after the protests on Christmas Island. He would live up to his promise to appoint the extra reviewers to speed up the review process.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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