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May 17, 2011

World Refugee Day rally

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

It’s time to end mandatory detention

Rally and march
12pm Sunday June 19
Sydney Town hall

The World Refugee Day Rally is being organised by a broad range of refugee activist and advocacy groups, including ChilOut, Labor for Refugees, Balmain for Refugees, the Edmund Rice Centre, the NSW Greens, the Refugee Action Coalition, unions and others.

We are inviting everyone who supports refugee rights to come together and rally on World Refugee Day, Sunday June 19 to make it clear to the government:

It’s time to END Mandatory DETENTION!

Click “Read more” for how you can help to build the rally or email jemima.mowbray [at] sydney.edu.au for info

Help us build the rally:

1. Download an A4 poster here that you can print out and stick up at work or near home

2. Talk to your friends and family and neighbours and work colleagues about World Refugee Day rally and invite them along! Forward this email or invite your friends to the Facebook event http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=114824025268671

3. Ask us for flyers and posters to distribute in your workplace, campus or local area. Call Jemima 0433 584 050 or email jemima.mowbray [at] sydney.edu.au

Endorsed by:

AID/WATCH, Australian Council for International Development, Australian Council for International Development, Australian Tamil Congress, Balmain for Refugees, Bathurst Refugee Support Group, Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group, Braidwood Greens, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, ChilOut, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (NSW), Cross Border Collective, David Shoebridge (MLC, Greens), Dr Claudia Tazreiter, UNSW, Edmund Rice Centre, Eva Cox (Research Fellow, Jumbunna, UTS), Fairfield Liverpool Greens, Friends of the Earth, Sydney, Greens NSW, Inner Sydney Greens, Jamie Parker, MP, Greens (Member for Balmain), Justice John S. Purdy, Labor 4 Refugees (NSW), Lake Macquarie Greens, Marie Coleman, Women’s Advocate (Senior Australian of the Year 2011), Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney Branch, Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW, Muslim Youth of Sydney, National Tertiary Education Union NSW, Newcastle Greens, Northern Beaches Greens, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Paramatta Greens, Refugee Action Coalition, NSW, South Sydney Greens, Student Environment Activist Network – NSW & ACT (SEAN), Sydney Peace Foundation, Tweed Greens, University of Sydney, Sydney University Anti-Racism Collective, Union Aid Abroad/APHEDA, UNSW AntiRacism Club, UNSW Student Representative Council, UTS Anti-Racism Collective

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As World Refugee Day 2011 approaches, it is all too clear that the current Labor government has continued the anti-refugee policies of the Howard era. The need for a public presence on the streets of Sydney is as great now as it was then:

  • Asylum seekers still face mandatory detention for fleeing persecution. Labor’s original promise that detention would be “a last resort” rings hollow when, in fact, the numbers in detention are growing, with almost 7000 people currently locked up.
  • Labor claimed it would process most people within 90 days, yet the average period of imprisonment exceeds 200 days.
  • Despite the government’s promise to get children out of detention by June this year, 1000 children are still locked up, with no sign that the deadline will be met.
  • The government’s recent proposal to deport 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia will condemn refugees to even greater hardship than they suffer in Australia.
  • Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s recent plan to deny permanent visas to refugees convicted of a crime in detention means a return to one of Howard’s most draconian anti-refugee policies: temporary protection visas.
  • There remains the ever-present threat that the arbitrary whim of Australian policy could see the government declare asylum-seekers’ country of origin “safe” and deport them back to danger.

Refugees languish in detention for years, faceless, dehumanised, driven to the edge of sanity by treatment that is worse than prison. Their protests, and the epidemic of self-harm currently observed throughout Australia’s detention network, are consequences of the inhumanity of mandatory detention.

There is hope for dismantling the government’s detention policies. In the wake of last December’s Christmas Island boat disaster, a public outcry forced Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to release three asylum seekers orphaned in the tragedy and allow them to live in Sydney. We need to raise our voices and apply public pressure again, to demand that all asylum seekers be released from detention, with permanent protection.

The demonstration to mark this year’s World Refugee Day can show the support that exists in the community to free all the refugees. The rally will send a powerful signal to politicians, and will be a vital source of hope to the refugees in detention themselves. Join us on June 19 to send the message that it’s time to end mandatory detention.

For more information contact Nick (0435 533 027) or Jo (johanne.gow@gmail.com)

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