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August 2, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

The treatment of the first 54 asylum seekers set to be deported to Malaysia under the Australian Government’s so-called “Malaysia Solution” confirms why this deal must be scrapped, refugee advocates say.

“We are absolutely appalled at the statements from Prime Minister Julia Gillard, approving the use of force against asylum seekers to ensure their deportation,” said Josh Lees from the Refugee Action Coalition. “We know from the Howard era what forced deportations of refugees looks like. People then were routinely snatched from their beds in the middle of the night, drugged against their will, handcuffed and transported to the airport under armed guard. Let’s remember that these are people who have committed absolutely no crime, who have fled to Australia seeking our protection, and includes children along with many others who have already been traumatised by war, torture and the death of family members back home.”

“Given the recent track record of the Australian Federal Police on Christmas Island, the firing of bean-bag rounds, the indiscriminate use of tear gas and reports of beatings of asylum seekers, how can anyone have any faith that those horrible scenes of the Howard days will not be repeated? The abuse of the human rights of these asylum seekers will begin in Australia and continue in Malaysia.”

Protest to take place at ALP National Conference

The “Malaysia Solution” has been widely opposed by human rights groups in Australia and Malaysia. So it is doubly disappointing that Senator Doug Cameron, national convenor of the Labor Left faction, has expressed his support for the deal, apparently telling The Australian he is ‘pleased with the deal’ and that the concerns of the Labor Left have ‘been met’.

“This is a terrible position to take on a policy which Gillard and Bowen have boasted is even harsher to refugees than that of the Coalition”, continued Lees. “By contrast, the Refugee Action Coalition has welcomed the stance taken by Labor for Refugees, who have sharply rejected this deal. We call on Doug Cameron to follow their lead and oppose Labor’s lurch to the Right on refugee policy.”

“The Refugee Action Coalition invites all those, both inside and outside the Labor Party, who want to oppose the Malaysian “solution” and end mandatory detention to join us in rallying outside the National ALP Conference on Sunday December 4th.”

Contact: Josh Lees 0408 885 622

The Refugee Action Coalition has written to Doug Cameron and other Parliamentary Labor left convenors pointing out that the UNHCR has explicitly rejected the Malaysia Agreement.

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