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December 4, 2011

NATIONAL MEETING OF REFUGEE GROUPS REJECT LABOR CONFERENCE RESOLUTION, PLANS CAMPAIGN

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

A national meeting of refugee groups from around Australia, yesterday afternoon rejected amendments to the Labor Party platform that will re-open the door to the Malaysia Agreement.

“The amendments are a step backwards for the Labor Party and the Labor government. The move to increase the refugee intake only on condition of the government implementing the Malaysia Agreement was an shabby piece of domestic politicking,” said Ian Rintoul, speaking on behalf of the national refugee campaign meeting.

“Any plan to expel asylum seekers to Malaysia, or any other third country is a fundamental Australia’s obligation to provide protection for who arrive on our shores fleeing persecution. But Chris Bowen is locked in an anti-refugee race to the bottom with Tony Abbott. Abbott says ‘Nauru’, while Bowen says, ‘Malaysia,’ ” he said.

Representatives of 10 groups from across the country met in the wake of the conference decision to discuss a campaign framework to escalate the campaign to free the refugees over the coming year.

Next year, 2012, is the twentieth anniversary of mandatory detention first introduced by the Keating Labor government.

“Mandatory detention has been law for twenty years too long. Instead of releasing asylum seekers and refugees from detention, the government is expanding the detention regime. That is unacceptable. Equally unacceptable is the government’s move to deport asylum seekers to danger in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka,” said Rintoul.

The refugee campaign meeting decided to focus on mandatory detention, the issue of deportations and to highlight the plight of refugees given an adverse security assessment by ASIO.

The national Easter 2012 convergence will be in Darwin, soon to be the detention capital of Australia, with the opening of Wickham Point detention centre expected next week.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul, mob 0417 275 713

The national meeting had representatives from: Refugee Action Collectives in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Wollongong; Refugee Action Coalition, NSW, Refugee Rights Action Network Perth, Refugee Rights Action Network UWA, USYD Anti-Racism Collective, the Cross Border Collective and Darwin Asylum Seekers Support and Advocacy Network

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