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2
Nov

REFUGEE ADVOCATES AND FAMILIES ASK THE GOVERNMENT TO BRING THE SURVIVORS TO AUSTRALIA

Refugee advocates have joined Christmas Island survivors and the relatives of one of the surviving families in Java to call on the Australian government to bring the survivors of the Java sinking to Australia.

“The Australian government should bring the survivors of the tragedy to Australia,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “These asylum seekers were on their way to Australia, and Australia has the resources to support them in the aftermath of the tragedy. There is no future for them in Indonesia and we have spoken to the Sydney relatives if one of the surviving families who also wants them to be brought to Australia.”

The cousin of Aziz, an Iranian man, who lost his two-year old daughter, Soghand, in yesterday’s tragedy pleaded with the Australian government to bring his cousin and his wife to Australia; “We want the government to bring them to Australia. There are family members in Australia. We are ready to help them in every way.”

Speaking from hospital in Indonesia, Aziz told the Refugee Action Coalition that the boat had been at sea for two hours when it got into trouble and a wave knocked the boat. “Too much raining. Too much water. The boat floated down. There were bodies in the water,” he said. “We have lost our baby. My wife is too unhappy. We need help. We don’t know what will happen to us. We are waiting for the UN but nobody has come. I cannot go back to Iran. Please help.”

Median Ibrahimi who lost his wife in the Christmas Island disaster and Hussain Hussaini one of the survivors of the disaster said, “The latest boat has brought back all the thoughts about our situation. We are still suffering, and this is terrible for them. We ask the government to have compassion for these people and bring them to Australia.”

The Refuge Action Coalition condemns the Minister’s attempt to resurrect the Malaysia Agreement. “The Immigration Minister’s use of the tragedy to approach the Coalition to pass amendments that would allow the government to restart the Malaysia Agreement is shameful. The Minister knows there is no safety for refugees in Malaysia,” said Ian Rintoul.

“The criminalisation of people smuggling and the push for Indonesia to detain asylum seekers, in many cases for years, are policies that are driving people to get into unseaworthy boats. We need humane polices that offer protection.

“In light of this tragedy, the humanitarian thing to do is bring the survivors to Australia, process their applications and allow those with family in Australia to join them here.” Read more »

20
Apr

BUILDINGS BURN AT VILLAWOOD DETENTION CENTRE

At least three buildings in stage 3 are on fire and one major fire has been set in the grounds of the stage 3 compound. Fire engines are racing to the detention centre to attend to the fires.

There are reports that windows have been broken in the management office.

Villawood detention centre is in uproar as more asylum seekers stage protests in the grounds of stage 3 inside the detention centre, while the roof top protest of 13 asylum seekers continues.

Serco guards have withdrawn from the compound.

There are 13 people on the roof-top protest – three Kurdish, two Iranian and eight Afghan asylum seekers. There have been in detention for between 13 and 20 months.

For an eyewitness report of the protests at Villawood last night read this post on Brami Jegan’s blog

Read more »

17
Mar

REFUGEE ADVOCATES URGE RESTRAINT AS TEAR GAS USED ON PEACEFUL PROTEST

Media Release 17 March 2011

Following the use of tear gas and a bean bag round to break an asylum seeker’s leg on Sunday night, more evidence of heavy-handed policing on Christmas Island has emerged.

Asylum seekers on Christmas Island have told the refugee Action Coalition that tear gas was used on a peaceful protest on Christmas Island last night (ie Wednesday night). Read more »

17
Nov

VILLAWOOD STAGE 3 HUNGER STRIKE CONTINUES

Media Release 17 November 2010

While many asylum seekers in stage 3 are expected to end their hunger strike at lunch today, a substantial group are determined to maintain their protest for some time yet.

“There is a lot of discussion among the detainees this morning about the best way to continue their protest,” said refugee spokesperson, Ian Rintoul.

While exact numbers won’t be clear until after lunch today, it is thought that between 20 and 60 asylum seekers, mostly Iranian and Iraqis, will continue their protest today.

A solidarity protest called by the Refugee Action Coalition will take place outside Villawood detention will be held at 4.30 this (Wednesday) afternoon, cnr of Gurney and Miowera Roads. This will coincide with a protest inside the detention centre.

VILLAWOOD HUNGER STRIKER TAKEN TO HOSPITAL

Meanwhile, a 28 year old Tamil refugee was taken to hospital from Villawood detention last night.

The man, who has been in detention since June 2009, has been on hunger strike, unrelated to the suicide death of the Iraqi man on Monday night, for 16 days.

Although found to be a refugee, his visa has been denied due to an adverse security finding.

As in other cases of adverse security finding, there is no information about the basis of that finding.

His hunger strike is in protest at the length of time he has been in detention and his inability to challenge the adverse security finding. He joins the Tamils from the Oceanic Viking who have also have adverse security finding and face being held indefinitely in detention.

Legal attempts to seek a review of ASIO’s finding in the Oceanic Viking cases have so far been unsuccessful.

“It seems ASIO is a law unto itself and courts are unable to order reviews of the security declarations. It is a fundamental denial of justice,“ said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Two other Tamils from the same boat are still waiting, after 17 months, for their security clearances.

Two other Tamils who began their protest before the suicide of the Iraqi man on Monday night are also continuing to hunger strike.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

12
Nov

What the High Court decision on offshore processing means

On November 11 the High Court ruled in favour of  two asylum seekers who had challenged the offshore processing system, which is used to determine whether those who arrive by boat are given refugee status. While the decision is a slap in the face for the government, its legal effect is limited. It does not end offshore processing. It leaves excision and s46A of the Migration Act referring to “offshore entry persons” intact.

Federal Attorney General McClelland Robert has already said that offshore processing will stay and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has said the result is “interesting” and applies to “some cases”.

While future refugee assessments under offshore processing will have to have regard to the Migration Act and decisions of Australian courts, the decision does not mean that those courts have been given jurisdiction to review the refugee status assessment (RSA) process.

We will have to wait to see what arrangements the government puts in place to deal with the decision. They could simply arrange to redo all the decisions or they could insist that every asylum seeker go to court to show there has been error of lack of procedural fairness – a big job for us, a big problem for the High Court and the government. (The government could potentially try to go ahead with deportations and it will be the High Court that could rule for an injunction.)

In summary:

(i) The High Court has said that aspects of present determination system of refugee assessment are invalid (ie do not have regard to Australian law and procedural fairness) but not offshore processing itself;

(ii) While the offshore processing system was left intact, one of the errors of the two stage Refugee Status Assessment (RSA) “offshore” process identified by the court is general to all those who have been through the RSA process, that is that both the first stage RSA decision maker and the second stage reviewer treated the Migration Act and decided cases as no more than guides to determining the issues presented, when in fact each was bound by the Act and decided cases.

So to that extent the entire RSA process has been impugned. The Court said it couldn’t quash the RSA process recommendations or force the RSA decision makers to make a redetermination, or force the Minister to reconsider; the Court would only declare that there had been errors.

While all those offshore entrants are entitled to this declaratory relief, the onus is on them to seek this relief from the High Court. Otherwise all second stage Review recommendations will have to be redone (there’s no need to redo the first RSA recommendation).

Unless we keep up the pressure, the government response is likely to be, at best, minimalist.

What this means for individual asylum seekers is going to depend on the government response. Some have lawyers who continue to represent them, but others have none (they are not funded beyond the Merits Review).

4
Nov

Help stop this deportation—write a letter to the minister

The mother of the Chinese family, who husband and son were deported on October 29, will remain in Australia until November 19 when a court challenge to her deportation will be heard. The woman is a member of an underground Christian family who will face persecution if she returns to China. There is an outstanding summons for her husband, who has already been deported, to appear in court from the Chinese Public Security Bureau.

However the court case is unlikely to do more than postpone her deportation until November 19. The only way she will be able to remain in Australia is through the intervention of the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen.

Advocates for the family are asking everyone who can to write a letter to the minister asking him to intervene. We can send you a form letter with more information on the case, please email irintoul [at] ozemail.com.au for a copy

Or see the RAC press releases below Immigration Minister urged to halt deportation of Chinese family and Immigration Minister ignores suicide attempt and Geneva appeal to halt deportation of chinese family

The human rights abuses by the Chinese government are well documented. There have been too many instances of so-called failed asylum seekers being returned to disappear, be arrested, or killed.

3
Nov

REFUGEE ADVOCATES CONDEMN ABBOTT STOKING RACIST FIRES IN THE COMMUNITY

Press Release November 3, 2010

The Refugee Action Coalition today condemned Tony Abbott’s visit to Inverbrackie for stirring anti-refugee and racist sentiments in the community.

“The man who once like to boast about his role in undermining One Nation is now openly encouraging the racism and the re-emergence of Hanson’s party,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Where Abbott’s mentor, John Howard, was happy to dog whistle his support for Hanson, Abbott is now openly encouraging the crackpots of the racist right.

“It was John Howard’s anti-refugee policies that encouraged the racism and Islamophobia that led to the Cronulla riots in 2005. Now Abbott is trying to put the Liberal Party at head of inflaming those same sentiments.

“The anti-refugee sentiments shamefully on display in Inverbrackie and Northam are a direct result of the race to the bottom between the Liberal and Labor parties before, during and after the election. It is not the racism in the community that is the real problem; it is the racism and dog whistling of our political leaders.

“Rather than stand up to the Liberals fear mongering about boats, Julia Gillard caved in. Her proposal for a regional processing centre in East Timor sends the message that asylum seekers are not welcome in Australia. The unprincipled position has left the door open to the disgraceful policies espoused by Tony Abbott.

“John Howard and Pauline Hanson’s anti-refugee policies were beaten by the efforts of the grassroots refugee movement exposing the myths behind the fear mongering. If Tony Abbott thinks the Liberals will win support by encouraging and appealing to racism, he better think again.

“A recent Red Cross poll showed that over 80 percent of Australians would be willing to assist refugees to settle in Australia. The noisy public meetings in Northam and Inverbrackie are not representative of the wider community.“

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

28
Oct

IMMIGRATION MINISTER URGED TO HALT DEPORTATION OF CHINESE FAMILY

Media Release, October 28 2010

Refugee advocates have called on the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, to act urgently to prevent the deportation of a Chinese family, scheduled to be removed from Villawood detention centre tomorrow morning (Friday 29 October).

Last minute efforts are being made to get new information to the Minister documenting the danger that faces the underground Christian family if they are returned.

The second son of the family, resident in China, was only recently released from a re-education camp after seven months following his arrest for holding an unlawful gathering of an underground Christian community.

The man’s brother was arrested and questioned when he recently returned to China, by authorities who mistook him for his brother in Villawood. A summons to appear in court in China has now been delivered to the family in China. A copy of the summons has been sent to the Minister.

The family has been in Australia for eight and half years, meaning the 17 year-old son has spent his formative years in Australia.

“Humanitarian grounds alone should be enough for the Minister to act. But the Minister has also said that complementary protection legislation would be introduced before the end of the year to provide protection for people who fall outside the strict convention grounds for refugee status. It is straight hypocrisy for the Minister to announce this legislation yet refuse to halt the removal of people who might fit the criteria,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“It is obvious that the family is under surveillance by authorities and that the man is wanted in China. This should rule out any question that the family can be safely sent back to China.

Australia has an obligation under the Refugee Convention and the Convention on Torture and not to refoule (return) an asylum seeker to danger.

“We are urging the Minister to act immediately to stop the deportation of this family. China is not safe. The human rights abuses by the Chinese government are well-documented. There have been too many instances of so-called failed asylum seekers being returned to disappear, be arrested, or killed. The Minister should stop playing with asylum seekers’ lives,” said Ian Rintoul.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

MEDIA RELEASE 

IMMIGRATION MINISTER URGED TO HALT DEPORTATION OF CHINESE FAMILY

Refugee advocates have called on the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, to
act urgently to prevent the deportation of a Chinese family, scheduled to
be removed from Villawood detention centre tomorrow morning (Friday 29
October).

Last minute efforts are being made to get new information to the Minister
documenting the danger that faces the underground Christian family if they
are returned.

The second son of the family, resident in China, was only recently released
from a re-education camp after seven months following his arrest for
holding an unlawful gathering of an underground Christian community.

The man’s brother was arrested and questioned when he recently returned to
China, by authorities who mistook him for his brother in Villawood. A
summons to appear in court in China has now been delivered to the family in
China. A copy of the summons has been sent to the Minister.

The Lui family has been in Australia for eight and half years, meaning the
17 year-old son has spent his formative years in Australia.

“Humanitarian grounds alone should be enough for the Minister to act. But
the Minister has also said that complementary protection legislation would
be introduced before the end of the year to provide protection for people
who fall outside the strict convention grounds for refugee status. It is
straight hypocrisy for the Minister to announce this legislation yet refuse
to halt the removal of people who might fit the criteria,” said Ian
Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“It is obvious that the family is under surveillance by authorities and
that the man is wanted in China. This should rule out any question that the
family can be safely sent back to China.

Australia has an obligation under the Refugee Convention and the Convention
on Torture and not to refoule (return) an asylum seeker to danger.

“We are urging the Minister to act immediately to stop the deportation of
this family. China is not safe. The human rights abuses by the Chinese
government are well-documented. There have been too many instances of
so-called failed asylum seekers being returned to disappear, be arrested,
or killed. The Minister should stop playing with asylum seekers’ lives,”
said Ian Rintoul.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

24
Sep

Rooftop protest by Chinese detainees at Villawood ends

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/09/24/3020650.htm

A rooftop protest by nine Chinese immigration detainees at Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney is over.

The Department of Immigration has confirmed the four women and five men have all left the roof.

Four of the group who were refusing food have been taken to hospital for medical treatment, and two remain under observation.

The group climbed onto the roof on Wednesday morning, demanding the Immigration Department speed up consideration of their request for asylum.

The Department says it did not make any deals with the protesters before they left the roof.

The Immigration Department has confirmed that the nephew of a 36-year-old Fijian detainee who died at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre has been released from the facility.

Josefa Rauluni was staying with his nephew at the centre when he jumped to his death on Monday.

Fijian community leader John Tui says the 20-year-old old is very distraught about his uncle’s death.

“He came up to me and just hugged me and he sobbed. He just cried a deep sobbing,” he said

22
Sep

Villawood update – First rooftop protest ends but more detainees stage new rooftop protest

The nine Tamil detainees who protested all day on the roof of Villawood detention centre spent last night at a motel and all quite happy. They agreed to come down from the roof after securing an agreement for the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, to review their asylum claims. The UNHCR “deal” is really only what the UNHCR will usually do in any case ie review cases once Australian avenues exhausted. If they think there is a problem they will make recommendations to the government.

The fact that some of the Tamils have Indonesian or Malaysian UNHCR cards gives the Australian UNHCR more reason to take an interest, since it means the UNHCR judged their claims for refugee status legitimate while they were in Indonesia or Malaysia en route to Australia.

But the protest did force immigration to bring UNHCR into the detention centre and proof that protest does work. The deal at least provided a reason to be able to end the protest with some achievement.

There are now ten Chinese people, including a three month pregnant lady, on the roof of a building in stage 2 at the detention centre.

Details of their individual cases and demands are still not clear, cut being Chinese and in stage 2, it is likely they are visa overstayers who have made an asylum claim – there are quite a few Falun Gong members claiming refugee status in stage 2.

The situation for the Iranian hunger strikers is deteriorating. Two were hospitalised yesterday and it seems likely that more will be hospitalised today sometime.

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