Refugee activists oppose removing human rights from Migration Act; All MPs who support human rights should vote against Gillard’s amendments.

The Refugee Action Collective opposes the proposed changes to the Migration Act by the Labor government and any amendments proposed by the Liberal opposition. It believes all amendments seek to strip any safeguards for human rights and defies international law.

The changes proposed by Prime Minster Julia Gillard and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen make Australia’s refugee policy the worst in Australian history, seeking to dump asylum seekers, including children, in Malaysia, a country that has not signed the UN Refugee convention and has a history of gross human rights abuses toward refugees. The changes undermine the Refugee Convention that Australia has signed and must uphold, and are in breach ALP’s own National Party Platform, which calls for onshore processing.

Both sets of amendments proposed deny the fundamental right to seek asylum in Australia and not be penalised for the method of arrival.

We demand Gillard and Abbott withdraw their amendments, but if the legislation goes to a vote, we call on all MPs who support human rights to vote against the legislation and for these MPs to continue to speak out publically against these historically severe changes to human rights.

It is shameful that Gillard has given Abbott and the Liberals the space to criticise the amendments on the basis that they don’t guarantee human rights, whilst he still supports offshore processing, temporary protection visas and mandatory detention. The Refugee Action Collective oppose all forms of offshore processing, including Nauru.

The government is pushing ahead despite public opinion shifting in favour of onshore processing with two recent Age/Nielson polls showing the majority of Australians are opposed to any form of offshore processing. The Refugee Action Collective believes that onshore processing should be in the community and that there needs to be an end to mandatory detention.

The Refugee Action Collective will be increasing public protests in response to the amendments. It plans to protest outside of the Park Hyatt on the 28th of September when Julia Gillard is scheduled to speak. This follows Chris Bowen having a press conference interrupted by refugee activists in Sydney where he was chased down the street. Melbourne refugee activists vow to continue the public pressure on the Labor government.

For further comment contact Benjamin Solah on 0402 766 009 or racvicmedia@gmail.com or Sue Bolton on 0413 377 978

The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) is a grassroots collective dedicated to fighting for refugee rights in Australia and campaigning against mandatory detention. For more information visit www.rac-vic.org