Media Release: Concern for Iranian refugees on hunger strike in Broadmeadows Detention Centre

Refugee activists are concerned about the welfare of two Iranian refugees currently on hunger strike in Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation in Broadmeadows.

The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) is also concerned about the growing number of refugees who remain detained after receiving their refugee status, whilst awaiting security checks from ASIO that take far too long.

“I witnessed on Thursday, the first Iranian man aged 33 on a 6 day hunger strike after his second rejection. He has been detained for 16 months. The second Iranian man 32, was given refugee status five months ago and is awaiting security clearance. Both men have not received proper medical assistance. Eye witnesses say they saw one man lying on the ground. He had been there for 2 days. He said “They treat me like animal so I am an animal.” What I witnessed on Thursday was pure desperation. These so called security checks are taking too long. A lot of refugees have been granted refugee status and then are left to go mad in these concentration camps for months and months. This is mental torture. There are also 3 minors detained, 1 indefinitely. What happened to ‘No children in detention’ by July 2011? I just can’t believe a civilised, wealthy country like Australia can still be treating refugees, the very vulnerable of our society like animals. It’s a disgrace. We demand the government end mandatory (torture) detention immediately,” Daniella Olea, Secondary School Teacher and Refugee Action Collective member.

Before Christmas, it was reported in The Age that there has been a sudden increase in the percentage of Iranian asylum claims which are being rejected at the first stage. This follows on from sudden increases in rejections of Hazara and Tamils early last year.

Kevin Rudd was reported in The Australian as saying: “I raised with Marty Natalegawa the growing challenge of the Iranian caseload to Australia. That caseload has grown rapidly in recent months. Australia will be working actively with Indonesia in the period ahead on how that particular pipeline can be reduced or closed. This will not be easy; none of this sort of work is.”

RAC asks Rudd: Why he isn’t concerned about the human rights of Iranians who are forced to flee their countries? Closing the means to flee a country and seek asylum condemns refugees to the persecution that we should be protecting them from.

We call on the Australian government to let these refugees come here, seek asylum and to not be locked up and subject to further trauma.

From 2011, on to 2012 and to end 20 years of mandatory detention

2011 was an incredible year for the Refugee Action Collective, with the continuation of mandatory detention, the arrival of policies such as the Malaysian so-called “solution” and the possibility of deportations, refugee activists in Melbourne held protests, actions, vigils and speak outs outside detention centres, on the streets, outside immigration departments, the Labor party’s office in Melbourne, and finally in December, outside the ALP National Conference where the party in government shamefully voted to endorse offshore processing and to pursue the Malaysian so-called “solution.”

Below is a few videos summing up all of the inspring, moving and important actions the Refugee Action Collective did to keep the issue of refugees in the public eye and more importantly, to signal to the refugees and other people in Australian society, that there are people who support refugee rights and don’t agree with the way our government treats innocent people fleeing war and persecution. Continue reading “From 2011, on to 2012 and to end 20 years of mandatory detention”

Media Release: Refugee Action Collective calls on the government to decriminalise people smuggling

The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) is saddened by the news of over 200 asylum seekers who have potentially died at sea on their way to Australia to seek asylum. The Refugee Action Collective also condemns the anti-people smuggling policies of the Gillard Labor government and places them with the blame for the death of possibly over 200 asylum seekers off the coast of Java on Sunday morning.

“If Labor and the Coalition hadn’t criminalised arriving by boat and spent millions on border security, it would be much safer for asylum seekers to travel by boat to Australia,” said Refugee Action Collective spokesperson Benjamin Solah, “There is no reason to criminalise arriving by boat. It is not a crime under international law to seek asylum and it is perfectly justifiable to flee persecution and seek asylum anyway they can.”

The Australian government destroys intercepted boats resulting in unseaworthy boats being sent, and people smuggling being driven into the black market. We call on the government to decriminalise people smuggling so that those who can’t seek asylum by plane, can come here openly and safely.

“What ‘stopping the boats’ really means is condemning people to die in countries and situations of persecution they cannot flee, rotting in countries that do not recognise refugees or dying at sea. Chris Bowen is happy for any of this to happen, so long as he doesn’t have to take responsibility for looking after what is, in reality, a tiny number of refugees that arrive on our shores.”

The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) also condemn Mark Latham’s comments blaming the Greens and Labor Left’s support of onshore processing. “Would Mark Latham rather refugees rot in Malaysia where they can be caned and tortured? How is this a more compassionate policy?”

“If the government was seriously concerned about the safety of asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat, it would dramatically increase the number of refugees that it resettles from Indonesia and Malaysia. Asylum seekers who reach these countries and are recognised as genuine refugees by the UNHCR, continue to languish for 10 or more years in Indonesia and Malaysia before any possibility of being resettled. That’s why so many asylum seekers board boats to Australia.”