2012 World Refugee Day Rally: 12 noon Sunday 17 June, starting State Parliament House

20 years too long! End Mandatory Detention
Sunday 17 June, 12 noon
Gather State Parliament House, Spring Street, Melbourne CBD
Speakers then march to join the EMERGE Festival in Fitzroy
Bring your banners, signs and messages
This year is the 20th anniversary of the introduction of mandatory detention for all asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat.

The Refugee Advocacy Network is calling on all groups and individuals who support refugee rights to come together and rally for World Refugee Day, and send a clear message to the government that it’s time to end mandatory detention.

The crisis in Australia’s detention system continues to escalate with 4783 asylum seekers locked in detention. Six asylum seekers died in detention in the 12 months from July 2010 to June 2011. More than 500 children are in detention, and 32% of asylum seekers have been in detention for more than 12 months.

Increasing numbers have been incarcerated for long periods of time – months and even years.

In Darwin, on average, five asylum seekers are being brought to the emergency department each day – a horrifying statistic.

Asylum seekers and refugees in the camps are becoming increasingly despairing and desperate. Something needs to change.

The core of the problem is mandatory detention – an inhumane policy that victimises people who have committed no crime, and simply want a better life for themselves and their families.

Recently, the immigration department has begun releasing around 500 asylum seekers each month on bridging visas. While this system isn’t perfect, it is welcome that some asylum seekers are being released from detention.

It proves that it is possible to do what the refugee movement has been campaigning for – to support asylum seekers in the community while their claims for refugee status are being assessed.

The Refugee Advocacy Network calls on the Australian Government to protect the rights of asylum seekers.

The last two years’ World Refugee Day Rallies in Melbourne have been supported by more than 50 groups each year. We hope to have even more groups represented this year.

Send your group’s endorsement of World Refugee Day 2012 in Melbourne to: refugeeadvocacynetwork (at) gmail (dot) com or ring Sue on 0413 377 978 or Liz W on 0405 736 265.
Plan for your group to be represented to ensure that this rally demonstrates the breath of community support for refugee rights.

Initial endorsements include: Act For Peace; African Think Tank; Asylum Seeker Resource Centre; Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre; Australia Asia Worker Links; Australian Jewish Democratic Society; Australian Refugee Association – Ballarat Circle of Friends 93; Australian Syrian Organisation; Australian Services Union – Private services branch; Australia Western Sahara Association; Australian Education Union; Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project; Catholic Office for Justice & Peace; CEPU Communications Division – Victorian Branch; CEPU – Postal & Telecommunications branch; Colleen Hartland Greens MLC; Community & Public Sector Union – Victorian government employees; Community Radio 3CR; Communist Party Australia; CMFEU- mining and energy division; CMFEU- construction devision; Edmund Rice Aslyum Seeker Project; Electrical Trades Union; Eritrean Australians for Peace & Justice; Eritrean Solidarity in Australia; Fitzroy Learning Network; Friends of the Earth; Federation of Australian Muslim Students & Youth (FAMSY); Freedom Socialist Party, Geelong Refugee Action and Information Network (GRAIN); Geelong Trades Hall; Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand; Green Left Weekly; Humanitarian Crisis Hub, Jews for Refugees; Jewish Labour Bund; Justice and International Mission Unit, Kurdish Association of Australia; Maritime Union of Australia; National Union Workers; Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Uniting Church in Australia; La Trobe University RAC; Labor 4 Refugees; Liberty Victoria; Melbourne Catholic Migrant & Refugee Office; Melbourne ethnic community radio 3ZZZ; Melbourne University RAC; Monash University RAC; Monash Environment and Social Justice Collective; Monash Student Association; Queenscliff Rural Australians for Refugees, Shamama Association; Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Solidarity, Radical Women, Refugee Action Collective; Refugee Advocacy Group (Geelong); Revolutionary Socialist Party; Rise for Refugees (Melbourne University); Thamila Coordinating Council – Australasia (TCC); Textile, Clothing & Footwear Union; The Greens, United Voice; Victorian Council of Churches; Victorian Trades Hall Council; Victorian West Papua Community

Why are you marching on World Refugee Day?

Why are you marching on World Refugee Day? Is it because 20 years of mandatory detention has been 20 years too long? Because you are sick of hearing about another suicide, suicide attempt or act of self-harm inside detention? Because you believe refugees have a basic human right to seek asylum? Because children being locked in prisons is unconscionable?

Whatever your reason, we want to hear it. We are asking people and organisations to record video messages on why they are marching on World Refugee Day this year. You can do it on your phone or webcam pretty easily and upload it to YouTube. Or you can be a bit more creative. Send the links to racvicmedia@gmail.com, make sure you include “I am marching on World Refugee Day because…” somewhere in the video and we will compile them.

World Refugee Day is on June 17, 12 noon on the steps of Parliament House, Spring Street, Melbourne. It has been called by the Refugee Advocacy Network, and endorsed by the Refugee Action Collective among other organisations.

Here’s an example we did ourselves:

Media Release: Tamil refugee from the Oceanic Viking attempts suicide overnight

For immediate release: Tamil refugee from the Oceanic Viking attempts suicide overnight

A Tamil man who was on the Oceanic Viking has attempted suicide in Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation in Broadmeadows overnight. Jasee is the third Tamil with a negative ASIO security clearance to try and take his own life this month. Tamils in this situation face a life of indefinite detention, unable to be returned to Sri Lanka as they have been recognised as refugees, but the Immigration Department refuse to release genuine refugees if they have unappealable negative security clearances from ASIO.

These continued suicide attempts highlight the desperation and hopelessness inside detention for the tens of refugees inside the Broadmeadows detention centre. The Refugee Action Collective demands the immediate release of these refugees and for the Immigration Department to act swiftly to prevent any further suicide attempts before they succeed.

“The Australian Government is trying to kill these refugees everyday. By refusing to release these men, they are driving them to suicide,” said Benjamin Solah from the Refugee Action Collective. “Indefinite detention is killing them. They need to be removed from this fatal situation immediately. Is Chris Bowen waiting for one of them to succeed?”

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