Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

Free the refugees! Let them land, let them stay!

Archives July 2014

Media Release: Refugee assessments of 157 Tamils must start – Morrison must retract ‘economic refugee’ claims

The Refugee Action Collective expresses concerns about the welfare of the Tamil asylum seekers now held in Curtin detention centre and the way in which their claims to protection will be processed.


‘It is disgraceful that 157 Tamil asylum seekers, including young children, were locked up for a month in windowless rooms on the high seas,’ said Vanessa Dodd for the Refugee Action Collective. ‘An expedited High Court hearing on the lawfulness of detaining people at sea forced Scott Morrison to backflip on his refusal to bring the asylum seekers to the mainland. Now the High Court must rule on the government’s actions and the asylum seekers’ claims that they were wrongfully imprisoned.’


Chris Breen also from the Refugee Action Collective said ‘Morrison outrageously pre-judged all people on the boat as “economic refugees” with no reasons to leave the “safety” of India. In doing so he revealed his ignorance of the 244 Indian nationals granted protection visas by his own department in the past twelve months. He also violated his department’s code of procedure for dealing fairly with visa applications by commenting on the asylum seekers’ protection claims before they had been assessed. However we welcome his defacto acknowledgement that Sri Lanka is not safe, when he said “….these people have come from the safe country of India. They haven’t come from Sri Lanka. They haven’t come from any of those other countries – Afghanistan or anything like that.” He should also acknowledge that over 200 asylum seekers his government has returned to Sri Lanka are now languishing in Negombo prison,’


Dodd continued ‘The 157 Tamils must not be subjected to “enhanced screening”, which has been used to return over 1300 Tamils to Sri Lanka. This can involve an interview as short as five minutes, with inadequate interpretation, and no review. Morrison’s prejudicial statements could influence this determination,’


‘Lawyers for the asylum seekers are reporting that they have had no access to their clients, and may not be able to advise them before they are interviewed by Indian officials. ‘Indian officials should not have a role in claims to protection made of Australia,’ said Dodd. ‘Unlike Australia, India has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention. Unlike Australia, India has no non-refoulement obligations to stop it returning asylum seekers to the persecution they fled.’


‘Tamil refugees are not safe in India. They live in camps without electricity and have no work rights. Tamil refugees need three security clearances before they can leave the camp and they face intimidation by security forces. Some have been in these camps for 25 years,’ said Dodd


‘Curtin Immigration Detention Centre is an inaccessible, inhospitable facility. According to the Immigration department’s website, updated in February, it houses only single adult males,’ said Dodd.  ‘Morrison has given no assurance that families, including sick children, can be appropriately accommodated there.’


‘The 157 Tamil asylum seekers should have been brought to the mainland a month ago,’ said Dodd. ‘They should have full access to legal advice and representation, and be able to enjoy the support of local communities who would be happy to welcome them to Australia after their prolonged ordeal at sea.’

For further comment call Vanessa Dodd 0404 698 657

or Chris Breen 0403 013 183

Protest One Year of Operation Sovereign Borders

Download poster:

Low Resolution: Oct 11 refugee rally
High Resolution: Oct 11 refugee rally
Please note DATE CHANGE to 2pm Saturday October 11, State Library, corner of Swanston and La Trobe Sts Melbourne. We have shifted our rally because GetUp! and environment NGO’s have called a large climate mobilisation for Sept 21, we didn’t want to clash. The new date also coincides with a big refugee rally in Sydney.

Speakers include:
Ged Kearney – president Australian Council of Trade Unions
Reza Yarahmadi – Iranian refugee
Youhorn Chea – President Cambodian Association of Victoria, Cambodian refugee, and Dandenong Councillor
Asil Hadi – Iraqi refugee
Adam Bandt MP – deputy Greens leader
Lisa Chesters – ALP MP for Bendigo
Rally co-chairs: Mohammad Ali Baqiri – Afghan refugee,
and Chris Breen – Refugee Action Collective

Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott’s war on refugees has been going on for almost a year now – after Kevin Rudd’s PNG deal paved the way for them. This war has seen Reza Barati murdered,  one asylum seeker shot, one have his throat cut and two men lose their eyes in unprovoked attacks on asylum seekers on Manus Island by those who should have been responsible for their safety. Asylum seekers have been directly returned to their persecutors in Sri Lanka. 157 Tamil asylum seekers were kept prisoner in cramped windowless berths on the high seas for a month, Scott Morrison was unable to force them to India, but has now dumped them on Nauru. Rates of self-harm and mental health problems in detention are skyrocketing, they approach 50% on Manus Island. Children and babies are being kept on the hell-hole of Nauru, without access to decent education. Onshore and offshore detention and deterrence is costing close to $4 billion per year. Refugee policy sees new outrages every day. We are extremely concerned that Australia is about to bribe Cambodia with $40 million dollars to take people seeking refuge in Australia – it would be cheaper and more humane to resettle those refugees in Australia.

We hope you can join us in making the October 11 rally to stop the war on refugees a successful event.

*No Boat Tow Backs
*No Offshore or Onshore Detenion
*Process Permanent Claims Now
*Scrap Operation Sovereign Borders

What you can do:

Please join and share the Facebook event

Bring a contingent to the rally: Bring people with you, invite your friends, family, workmates, fellow students, people from your union, community group or place of worship. Bring signs, banners, and symbols of your organisation (eg union flags)

Publicise the rally: Print the attached poster to display forward this email, or contact RAC for posters or flyers to distribute in you area

Make a donation: Refugee Action Collective Commonwealth Bank BSB: 063 262, Account 1025 2396 Send cheques to PO Box 578 Carlton South, Vic 3053.

Get your organisation to endorse the rally: email

Organised by the Refugee Action Collective, endorsed by:
Organised by the Refugee Action Collective, endorsed by: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, The Victorian Greens, Refugee Advocacy Network, Tamil Coordinating Committee of Australasia, Tamil Refugee Council, Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project, Maritime Union of Australia, Communication Workers Union P&T VIC General, Communication Workers Union (T&S) Victoria, National Tertiary Education Union, Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia, Australia-Tamil Solidarity, Writers For Refugees, Kommonground, Pax Christi (Vic), The Office for Justice & Peace Catholic & MCMRO Archdiocese of Melbourne, Daylesford Rural Australians for Refugees, Queenscliff Rural Australians for Refugees, Hampton Asylum-Seeker Support Association, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, Diaspora Action Australia, ChilOut, Geelong Trades Hall Council, Fitzroy Learning Network, Solidarity, Catholic Migration & Refugee Office , Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Geelong Refugee Action and Information Network, The Central Victorian Refugee Network, Australia-Asia Worker Links


Media Release: Beatings, rape threats, forced signatures – explosive allegations on Manus must be investigated

Media Release – for immediate release


Beatings, rape threats, forced signatures – explosive allegations on Manus must be investigated

‘On Monday 14 July, two asylum seekers on Manus Island were taken out of their compound by Wilson Security guards. Both are eye-witnesses to the 17 February attack and to the murder of Reza Berati. Other asylum seekers were told, “They aren’t coming back”. Concerns about the two asylum seekers safety have been widely circulated,’ said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective.


‘Four days later, the Refugee Action Collective received a statement from someone in direct contact with the two men about what they say had happened. Their claims, now reported in The Age newspaper, which include beatings, rape threats and forced signatures are shocking, and must be seriously investigated. The claims involve Wilson and Transfield managers.  It is alarming that Scott Morrison is prepared to dismiss these claims as “false” without investigation. That over 150 days have passed since the murder of Reza Barati without anyone being charged adds weight to the claims,’ said Breen.


Below is the original statement of claims in full (indviduals’ names have been redacted)


In 14/7/2014 we had a meeting with Transfield and Wilson managers about issues of internet and phone rooster, when we convinced them that this system doesn’t work, because of the time differences between here and our countries; A stopped the meeting and said: “We set the rules and you must follow it, we don’t care about your time zones”

We got upset and told them: We pass our community message to you; it’s not fair and we yield, and left the meeting but we didn’t swear at anyone or threatened anyone. when we got out, our community were waiting for us to know about output of meeting.

then we left area and went to B’s room C came to us and said: “I have been told by A; you should come with us to another meeting to take your suggestions”.

we didn’t accept it, because we knew that they are not going to change the roster. then he said: “I have been ordered if you don’t come, drag you on the ground!”

We still resisted.

So they send D to deceive us, because they knew we trusted on her. She tricked us and told us: “We will be back in one hour”

After that they took us with another friend of us and escorted all 3 of us to somewhere that we haven’t seen it before. they returned our friend back to the compound.

after that they put us in a place surrounded by 4 containers and A and E  & F and 6 others that we knew one of them; his name is G came there, and hand cuffed us with plastic zip to our chairs.we wondered and asked: whats the matter?!

they didn’t answer us and A ordered them to beat us in the body not face so it will be no effect left of hitting.

We were crying and asking what is our fault?! They said: “because you always object to all of our rules” and said: “You have to sign a pair of paper; if you object again, we will deport you back to your countries”

we didn’t accept it.

After that they said: “if you don’t sign, because you were witnesses of Reza Berati’s death, PNGs and we are thirsty to your blood, because you are going to testify against our countries people in the court, we will order these locals to rape you and we will sit here and watch it”

So we cried and signed those papers to not to get rapped,

after that they kept us in custody on that rough ground in that area with one loaf of bread and one drinking water per day. We laid down on the ground and slept there in mud.

They kept us there for 72 hours, we asked several times to see PNG Police and said: we want to go to their jail, but they refused.

After that they came and took B back to the compound and A told him: “if you say anything about what happened here we will take you back and we get the locals to rape you and deport you”

Now we are under high watch by three Officers

Please we beg you Help us.


‘Tony Abbott has been demanding a “full, comprehensive, impartial” investigation into the MH17 tragedy, but where he is a position to launch such an investigation into Reza Barati’s death and these recent claims, he runs the other way. Even before these claims, Scott Morrison’s fantasy version of events and the Cornall whitewash have made it clear that a cover-up is taking place in full view of anyone who cares to look. It is terrifying that there is no witness protection available for anyone in the detention centre. We demand these claims be investigated immediately, and that the two asylum seekers, along with all of the asylum seekers on Manus Island, be brought to safety on the Australian mainland,’ said Breen.


For further comment call Chris Breen 0403 013 183 for the Refugee Action Collective