Media Release – As High Court stymies Morrison, protest this Sunday to demand 153 asylum seekers are brought to safety

Action Alert – As High Court stymies Morrison, protest this Sunday to demand 153 asylum seekers are brought to safety
The Refugee Action Collective will be holding a protest in the Bourke St Mall 1pm this Sunday July 13, to demand that the 153 Tamil asylum seekers not be handed over to the Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka. We will have a large wooden boat to symbolise the boat that Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has finally admitted is in government custody on the high seas.
‘It has taken action in the High Court to force Scott Morrison to admit the government has custody of the 153 asylum seekers. This blows Morrison’s secrecy out of the water and makes a farce of his refusal to acknowledge the asylum seekers existence. If Morrison had been confident that the government’s actions were both legal and justified, he would not have tried to hide them. He attempted to hide the truth because he is not confident that the public shares the Coalition’s never-ending callous disregard for human rights.’ said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective
‘The government has given an undertaking to the High Court not to hand the asylum seekers to Sri Lanka without 72 hrs written notice. This does not prevent the government taking them elsewhere. However, as the asylum seekers were seized in international waters in an act of piracy by the Australian government, taking them to Manus Island or Nauru would open further legal problems for Morrison. In any case this tragedy has gone on long enough, these asylum seekers should now be brought to the Australian mainland, and have their asylum claims processed fairly. ‘Enhanced screening’ is not fair, it is a process designed to avoid Australia’s obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention’.
‘Scott Morrison is visiting Sri Lanka this week to cement his complicity with the human rights abuses of the Sri Lankan government. He has already handed over one boat carrying 41 asylum seekers to the Rajapaksa regime – it is now clear this may have been unlawful. Despite the court setback for Morrison, we still have fears for the fate of three year old Febrina and the other 152 asylum seekers on the second boat. Morrison has not given an undertaking that these asylum seekers will not ultimately be returned to Sri Lanka, and we hold concern for their wellbeing on the high seas.’
‘Despite the end of the civil war Sri Lanka is not a not a country at peace, Tamil areas remain under effective military occupation. In February this year Human Rights Watch claimed ‘that rape and sexual violence has been a key element of broader torture of suspected LTTE members and supporters even since the war’s end.’ A relative of people on the boat says that he knows that 11 of the asylum seekers had previously been tortured. Our protest on Sunday will demand that they not be handed back to their torturers.’ said Breen

Don’t send asylum seekers back to danger in Sri Lanka
No to ‘enhanced screening’
Let Them Land, Let Them Stay


For further comment call Chris Breen 0403 013 183
or Sue Bolton 0413 377 978