Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

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

Archives September 2014

Murder of Australian dual citizen in Afghanistan shows that deportations can kill


Murder of Australian dual citizen in Afghanistan proves that deportations can kill

On September 20, Australian citizen Sayed Habib was kidnapped off a bus between Kabul to Jaghori in Afghanistan. Three days later his body was found, showing signs that he had been tortured before his execution. Habib, 56, arrived in Australia by boat in 2000 and eventually gained residency and citizenship. He was in Afghanistan and making the journey he was to visit his daughter-in-law and grandchildren. His son is currently stranded in Indonesia.

Refugee Action Collective spokesperson Tony Iltis pointed out that Mr Habib would not have put himself in danger had not the racist policies of the Australian government denied him family reunion. “This is yet another horrible tragedy that is a direct consequence of Abbott seeking electoral advantage by boasting that he has ‘stopped the boats’,” he said.

The Australian foreign affairs department responded to the tragedy by reiterating that Afghanistan was officially considered an unsafe destination for Australian visitors and that the part of the country where Mr Habib was killed was contested by different armed factions.

However, at the same time the Australian government declares that Afghanistan is safe destination for deported asylum seeks, ignoring the fact that — as the murder of Mr Habib demonstrates — having sought refuge overseas is enough to get one targeted by armed groups.

“Research by the Edmund Rice Centre has revealed that of 8 refugees returned from Australia to Afghanistan during the Howard years, 6 are dead and one is missing. As far back as 2008, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a man coerced from Australia to Afghanistan had been beheaded. In August the first forced deportation from Australia to Afghanistan took place with the deportation of a man to Jaghori — the same place Sayed Hamid was travelling to when he was murdered,” Iltis said.

“It is not just Afghanistan. As will be shown on the SBS current affairs show, Dateline, tonight. Tamil refugees returned to Sri Lanka, including those intercepted on the high seas by the Australian navy, have been subjected to the most horrific forms of torture and sexual sadism. Australia has closely aligned itself with the Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka and ignores the internationally-recognised reality of human rights abuses there.

“Australia recognises that the human rights situation in Iraq and Syria is dire, and indeed is using this as a pretext for going to war. However, Iraqi and Syrian refugees continue to be threatened with deportation or coerced into returning through the inhuman and life-threatening conditions of Australian detention.

“Today’s revelations by Senator Christine Milne of sexual violence by camp guards against detainees in Nauru are just the latest example of how Australian refugee policy is based on deterring people from seeking refuge here by making the consequences of doing so as horrific as the violence from which they fled. In this context refugees choosing to return cannot be seen as voluntary. Australia is sending innocent people to their deaths.”

Refugee Action Collective is holding a rally on October 11, at 2pm at the State Library (corner Swanston and Latrobe Streets), to call for an end to Australia’s war against refugees.

For more information call Tony Iltis 0437237010 or Chris Breen 0403013183.

Protests on Nauru over arbitrary detention

Protest on Nauru over randomness of detention

Immigration Minister says he will release asylum seekers currently on Christmas Island as part of his deal with Palmer. This is a back down on his claim that no asylum seekers who arrived by boat after July last year would ever be resettled in Australia. However it leaves other asylum seekers who arrived at the same time arbitrarily stuck on Nauru and Manus Island, and available for ‘voluntary’ transfer to Cambodia. When Australian officials delivered Morrisons video message to Nauru, there were protests and self-harm in response. A 15 year old girl drank shampoo, vomited blood and had to be  medivacced to Australia, another man cut his throat. Picture and video of the protests over two days are below

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More video


Media Release – Palmer and Morrison kick refugee rights to hell

Here is a summary of the Palmer TPV deal & Cambodia Deals. More details are included in the original media release below tthe summary.

Scott Morrison has done a dirty deal with Clive Palmer that includes

  • Temporary Protection Visas that leave refugees in limbo
  • Removing refugee appeal rights
  • A new fast track process aimed at deporting more refugees
  • New maritime powers to turn back boats
  • Redefining the legal status of children born to asylum seekers in Australia.
  • Attempting to put the whole legislative package beyond court challenge by removing references to the 1951 refugee convention from Australian law.

This package will likely be voted on in parliament in late November.

Cambodia deal

Scott Morrison has signed a deal to send refugees ‘voluntarily’ from Nauru to Cambodia. The pilot project for ‘for 4 or 5 people’ comes at a cost of $40 million, or $10 million per person. Settlement may not even be permanent as the deal says after 12 months Australia will ‘facilitate voluntary repatriation’ of refugees back to their home country or other country.

Cambodia is not safe for refugees and the Cambodian opposition opposes the deal and there have been protests against the deal in Cambodia. More particularly there is a cruel lottery about which refugees are liable to be sent.

Original media release:

Palmer and Morrison kick refugee rights to hell

‘Clive Palmer announced his agreement with Scott Morrison to bring back Temporary Protection Visas for refugees as a ‘game changer’, but this dirty deal is more of the same anti-refugee cruelty only worse.’ said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective

‘The deal includes:

  • Temporary Protection Visas –these are instruments of slow torture that leave refugees in limbo, without family reunion rights and in fear of being returned to persecution. They make it hard for refugees to get work, or establish community roots. The new ‘Safe Haven Enterprise Visas’ for refugees to work in remote locations, are window dressing. Leaving aside that refugees should not be forced into a form of indentured labour to get permanency, these visas have no pathway to permanency anyhow according to Morrison. He also says it is likely very few such visas will be available. Morrison and Palmer have been saying different things about the Safe Haven Visas, they can do this because these visas are a legislative thought bubble – the details won’t be announced until next year.
  •  Removing references to the 1951 Refugee Convention from the Migration Act and replacing them with ‘Australia’s interpretation of its protection obligations’. This is to avoid future court scrutiny – as the bill explains to ‘ensure that the exercise of a range of powers cannot be invalidated because a court considers there has been a failure to consider, properly consider, or comply with Australia‘s international obligations’.
  •  New Maritime Powers to pre-empt the High Court case about the kidnapping of 157 Tamil asylum seekers on the high seas. These new powers ‘provide that the rules of natural justice do not apply to  …the new Ministerial powers and the exercise of powers to hold and move vessels and persons’.
  •  Retrospective legislation to pre-empt the High Court case about the citizenship of baby Ferouz, this will declare children of asylum seekers born in Australia to be ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals’ and subject to offshore processing.
  •  Removing refugee review rights by enshrining a version of ‘enhanced screening’ in law as a new ‘fast track assessment process’ and removing access to the Refugee Review Tribunal for asylum seekers who arrived in Australia after 13 August 2012.


‘ Last year Clive Palmer said asylum seekers “should be allowed to go to school, to have a decent education and a proper lifestyle. We’ve also got situations where women are giving birth to children and then having their babies taken off them and separated by the department. This is like a neo-fascist state. Unless those things change, we won’t be supporting any TPVs.”

‘But those things haven’t changed’ said Breen ‘Under this deal children will remain on Nauru without anywhere to play let alone decent schooling. Baby Ferouz will likely be dumped on Nauru as well if this deal is voted up.’

‘All the horrors of offshore processing will remain in place under this deal. Those facing indefinite detention on Manus and Nauru, under the Immigration Departments cruel lottery will stay there says Morrison. His proposed Cambodia deal offers them no way out. Cambodia has no resettlement capacity and is not safe for refugees.’

‘Palmer and Morrison have sat down and effectively said to hell with refugees and their rights. Protesters will be marching from the State Library to sit down outside Liberal Party headquarters on Sat Oct 11 to oppose this legislation’

The Refugee Action Collective has called a major rally for refugee rights on Saturday October 11, starting at 2pm State Library, Melbourne – calling for Permanent Protection, No Cambodia Deal, No Boat Tow Backs and an End to Onshore and Offshore Detention.


Call Chris Breen 0403 013 183 from the Refugee Action Collective for further comment