Protest at ALP National Conference to support fight to overturn Marles’s turnback capitulation

Protest at ALP National Conference to support fight to overturn
Marles’s turnback capitulation

“Richard Marles’s announcement of his support for turning back
asylum seeker boats is a capitulation to Abbott’s fear and
scapegoating of asylum seekers; a triumph of electoral opportunism
over compassion, justice and fairness. It is aimed as a pre-emptive
strike at the ALP National Conference,” said Chris Breen for the
Refugee Action Collective.

“Marles has shown his contempt for democratic processes within the ALP
by announcing a proposed policy shift before it can be debated at

“Turnbacks are another violation of asylum seekers’ human rights,
adding to the weight of bipartisan cruelty. Eight people are known to
have died as a result of turnback operations since 2001. Turnbacks
require violence against asylum seekers who do not want to be turned
back. Regional turnback policies implemented by Malaysia, Thailand and
Indonesia, encouraged by Abbott, led to the deaths of around 200
Rohingya asylum seekers.”

“Marles says the decision is about saving life at sea. But if the Navy
can find boats to turn them around, they can find boats to assist
them. Too often distress calls were ignored, even after when asylum
seekers made repeated calls to Australian authorities. Why can’t the
Navy conduct rescue operations that bring boats to Australia?”

“The right to seek asylum is a cornerstone of refugee rights,
enshrined in the 1951 convention. Turnbacks deny the lawful right to
seek asylum.”

“Marles says refugees in Indonesia are not facing persecution, but
Indonesia is not a signatory to the refugee convention. Refugees in
Indonesia have no safety or permanence. Refugees in Indonesia have
tried to bribe their way into detention to avoid starvation as they
run out of funds.”

“Just like Rudd’s PNG solution, accepting turnbacks will not
neutralise the asylum seeker issue for Labor. Abbott can always move
even further to the right. Marles has not said whether or not Labor
would directly refoule Vietnamese refugees as Abbott is poised to do.
Vietnamese asylum seekers are currently held by the Navy on the high
seas. The last boatload of 46 Vietnamese asylum seekers forced back
included democracy activists and persecuted Christians. Many of those
returned have repeatedly interrogated and at least one jailed.”

“ALP national Conference can still overturn Marles proposed policy.
Labor for Refugees has a motion to ALP conference opposing both boat
turnbacks, and offshore processing. The Refugee Action Collective
encourages all delegates to ALP conference to support that motion.”

The Refugee Action Collective has called a rally, endorsed by Labor
for Refugees, to support efforts to achieve for more humane ALP
refugee policy. It will be 12pm Sat July 25, 12pm at the Melbourne
Convention Centre, 1 Convention Centre Place South Wharf.
Speakers include:
Yvette Berry - Labor MLA and Minister in the ACT Government
Michele O'Neil - State Secretary Clothing Textile and Footwear Union
of Australia, and Labor for Refugees
Pamela Curr - Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Aran Mylvaganam - Tamil Refugee Council
Mohammad Baqiri - Afghan refugee
The Refugee Action Collective will also be debating the ALP’s Brad
Chilcott over the question of boat turnbacks this Friday night July
24, 6pm at the Multi-cultural Hub 506 Elizabeth St, Melbourne,
Victoria, Australia 3000
For further comment call Chris Breen 0403 013 183 or Lucy Honan 040 472 8104