Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

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

Archives March 2017

3pm 22 April | Eye-witnesses Speak Out: Close the Camps & Bring Them Here

When: 3-5pm Saturday 22nd April

Where: ANMF House, 540 Elizabeth St, Melbourne

ANMF

Speakers:
Aziz from Manus via skype – Sudanese refugee and activist who is still detained on Manus after almost four years
Lynne Elworthy – mental health nurse fired for speaking out after working for 4 years on Manus Island
S. Nagaveeran also known as Ravi – Tamil refugee and activist who spent over 2 years imprisoned on Nauru, author of ‘From Fell to Hell’

More details about the speakers:
Aziz fled the violence of Darfur in Sudan and sought asylum in Australia but was imprisoned on Manus by the Australian government. He has been found to be a refugee, and the detention centre on Manus declared illegal, but Aziz is still trapped on Manus after almost four years. He is an activist on Manus fighting for the rights of all refugees there. He has recorded a video calling on people in Australia to attend the Palm Sunday rallies:
https://www.facebook.com/palmsundaywalk/videos/1253927048046726/
As the guardian reported “He has emerged as a leader of his community in detention, a magistrate of sorts for the internecine conflicts of the compounds and, armed with good English, a conduit to the outside world.”https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jan/24/meet-the-messenger-of-manus-one-man-trapped-in-australias-offshore-processing-regime

Lynne Elworthy is a whistleblower and mental health nurse who spent 4 years on Manus. She started work three days after Reza Barati was murdered and she knew Hamid Khazaei. She lost her job on Manus after speaking to the New York Times which reported “She has, it seems, been fired for her honesty” and she is defying the Border Force Act to speak out.
You can read more about Lynne here:
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/opinion/australias-brave-whistleblower-nurse.html
where she says ‘“It is time to close this chapter. My greatest fear is that these men will end up being far worse off than they even suspect. The U.S. deal sounds like pie in the sky to me.”

S. Nagaveeran, also known as Ravi, fled Sri Lanka due to brutality suffered through the civil war and the ongoing persecution of Tamil people. He arrived in Australia by boat. He was incarcerated in Australia’s immigration detention camp on Nauru for more than 2 years, and then spent a year and a half in detention in Melbourne. Ravi is now living in the community and has published a collection of his poems, entitled ‘From Hell to Hell’. Ravi has travelled across the country to share his experiences, reach out to Australians and show them the reality of what people are facing in Australia’s human dumping grounds. He has co-founded a dinner project called ‘Food for Thought’ and a poetry series called ‘Hidden Voices from Australia’s Human Dumping Grounds’ to help provide platforms for the sharing of stories and experiences, in order to foster greater understanding in the community. His book is available here http://writingthroughfences.org/shop/
Video here http://thequo.com.au/Stories?postId=fdba73eb-8468-46c5-b928-0dca7f8b19ac

Facebook event here

 

Participate in the 1 – 2 April Super Stalls Weekend

Participate in the 1 – 2 April Super Stalls Weekend.

Be part of a weekend of stalls all across Melbourne to get the word out about Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees.

Either get together with your friends, family, or organisation and register a stall in a location near you (we can help out with materials and Palm Sunday leaflets).

Or register your interest in participating on a stall near you.

Just fill in this form:

https://rac-vic.typeform.com/to/Wmw1qb

Stalls can be just two people leafleting a busy thoroughfare, or they can be more elaborate with tables, information materials, a-frame.

So far we have stalls for:

Suburb Contact details Where When
Coburg Michael 0481156719 Coburg Mall Sat 1/4/17, 11.00-1.00
Footscray Dean  0422584360  Outside Footscray Train Station Sat 1/4/17, 1.00 to 3.00
Princes Bridge, City Helen 0406728091 Princess Bridge Arts Centre End Sun 2/4/17, 11.00-1.00
La Trobe Uni Bundoora Lyn 0409219373 Kingsbury Drive Community Market, La Trobe University car park. Sun 2/4/17, 11.00-1.00
Brunswick Kieran  0407368793 Sydney Rd Near Savers Sat 1/4/17, 9.00-1.00
Richmond Trevor 0402811487 Cnr Bridge and Church St Sat 1/4/17, 11.00-12.00
Sun 2/4/17, 11.00-12.00
Melbourne Tony 0419882674 Fed Square Sat 1/4/17 9.30 11.00
Belgrave Sophia 0458488253
Margaret 0417031533
Belgrave Train Station Sat 1/4/17, 9.00-10.00
Upper Ferntree Gully Sophia 0458488253
Margaret 0417031533
Upper Ferntree Gully Station Sat 1/4/17, 10.30-11.30
Boronia Sophia 0458488253
Margaret 0417031533
Boronia Station Sat 1/4/17, 12.00-1.00
Ringwood Sophia 0458488253
Margaret 0417031533
Ringwood Station Sat 1/4/17, 1.30-2.30
Blackburn Sophia 0458488253
Margaret 0417031533
Blackburn Station Sat 1/4/17, 3.00-4.00
Box Hill Sophia 0458488253
Margaret 0417031533
Box Hill Station Sat 1/4/17, 4.30-5.30
Northcote Martin 0420380192 Nortchote Plaza, Separation St Entrance Sun 2/4/17, 10.00-11.00

CBD            Babeth           Melbourne Central           Thur

61426602414                                           30/3/17
4.30-6.00

Contact Lucy for more info 0404 728 104

Refugee Action Collective response to #itstimetolistencampaign

Refugee Action Collective response to #itstimetolistencampaign

Refugee voices
Refugee and asylum seeker voices are vital and should be central in the campaign to end Australia’s cruel policies against them. To attend and leave the Palm Sunday rally with confidence to continue the fight, people at the rally need to hear the voices of refugees- and to that end there are three refugees speaking; Abdul-hadi Matar, a refugee and Sudanese community leader from Darfur, Nasir Yousafi from the Hazara community, and an audio message from Aziz from Manus. Knowing the brutality they face is essential, and their resistance in the face of extraordinary repression is inspiring. They give confidence to other refugees and people from their communities to speak out.

The growing refugee movement is acutely aware of how important this is, and is always working to amplify refugee voices and support new refugee activist leaders.

What kind of movement do we need to end refugee racism?
It will take a mass, grassroots movement to end refugee detention and deterrence. Rallies like Palm Sunday are a chance to build the political confidence of everyone in the movement to lead action and spread defiance of refugee racism. The movement needs to make the bipartisan offshore detention policies politically and practically untenable. We can make this happen by building the breadth and depth of opposition. Rallies help to build the confidence of workers to refuse to participate in brutal policies, as doctors at Lady Cilento, teachers and health workers, and social workers have done.

Refugee leaders like Aziz on Manus have directly implored people in Australia to attend the rally. Palm Sunday in 2016 helped spark 200 days of protest on Nauru, the refugees there saw themselves as being “with” the Palm Sunday mobilisations in Australia.

Who are the non-refugee speakers, and why give them a platform?
To show solidarity and build a powerful movement we need political ideas and defiant collective action. We need to show unity across cultural divides, and to spread our grassroots organizing power.

As a former teacher on Nauru, Jane Willey is another speaker with insight into the conditions of the offshore camps. She also sets an example of courageous action; her defiance of the Border Force Act was an inspiration for hundreds of teachers across Victoria to defy threats of sackings to participate in the Teachers for Refugees t-shirt action. We can intensify the political and practical crisis of detention by spreading organisation and defiance across other sectors.

Corinne Grant uses her platform in mainstream media to promote uncompromising opposition to refugee brutality. Her union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, is campaigning for colleagues- an actor, a cartoonist and journalist, held on Manus. Other unions could replicate this, using their social weight to pressure the government to release their colleagues.

Having Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders speak indicates united, widespread opposition. Their leadership can provide an opening for people in those communities to deepen their action. The fusion of Islamophobia and refugee racism means we must arm all refugee campaigners with anti-islamophobia politics. For this reason, it is particularly important to have Mohamed Mohideen, President of the Islamic Council of Victoria on the platform.

Daniel Webb’s experience in the Human Rights Legal Centre helps expose the government’s treatment cruel treatment of refugees as contemptuous of their own, and other countries’, laws. It also shows that court action must be embedded in movements. Legal successes need to be known, however Manus Island detention camp was declared illegal last April; and yet it is still imprisoning men. When legal action failed to block the government returning refugees to Nauru last year, the grassroots “Letthemstay” campaign ensured that it was politically impossible for Turnbull to send them back. We need to hear from those like Webb who argue legal battles must be backed up with grassroots, political battles. Details of the ongoing court action over Manus, can also help paint a picture of an offshore processing regime falling apart at the seams.

Finally, having Chris Breen speak from the Refugee Advocacy Network about how we can close the camps is essential. The weak Turnbull government, the defensive delaying tactics of the US deal, the small but insufficient cracks in the Labor Party are important political questions our movement must confront. Urging people to join the next work place t-shirt action, initiate union campaigns and get involved in organizing groups is an important way to end the rally so that the movement grows.

Grassroots collaboration
There is a refugee leadership on Manus and Nauru, amongst communities such as the Tamils, Iranians, Hazara, Iraqis, Sudanese, Somalis, Kurds, West Papuans and more, whose voices the growing refugee movement has helped to highlight. They speak at forums, rallies, schools and workplaces throughout the year at events organised by many of the constituent groups of RAN. Every single refugee community may not be represented at any one rally, but the biggest possible Palm Sunday rally boosts their confidence and their voices far beyond the one rally itself.

All groups in the refugee movement share the common commitment to work to end the government’s racist and cruel policies. The #itstimetolisten campaign risks throwing a cloud over what is the main refugee rally of the year. And we are the strongest when we fight together. RISE was invited to the organising committee and could have been involved in all aspects of the rally organising, including speaker selection from the beginning.

We would urge RISE and Democracy in Colour to cease its public campaign and become part of the democratic organizing that has made the Palm Sunday rallies a high point of the refugee campaign.