Media Release: March on World Refugee Day June 19

Refugee Advocacy Network Press Release Mandatory detention is an inhumane policy that victimises vulnerable people who have committed no crime. It is time to end this unjust policy. In the name of protecting Australian borders, innocent individuals have been deprived of their right to freedom, separated from their families and endured severe mental distress.

The Refugee Advocacy Network is calling on all groups and individuals who support refugee rights to come together and send a clear message to the government: it’s time to end mandatory detention. Last year’s World Refugee Day march was supported by over 60 organisations. Over 4,000 people joined the march. We want our voice to be even louder this year as our appeals are continuing to fall on deaf ears.

The side effects of prolonged detention are blatantly obvious. Refugees are suffering from severe physical and psychological damage in appalling overcrowded conditions. They have no other choice but to live in these dehumanising conditions. Why else would a refugee take his own life rather than continue to stay in an Australian detention centre? At what cost are we willing to allow our Government to continue to indefinitely detain human beings?

Australia has the toughest mandatory detention regime in the Western developed world, yet people still continue to come to Australia. They continue to embark on this treacherous journey out of sheer desperation fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty in the hope of obtaining a better future for their family.

The Australian Government continues to deliberately ignore international criticism of mandatory detention of refugees. Our Government has an obligation to protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in Australia, regardless of how or where they arrived and whether they arrived with or without a visa, as per the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The imposition of an indefinite prison sentence has resulted in detainees inflicting serious bodily harm and going on hunger strike. They are tired of listening to broken promises and so are we. Please join us on World Refugee Day 19 June in our bid to ‘unite to end mandatory detention.

Endorsements for World Refugee Day 2011

1. Act for Peace – National Council of Churches in Australia
2. Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
3. Australia Asia Worker Links
4. Australian Education Union
5. Australian Greens, Victoria
6. Australian Nursing Federation
7. Australian Services Union
8. Australian Tamil Congress
9. Australia West Papua Association
10. Australian Western Sahara Association
11. Australian Workers Union
12. Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project
13. CEPU (Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union)
14. Darfur Australia Network
15. Edmund Rice Network Victoria
16. Eritrean People’s Movement
17. Eritrean Community Support Group
18. Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth.
19. Fitzroy Learning Network
20. Geelong Trades Hall
21. GetUp
22. Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (GSANZ)
23. GRAIN (Geelong Refugee and Action Network)
24. Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project
25. Humanitarian Crisis Hub
26. Islamic Council of Victoria
27. Labor for Refugees
28. Maritime Union of Australia
29. Middle East Solidarity Group
30. National Tertiary Education Union
31. Queenscliff Rural Australians for Refugees (Queenscliff RAR)
32. Refugee Action Collective
33. Researchers for Asylum Seekers
34. Revolutionary Socialist Party
35. RISE (Refugees, Survivors & Ex-detainees)
36. Shamama Association
37. Socialist Alliance
38. Socialist Alternative
39. Solidarity
40. Surf Coast Rural Australians for Refugees
41. Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Uniting Church in Australia
42. Tamil Refugee Council
43. Textile, Clothing & Footwear Union
44. These Machines Cut Razorwire
45. United Voice (formerly LHMU)
46. Victorian Council of Churches
47. Victorian Immigrant and Refugees Women’s Coalition

Media Release: Prominent human rights lawyer Julian Burnside to speak at World Refugee Day Rally

In solidarity with the 7000 refugees who are detained in detention centres all over Australia, the Refugee Advocacy Network is inviting people to take to the streets of Melbourne this Sunday June 19th to ‘Unite against Mandatory Detention’. Mandatory detention is an indefinite prison sentence imposed on those who have committed no crime. Julian Burnside QC a prominent Human Rights and Refugee advocate will speak on Sunday. Julian will address the failures of the Government’s current refugee policy. Burnside commented,

“All Australians, and especially our politicians, should answer this: If you had fled the Taliban, if you got to Indonesia and if you faced 10 years living in the shadows waiting for some country to resettle you, what would you do? Would you wait there, with no right to get a job or send your kids to school, or would you make a dangerous dash for safety in Australia? What would you do? Think about this next time you hear someone say how we need to be tough on boat people”

Ramat Yousafi will also speak on Sunday. He more than anyone is aware of the crippling effects that prolonged detention can have on a person.

Yousafi, who is from the Hazara community, came to Australia from Afghanistan in the hope of finding protection and an opportunity to rebuild his life, but spent eight months locked up in Curtin detention centre in WA .

Yousafi argues that the Australian Government’s current policy is inhumane. “It’s my right to seek asylum and protect my life. Putting people behind barbed wire creates many problems – mental health issues, isolation from families. Afghanistan is still not safe. Just last week a prominent Hazara was killed. Last year, 50 Hazara were massacred”.

Also speaking will be Adam Bandt, Green Party MP who was recently heavily involved in persuading the Australian parliament to approve an inquiry into Australia’s mandatory detention network.

Other noted speakers are Amara Hamid of the Victorian Immigrant & Refugee Women's Coalition, Kumar Pathmanathan of the Tamil Refugee Council who arrived in Australia as a refugee before the mandatory detention policy was introduced and finally Sister Brigid Arthur of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project.