Brisbane rally will remember refugee deaths

A minute’s silence will be observed at a pro refugee rally to  be held in Brisbane at 11am, Saturday 22nd, in Brisbane Square (top of the Queen Street Mall). The rally is part of Refugee Week and is calling for immediate policy changes from the Labor government.

A refugee known as Ahmad Ali Jafari died in detention yesterday evening after guards ignored inmate’s call for help and then took more than an hour to call an ambulance. He, along with 13 other refugees who have died in Australian detention centres in the last 3 years will be remembered at the rally tomorrow.

Mohammad Baqiri, who was detained for nearly three years as a child on Nauru during the Howard years, will be speaking about his experience at the Brisbane rally. Other speakers include Benedict Coyne from Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and Father Pan Jordan from the Australian Tamil Congress. A range of groups are supporting the rally including church groups, ethnic groups, The Greens and Labor for Refugees.

“The government’s policies of deterrence are inhumane and have created a nightmare for those seeking asylum in Australia” said Mark Gillespie from the Refugee Action Collective.
“The Manus Island and Nauru detention centres are nothing short of hellholes where hundreds have been left in limbo not knowing when their claims will be processed or if they will ever get to Australia.
“While we welcome what looks like the long overdue removal of children from Manus Island, this is not enough. The government claimed conditions in Manus Island were adequate but the removal of children confirms what refugee advocates have been saying for a long time; it was cruel and inhumane. But it is also cruel and inhumane for adults and we’re calling for the complete dismantling of the offshore processing regime”.
“We’re also calling for the right to work for the many thousands of asylum seekers released into the Australian community and for the processing of their claims to immediately begin. The government’s so-called ‘No advantage’ policy is creating an underclass with the only thing standing between the asylum seekers and abject poverty and despair are refugee communities and charities”.
The rally will also criticise Labor’s decision to excise the Australian mainland from Australia’s migration zone. “This amounts is
the first step by Labor to excising Australia from its obligations under the Refugee Convention to protect those fleeing persecution” said Mark Gillespie.“All these punitive policies by Labor are just paving the way for Abbott to go further and declare he will bring back temporary
protection visas and tow asylum boats back to sea. These are the same Howard policies that pushed families onto boats and brought more deaths at sea”.

“Politicians need to stop the refugee-bashing. Asylum seekers are desperate people who need help and we’re calling on both political parties to put welfare and humanitarian concerns at the front of refugee policy. The cruel policies of deterrence will only push people into more desperate actions and more lives will be lost. In the wake of yet another needless death of a young Hazara man within the Australian detention system, it is time for our politicians to stop the electioneering.”

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