Refugee Rights Action Network WA acknowledge that we are living and working on the stolen land of First Nations peoples whose sovereignty was never ceded. We believe recent comments made by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton are an example of how white Australia still arrogates to itself the right to decide unilaterally on who goes and who stays, and which lives are worth saving.
One of RRANs major concerns about this discussion is the way that White South African farmers have been incorrectly portrayed as refugees. We appreciate that people are concerned for the safety of friends and family members in South Africa as a result of instances of violence and we do not wish to diminish any pain or suffering that people have experienced. We are concerned, however about how these fears are being appropriated locally for political benefit. A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country because of war, persecution or violence. We believe that the circumstances of white South African farmers and those of refugees, who have been compelled to flee their country of origin, are being conflated.
In comments made last month, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton stated, in regards to white South African farmers, “I think these people deserve special attention and we’re certainly applying that special attention now.” He characterised them as deserving migrants and suggested, “People do need help and they need help from a civilised country like ours”. This rhetoric contrasts with his characterisation of black, brown and Muslim people seeking refuge in Australia and the increasingly punitive treatment meted out to them.
The facts about regional crises of death and displacement are erased. We support the right of anyone experiencing persecution to seek asylum and agree that the cost of parent and other visa avenues can be prohibitive for most families. This however also applies to refugees seeking to help their loved ones escape genocide or war zones. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been forcibly displaced as a result of a concerted campaign of genocide in Myanmar, while each month hundreds of people continue to be bombed and killed in Syria.
The UNHCR has recently confirmed that they have not received any queries from South African farmers seeking protection from Australia. They instead urged the Australian government to focus on providing urgent resettlement to people on Manus and Nauru who directly sought protection from Australia.
Politicians’ statements about white South African farmers as being preferred refugee claimants have also been echoed in demonstrations by far right groups in Perth. WA Federal Liberal MPs walked alongside people carrying placards through the streets with statements like “Let The Right Ones In / White Lives Matter”.
Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton’s repeated remarks about the prioritisation of white South African farmers should be considered in the context of a long history of racism within both countries, including the White Australia Policy that endured into the 1970s and South African Apartheid.
Australian Federation came after a period of regular colonial massacres and sought to enshrine ethnic cleansing in law. Since Federation Australia has attempted to restrict non-white migration. Racist legislation continues to be passed today despite the formal end of the White Australia Policy in 1973. Correspondingly, Australia’s border policies inspire other violent border regimes around the world.
RRAN supports the statements made by the UNHCR and believe it is important to refocus the debate on the wider issue of the right to seek asylum and the urgency of regional resettlement. We call on Federal Ministers to extend their concern for white South African farmers to people who have fled from persecution in search of refuge, some of whom have been on Manus and Nauru for almost 5 years.
‘Chauka Please Tell Us the Time’ Perth Premiere
To kick off World Refugee Week, we’ll be hosting the Perth premiere screening of ‘Chauka Please Tell Us The Time’.
Chauka refers to a bird unique to Manus Island, a symbol that Manusians regard with deep pride. In a cruel twist, the same name was given to the prison’s solitary confinement unit. The Chauka allows locals to tell the time from the Chauka’s regular singing.
Shot on his mobile phone from inside the former Manus Island detention camp and sent to film-maker Arash Kamali Sarvestani, this film by Kurdish journalist and prisoner, Behrouz Boochani is a unique record of life inside the Manus prison.
An aesthetically and rhythmically devastating “poem about the self-effacing monotony of indefinite detention” (The Saturday Paper), the film’s message has become more urgent since the closure of the Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island and the deepening humanitarian crisis – and political impasse – that is unfolding in its wake.
Arrive at 6:15pm for a 6:30pm start.
The film will be follow by discussion with Behrouz Boochani, who we’ll call in live from Lorengau.
Save the date.
We acknowledge that this screening will take place on the land of the Whadjuk Nyoongar people and pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.
Also see video footage taken earlier tonight on Manus Island.
“They just been lucky that they are still alive
…This is how we live inside the Manus prison.”
Footage from a detainee in the Manus Island detention centre on Friday evening as gunshots ring out.
Posted by The Age on Friday, 14 April 2017
What is the Revalidation Bill?
This bill is a pernicious piece of legislation presently before the Senate. It has been presented in an extremely dishonest way. Supposedly merely a bit of legislation to enable more efficient administration of a new trial 10 year multiple entry visa for Chinese nationals, in fact it has extremely wide ranging and concerning consequences.
They effect of the bill will allow the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, entirely at his discretion, to arbitrarily have any group, as he defines, be required to have their visas or residency permits ‘revalidated’. That is without reason he can say ‘I know you have a valid visa or residency status, but we are going to take another look at that and might decide not to reissue it.’
The critical and most dangerous element of this is that the Minister gets decide what ‘group’ or ‘class of persons’ have to have their visa or residency ‘revalidated’. From the bill
“96E Minister may determine that certain visa holders must complete revalidation check in the public interest
(1) If the Minister thinks it is in the public interest to do so, the Minister may, by legislative instrument, determine that a specified class of persons holding a visa of a prescribed kind (however described) must complete a revalidation check for the visa.”
Who might it affect?
The minster may define a ‘class of persons’ to be
- People from a particlar country, say Iran or Afghannistan
- People on a particular visa, say a refugee visa or a permanent protection visa
- A combination of these things, say refugees on permanent protection visas from Somalia who arrived between this date and that date.
There is no oversight for this process. It is entirely up to the Minister, who once a visa is being revalidated may declare that the visa should not be issued on national security or public interest grounds. It is effectively the power to cancel visas for no genuine or legitimate reason whatsoever, even when the the person who’s visa is being cancelled has done nothing wrong or is even suspected of having or intending to do anything wrong.
This is a further expansion of executive power, unchecked by the judiciary.
The Guardian has an article on this here. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/feb/09/religious-groups-could-have-australian-visas-cancelled-under-proposed-powers-for-dutton
What can we do?
If the Greens (almost certainly) and the ALP (increasingly likely) vote against the bill in the Senate, then the government needs the cross-bench senators to support the bill. The Senators who are most likely to be persuaded to block the bill are
Senator Derryn Hinch
(02) 6277 3168
1300 498 035
Senator David Leyonhjelm
(02) 6277 3054
1300 884 092
Senator Jacqui Lambie
(02) 6277 3063
(03) 6431 2233
Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore
(02) 6277 3178
(08) 8232 0440
Senator Stirling Griff
(02) 6277 3713
1300 556 115
Senator Nick Xenophon
(02) 6277 3713
1300 556 115
It’s preferred to actually phone them. This takes up more staff time and has more impact on the Senators perception of public opinion.
Be polite with staff, but put a firm opinion.
We suggest the following talking points
- This bill is further expansion of executive power
- This bill would allow the minister to discriminate on the basis of racial or national identity
- The bill could see people having visas or residency cancelled when they have done nothign wrong or are even suspected of having done or intending to do anything wrong
- This bill would almost certainly be abused by the present minister for purely politicla purposes
- This minister can’t be trusted, he has consistently shown a disdain for the rule of law and contempt for concepts of fairness and justice
When: Saturday 3rd of September, from 9am.
Where: Wilson Car Park, Corner of Pier Street/Wellington Street, Perth
Why Wilson Security?
Following the Guardian’s leak of the Nauru Files, we think it’s time to step up the campaign to remove Wilson Security from any position of power over people who are seeking protection.
Wilson Security is a major player in the detention centre industry and profits from the imprisonment of adults and children.
Let’s not wait for another murder, rape or suicide on Manus or Nauru. Cases of undeniable sexual and physical assault have gone unreported for too long.
We must step up our demands that Wilson Security’s subcontract to operate the detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island be cancelled, and that these camps be closed for good and all of Australia’s political prisoners be brought back to Australia and provided permanent protection and resettlement.
On Saturday 3rd September you can take action against Wilson Security.
#BoycottWilson #CancelTheContracts #CloseTheCamps #BringThemHere
A 2016 World Refugee Week event
Saturday the 25th June 2016.
12 PM — Event start at Pioneer Reserve, opposite the Fremantle train station.
12:15 PM — Welcome to Country and speakers
1 PM — Walk
A rally to establish Fremantle with pride as a place of safety for asylum seekers and refugees, and a walk through the heart of Freo in solidarity.
Come check out the floats and the Border Farce Refugee Lottery.
6.00 pm Friday 6th of May, 2016
Perth Cultural Centre. James St. Mall, Northbridge.
Join us in calling for an end to the killing of Australia’s political prisoners.
We hold this vigil in memory of all those who have been brutalised, beaten and broken by the detention regime and call the government to account for brutal violence against people who have come to Australia in search of protection.
There should be no more deaths in our pacific black sites.
There should be no more temporary visas.
There should be no more anguish rendered invisible by the Australian government.
People who have sought asylum in Australia must have their protection claims assessed in Australia, the temporary protection visa regime must cease and refugees must be provided with permanent protection and resettlement.
Reza Barati was 23 years old.
He was brutally murdered on Manus Island.
Leo Seemanpillai was 29 years old.
He fatally self-immolated, fearing forced deportation to torture in Sri Lanka.
Hamid Kehazaei was 24 years old
He died after sustaining a treatable infection, he suffered medical neglect that proved fatal.
Omid Ali Avaz was 29 years old
He took his life, in the Australian community after living for year in limbo.
Raza was 25 years old.
He took his life, after suffering years of uncertainty on a bridging visa.
Mohammad Nasim Najafi was in his mid-20s.
He died under suspicious circumstances in the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre.
Khodayar Amini was 29 years old.
He died by self-immolation in Dandenong, fearing redetainment by immigration authorities. Before his death he stated, “I ask you to stand up for the rights of refugees and stop people being killed just because they have become refugees. Humanity is not a slogan; every human has the right to live.”
Reza Alizadeh was 26 years old.
He took his life in the Brisbane airport, in fear of redetainment.
Fazal Chegeni was 32 years old.
He died on Christmas Island under suspicious circumstances, his decline in mental health was well documented and known to the Department.
Rob Peihopa was 42 years old.
He died in the Villawood detention centre under suspicious circumstances.
Omid was 23 years old.
He fatally self-immolated on Nauru, before his death he stated ,
“This is how tired we are, this action will prove how exhausted we are. I cannot take it anymore.”
Nauru’s political prisoners have asked “Who is next?”
We ask the government to put an end to this state violence.
Freedom should not be gained only in death.
Currently a 19 year old woman Somali woman named Hodan is in critical condition is a Brisbane hospital after self-immolating on Monday night.
We will gather on Friday to remember all those named and unnamed, known and unknown who have been beaten, raped, abused and killed by Australia’s immigration system.
Please join us.
RRAN MeetingsRRAN WA is currently meeting on Mondays from 6.30pm at the Activist Centre, U15/5 Aberdeen Street, Perth (just north of the McIver Train Station). For more details, send us a message via our Contact RRAN WA page, or call/text us on 0412 860 168. Fremantle RRAN meets at 6pm on the first and third Wednesday of each month at The Federal Hotel, 23 William St Fremantle. Contact Fremantle RRAN