On Monday 14 May, 12.30pm, Aboriginal passports will be issued to two Tamil men currently held at Villawood Detention Centre who have being indefinitely detained and denied permanent visas in Australia on ASIO ‘security’ grounds.

The Original Nation Passports – issued by Indigenous Elder Robbie Thorpe of the Treaty Republic – are being given to the Tamil men by Indigenous Elder Ray Jackson in a ceremony to be held in front of the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on Monday.

Robbie Thorpe stated, “Indigenous people never ceded Sovereignty over Australia. The Australian Government has no legitimate right to grant or refuse entry to anyone in this country, let alone lock up people fleeing war and persecution”.

“We are issuing passports to these men because its what any reasonable, humane society would do. We expect these men to be responsive to Traditional Law, and respect the Indigenous customs of this land. If they do this, which we expect that they will, then they will be welcome to live amongst us,” said Robbie.

Ray Jackson, President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, said that “locking people up doesn’t solve any problems, it only causes harm. We have seen that time and time again with Indigenous people, and now the government is making the same mistake with Asylum Seekers. This has to stop. The Australian Government must stop imprisoning Indigenous people, and they must stop imprisoning asylum seekers. I am proud to welcome people in need into our community”.

Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition stated, “These Tamil men are in a heightened state of distress. They have come from a dangerous and extremely repressive situation in Sri Lanka, and have been thrust directly into indefinite incarceration for no good reason.”

“The latest attempted suicide on Friday 11 May by a Tamil that has been refused security clearance highlights the terrible situation for the ASIO-negative refugees,” said Ian. “They are condemned to indefinite detention, without charge or trial. There is no right to know what evidence ASIO relies on for the negative security finding and there is no right to review or appeal negative decisions.”

“The Labor government has been sitting on its hands since last December’s ALP national conference called for the independent security monitor to review the handling of ASIO refugee assessments,” said Ian Rintoul.

The indefinite detention of ASIO negative refugees is the subject of a complaint by ASIO negative refugees in Australian detention to the Geneva UN High Commission for Human Rights. The Australian government has been given until July to respond to a complaint. The recent Parliamentary Report into detention has also called for refugees to have the same rights of review and appeal for their ASIO assessments as Australian citizens.

The Original Nations Passport Ceremony will be held at 12.30pm, Monday the 14th of May, in front of the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre (Miowera Road entrance). All are welcome to attend.

Media Contact: Shane Reside, Cross Border Collective, 0400 526 313

For Comment: Robbie Thorpe, Treaty Republic, 0415 801 170 Ray Jackson, Indigenous Social Justice Association, 0450 651 063 Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition, 0417 275 713

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