Australia: Hundreds rally for refugees outside detention centre gates

Demonstration in MelbourneBy Chris Peterson, Melbourne
First published in Green Left Weekly

About 200 people rallied at Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Detention Centre on September 22, against deporting refugees to danger and mandatory detention. Dayan Anthony, a Tamil refugee, was deported to Sri Lanka in July against his will from Maribyrnong.

Antony’s Lawyer Sanmati Verma said: “Each and every professional and all community members in contact with Dayan Anthony attested that he was a torture survivor. And yet he was put on a plane and yet he was sent back to Sri Lanka.

“He was interrogated there for 16 hours by the notorious Criminal Investigation Department in the presence of Australian personnel. This deportation is the talk of law over the spirit of justice. “Regimes that commit war crimes are not magically transformed thee years later. We live in an age where the language of care has been hijacked from us. We are either on the side of Nauru or the side of people dying in the sea. This false discourse created by the expert panel [on asylum seekers] needs to be changed abolished.”

Communication Workers Union Victoria secretary Joan Doyle said: “To be locking people up who have done nothing wrong is abhorrent. This is a criminal act to have people coming here for our help, and what do we do, we lock them up. We need to show empathy and kindness, international solidarity rather than making war on people and exploiting their resources.

“Once people are here, we need to treat them equally. Employers love refugees and migrants, and using them as cheap labour. This needs to be stamped out as well. The leadership can be as populist as they like, but I think they underestimate people. People might overtly seem to be racist, but when we work with them know they are just human beings.

Afghan community member Ramat said: “Julia Gillard says Afghanistan is safe. It is not safe for Hazaras or for anyone because of the 40 years of war. We have experienced Nauru before. It failed. People got sick and are still being treated. “Why can’t people be processed in the community rather than spending billions of dollars on Nauru and other island countries?

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