Palm Sunday Rally

April 14, 2011 Comments Off on Palm Sunday Rally

Free the Refugees – End mandatory detention

No deportations – No offshore processing

Sunday 17 April, 1pm Sydney Town Hall

Speakers include:
Iraj Moghadam, Iranian refugee and ex-detainee

Sr Susan Connelly, Mark MacKillop Institute of East Timor Studies
David Shoebridge, NSW Greens
Sally McManus, NSW Australian Services Union branch secretary
Patricia Garcia, National Council of Churches

Organised by Refugee Action Coalition call Ian 0417 275 713 or

Diane 0413 003 148 Please use the Facebook group to invite people.

The breakout at Christmas Island and the hunger strikes, protests and suicides inside Australia’s detention centres are a desperate cry for help and freedom by refugees fleeing war and persecution. The race to the bottom on refugee policy between the federal government and the opposition is destroying asylum seekers’ lives—and repeating the worst of the Howard-era treatment of refugees. With over 6500 now in detention, conditions are worsening and the length of time people are spending behind razor wire is growing. The damage detention causes has been widely documented—including by mental health experts like Professor Patrick McGorry. Children are particularly at risk—but despite the federal government’s promise last year to start getting them out, there are still over 1000 children in detention. Yet the government is trying to find more places to build detention centres, by attempting to push a new detention facility on East Timor, and preparing to deport people back to danger. It has even signed an agreement with the Afghan government to allow forcible deportations back to a warzone, where ethnic Hazaras in particular continue to suffer extreme persecution.

Renewed public sympathy But we can also have renewed hope about dismantling the detention policy. The funerals in February for the Christmas Island disaster victims exposed the human suffering caused by the government’s refugee policies and captured public sympathy. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has been forced to move all the survivors to the mainland, and many of them, including children orphaned in the tragedy, into community detention. The recent breakout of over 250 asylum seekers from the Christmas Island detention centre has highlighted the overcrowding, lack of resources and desperation of all asylum seekers in detention. The heavy handed crackdown by detention security and police after the breakout is just another example of the cruelty of the Immigration department. Christmas Island in particular has been condemned by both the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Australian Human Rights Commission in recent months. Join us to protest on Palm Sunday to raise our voices to demand that all asylum seekers be released from detention, and for an end to the fearmongering about refugees.


India says Galle Visa stories untrue

January 23, 2011 Comments Off on India says Galle Visa stories untrue

The Hindu (22/01) – No re-entry restrictions on Pamuk, Desai: India

India waived its visa re-entry restrictions on writers Orhan Pamuk, Kiran Desai and others, so that they could participate in the Galle Literary Festival, the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka said on Saturday.

“Every conceivable problem related to re-entry into India of foreign writers was discussed at length and sorted out,” an official said.

On Friday, two of the main stars of the festival, Mr. Pamuk and Mr. Desai announced that they will not attend and the festival organisers quickly blamed India for the decision.

The festival organisers said on Friday: “It is with great regret that we have to announce that Orhan Pamuk and Kiran Desai will not be attending the Literary Festival in Galle due to Indian re-entry visa restrictions. We have been trying to resolve the issue with the Indian Immigration authorities for the last three weeks but it has just not been possible.”

Responding to the accusation a full 24 hours later, the official said that the Government of India and the Indian Mission in Istanbul had helped in every way possible to make sure that there was no problem for any author to participate in the GLF. More

Sunday Leader – A GLF With A Twist

A day after announcing the final line-up of the 5th Galle Literary Festival, organisers are having to deal with the double disappointment of Nobel Laureate, Turkish author Orhan Pamuk and his fellow writer and partner Booker Prize winner Kiran Desai pulling out of the Festival.

Both Pamuk and Desai appear to have pulled out of attending the festival following an appeal early last week by Reporters Without Borders and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka which called for those who intend attending the Festival to reconsider the situation of the entire media community in the country.
The RSF/JDS joint appeal said, “We ask you in the great tradition of solidarity that binds writers together everywhere, to stand with your brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka who are not allowed to speak out.

We ask that by your actions you send a clear message that, unless and until the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda is investigated and there is a real improvement in the climate for free expression in Sri Lanka, you cannot celebrate writing and the arts in Galle.”

The appeal was signed by: Noam Chomsky (American linguist, philosopher, cognitive  scientist, and political activist), Arundathi Roy (Indian novelist, essayist and activist), Ken Loach (British film and television director, known for highlighting social issues),  Antony Loewenstein (Australian political activist, journalist, author and blogger), Tariq Ali (British Pakistani historian, novelist, filmmaker and political campaigner), Dave Rampton (lecturer, he has completed his doctoral research on Sinhala nationalism in Sri Lanka and is based at the Department of Politics and International Studies, at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), and R. Cheran (Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, poet, author and journalist). More

Arundathi Roy signs Galle Festival appeal

January 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

Galle Literary Festival Appeal

Reporters Without Borders and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), a network of exiled Sri Lankan journalists, announce the launch of an international appeal already signed by Noam Chomsky, Arundathi Roy, Ken Loach, Antony Loewenstein and Tariq Ali, asking writers and intellectuals to endorse a campaign for more freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.

In a few days, the family and colleagues of political cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda will be commemorating the first anniversary of his disappearance. He was kidnapped in the heavily-guarded capital, Colombo, on 24 January 2010, a few hours before the most recent presidential elections. The authorities have never given his wife any information about where he might be and the investigation is in limbo.

At the same time, writers from Asia and all over the world are planning to gather in the southern city of Galle for a literary festival co-sponsored by the country’s leading tourism promotion agencies (…). Reporters Without Borders and JDS find it highly disturbing that literature is being celebrated in this manner in a land where cartoonists, journalists, writers and dissident voices are so often victimized by the current government. The signatories of this appeal ask them to consider this grave situation before deciding to go to the Galle Festival.

Full version of the Galle Appeal

We urge you who have been invited to attend the fifth Galle Literary Festival (26-30 January 2011) to consider Sri Lanka’s appalling human rights record and targeting of journalists. Reporters without Borders said this about Sri Lanka in a recent report: “Murders, physical attacks, kidnappings, threats and censorship continue in Sri Lanka despite the end of the civil war. The most senior government officials, including the defence secretary (the President’s brother), are directly implicated in serious press freedom violations affecting both Tamil and Sinhalese journalists.”

We believe this is not the right time for prominent international writers like you to give legitimacy to the Sri Lankan government’s suppression of free speech by attending a conference that does not in any way push for greater freedom of expression inside that country.

The second anniversary of journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda’s disappearance will be on 24 January 2011, just two days before the Galle Literary Festival begins. He went missing in the capital city after writing a column praising the opposition candidate in the presidential election. The police have failed to conduct a credible investigation into his disappearance. Today, because Prageeth chose to do what you do – express an opinion – his two young sons are without a father.

Another renowned journalist, Lasantha Wickremetunga, was gunned down in the capital on 8 January 2009. Although his murder took place in a high-security area where security forces personnel were manning roadblocks, his killers were allowed to escape. In a chilling editorial published posthumously, Mr. Wickremetunga said: “When I am finally killed, it will be the government who killed me.”

Fourteen journalists have been killed since 2006, three have disappeared, and more than 30 have fled the country. Journalists, writers and performers remaining in the country are constantly threatened, physically attacked or cowed by legislation under which they can be jailed them for up to 20 years simply for what they write.

The stifling of free expression has also had a negative impact on other freedoms in Sri Lanka. For instance, it was because journalists were not permitted to cover the war between the government and rebel LTTE that so many atrocities took place, including alleged war crimes. While mounting evidence of Sri Lanka’s war crimes is being shown around the world, journalists inside the country cannot talk about them or even visit the northern areas because they are afraid that they will disappear or be killed.

It is this environment that you will be legitimizing by your presence.

We ask you in the great tradition of solidarity that binds writers together everywhere, to stand with your brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka who are not allowed to speak out. We ask that by your actions you send a clear message that, unless and until the disappearance of Prageeth is investigated and there is a real improvement in the climate for free expression in Sri Lanka, you cannot celebrate writing and the arts in Galle.


Noam Chomsky
Arundathi Roy
Ken Loach
Antony Loewenstein
Tariq Ali
R. Cheran
Dave Rampton

Note: Noam Chomsky and Antony Loewenstein are also part of the Advisory Council to the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice.

Amnesty wants Mahinda investigated

January 20, 2011 Comments Off on Amnesty wants Mahinda investigated

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Amnesty International Calls on the United States to
Investigate Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa
During his Surprise Visit to the United States

Contact: AIUSA media relations office, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) The United States should investigate Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa, who arrives on a surprise visit to the United States today, for his alleged role in perpetrating torture and war crimes, Amnesty International said today.

Rajapaksa reportedly left Sri Lanka early Wednesday morning with a delegation of 20 bound for the United States.

“The United States has an obligation under international law to investigate and prosecute people who perpetrated war crimes and grave human rights violations such as extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.

Rajapaksa is commander in chief of Sri Lanka’s armed forces, which face numerous allegations of engaging in war crimes, enforced disappearances, and torture. Under international law, military commanders may face criminal responsibility if they knew, or should have known, of such crimes being committed by their subordinates.

The president’s visit comes as a Panel of Experts appointed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon works on a report advising him on accountability issues in Sri Lanka. Both Sri Lankan government forces and members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are accused of having committed war crimes in the final phase of the decades-long conflict.

Amnesty International has called for the United Nations to initiate an international investigation.

“Thousands of victims in Sri Lanka demand accountability for the abuses they’ve suffered from the Sri Lankan security forces as well as armed groups such as the LTTE,” Zarifi said.

In December Wikileaks exposed a secret United States Embassy cable sent by Ambassador Patricia Butenis from Colombo in which she noted the difficulty of bringing perpetrators of alleged crimes to justice when “responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers ….”

The United States should further investigate these allegations and support calls for an international investigation into Sri Lanka’s role in war crimes.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

# # #

Say no to Rudd’s Indonesian Solution

November 2, 2009 Comments Off on Say no to Rudd’s Indonesian Solution

Rally to welcome refugees
Say no to Rudd’s Indonesian Solution!
Let them land, let them stay!

12.30pm Monday 2 November. Immigration Department, Lee St (Railway Square end of Central Tunnel), City. 
Speakers include: Sylvia Hale (NSW Greens MP), Tamil Association, Ian Rintoul (Refugee Action Coalition). The bipartisan demonisation of asylum seekers has provoked feelings of deja vu among many people who thought we’d never again see Tampa-style dramas on the high seas. But as each day passes, it is becoming clear that Kevin Rudd’s ‘Indonesia Solution’ is every bit as inhumane (and expensive) as John Howard’s ‘Pacific Solution’. Despite the refugee rights movement winning victories such as children out of detention and the end of Temporary Protection Visas, it’s clear that we have a long way to go before Australia can claim it has humanitarian immigration and refugee policies.

Called by Refugee Action Coalition. Contact Ian on 0417 275 713

Indonesia gives Australia another week

October 30, 2009 Comments Off on Indonesia gives Australia another week

Radio Australia – Australia’s PM dogged by a fortnight of asylum seeker politics

ABC – Opposition: Oceanic Viking costing taxpayers $75K a day

Daily Times – VIEW: Where is Australia? —Farish A Noor

ABC – Asylum seekers fear forcible removal

Jakarta Post – Indonesia demands time line for Sri Lankan asylum seekers

The Australian – Indonesia gives Oceanic Viking another week

Brisbane Times – Asylum seekers showdown averted for week

New boat off Ashmore reef

October 29, 2009 Comments Off on New boat off Ashmore reef – Boat 37 intercepted off Ashmore Reef with 40 on board

ABC – Navy intercepts another asylum seeker boat

Aussies plead with Rudd for compassion

October 29, 2009 Comments Off on Aussies plead with Rudd for compassion

Medical Association for Prevention of War –  MAPW urges humanitarian treatment of Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers

MAPW President Bill Williams has written a letter to Immigration Minister Chris Evans, urging that Australia’s response to Sri Lankan asylum seekers be humanitarian, and in accordance with international human rights law.
Dr Williams notes that the aslum seekers are fleeing a devastating war, with violence that most of us in Australia can barely imagine.  He notes the massive increase in global asylum seekers, and the minute proportion housed by Australia.



Unions NSW – The Humane Solution

The Australian Government must immediately find a humane solution for the 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers aboard the Oceanic Viking, according to Unions NSW.


As the asylum seekers spend their 11th day aboard the Oceanic Viking, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon supported calls to process them on Australian soil, under Australian law.

“The Prime Minister has a fantastic opportunity to step up and show us the high road to a humane solution,” Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Lennon said.

“This debate is becoming disturbingly shrill. Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees, Indonesia is not.

“These people are desperate. Allow them to be processed under our laws.”

Mr Lennon said the Rudd Government had done much to improve Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, particularly its efforts too ensure children were no longer locked up.

But the trade union movement would not sit by and watch the public debate degenerate.

Mr Lennon said the strong position taken by the likes of AWU National Secretary, Paul Howes and former Unions NSW Secretary John Robertson was typical of the support asylum seekers could expect from organised labour.

“Unions NSW has a long history of advocating humane asylum seeker policies and we were pivotal in the establishment of Labor for Refugees,” Mr Lennon said.

“Unions believe in a tolerant, compassionate and multicultural nation and will publicly advocate humane policies and solutions,” Mr Lennon concluded.

Women for Justice 'Reclaim the Night'

October 29, 2009 Comments Off on Women for Justice 'Reclaim the Night'

Women for Justice perform “SURVIVAL” at “Reclaim the Night” Sydney this Friday 30th October 2009 @ Victoria Park, Sydney


To see details of the performance done a few weeks ago please click here

Australia says it wont use force

October 29, 2009 Comments Off on Australia says it wont use force

Australian IT – Rudd confident of extension for Oceanic Viking – Stephen Smith plays boatpeople waiting game, rules out force to end standoff

Radio Australia – Australian PM faces mounting political storm over asylum-seekers

ABC – Heat on to end asylum seeker impasse

Wall Street Journal – Surge in Refugees Presents a Problem for Australia

Bloomberg – Australia’s Refugee Policy a ‘Laughing Stock,’ Opposition Says

Bloomberg –  Rudd May Use Force to Remove Sri Lankans From Ship, SMH Reports

ABC Online – Australia and Indonesia to be patient on asylum impasse

AFP – Stand-off refugees can’t choose destination: Australia

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