Thursday, April 29, 2010

Refugee rights action outside Stephen Smith's office

Forty refugee rights activists protested outside Labor foreign minister Stephen Smith's office on April 23 to demand an end to the government's "freeze" on asylum seeker applications from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka (i.e. for the Tamils).

Socialist Alliance candidate for Perth, Alex Bainbridge, spoke at the action as did Refugee Rights Action Network members Phil Chilton and Victoria Martin-Iverson, Greens senator Scott Ludlam and Greens candidate Jonathan Hallet.

Bainbridge said that the best description of the coming election campaign is that it is shaping up to be a "festival of cruelty towards refugees".

"For this, I say: 'Shame on you Stephen Smith! Shame on you Kevin Rudd!'," he said. "We all know the legacy of the Howard government and we all know the role that Tony Abbott is playing in shifting things to the right, but Labor is following them every step of the way."

He said that the refugee rights movement can shift public opinion back towards a more humane policy but that this would mean challenging the Labor party while they continue the current policy.

The Perth Voice covered the action. The next event organised by Refugee Rights Action Network is the "dusk to dawn" vigil at the Perth Immigration Detention Centre on May 7.