Rioters Demand To Be Sent Home

Paul Maley & Paige Taylor; 31/8/10; (14 Items)

Nearly 100 asylum-seekers intercepted since election day arrived at Christmas Island yesterday as Indonesian officials said a two-day riot inside Darwin’s immigration detention centre had been triggered by delays of up to nine months in charging the men. Up to 117 Indonesians continued a second day of protest yesterday, scaling the roof and demanding to be sent home. At one point, some of the rioters handed over a letter asking to be returned to Indonesia with a promise not to return to Australia. The stand-off occurred as authorities delivered 84 asylum-seekers to Christmas Island, some of whom had spent nine days on board an Australian Customs vessel as it intercepted two more boats. Those on board included 23 asylum-seekers and two crew, whose boat was intercepted on election day but not announced until the following day. The delay prompted a strong attack from the opposition, which accused the government of seeking to manipulate the timing of the announcement in order to minimise the fallout in crucial marginal seats.

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/rioters-demand-to-be-sent-home/story-fn59niix-1225912103718; http://www.theage.com.au/national/detainee-roof-protest-grows-20100830-147d7.html; Independents should put human rights first Anthony Burke; 31/8/10; http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/contributors/independents-should-put-human-rights-first-20100830-145mi.html;

A Simple Solution;

31/8/10; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/letters

Jakarta is not happy with our treatment of Indonesians being detained for people-smuggling offences (“Jakarta plea after detention riot”, 30/8), notwithstanding that they were crucial to illegally transporting people across borders The solution is straightforward: our navy should board the boats and secure the engine room, empty all fuel tanks of flammables for safety reasons, tow the boats back to offshore an Indonesian port, contact the port authority that Australia is returning their citizens with boat and cargo intact, then leave.

John Cosco, Balmain, NSW

No. Of Asylum-seeker Boat Arrivals this year,

Jan -8 boats, 303 passengers

Feb -9, 550

Mar -16, 702

Apr -16, 712

May -12, 591

Jun -12, 567

Jul -9, 506

Aug -8, 251

TOTAL: 90 boats

4182 asylum-seekers (excludes crew)

Source: Australian, Customs and Border Protection

Detention Centres and Restrictions on Movement Solve Nothing

Erika Feller; 30/8/10

It’s not easy, but we can help refugees and still protect our borders. It is trite to say that we live in a complex and troubled world. It is nonetheless true. We see turbulence and conflict around the globe, and human insecurity in various forms, including persecution and human rights abuse. At the same time, the world’s population is increasingly mobile and the impetus for people to ”leave home” has roots in myriad social, economic, environmental, security and protection factors. The sheer scale of human displacement and the challenge of finding solutions for refugees are clear from UNHCR’s latest global report. The number of people forcibly displaced from their homes rose yet again in 2009, by 1.3 million, to reach the staggering figure of 43.3 million persons, the highest since the mid-1990s.

See: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/detention-centres-and-restrictions-on-movement-solve-nothing-20100829-13xhf.html

Indonesian Appeal After Detention Riot

Paul Maley & Lex Hall From: 30/8/10,

Indonesia has called on Australia to distinguish between the kingpins of the people-smuggling trade and the fishermen who crew the boats. Meanwhile, tempers erupted inside the Darwin detention centre. Up to 97 Indonesians detained for people-smuggling offences set mattresses on fire, wielded sticks and scaled the roof of their compound at the northern immigration detention centre early yesterday morning. The disturbance began when two Indonesians scaled a tree at about 4am, apparently as part of a protest. A spokesman for the Immigration Department said the men were joined by a larger group who congregated nearby and began “yelling their grievances about being detained”

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/indonesian-appeal-after-detention-riot/story-e6frg6nf-1225911609265; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/latest-asylum-seeker-vessel-causes-barely-a-ripple/story-e6frg6nf-1225911611202; http://www.theage.com.au/national/detainees-riot-over-conditions-20100829-13xmi.html;

Asylum-seeker Alleges Assault

Paige Taylor; 28/8/10;

Police are investigating an alleged attack on a young asylum-seeker. The alleged assault happened after he was placed in an isolation unit with a former professional kickboxer who has a 17-year criminal record of violence. Tamil Leela Krishnan claims the fellow Villawood centre detainee yelled at him, grabbed him and punched him in the face at 3.15am yesterday for telephoning his mother in Sri Lanka while the fellow detainee was watching television nearby. Mr Krishnan, 28, arrived at Christmas Island by boat last year and has been found to be a refugee. He said he had been a journalist in Colombo but fled after being beaten by Sri Lankan police. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship told him in April, shortly after he was transferred to the mainland, that he would receive a visa pending the result of a security check by ASIO, which is not yet complete.

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/asylum-seeker-alleges-assault/story-e6frg6nf-1225911096032; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/arrivals-top-4000-as-89th-boat-stopped/story-fn59niix-1225911098004

Warnings Aired Years Ago On Refugee Settlement

Rory Callinan; 27/8/10;

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/arrivals-top-4000-as-89th-boat-stopped/story-fn59niix-1225911098004UN officials warned nearly three years ago of problems with an Afghan refugee resettlement project that has since cost $8 million. The settlement had no permanent water supply, few job opportunities and was three-quarters unoccupied. Construction started on the 1400 mud-brick homes, a school and a vocational workshop at the AliceGhan project at Barikab, about 35km north of Kabul, in 2008 as part of the Australian government’s campaign to encourage the return of refugees. But earlier this year, the project was struggling, with no permanent water supply or proper public transport facilities for workers to travel to the nearest towns such as Kabul or Bagram. The Australian has learnt that UN authorities were expressing concerns as early as 2008 about the water supply, distance from population centres, lack of employment opportunities, proximity to landmine fields and other already failing refugee settlement projects in the same areas.

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/warnings-aired-years-ago-on-refugee-settlement/story-fn59niix-1225910627126

Children Among 14 facing Deportation

Paige Taylor; 26/8/10

Asylum seekers with babies and toddlers were flown from Christmas Island to mainland detention yesterday. This was as the government prepared to send home four Vietnamese children who tried to claim asylum in Australia without their parents or a guardian. A girl who claims to be just nine years old, her 15-year-old sister and two teenage brothers are among 14 detainees on the island the department plans to return to Vietnam after the group had contact with the International Organisation for Migration, The Australian has been told. The IOM recently opened an office on the Australian territory to “promote voluntary returns” among asylum-seekers. Vietnamese community leader Trung Doan said the last big group of Vietnamese to receive asylum in Australia – they arrived on the Hao Kiet in 2003 – were repeatedly told to go home.

See:http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/lone-children-among-14-facing-deportation/story-fn59niix-1225910109281

Judges Question Asylum Loophole

Lauren Wilson; 26/8/10

Two High Court judges have questioned a legal loophole relied on by the Australian government. The loophole is used to detain asylum-seekers in offshore facilities, including on Christmas Island, while their refugee status is being assessed. In the final day of hearings in a test case brought to the full bench of the High Court by a group of Sri Lankan asylum-seekers, Commonwealth Solicitor-General Stephen Gageler SC has faced sustained questioning about a “dilemma” in the law governing offshore processing. Judges Ken Hayne and Susan Crennan yesterday raised questions about how the Migration Act could, on the one hand, lawfully allow for the detention of asylum-seekers and, on the other, remove the refugee status assessment process from Australian law – preventing failed asylum-seekers from accessing Australian courts to appeal.

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/judges-question-asylum-loophole/story-fn59niix-1225910114497; http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/future-smiles-bright-for-16-migrant-women-20100825-13s6z.html;

Asylum-seekers Ask High Court For Local Appeal

Paul Maley & Lauren Wilson; 25/7/10

Failed asylum-seekers could soon be given the right to appeal their decisions in Australian courts. This will occur if a test case brought to the High Court by a group of Sri Lankan asylum-seekers is successful. In a case that could cruel the hopes of Labor and the Coalition, both of which went to the polls promising to assess asylum-seekers in foreign countries, the Sri Lankans have challenged the constitutional basis for processing asylum claims outside Australia’s legal system. The Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre’s executive director and principal solicitor, David Manne, said if the case were successful, asylum-seekers on Christmas Island would be entitled to “ordinary scrutiny of their decision in the way anyone else can”. That would defeat one of the government’s core purposes in seeking to treat asylum-seekers from Christmas Island differently, Mr Manne told The Australian.

See; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/asylum-seekers-ask-high-court-for-local-appeal/story-fn59niix-1225909611182

Detainee Dies At Curtin Detention Centre

23/8/10; See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/detainee-dies-at-curtin-detention-centre/story-e6frg6nf-1225908955880;

A 30 -year-old detainee has died after being found unconscious at the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) confirmed the death today. Staff tried to revive the man after he was found unconscious on Saturday afternoon. He was taken by ambulance to Derby Hospital and transferred by air overnight to Perth’s Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where he died on Sunday. The cause of his death and the reason for his collapse are not yet known, the department said in a statement. “At this stage there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding the man’s death,” it said. The department has advised the man’s family and expressed its sympathy over his death.

People-smugglers Set Sail From New Ports

Paul Maley & Paige Taylor; 24/8/10

 Refugee boats are sailing from as far away as India as people-smugglers attempt to beat a crackdown by Sri Lankan and Australian authorities. With asylum-seekers threatening to dominate the final week of the election campaign, there is fresh evidence people- smuggling syndicates are adapting their tactics to beat a concerted effort by Australian authorities to eliminate the trade. Yesterday, Julia Gillard said it was very important governments stopped asylum boats leaving foreign shores. “I don’t want to see people risking their lives at sea. I don’t want to see people- smugglers profiting,” the Prime Minister said. Her remarks followed moves by Tony Abbott to deepen his border security credentials by promising on Monday to personally decide which boats are turned back. Speaking at the National Press Club yesterday, the Opposition Leader defended the idea that has been attacked as violating international law.

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/people-smugglers-set-sail-from-new-ports/story-fn59niix-1225906551568

‘We Can’t Return to Fortress Australia’

Stephen Lunn, 20/8/10

Australia would risk its future prosperity it if chose the isolationist path on immigration. The warning was made by former Victorian premier Steve Bracks. In an impassioned speech in Melbourne last night, Mr Bracks urged Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to “set the national tone” and recommit to multiculturalism. Giving the 2010 Brookes Oration for Deakin University, he said that just as immigrants had been pivotal to the nation’s postwar success, they remained vital for the coming century. “We need migrants,” he said. “We need them in our workforce to drive our economy into the 21st century. We need them to help us make the transition to a sustainable economy. It’s not a question of yes or no on migration.” Mr Bracks said it was not in our interest to be isolationists. “We have to guard against the demonising of entire communities, because that’s the kind of Fortress Australia mentality that led to the isolationism and monoculturalism of the White Australia policy.”

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/we-cant-return-to-fortress-australia/story-fn59niix-1225907497723

Emotive Issue On Both Sides of the Pacific

Geoffrey Garrett and Simon Jackman 20/8/10

Illegal immigration is a big issue in Australia and the US this election season. But it is playing out quite differently on the two sides of the Pacific. The Gillard Labor government has matched the hardline stance of the Coalition on the several thousand asylum-seekers who try to enter Australia by boat each year. In the US run-up to November’s congressional elections, Barack Obama’s Democrats are going in the other direction. They are stiffening their opposition to Republican efforts to get tough with the more than 10 million immigrants who entered the US illegally, mostly through the long and porous border with Mexico. Our recent opinion polling with Yougov/Polimetrix during the first week of the Australian election campaign coupled with a similar poll in the US earlier this year suggests two reasons for this striking divergence.

See; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/emotive-issue-on-both-sides-of-the-pacific/story-e6frg6ux-1225907446079

Tiny Proportion of Boatpeople Fail to Find the Asylum They Seek

20/8/10

Innigration authorities have deported 156 failed asylum-seekers in two years. That figure is just 2 per cent of the 7000 boatpeople who have arrived in the present wave of boats. The revelation came after The Australian reported yesterday that more than 90 per cent of unsuccessful Afghan refugee claims were being overturned on appeal. Despite the high rate of successful appeals, Julia Gillard yesterday ruled out overhauling the refugee merits review system.As the election campaign moved into its final 24 hours, the Prime Minister received a lifeline from her East Timorese counterpart, Xanana Gusmao, who said Dili had not turned its mind against Ms Gillard’s proposal for an offshore processing centre in the fledging nation. Mr Gusmao’s comments came as authorities intercepted a boat carrying 34 people just north of Christmas Island.

See; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/tiny-proportion-of-boatpeople-fail-to-find-the-asylum-they-seek/story-fn59niix-1225907502432

Timor Says We’re No ‘Rubbish Dump’

Mark Dodd ; 19/8/10

The Gillard government’s plan for a regional refugee processing centre in East Timor received another major blow yesterday. The plan was condemned by the country’s powerful Catholic Church and its armed forces. In separate statements, both organisations expressed strong opposition to Canberra’s request. Despite the Australian government’s insistence that it is continuing to negotiate with Dili about the centre, local opposition is consolidating. Yesterday’s warnings from the church and the army followed a unanimous resolution against the plan by Timor’s parliament. Details emerged as a boat carrying 52 people was intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy north-west of Christmas Island. The 50 passengers and two crew have been taken to Christmas Island for processing at the filled-to-capacity detention centre.

Brigadier General Lere Anan Timor, the chief of staff of the East Timor Defence Force said that building an immigration detention centre in Dili would be like using East Timor as a rubbish dump.

See; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/timor-says-were-no-rubbish-dump/story-fn59niix-1225907022882;

People-smugglers Set Sail From New Ports

Paul Maley and Paige Taylor; 18/8/10

Refugee boats are sailing from as far away as India as people-smugglers attempt to beat a crackdown by Sri Lankan and Australian authorities. With asylum-seekers threatening to dominate the final week of the election campaign, there is fresh evidence people- smuggling syndicates are adapting their tactics to beat a concerted effort by Australian authorities to eliminate the trade. Yesterday, Julia Gillard said it was very important governments stopped asylum boats leaving foreign shores. “I don’t want to see people risking their lives at sea. I don’t want to see people- smugglers profiting,” the Prime Minister said. Her remarks followed moves by Tony Abbott to deepen his border security credentials by promising on Monday to personally decide which boats are turned back. Speaking at the National Press Club yesterday, the Opposition Leader defended the idea that has been attacked as violating international law.

See; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/people-smugglers-set-sail-from-new-ports/story-fn59niix-1225906551568

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