Monthly Archives: April 2013

“For the community, by the community – what does this mean for RISE and our members?”

RISE is an organisation not just run by people of asylum seeker and refugee background but also governed by people from our communities. This means that members of the community are also the decision makers. RISE also made the difficult choice of not taking funding from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). We have made this decision despite having no full time paid staff so that we can continue the valuable work of advocacy and support for our communities without fear of censure or silencing by the government. This decision has meant refusing a slice of the $70m sweetener offered by DIAC to various non-governmental organisations as part of the Department’s larger plan to outsource and privatise the management of Australia’s immigration network. As a result, RISE may not have the public profile of NGOs mentioned and praised by the likes of “refugee advocate” Paris Aristotle at an event presented by the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University (http://theconversation.com/guest-post-paris-aristotle-talks-asylum-seekers-at-the-castan-centre-9382) but we continue to undertake caseloads that are comparable, if not greater than, many of these substantially more resourced organisations. We do this for the empowerment and uplift of our communities.

“The organisations that have remained critical and community-led in their approach, rather than attempting to affect policy from within institutions, deploy power and influence through democratic participation from the viewpoint of citizens, social groups and communities. Community organisations can therefore equip themselves and the people they serve with intellectual, legal and organising tools that flow from the critical analysis and political commitments that formed them. It is this ability to remain sovereign, and therefore hold consistent politics, while adapting to the changing political landscapes, that makes true community organisations so compelling, influential and so vital to the health of our democracy.”
http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/adam-elliott-cooper/when-business-and-state-co-opt-‘independent’-civil-society

This is why we at RISE feel that it is important not just to call out governmental institutions for their punitive and oppressive practices but also to hold non-governmental institutions and non-profit organisations that are capitalising on the refugee and humanitarian crisis to account for the ways in which they participate in and reinforce the oppressive policies introduced by self-serving politicians.

Support the self-empowerment of communities!

RISE is a Tax deductible organization and your financial support helps us to enable refugees to build new lives in Australia in which they can flourish and achieve their fullest potential. http://www.givenow.com.au/riserefugee

RISE call for action: Third day of mass hunger strike continues by refugees in Melbourne detention centre. (9/14/2013)

Today is day three of a mass hunger strike by 28 refugees in Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) in a Melbourne suburb called Broadmeadows.  These refugees, have been given refugee status and then assessed by ASIO (Australian Security intelligence Organisation) as being a “security threat” without revealing the criteria or reasons used to make these assessments.  The refugees are asking to be released into the community after being held indefinitely for an average of 2-3 years, not knowing if they are ever going to be released. They are refusing to accept medical treatment saying “If the Australian Government does not release us, we ask that they kill us mercifully.”

The world has been outraged by administrative detention by the Apartheid regime of South Africa or the administrative detention of Palestinian prisoners by Israel yet nothing has been said about this very same gross violation of human rights happening within the borders of Australia.  There are 56 refugee men and women held indefinitely in administrative detention with their children under these “security measures”.  Two women have given birth while being held in detention.  None of these refugees, including a few who spent a period of time in the community before being taken back into detention due to an adverse ASIO assessment have been convicted of any crime in a court of law in Australia.

According to Australian law, the Australian Human Rights commission cannot investigate any human rights violations by ASIO.   According to Australian law, mandatory and indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers is legal and only Australia’s Minister for Immigration and citizenship, Mr. Brendan O’Connor has the power to release these refugees.

To quote Australian labor MP, Daryl Melham, Chairman of a detention inquiry committee, “In the old days, if Nelson Mandela, when he was being jailed in South Africa, had hopped on a boat and come to Australia, under these guidelines he’d have been kept in detention.”

Take Action Now:

Contact Australian immigration minister, Mr. Brendan O’Connor (Email: brendan.oconnor.mp@aph.gov.au) and ask him to release these refugees from indefinite detention.  Also contact your local Mps http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Guidelines_for_Contacting_Senators_and_Members/los

In addition to this we ask those in other countries that you contact Mr. O’ Conner (Email: brendan.oconnor.mp@aph.gov.au) and the local Australian embassy (http://www.dfat.gov.au/missions/) and ask the Australian government to free these refugees.

RISE (2 April 2013) Call for Action from Australian Refugee advocates

RISE asks other refugee advocacy groups to come out of the closet and CALL OUT Paris Aristotle who has built his career as a self-proclaimed refugee advocate as shown in this article in the Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/mps-urged-to-unite-on-refugee-plan-20130326-2gs9y.html) asking for Australian parliamentarians to unite and reconsider the Malaysia swap deal.

Under the cloak of calling himself a “refugee advocate” Mr. Aristotle continues to peddle his sinister “template” for asylum seekers and refugees outlined in the Houston report named after another fellow “expert” on refugees, former defence chief, Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston.

We would like to end this call to action with a quote from an analysis of the Houston report by the Melbourne Anti-Deportation Campaign (https://docs.google.com/a/riserefugee.org/file/d/0B6buBGW0ICfud2pxRlZMN011Ym8/edit): 

“On closer inspection we are able to discern the absolute hollowness of the moral considerations that are presented as justifying an aggressive campaign of regional policy and border control. The [Houston] report also appears to condone co-operation with any government or military apparatus in its quest to prevent ‘irregular border movement’. The outsourcing of the more gruesome aspects of disruption operations to those who are not Australian government officials (the Sri Lankan Navy, Indonesian police, Malaysian border guards) guarantees no oversight, no scrutiny, no inquiries.  In a bizarre feat of ‘humanitarianism’ the proposals made by the [Houston] Report makes it not only admissible, but advisable to act in order to prevent family reunions for refugees arriving in such a way that constitutes ‘irregular border movement’. In addition to which it provides justification for the undertaking of misconceived deportations. Despite the fabrication of a fictitious ethical imperative, the Report of the Expert Panel presents a kind of sanguinary specter in its construction of policy recommendations that prove both brutal and punitive.”