Monthly Archives: November 2015

Statement by Refugees, Asylum seekers and Ex-Detainees at RISE in solidarity with Indigenous communities in Australia

STOP THE FORCED CLOSURE OF ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES IN AUSTRALIA

RISE: Refugees Survivors and Ex-detainees condemn the current Australian government’s move to close down and dispossess over 150 Aboriginal communities in Australia.  We support the global call to action on the 27th of November 2015 by SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA and all actions initiated and directed by the affected Indigenous communities.

RISE is the first refugee and asylum seeker welfare and advocacy organisation in Australia, entirely governed by refugees, asylum seekers, and ex-detainees.  RISE is located in Melbourne, Victoria.

As settled and newly arrived refugee communities seeking protection and freedom, we acknowledge that we live on colonised land where the Indigenous peoples are the traditional owners and sovereignty was never ceded.

Racist, genocidal acts against First nations people in Australia have been carried out for over 200 years and the Australian government shamelessly continues to add more oppression by choosing to close down Indigenous communities one by one against their will.

We are not surprised by the hypocrisy of the Australian government which treats the Indigenous peoples in this country as second class citizens, yet uses its worldwide social status as “pro-democracy” and “pro-human rights” when it suits the agenda of White Australia. This is a never ending parody in Australia and we think it is time to say NO and put an end to it.

There are number of actions happening in Australia and around the World.

For more information about the events please see this link and show your support : https://www.facebook.com/sosblakaustralia and http://www.sosblakaustralia.com/

The Grand Delusion of Democracy in Myanmar – 23 November 2015

The Grand Delusion of Democracy in Myanmar –  by Australian Burmese Rohingya Organization (ABRO)

The National League for Democracy (NLD) in Myanmar, led by Nobel peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has won the majority of available seats in Parliament according to the official results released by the Myanmar election commission. International observers claim that after 50 years of military rule, this is a “Transition to Democracy”. This article will explain why such claim is a Grand Delusion.

Despite this victory, the shadow of military dictator “retired” Senior General Than Shwe hangs over Myanmar. Not surprisingly, the so called “democratic” constitution crafted by the former military dictatorship in 2008, continues to serve the interests of the Junta. Myanmar’s military dictators have found alternative ways to camouflage military dictatorship as “civilian government”. They have succeeded in creating this illusion by changing their uniforms, forming a mock parliament and their own political party USDP (Union Solidarity and Development Party) from USDA (Union Solidarity Development Association) and creating an unamendable constitution. During the military dictatorship, USDA was an association lead by government officials with many of its members coerced into joining the association. Than Shwe appointed ex-military General Thein Sein as leader of USDP and President of Myanmar in November 2010. According to the constitution, 25% of parliamentary seats have to be reserved for representatives of the military. Constitutional amendments can only be made if more than 75% of the members agree to the changes.

The election commission itself has been appointed by military generals with a former lieutenant-general acting as commissioner. As this commission blithely released results indicating Aung San Suu Kyi as leader of the winning party should rightfully be President, legislation introduced by Than Shwe’s military regime in 2008 bars a democratically elected leader like Suu Kyi who has foreign relatives (her late husband and her two sons are British Citizens) from becoming President. Even if to circumvent this law, Suu Kyi nominates someone to take her place as President, her nominee will be answerable to the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) who have the authority to override certain decisions made by the President. There is almost no escape from military rule in Than Shwe’s constitutional labyrinth with at least 5 of the 11 NDSC members having to be appointed by the Military Commander in Chief who in turn has to be appointed by the NDSC.

Just before the election held on 8th of November 2015, the Thein Sein government announced that the release of the official election results will be delayed indefinitely and power would be handed to the winner of the election by February next year. These delays give Thein Sein and his military backers further leeway to maintain or strengthen their power base regardless of the election result. After receiving the news of her election win, Aung San Suu Kyi is reported to have already sent letters to Thein Sein and he has not replied to any of these letters. There are also reports that Thein Sein’s representative said that, until the election commission has resolved all complaints regarding the election results, talks with the NLD leader will not happen.

So how do minorities fare in this “democratic” election? Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party has not contested in some constituencies in the Shan, Kachin and Chin states, as well as other areas of Myanmar which are under military control. One of the reasons being, the current government has used “security reasons” to prevent elections from being conducted in many of these areas. In Arakan state, the Rakhine National Development Party’s (RNDP) leader Dr. Aye Maung, the main perpetrator of violence against the Rohingya and other Muslim groups, has made a clean sweep in the election with the Myanmar government barring 1.3 million Rohingya and other Muslim groups from voting. This provides him with further opportunity to accelerate the expulsion of the entire Muslim community from the state.

The poster child of democracy herself, Ms. Suu Kyi, has taken sides with the majority, ignoring the minorities who have been supporting her for decades. Her party has ethnically cleansed itself of all Muslim members ahead of the election. For the first time in the history of Myanmar, there will be no Muslim parliamentarians. At this moment in time, the person who courageously fought for freedom and rights against Myanmar’s military dictatorship is fearful of losing majority support. It therefore follows that recent changes in the country are possible signs of the tyrannical rule of the military ending for the majority Buddhist people alone with the pathway to “freedom” being paved exclusively for them. The exclusion of the entire Muslim community including Rohingya, is a stereotype of ‘majority representative democracy’ or one could even call this aberration a ‘Muslim-free democracy’.

Myanmar’s “democratic transition” is simply ‘old wine in a new bottle’ produced by General Than Shwe and his cohorts. As the western nations throw their support behind these cosmetic changes they turn a blind eye to the ongoing genocide, the wars in northern and eastern Myanmar and the detention of political prisoners.

The perpetuation of this Grand Delusion of “Democracy” comes at a horrific cost to the people of Myanmar, particularly the Rohingya of Arakan state.

Call to Action:

1) The International Criminal Court (ICC) should investigate the ongoing crimes against humanity and genocide across Myanmar.

2) International communities should create a safe zone for Rohingya people and establish an independent Rohingya state within Arakan state while the central rulers, authorities and majority ethnic/religious group continues to segregate and push out the Rohingya people.

3) According to the responsibility to protect, the UN and its member countries should enforce appropriate conditions that ensure aid delivery reach the hands of victims on the ground in Arakan state, Shan state, Kachin state and other areas.

4) Myanmar should immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and thousands of Rohingya detained in and outside Arakan state.

5) Myanmar should immediately stop waging wars in Shan, Kachin states and other areas.

6) Myanmar should immediately cease segregation, discrimination and ethnic cleansing against Rohingya and other minorities including those from 42 concentration camps in Arakan state.

7) Myanmar should immediately lift the blockade on international aid supply in Arakan state, Shan state, Kachin state and other areas.

Note : This article was originally published by http://abro.org.au/

WHY BORDERS IMPACT ON US?

RISEI was released from detention two years ago, but I get lost by asking myself these Questions? It’s very sophisticated, because I ran from war into war! Struggling and striving for basic human rights, I discovered how oppression and xenophobic border policies impact on a human being? How peace is important for us in our daily life? Why self-determination and individual autonomy is really important for us?  You never discover this unless you experience going through the process of being a victim of war, occupation, oppression and are forced to seek protection and peace. Below questions are bothering me every single day.

Are all humans inherent worthy and valuable?

Why is there mental distress, isolation, depression, fear, hopeless, sleepless self-distraction, detention and intimidation of asylum seekers?

Who is illegal? Who is not illegal? Or no one is illegal?

Why the systemic death in custody in immigration detention centres?

Why there is no tangible solidarity between refugee and people of colour about marginalised people?

Why asylum seekers going through life being victim crossing borders?

Does this land “land down under “really belong to Indigenous people? Why not?

Is there any strategy to decrease suicide, stress, and anxiety, systemic death and torture in detention? Yes – by shutting all detention centres down and treating asylum seekers with respect and dignity.

By RISE Member / Ex-detainee who was detained in Offshore and Onshore detention centres

Death in Christmas Island-Who is responsible and accountable for deaths, torture and sexual violence in the Australian government’s immigration detention centres? – RISE Exclusive Media Release – 10/11/2015

Death in Christmas Island-Who is responsible and accountable for deaths, torture and sexual violence in the Australian government’s immigration detention centres?

#UnAccountableDeaths

Mr.Fazal Chegeni was a Kurdish refugee from Iran who died last Friday after escaping from the Christmas Island immigration detention camp in Australia run by multinational security company SERCO.  The cause of his death has not been made known.

Deaths are not unusual in the Australian government’s onshore and offshore detention camps which have a long history of no accountability whatsoever.  Australia’s World Press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders has been falling over the years due to the lack of transparency and access to these detention camps.

While we mourn the loss of one more person in our community, like previous deaths in detention, the Australian government and SERCO have failed to answer questions or take responsibility for Mr.Fazal Chegeni’s death.

Mr. Chegeni’s death occurred under the watch of the Australian government.  The only ‘improvement’ that can be made to immigration detention “facilities” is the closure of these concentration camps that have killed and maimed so many of our community members.

Ex-detainee and founder of RISE, Ramesh Fernandez said that “For the last 20 years there have been many unaccountable deaths in Australian-run detention centres.  Token inquiries have been carried out but nobody has ever been held accountable.”

“Refugees remain political pawns for politicians and a convenient source of income for detention contractors like Transfield Services or security companies like SERCO and Wilson Security.”

Mr. Fernandez further remarked that “At least 90 percent of people held in detention are people of colour and mostly refugees and asylum seekers.  Our black and brown bodies are not treated with respect and dignity in Australia because we are not seen as equal to white people”

“Support for detention centres is support for rape and death in custody as well as an inherently racist refugee policy.”

We urgently request the public to resist Australia’s xenophobic government policies by demanding greater transparency, fairness and humanity in the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees and the closure of all detention centres.

Our basic demands are :

  1. Shutdown detention centres offshore and onshore
  2. Bring asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island to mainland Australia.
  3. Process all asylum claims and visa applications fairly and humanely in the community

Finally we pay our condolences to the family and loved ones of Mr.Fazal Chegeni.

 

RISE Team
RISE : Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees