eX-Detainees Day Statement, 3rd of September 2019
This is the fourth year (03/09/2019) in a row that Refugees, Survivors and eX-detainees (RISE) has commemorated eX-detainees Day. RISE is an activist, advocacy and welfare organisation led by eX-detainees who seek to fight discrimination and violence perpetrated against asylum seekers around the world. We seek to determine our own futures. On eX-detainees Day we commemorate the ongoing political struggle, pain, suffering and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers around the world, many of whom are detained whilst seeking protection. We raise our collective voice to spread awareness and to fight this injustice.
Many of us within the eX-detainee community experienced torture, violence, neglect, and sexual abuse whilst imprisoned in detention centres throughout Australia and in off-shore locations. To this day we carry those physical and psychological scars. Permanent psychological trauma manifests in our lives. For those of us who are still detained, the injury to our minds and bodies continues. We are also threatened with being deported to countries where we face persecution for the very issues we sought refuge from.
eX-detainees Day is to be distinguished from events like ‘Refugee Week” or “Refugee Day”. These events do not seek to address the racist, structural violence that marks our lives. In contrast eX-detainees Day is initiated, controlled and directed by eX-detainees from RISE. On this day we push for long-term changes. We also raise our voices to counter the narratives of a refugee sector dominated by the voices of non-refugees.
As we commemorate the 4th annual eX-Detainees Day, we eX-detainees have launched a number of important actions and campaigns this is including:
As we always say, we require support and protection not incarceration. States have the obligation to uphold our human rights, not exploit us for political gain. We denounce the torture, abuse and bloodshed occurring in immigration detention centres. We condemn governments, private companies and non-profit agencies that are part of the detention supply chain. Regardless of the reasons why people seek protection, asylum seekers should not be punished for asking to be safe and protected. We seek to fight the savage refugee policies inflicted on refugees around the world, such as indefinite detention, offshore processing and lengthy visa application processes.
We eX-detainees at RISE strongly disapprove of any refugee movement, organisation, policy or individual that creates and/or supports a refugee scheme which violates our peoples’ civil rights. The only alternative to detention is no detention. We demand freedom, justice and humanitarian safeguards for all refugees and asylum seekers regardless of their form of arrival.
In addition, we urge all refugee supporters to follow our guidelines and amplify our voices. We do not need saviours to speak on our behalf.
Please share widely our ten demands which address urgent issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees seeking protection from persecution. The demands identify systemic changes that need to occur in order to dismantle unjust laws and institutions that engage in and promote abuse and criminalisation of our members:
- An immediate end to immigration detention
- The immediate release of all detained refugees into the Australian community
- An end to forceful deportation
- The creation of safe passage policies for refugees throughout the world
- Freedom of movement and comprehensive, non- discriminatory settlement services
- Accountability and reparations from government and non-government organisations that have been part of the abuse supply chain.
- The right of refugee communities to be consulted in relation to the development of refugee policy
- The fair distribution in the global responsibility to protect and resettle refugees
- An end to non-refugees/asylum seekers and ex-detainees speaking on behalf of our community.
- Our voices and the campaigns and initiatives we create for ourselves are brought to the forefront; that non-detainees desist from managing us and speaking on our behalf when proposing alternative suggestions to detention centres
Please see our ten demands in further detail at: http://riserefugee.org/exdetaineesdemands/
Detainees and eX-detainees have endured many hardships. We crossed many borders and reached open seas. Instead of protection, we received punishment. Our lives were leveraged for a political purpose. We ran from persecution and found only persecution. On eX-detainees Day we demand our freedom.
RISE eX-detainee team