On behalf of our members and governing staff from over 30 of the refugee and ex-detainee communities in Australia, RISE urges the Australian public to say NO to utilising refugees and asylum seekers as political currency in the upcoming Federal election 2016. RISE requests the Australian public NOT to vote for any political parties that support detention centres; doesn’t matter 1 day or 30 days or 1 Year or more.
Since ex-prime minister John Howard’s election campaign in 2001, anti-refugee boat rhetoric has been used as a destabilising wedge to win votes and distract the Australian public from core issues of governance. That year, John Howard won the election after starting a deliberate disinformation campaign about ‘The Children Overboard’ affair painting asylum seekers who arrive by boats as ‘queue jumpers’ – unscrupulous illegal entrants without morals, even capable of throwing their children. The two main parties, Labor and Liberal continue to legitimise this strategy, and it has won them the last five elections. This has resulted in the continued exploitation of anti-asylum seeker hysteria stirred by politicians themselves. RISE believes that this aggressive culture of xenophobia and fear of immigration prevails throughout Australia-perhaps attributable to Australia’s foundation of white colonisation including population control mechanisms of the ‘White Australia’ policy to police who comes into the country, and the circumstances in which they come.
It is alarming that after the trauma of fleeing one’s homeland, the trauma of indefinite and prolonged administrative detention and the trauma of settling into an unfamiliar environment, people are expected to deal with such overt anti-refugee sentiments all over the country.
Say no to abusive and institutionalised controlling of refugees during this federal election.
It is not up to us to promote or endorse any political candidates or political parties. At the same time, we are not going to stay silent when political parties explicitly support mandatory detention policies or discriminate against our refugee community groups arriving by boats to seek protection in Australia. So far, the three major political parties in Australia: Labor, Coalition and the Greens support mandatory detention. Labor and Coalition have been implementing mandatory detention policies, turning back boats, as well as offshore detention centre policies. On the other hand, the Greens have a mandatory detention policy of “30 days” for “security and health checks”. We find this to be xenophobic and discriminatory to our freedom of movement; such types of abusive and institutionalised control of refugees should not be tolerated.
We refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees at RISE oppose any policy that supports detention and will not compromise on the human rights, freedom and dignity of our community members .
RISE requests the Australian public not to support any politician who supports mandatory detention; doesn’t matter 1 day or 30 days or 1 Year or indefinitely.
RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees is a not-for-profit incorporated association. RISE is the first refugee and asylum seeker welfare and advocacy organisation in Australia controlled and staffed by refugees, asylum seekers, and ex-detainees. www.riserefugee.org
Authorised by Ramesh Fernandez