June 17, 2013
About 1000 people marched from the Exhibition Building to Fitzroy Town Hall to support asylum seekers on World Refugee Day.
Many waved flags and banners at the rally, which was organised by refugee advocates. This included one made by a group of mostly Tamil asylum seekers in detention in April, which asked the federal government to release them or kill them “on the mercy basis.”
Referring to about 50 refugees who are in detention indefinitely following negative ASIO assessments branding them national security risks, Greens MP Adam Bandt told the group: “We are seeing a (creation) of a permanent under-class in our society where people really in need of protection worry about indefinite mandatory detention, despite the fact that we know it destroys lives and doesn’t deter people coming here seeking a better life.”
He said that if the government was serious about reducing deaths at sea, it would tell their Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts that Australia would take “its fair share” of asylum seekers: “For as long as we will (only take in so many) we are saying ‘We will let you drown at sea’. That is shameful.”
A spokeswoman for immigration minister Brendan O’Connor said that Australia had increased its refugee intake to 20,000 a year, which was the biggest rise in 30 years and the highest per capita in the world: “We want to ensure people are detained for as short a time as possible but identity, health and security checks must be undertaken before they are released into the community.”