Monthly Archives: August 2013

14th group of asylum seekers moved to Manus Island

August 30, 2013

MORE than 500 asylum seekers have been moved to Manus Island under the Papua New Guinea deal, after a 14th group was transferred on Friday.

The latest transfer included 40 men, mostly Iranians, but also two Afghans, one Myanmar national and six people claiming to be stateless.

It came as more than 2000 people have arrived since the deal was signed with PNG on July 19, with all of those arriving since to be settled in the Pacific nation.

The group arrived in Manus Island at about 7am on Friday, where they will be held until their claims have been processed by the PNG Government.

A statement from the Immigration Department said there was still not cap on the number of people to be transferred to PNG, and Australia was working expand the existing detention centre.

The statement also said the Australian and PNG governments were “exploring the construction of other regional processing centres” in PNG.



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Filed under PNG/Pacific Solution

Alphington’s Oliver wheels in food donations for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

August 28, 2013

Oliver, 12, won a Courage to Care Award for his efforts collecting food for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Oliver, 12, won a Courage to Care Award for his efforts collecting food for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Source: News Limited

OLIVER has become a familiar sight in his community as he pushes a wheelbarrow around Alphington collecting food for asylum seekers.

The 12-year-old said he started doing the regular collections at the beginning of the year.

“I’d seen a lot about asylum seekers on the news and I wanted to do something to help,” Oliver said.

“They are stuck between two countries.

“They’ve been forced out of their own country but aren’t allowed to get jobs and get an income when they come to Australia.”

Oliver said he’d offered to volunteer at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in West Melboune, but was told he had to be 18. So he decided to collect for the charity’s food bank instead.

He said he was already friendly with many of his neighbours so was confident to knock on their doors to ask if they would donate non-perishable food.

“When I first started, one or two said they didn’t have time but most of the others thought it was a great idea for me to come around once a week or a fortnight to collect food,” he said. “I’ve got a roster worked out now so people know when I’m coming and I always end up with a wheelbarrow which is full and heavy.”

Oliver said local community centre the Alphington Self Help Exchange was a pick up point for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, so all he had to do was drop the food off for collection.

Last week his efforts to help asylum seekers were recognised with an award from Courage to Care, a Jewish organisation supported by the state Education Department that recognises individual acts of courage, social activism and action against apathy.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s meals manager Loretta Parlevliet also paid tribute to Oliver, describing him as an “absolute champion with a really big heart”. “It’s invaluable what he is doing,” she said. The centre provides 130-160 meals per day and also gives out donated food for asylum seekers to take home and prepare.

Food donations are collected from Alphington Self Help Exchange, 2 Kelvin Road, at noon on Thursdays.


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Filed under Public Reaction/Perception Towards Asylum Seekers

Asylum-seeker child tries to take his life in detention

August 28, 2013

A SOMALI teenager subject to Labor’s new policy to deny boatpeople asylum in Australia was seriously ill at Royal Perth Hospital last night after being found hanging on Christmas Island.

The 16-year-old boy was flown from the Australian territory to Perth in a medical emergency on Sunday. He was among a group of unaccompanied minors on Christmas Island, considered especially vulnerable because they are in immigration detention without a parent or guardian.

In legal terms, asylum-seekers who arrive by boat without a parent or guardian are wards of Immigration Minister Tony Burke.

The discovery of the boy hanging in a bathroom triggered a series of frantic phone calls to find a jet equipped to transfer him to a mainland hospital.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service’s plane was out of service and the next closest medical charter flight company also did not have a plane. The jet that picked up the teenager came from Coolangatta in Queensland and he made the 2600km journey from Christmas Island to Perth on Sunday morning.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship yesterday confirmed a teenaged asylum-seeker had been transferred to Perth, but did not comment on his injuries. “A minor client from CI is being treated at Perth for a medical condition,” a spokeswoman from the department said.

The Australian has been told the teenager was no longer in intensive care last night at RPH but his condition remained serious.

In the past week the department has confirmed a number of “passive protests” among asylum-seekers on Christmas Island, understood to be hunger strikes. Also last week, a group of men protested their transfer to Papua New Guinea before being “spoken to” by senior immigration officials and moved to a high security unit by guards from an emergency response team.

But there have been no known self-harm attempts requiring hospitalisation among those asylum-seekers who have been told they will never be settled in Australia.

While Labor has sent more than 400 single adult men and a small number of families to Nauru and Manus Island under a new regime announced on July 19, unaccompanied minors have not yet been sent offshore.

DIAC has said all asylum-seekers will be sent “in due course”. Yesterday in detention on Christmas Island, unaccompanied minors were being interviewed by immigration officials. One of them, a 16-year-old, believed the interviews were to help decide which of them would be sent overseas first. “They have told us we cannot stay in Australia,” the minor said.

The special status of unaccompanied minors was recognised by the government in October 2010, when Julia Gillard outlined plans to progressively relocate significant numbers of them and families from detention into community-based accommodation while their asylum claims were processed.

The more than 3000 asylum-seekers who have arrived by boat since Kevin Rudd announced the PNG solution are either on Christmas Island waiting to be sent overseas, or already in compounds in PNG and Nauru.

Lifeline has a 24-hour crisis support line which offers a confidential, non-judgmental service by trained telephone crisis support volunteers.The number is 13 11 14.


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Filed under PNG/Pacific Solution, Torturing and Health Issues

Labor, Coalition targeted in asylum-seeker court challenge

August 28, 2013

There were 70 self-harm episodes in February this year.Almost 500 asylum seekers have been sent to Nauru for processing and 419 are on Manus Island. Photo: Angela Wylie

A High Court challenge to the government’s “PNG Solution” has been widened to claim the offshore processing plans of both sides of politics are unconstitutional.

Lawyers acting for an Iranian asylum seeker sent to Manus Island say the plan to process asylum seekers and resettle those found to be refugees on PNG and Nauru is also in breach of international law.

“We’ve amended and significantly broadened the pleadings to include a declaration that the power to process offshore is invalid because there isn’t power in the constitution to do such a thing,” Sydney solicitor Adrian Joel told Fairfax Media.


The expanded application was filed with the court on Tuesday and is expected to be listed for a directions hearing next week. The government has vowed to fight the action and expressed confidence that it will prevail.

Almost 500 asylum seekers have been sent to Nauru for processing and 419 are on Manus Island. The government has vowed to expand capacity on PNG to cover all who arrive by boat after the policy was announced on July 19, insisting none will end up in Australia.

A smaller group of 48 refugees remain in detention in Australia, deemed a threat by security agency ASIO and not permitted release.

Two men – both from Sri Lanka – were told this week the ASIO finding would not be overturned following a review by retired federal court judge Margaret Stone.

The United Nations last week issued a scathing report on the “arbitrary” practice of indefinite detention in Australia and is the subject of another High Court challenge.

Since the PNG announcement on July 19, 3026 asylum seekers have arrived in 43 boats. When lawyers filed their challenge last week, they claimed there was no evidence that PNG had a “fair and orderly” refugee and humanitarian program or the means to build one. They also accused the government of failing to take account of a submission from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that raised multiple concerns about the suitability of PNG for offshore processing.

“We’re saying the power to create a notice designating PNG and Nauru as places for processing is not a valid power,” Mr Joel said on Tuesday.

“So what we have now is a challenge to the existence of offshore operation in its totality. We haven’t abandoned or limited our previous grounds; we’ve just added new ones.”

The Coalition seized on the latest boat arrival to claim the Government was “all talk and no action”.

“Australians will have the chance at the election to stop the boats by electing a Coalition government,” opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said.

“Three more years of Labor will see three more years of boats and three more years of cost, chaos and tragedy on our borders.”



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Filed under Courts and Legal Challenges, PNG/Pacific Solution

Two asylum seeker boats arrive in Australian waters

Media Releases

August 25, 2013

HMAS Parramatta, operating under the coordination of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Centre, rendered assistance to a suspected irregular entry vessel north-east of Christmas Island this afternoon.

Initial reports indicate there are 63 passengers and two crew on board.

Border Protection Command will now make arrangements for the people to be transferred to Australian Government authorities on Christmas Island, where they will undergo initial checks, including health checks.

August 26, 2013

HMAS Parramatta, operating in support of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Centre, rendered assistance to a suspected irregular entry vessel north-north-west of Christmas Island today.

Initial reporting suggests there are 71 passengers and two crew on board.

Border Protection Command will now make arrangements for the people to be transferred to Australian Government authorities on Christmas Island, where they will undergo initial checks, including health checks.

Consistent with government policy, people arriving by boat without a visa after 19 July 2013 will be subject to the regional agreements with Papua New Guinea and Nauru and won’t be settled in Australia.

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Filed under Boat Intercepted

Refugee slams party ‘games’ at Vic rally

August 24, 2013 | AAP

A REFUGEE who spent years in detention has slammed big political parties at a Melbourne rally in support of asylum seekers.

Mohammad Ali Baqiri, 22, told a few hundred protesters gathered outside the State Library that both Labor and the coalition have forgotten how asylum seekers are fleeing for their lives – like he did as a child in 2001.

“My country, Afghanistan, has nothing. It has given my people nothing except for pain and suffering,” he told the crowd.

“And they don’t even realise it – they just like to play their own games on who can be elected.”

Mr Baqiri said his family used a people smuggler to send him by boat to Australia, but the vessel was intercepted and he was sent to Nauru for three years before he was finally granted asylum.

He is now studying business and law at Victoria University.

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He said Labor is simply dumping Australia’s refugee intake responsibilities on to smaller countries while the coalition’s boat buy-back plan is ridiculous.

“Good luck with that,” he quipped.

“They are playing with innocent peoples’ lives. They need to realise that.”

Similar rallies were also held in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra on Saturday as part of a national day of action by refugee advocates.

Amanda Zivcic of the Refugee Action Collective said they wanted to counter-balance the fearmongering seen in the election debate.

“Whoever wins this coming election is going to be a loss to refugees,” she said.


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Filed under Asylum Policy, Human Rights and Refugee Activists, PNG/Pacific Solution

Asylum seekers ‘political pawns’: rally

August 24, 2013


Asylum seekers have been turned into “political pawns and political victims” by the big political parties in the lead up to September 7, a refugee supporters’ rally has been told.

Around 150 protesters on Saturday rallied outside Sydney’s Town Hall against both Labor and the coalition’s policies on asylum seekers.

Addressing the crowd, Refugee Action Coalition’s Amy Thomas slammed both parties on the issue.

Many of the crowd held placards reading “Kevin: a value free zone” and “free the refugees”.

Asylum seekers had become “political pawns and political victims” in the lead up to the election, Ms Thomas said.

She was especially critical of the coalition’s plan, revealed on Friday, to “buy back” asylum seeker boats from their Indonesian owners.

“It’s not about lives, it’s about destroying lives of asylum seekers,” Ms Thomas said.

Rallies are also being held in Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra on Saturday as part of a national day of action by refugee advocates.

Mark Goudkamp, a Refugee Action Coalition spokesman, said protesters were planning to march on Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Sydney office on August 31.

There was “a lot of disquiet” in the ALP on the issue, Mr Goudkamp said.

The opposition on Friday revealed a “boat buyback” scheme would be part of a coalition government $420 million regional policy to cut off the people smuggling trade.

Labor wants PNG to settle all asylum seekers found to be refugees, after processing on Manus Island.

The crowd later swelled to about 250 for a very vocal march through the Sydney CBD, under police escort.


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Filed under Human Rights and Refugee Activists, PNG/Pacific Solution