Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sri Lankan Refugees Rights Must Be Respected

The recent situation of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka has brought the refugee topic into the spotlight once more. Although boat arrivals make up less than four per cent of people who come to Australia seeking asylum, they never fail to create a political and media outburst.

Around 250 Sri Lankan refugees were making their way to Australia when they were intercepted outside Java and held in Indonesia. They have refused to leave the impounded boat, held a two-day hunger strike, and threatened suicide if they are not resettled.

Immigration Department figures have shown between 85 and 90 per cent of boat people are found to be genuine under the United Nations 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol. As a regional power, Australia needs to continue to take a leadership position to ensure that asylum seekers within our region are treated in line with international human rights obligations.

Australia is at risk of facing international shame if our Government were to be complicit in the human rights violations of asylum seekers in our region. We are sending a dangerous message that the rights of refugees come second to domestic political agendas.

Please take action and send a letter or email to Kevin Rudd; our government has an obligation to ensure all asylum seekers have access to assistance from the UNHCR, access to a fair and timely process for determining their status through the UNHCR, and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention – all of which is now at risk while the Sri Lankan asylum seekers are forced to remain in Indonesia. For more information:

Additionally come and support the
Rally to Say No to Rudd’s Indonesian Solution!

12.30pm Monday 2 November
Immigration Department, Lee St (Railway Square end of Central Tunnel), City

Speakers include:
Sylvia Hale (NSW Greens MP)
Tamil Association
Ian Rintoul (Refugee Action Coalition)

Called by Refugee Action Coalition
Contact Ian on 0417 275 713

“Refugees are not just numbers, they are people and deserve to be treated with humanity” –Mary Vernon

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