Monthly Archives: April 2013

Refugee advocates fear screened-out Geraldton asylum seekers being removed


Source RAC, 18 April

Refugee advocates fear that a charter flight leaving Christmas Island today (around midday Christmas Island time) is removing Sri Lankan asylum seekers to Colombo.

“We have grave concerns that the government has screened out some of the Sri Lankan asylum seekers who arrived at Geraldton nine days ago and is removing them today from Christmas Island,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Disgracefully, the Geraldton people have been denied access to lawyers or community assistance. They have been denied phone calls since arriving in Australia.

‘Any attempt to screen them out will be a vindictive move by the Immigration Minister determined to teach asylum seekers a lesson for daring to land on the Australian mainland. We are calling on Brendan O’Connor to allow legal access to all asylum seekers and stop the secretive screening-out procedures used to deny asylum seekers the right to claim asylum,” said Rintoul.

“The fact that screening-out is done behind closed doors, with no scrutiny or accountability says everything about the lengths the government will go to discriminate against asylum seekers. They know screening-out is legally dodgy and will do anything to prevent any legal or independent scrutiny of their actions.

“It is time for the Minister to come clean. The idea that asylum seekers do not wish to make protection claims is simply not believable. It should not be left to some Immigration bureaucrat to determine whether as asylum seekers has a credible claim. That is a basic denial of justice. Every claim should be subject to the same refugee determination procedures. Justice must be seen to be done – but all we are seeing is justice denied.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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Five dead after Indon asylum boat sinksYashoo


Source Yahoo, 12 April

Update 7.50pm: A group of 14 asylum seekers has been rescued by fishermen in Indonesia after their boat sank in the Sunda Strait on its way to Australia, but at least five others are believed to have drowned.

There are also fresh details about the unfolding tragedy with one of the survivors revealing that boat actually sank on Wednesday, and not this morning as initially reported by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Habibullah Hashimi, one of 14 men plucked from the water by fishermen off the coast of Sukabumi in West Java, said he was in the water for about 24 hours before help finally came.

The 29-year-old said there were 72 people aboard the vessel. All were ethnic Hazara from Afghanistan.

At least five asylum seekers had perished, Mr Hashimi said.

The death toll could rise further.

“The ship just broke,” he said.

“We saw about five people dead. They were in the water.”

Mr Hashimi’s group had linked arms as they struggled to survive.

“The sea kept moving us around,” he said.

Mr Hashimi, who was this afternoon recuperating in Bogor, also confirmed that the boat sank at about 8am on Wednesday.

The development came after a spokeswoman from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority initially reported that a boat may have sunk in the Sunda Strait at about midnight (3am AEST) on Friday.

“A people-smuggling vessel may have sunk in or near the Sunda Strait around 3am AEST today. Some passengers may have been rescued by a fishing vessel,” the spokeswoman said earlier today.

The information was in turn passed on to the Indonesian national search and rescue agency BASARNAS.

But BASARNAS was unable to locate the area where the incident was believed to have occurred, prompting a scramble for information.

Provincial search and rescue offices in Jakarta and Lampung on the island of Sumatra also had little idea of what had happened, or where to look for survivors.

“We don’t have the coordinates for the area where we could search. Do you have that information? Please share it with us,” an officer with the Jakarta search and rescue office said.

“We only received information from BASARNAS that it’s in south of Sunda Strait and they’ve been rescued by local fishermen. But where is it? We’re now contacting local ports and others if they have such information.”

And Indonesia still hasn’t launched a rescue mission because the location of the sunken vessel hasn’t been found.

The search and rescue authorities were criticised last August when more than 100 asylum seekers drowned when their boat foundered in the Sunda Strait.

An aerial search was not launched until more than six hours after a distress call was received by the AMSA.

 

It was almost 24 hours before the first survivors were pulled from the water.

Hundreds of asylum seekers have perished in recent years while making the perilous crossing from Indonesia to Christmas Island.

Australia’s Guantanamo isn’t offshore: it’s in Melbourne


Source abc, 12 April

Update 7.50pm: A group of 14 asylum seekers has been rescued by fishermen in Indonesia after their boat sank in the Sunda Strait on its way to Australia, but at least five others are believed to have drowned.

There are also fresh details about the unfolding tragedy with one of the survivors revealing that boat actually sank on Wednesday, and not this morning as initially reported by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Habibullah Hashimi, one of 14 men plucked from the water by fishermen off the coast of Sukabumi in West Java, said he was in the water for about 24 hours before help finally came.

The 29-year-old said there were 72 people aboard the vessel. All were ethnic Hazara from Afghanistan.

At least five asylum seekers had perished, Mr Hashimi said.

The death toll could rise further.

“The ship just broke,” he said.

“We saw about five people dead. They were in the water.”

Mr Hashimi’s group had linked arms as they struggled to survive.

“The sea kept moving us around,” he said.

Mr Hashimi, who was this afternoon recuperating in Bogor, also confirmed that the boat sank at about 8am on Wednesday.

The development came after a spokeswoman from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority initially reported that a boat may have sunk in the Sunda Strait at about midnight (3am AEST) on Friday.

“A people-smuggling vessel may have sunk in or near the Sunda Strait around 3am AEST today. Some passengers may have been rescued by a fishing vessel,” the spokeswoman said earlier today.

The information was in turn passed on to the Indonesian national search and rescue agency BASARNAS.

But BASARNAS was unable to locate the area where the incident was believed to have occurred, prompting a scramble for information.

Provincial search and rescue offices in Jakarta and Lampung on the island of Sumatra also had little idea of what had happened, or where to look for survivors.

“We don’t have the coordinates for the area where we could search. Do you have that information? Please share it with us,” an officer with the Jakarta search and rescue office said.

“We only received information from BASARNAS that it’s in south of Sunda Strait and they’ve been rescued by local fishermen. But where is it? We’re now contacting local ports and others if they have such information.”

And Indonesia still hasn’t launched a rescue mission because the location of the sunken vessel hasn’t been found.

The search and rescue authorities were criticised last August when more than 100 asylum seekers drowned when their boat foundered in the Sunda Strait.

An aerial search was not launched until more than six hours after a distress call was received by the AMSA.

It was almost 24 hours before the first survivors were pulled from the water.

Hundreds of asylum seekers have perished in recent years while making the perilous crossing from Indonesia to Christmas Island.

UNHCR asked to quickly resettle Rohingyas in third country


Source Jakartapost, 9 April

A number of Rohingya refugees currently living in the Pasar III temporary shelter on Jl.Jamin Ginting, Medan, North Sumatra, have asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to immediately resettle them in a third country.

M.Habib, 43, one of Rohingya refugees in Medan, said on Monday that he had never made a problem out of which third country they would be resettled to. This issue would fully depend on the UNHCR’s policy because it was the only institution that had been dealing with issues concerning the Rohingya refugees so far, he added.

“The most important thing for us is how we can find a way to not live in the temporary shelter anymore,” said Habib as quoted by Antara news agency.

He said the Rohingya refugees in Medan had been living in the city’s temporary shelter for about two to four years. “It’s very boring living in the shelters for such a long period of time,” said Habib.

He said the Rohingya refugees wanted a clearer status and a country that could give them a security guarantee. “It has nothing to do with money,” said Habib.

No countries were willing to accept the Rohingya refugees, he said. “But going back to Myanmar is also not an option because our mothers, brothers, sisters and other family members have all died due to the conflict,” he went on.

Previously, dozens of Rohingya refugees visited the UNHCR representative office on Jl.Babura Lama, Medan, to protest against the agency’s slow actions in resettling them in a third country. (asw/ebf)

Melbourne ASIO negative refugees begin mass hunger strike


Note: All ASIO rejected 32 refugees including 2 Rohingyas and an Iranian in MITA detention who have been detaining more than 3.5 years, demands to draw solution for their cases. They remain in legal limbo as a result of the top 3: immigration minister, ASIO director and Antony General who administered their cases for almost three years were quited in Feb 2013 without solving their cases. As well as, there is no way to challenge in existing Australian Judiciary System.
Human rights actors such as Australian Refugee Council and Australian Human Rights Commission, internationally ranking Federal Police and Federal Ombudsman, are also not taking action against such ongoing crimes against humanity.
Despite UNHCR is only actor for refugees, it has no role involvement in such humanitarian crisis.
The nature in detention that all the staffs will only await this strike to end through they collapse voluntarily.. As a member of UNSC, in deed Australia must end this type of domestic human rights abuses. Remember,  it is being worst than Guantanamo cases..

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April 8, 2013 | Source RACS,

At 2.00am, Monday morning (8 April), 28 ASIO negative refugees (24 Sri Lankan, 2 Iranian 2 Rohingyans) began a hunger strike at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) detention centre. They have gathered on the playground inside the detention facility.

The hunger strike comes after a series of self-harm and attempted suicides by ASIO negative refugees in Melbourne. These include a serious self harm incident by a Tamil refugee on 17 January, the third since Christmas 2012, and an attempted suicide on 15 November 2012.

Mita asio strike photo

Most of the ASIO negative refugees have been in detention over three years, some for over four years.

Their sense of frustration has grown since their adverse ASIO assessment. Last year the High Court found that it was unlawful for the government to deny them protection visas because of an adverse ASIO assessment. Despite the court decision, successive Immigration Ministers have refused to act and they remain in indefinite detention.

A review of the ASIO security assessments has been initiated by retired judge Margaret Stone. Stone met with ASIO negative refugees in Melbourne on Wednesday 3 April and with those in Sydney on Friday 5 April. But the meetings only confirmed that the process could still take months and that Stone can only make a recommendation. ASIO and the Immigration Minister will still have the final say.

The ASIO negative refugees are denied the same appeal rights of an Australian citizen. “They are meant to receive a summary of ASIO’s reasons for the adverse finding, but the statement is a joke. It is about seven lines long, simply asserting what ASIO ‘believes’. There is no evidence provided for that ‘belief’. It is an absolute denial of natural justice,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

The Afghan and Rohingyan refugees have not yet received their statement of reasons. “You can only imagine that ASIO officers are creatively working overtime, trying to make something up that could even vaguely justify its decisions. If there were substantial reasons to believe anyone was a threat to security, we would have heard about it long ago,” said Rintoul.

“The Minister has the power to end the torment and the travesty of the indefinite detention of the ASIO negative refugees. The Minister must use his discretionary power to immediately release the ASIO negative refugees.”

The refugees have released a letter explaining their protest – text below

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713, or Feiyi Zhang 0416 121 616

Letter from ASIO refugees 06/04/13

Message from the ASIO rejected refugees:

We are 29 people here at Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (25 Tamils, 2 Burmese and 2 Iranian) and 56 people all over the Australian detention. We have been here for four years and more. We cannot tolerate it any longer. We need to be released to save our lives.

At 2 a.m. today (Monday, April 8, 2013) we began a hunger strike together. All 30 of us plan to keep doing this until there is solution, one way or the other.

We will gather together in the grounds of the detention centre and stay there until we get a solution. If the Australian Government does not release us, we ask that they kill us mercifully.

We have painted banners as part of our protest. There is one that shows many people hanging. That is what we want to happen to us if we are not released. for life here. People in here are jumping off roofs, they are going on hunger strikes, they are taking tablets, they are trying to hang themselves……It is a cruel and inhumane environment for everyone.

We plead with you, the Australian people, to help us. We are on the edge of life and don’t know how much longer we can stand it. We ask Prime Minister Gillard, Immigration Minister O’Connor, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, Opposition leader Abbott and ASIO director David Irvine to stop this torture of all of us……. of men, women and children, who have done nothing to warrant this cruel treatment that is destroying our minds.

We ask the authorities: You say we are a threat to this nation. So if we are such people why have they now put women and children and families in here with us? We are willing to be released into the community under strict orders if they think we are threats, which we aren’t. But whatever they want we will do. But we can’t keep living like this. We are not in detention. We are in a cemetery.

We don’t want to die. We left Sri Lanka, Burmese and Iran because we fear to die. We came to Australia to live, not die. But death would be better than the life we have.

Signed. All ASIO refugees-Australia.

Indonesia detains 80 Myanmar Rohingya


Source news.com.au, 8 April

INDONESIAN police have detained 80 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar (Burma) on a remote island off Sumatra after they got lost attempting to reach Malaysia, an official says.

It was the latest boatload of Rohingya to arrive on the shores of Indonesia, as thousands flee Myanmar after tensions between Muslims and Buddhists exploded in their home state of Rakhine last year.

The migrants, including five women and six children, arrived late Sunday morning on the island in Pulo Aceh, a cluster of tiny islands off the northwestern coast of Sumatra, local police official September Sembiring said.

"Their boat is still in good condition and they have enough food and fuel. They said they wanted to go to Malaysia but lost their way," he said.

"They are all well. Two had stomach problems but nothing major."

They were being held in a large hall at the local police station and were likely to be sent to the mainland where their cases would be assessed by immigration officials, he added.

On Friday police in Surabaya city, East Java province, detained 35 Rohingya hiding out in a flat who had been planning to make the treacherous sea crossing to Australia, according to police.

Many Rohingya arriving in Indonesia face long stints in detention centres awaiting UN assessment for refugee status.

Call for Action from Australian Refugee advocates


Source from RISE,

RISE asks other refugee advocacy groups to come out of the closet and CALL OUT Paris Aristotle who has built his career as a self-proclaimed refugee advocate as shown in this article in the Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/mps-urged-to-unite-on-refugee-plan-20130326-2gs9y.html) asking for Australian parliamentarians to unite and reconsider the Malaysia swap deal.

Under the cloak of calling himself a "refugee advocate" Mr. Aristotle continues to peddle his sinister "template" for asylum seekers and refugees outlined in the Houston report named after another fellow "expert" on refugees, former defence chief, Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston.

We would like to end this call to action with a quote from an analysis of the Houston report by the Melbourne Anti-Deportation Campaign (https://docs.google.com/a/riserefugee.org/file/d/0B6buBGW0ICfud2pxRlZMN011Ym8/edit):
"On closer inspection we are able to discern the absolute hollowness of the moral considerations that are presented as justifying an aggressive campaign of regional policy and border control. The [Houston] report also appears to condone co-operation with any government or military apparatus in its quest to prevent ‘irregular border movement’. The outsourcing of the more gruesome aspects of disruption operations to those who are not Australian government officials (the Sri Lankan Navy, Indonesian police, Malaysian border guards) guarantees no oversight, no scrutiny, no inquiries. In a bizarre feat of ‘humanitarianism’ the proposals made by the [Houston] Report makes it not only admissible, but advisable to act in order to prevent family reunions for refugees arriving in such a way that constitutes ‘irregular border movement’. In addition to which it provides justification for the undertaking of misconceived deportations. Despite the fabrication of a fictitious ethical imperative, the Report of the Expert Panel presents a kind of sanguinary specter in its construction of policy recommendations that prove both brutal and punitive."

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