Saturday 1 May 2010 at 12 noon
Victorian Trades Hall, Lygon Street Carlton
On 18 October 2009, a boat carrying 254 Tamil asylum seekers fleeing genocide and civil war in Sri Lanka was making its way towards Australia.
On receiving this information, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a phone call to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono demanding that the boat be intercepted and hauled back to Indonesia.
In a sign of strength and determination these men, women and children have refused to disembark the boat now moored in Merak habour, Indonesia.
Leaving the boat would mean many years of languishing in an Indonesian detention centre waiting for resettlement, or even deportation back to Sri Lanka.
This is the reality of Rudd’s “Indonesian Solution”.
The demands of these refugees are modest. They want Australia, as a signatory of the UN Refugee Convention, to process their claims for asylum according to its international obligations.
Six months on, those on board the boat are still waiting for a solution from the Australian Government. Many are already recognized as legitimate refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, yet continue to be treated like criminals. The wait to be granted asylum has already led to the death one asylum seeker, many of the children are malnourished and sickness is rife.
The Australian Government has recently suspended the processing of asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, increasing the fear of deportation for those on the boat.
While the Australian Government is refusing to fulfill its international obligations (yet again!), the Aboriginal Tent Embassy is willing to come to the aid of these desperate refugees. As traditional owners of this land the Indigenous community will issue Original Nation passports to welcome each of the refugees on board the boat. The passports reveal the reality of the illegal invasion of this nation by armed boat people over 200 years ago and represent a firm commitment to Aboriginal sovereignty.
Come to the rally and join in the call for an end to the ‘Indonesian Solution”, for Australia to fulfill it’s UN obligations, and for the Rudd Government to stop playing political games with people’s lives.
SUPPORT THE REFUGEES!
There will be speakers from the Aboriginal community, the trade union community and refugee rights groups.