Refugee Rights still in contention

Australia’s policy on refugees is an ongoing contentious issue that has insighted more nationwide action.

This morning, the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) drew attention to the situation by doing a banner drop off pedestrian bridges on the Kwinana and Mitchell freeways.

Three banners in succession told a story of the challenges refugees face as they seek asylum in Australia.

Sam Wainwright, activist with RRAN, explained Australia’s policy on dismissing refugees as an utter and complete rejection of international law.

“The policy of mandatory detention and turning away refugees is in breach of the United Nation’s treaty, which Australia is a signatory to,”

“The treaty says if someone is fearing for their life or fleeing from prosecution and comes seeking asylum, Australia has an obligation to offer them refuge,” he said.

Mr Wainwright said the notion that Australia is inundated with refugees is laughable, as our refugee intake compared to other countries is significantly low.

Countries like Lebanon, with a population of about 5 million people, has taken in over 1 million Syrian refugees, contributing to 20% of their overall population.

“Australia has no idea what an influx of refugees looks like…” he said.

Guy Kirkwood, activist at RRAN, said offshore detention has become the norm as it has been a policy for so long.

He is hopeful that the banners will raise awareness for this issue and insight a discussion into human rights.

“It’s an absolute disgrace… We have people that are dying in detention. Less than two weeks ago there was a refugee on Manus Island that committed suicide, but really he was killed by the policy of being in indefinite detention,”

“You’re a human being and they’re human beings… Would you like to be in the same position? Let’s recognise human rights and get the horrific policy changed,” he stated.

Mr Wainwright believes it would be more honest for the Australian Government to announce their abandonment of the treaty, if no changes will be made to our refugee policy.

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