Dublin Solidarity with Australians against Mandatory Detention


Dublin was one of many cities that saw a protest today (29 March 2015) called by the local Australians and Allies Overseas against Mandatory Detention as part of an international day of action involving 28 cities across 6 continents. The protest also drew attention to the terrible Direct Provision centres Asylum Seekers in Ireland are subjected to.

It took place outside the Australian embassy where those gathered demanded:

Shut down Manus Stenton Centre for asylum seekers!
Shut down Nauru detention centre!

"Australia is a case study of what happens when rich governments put their money where their mouth is to back up inhumane policies at the expense of their citizens and to the delight of international corporations. Australia is predicted to pay over two billion dollars to “processing” facilities in Manus Island and Nauru alone. That’s 35% of the UN budget for 10 million refugees. That’s not even starting on the detention centers in the bush, our deserts and our cities.

Because of the exponential growth of Australian Detention Centres and accompanying rhetoric, it can be easy to forget that the policy of locking up Asylum Seekers who arrive by boat is relatively new, only mandatory since 1992. The rise of the contracted companies that imprison Asylum Seekers has been accompanied by a new vocabulary surrounding refugees in Australia. Well you may laugh at the description of Asylum seekers as ‘customers’ Russell. But as your compatriot George Orwell once wrote, political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. The concentration camp on Manus Island where the asylum seekers do not have access to clean water and live in tents is a ‘processing facility’. Prison guards are ‘officers’ and ‘employees’. Asylum seekers in detention centers are ‘clients’. A peaceful hunger strike is a ‘riot’. Suicides and self-harm are ‘media stunts’...

There is a media blackout in Australia, not only in our Australian detention Centres, but on mainstream media where whatever happens in the detention centres, is justified based on the bizarre idea that we somehow stop asylum seekers drowning at sea by punishing those that do make it to our shores, thus deterring future refugees. TV news program channel 7 even refused to show the refugee protest that interrupted the Australian Open.

But the boats haven’t stopped, and nor should they be, because human rights abuses elsewhere hasn’t stopped and they have a right to seek asylum. And what’s been happening is that instead of admitting that mandatory detention is a stupid plan to stop asylum seekers coming, the government has told the navy to physically push refugee boats back to Indonesia, further endangering refugees lives. Since what the government calls ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ no person has been reported to have drowned at sea. So they can save lives when they’re pushing them away but not when they are trying to come? But two boats who sent out distress signals have not been heard from this year. We do not know what happened to these people. More secrecy. More unknowns.

We need your help to get the word out. It’s not just about Australia. SERCO already runs many of your private prisons and youth detention facilities. G4S, that had the contract on Manus Island when Reza Berati was killed, is in charge of housing refugees in England. They are powerful, ruthless companies and as I’ve said, locking people up is a profitable business. It’s a short step and a jump if your government decides to go the same way as Australia. With climate change, rising sea levels and the growing inequality the world is still ill-equipped to coordinate the increasing millions of human beings that will seek refuge in other countries. Governments, including yours, will look for short term solutions like Australia’s. And it’s not a good one."

Photos: Aoife
Words extracted from the 'Open Letter to Russell Brand on Refugees' at: http://australiansoverseas4refugees.blog.com/

Australians and Allies Overseas Against Mandatory Detention is an initiative established to create an international network of people living outside of Australia who wish to engage in creative activism and campaigns with the aim of ending mandatory detention.

EDITED TOGETHER Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )