Rally and March for Same-Sex Marriage Rights – 26 March 2011

The lawns in front of the State Library were fully occupied for the latest in the series of rallies organised by Equal Love in support of their campaign against the discriminatory provisions of the Marriage Act. Introductory music was provided by Sophie O’Connor and John Doxey, with Dolly Diamond and Luke Gallagher hosting. Speakers ranged from Karen Field, CEO of the Drummond Street Relationship Centre and Sally Goldner of TransGender Victoria, Jade Eckhaus, Queer Officer of the NUS and James Campbell of minus18, to comedian Joel Creasey and union activist Daria Healy-Aarons, with Ali Hogg, Convenor of Equal Love, delivering the final call to action. There was the now-traditional competition for the best home-made placard, won this time by one reading “23 years living in sin” … Showers threatened but held off, and there was a spirited march to the Old Treasury Building, where the PA system failed to deliver but the message was loud and clear – the fight goes on…

No photos this time, but video extracts from the rally and march. (There are pics galore here.)

Vigil for Asylum Seekers – 21 March 2011

Pamela Curr addressing the crowd

Members of the Refugee Advocacy Network organized an emergency vigil today “to mourn the passing of a young Hazara man found dead at Scherger Detention Centre last week, and also to protest against the continuing practice of offshore detention, and the absurdity and secrecy surrounding security clearances.”

“In the last seven months, 4 asylum seekers have committed suicide and another young Afghan man died after a heart attack while in Curtin Detention Centre. This is a crisis”, said Pamela Curr, spokeperson for the RAN Network, who also spoke at the vigil, making the point amongst other things that “No-one chooses to be an asylum seeker”. By way of illustration, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has issued a post card with statements from two refugees, one from Ethiopia, the other from China:
” I cannot go home because of what happened to me. I have no family left. I have no male protection. My father was arrested and my brothers too. The government is after me and my family. They can kill me. I wish sometimes I was dead.”

“I was severely prosecuted for the belief of Falun Gong. The police just arrested me, put me away, put me into the detention centre, several times. The longest period was two years in their forced labour camp.”

By way of background to the emergency action, apart from the callout above, see this post on Melbourne Indymedia http://indymedia.org.au/2011/03/19/another-night-of-shock-and-awe-on-christmas-island and another recent post on the e-news list refugee@lists.justfreedom.org.au

[quote]
THIRTY TWO detainees in Maribyrnong were despatched to Villawood today as an unknown group of detainees from Darwin were despatched to Maribyrnong Detention Centre.
Shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic!
Is this a case of deliberate provocation to stir up unrest?
Who is running the Immigration Department?
These are human beings with connections, relations and supports in Melbourne.
Without notice or explanation they were transplanted like used cars to Sydney as no doubt were the men from Darwin.
Among the men transferred today were some very vulnerable fragile men.
What does the department think will happen to these mentally unwell men?

The riots on Christmas Island were deliberately provoked by DIAC and the AFP and TRG who were spoiling for a fight and for a chance to use their BOYS TOYS. They would have been condemned if they had used these weapons on students, workers or even Indigenous Australians ( and we know that they can kill Indigenous Australians with impunity)
BUT ASYLUM SEEKERS COUNT FOR NOTHING- incendiaries and synthetic bullets were ok for them.

What is this about? In whose interests is it to stir us unrest in detention centres?

[end quote]

Placards - No-One is Illegal, Human Rights for All, Refugees are Welcome

Melbourne University Refugee Action Collective banner

Vigil in Support of Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers – 21 March 2011

On the 21st March, the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, with international supporters, planned to plant trees and hold a candlelight vigil in Kabul, Afghanistan. They had asked people around the world to also hold vigils in support. In Melbourne, a small group of peace activists held banners and handed out leaflets outside St Paul’s cathedral…

Among them were army veteran Chip Henriss and Jessica Morrison, recently returned from Afghanistan (see http://jesspeacepilgrim.wordpress.com/):

Jessica and Chip with another peace activist

The leaflet featured a statement by Abdulai, a fifteen year old Afghan boy whose father was killed by the Taliban.(http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/2011/02/i-wish-to-live-without-wars-an-afghan-boy/):

“I see the unchanging system of the rich and powerful in which my world is violently collapsing and human hope for a decent life leaves my heart. So, in solidarity with the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Gaza, the Middle East, North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, and with the people of the world, I will walk for peace; I will light my candles; I will plant my trees.”

See further http://www.livewithoutwars.org/lwwarsproject.html

The reverse of the leaflet set out “Reasons to end the Afghanistan War” – see report on a “Peak Hour vigil for Peace” on this site for 14 Sept 2010

There was a ‘wish bucket’:

Large basket decorated with wishes

… and Bob Dylan contributed: