NOT IN OUR NAME – Rally for Refugee Rights – 2 August 2013

At the 5000-strong rally last Saturday it was decided to hold another protest within a week, and on Friday 2 August somewhere between 1500 and 2000 marched through the streets of Melbourne from Flinders Street station to the old City Square. And this in spite of miserable weather. The rally was organised by Socialist Alternative and RAAF (Renegade Activists Action Force), and supported and endorsed by a long list of organisations and individuals (see the Facebook event page). The opening rally was addressed by musician and activist Ezekiel Ox, Liz Walsh of the Refugee Action Collective, Hazara refugee Mohammad Ali Bagiri, Lea Rumwaropen of the West Papuan community, with contributions from Abe Ape and Muma Doesa, with Newdub Citysound and Trevor Grant of the Tamil Refugee Council winding up at the end of the march. MC overall was Jacob Grech of RAAF. With a starting time of 5.30pm and still some way to go to Spring the light was not too good, and naturally deteriorated as the march progressed, so that the footage of the final stages is rather on the grainy side, but hopefully gives some idea of the mood and size of the event:

Another rally is planned for the same time next Friday, 9 August, with a major event coming up on Saturday 24 August. Details will appear on the Rac-Vic website and Facebook page.

In addition to the footage posted here, which focuses chiefly on the march, there is excellent coverage biased towards the speakers posted on YouTube on the LeftAndcorrect channel –

The following mainstream media report may be of interest also:

World Refugee Day Rally – 16 June

Refugees are Welcome - banner of Refugee Advocacy Network

We were able to manage only a short stay at this year’s rally, and had to miss the annual march to the EMERGE Festival at Fitzroy Town Hall. Numbers at the rally were respectable but not large – one media report, on ninemsn, refers to ‘hundreds'; The Age says ‘1000’ – and there was a general feeling of disbelief that it should still be necessary to hold these protests now twelve years after the Tampa and under a Labor government at that. The Greens were well represented*, with Adam Bandt one of the speakers, along with Misha Coleman in her capacity also as executive officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, and Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (Facebook) was MC. Music beforehand and during the march was provided by The Conch, and Les Thomas sang a song written for ASIO victim Ranjini.
*Flags of the ANF were also visible, but otherwise not much in the way of union support.

A few photos from the rally outside the Melbourne Museum, mostly self-explanatory:

'Hope Boat' - No Crime to Seek Asylum
'Hope Boat ' - Let Them Come

Pamela Curr and Misha Coleman

Pamela Curr and Misha Coleman (at microphone)

Les Thomas singing

Les Thomas

Banner with message from refugees deemed a threat by ASIO

Socialist Party stall

Socialist Party stall – Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative members were also active at the rally.

Looking over part of the rally during the speeches

Banner of Queenscliff Rural Australians for Refugees

Banner of Ballarat

Ballarat’s Circle of Friends / Australian Refugee Association –

Dog in rainbow jacket

Also showing support

Speakout against gag on Lex Wotton – 20 July 2011

One year after Palm Island Indigenous leader Lex Wotton was released on parole two years into a six-year sentence for riot, the Indigenous Social Justice Association in Melbourne (ISJA)called a speakout to protest at the gag imposed on him as part of his parole conditions. Lead speaker was prominent criminal lawyer Rob Stary; others included musician Ezekiel Ox, Cheryl Kaulfuss from ISJA, and representatives of Radical Women, Anarchist Black Cross, Socialist Alliance and individuals declaring their support for for the campaign.

A slightly cut version of Rob Stary’s address has been posted on YouTube, along with extracts from the rest of the action, which culminated with a symbolic removal of gags from participants to chants of “You can’t gag the movement”.

The video also shows a police patrol which came past just as one speaker was finishing, and a young officer stopping to take a few copies of a “No Room for Racism” sticker from the table:

From ISJA:

Speak out for Lex Wotton’s Political Freedom!
Lift the unfair gag — let Lex speak!
Build the movement to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody

One year ago Lex Wotton was released from jail after serving two-years behind bars as a political prisoner. Lex got a 6-year sentence after being found guilty of riot with destruction by an all-white jury. He took part in a justified community protest against the death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee. In contrast, Chris Hurley, the police officer responsible for the death in custody, has been promoted and compensated. The whole response to the 2004 death in custody has been scandalously flawed.

While Lex is free, he remains politically muzzled by harsh parole conditions, which deny him the right to speak to the media or to attend pubic meetings.

Lex Wotton is an inspirational advocate for the people of Palm Island whose voice is needed to expose the shameful truth behind the death of Mulrunji and everything that followed.

Attend the lunch time speak out outside the Bank of Queensland. Demand the Queensland Government lift the political gag on Lex Wotton now! Stop Aboriginal deaths in custody now!

Wednesday 20 July, 2011
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Outside the Bank of Queensland
163 Bourke Street Melbourne.
(Near the corner of Russell Street)

Organised by Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne
PO Box 308, Brunswick, Vic 3056