Between two and three thousand rallied at the State Library on Saturday 24 August (effectively this year’s Tampa Day, although as far as we could tell, no-one made this explicit) to reject and condemn the PNG “Solution” of Kevin Rudd and the even more extreme policies of the likely next Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. (The report by Socialist Alternative gives the figure on the march at “more than 2,000″ whereas news.com talks of “a few hundred protesters gathered outside the State Library”. Not all who attended the rally joined the march – ourselves included – so the discrepancy in these numbers is all the more marked. The accompanying images should give an idea at least of the extent to which the lawns in front of the library were occupied.)
This speaks for itself; on a related note, two days earlier, a number of protesters from Beyond Borders entered the offices of Toll Group “to protest the company’s commercial involvement in the offshore processing of refugees and asylum seekers.” They released a statement and video of the action.
The Facebook event page for Saturday’s rally and march can be found here. As already mentioned, we were not able to follow the march, which was quite lengthy, so the photos below are from the rally only. Apart from the speakers, the focus is on the range of banners and placards, not forgetting of course the essential dogs:
Amanda from Refugee Action Collective was MC
Alex Bhathal of The Greens
Former Nauru detainee, Hazara Mohammad Ali Baqiri
Following the protest actions of 2-4 August an article appeared on the World Socialist Website which may be of interest for its critique of the position of especially The Greens and what it calls “the pseudo-left organisations, Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative”. (It should be noted, however, that this site is not affiliated to any group whatsoever – though it would be disingenuous to disavow a certain leaning …) The WSW site also carries details of the disturbing case of a public servant facing dismissal for privately posting comments critical of the government’s policies – http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/08/23/free-a23.html.
At time of writing there is no word of more rallies planned before the 7 September election, but two events were being circulated on Saturday: RAC (Vic) are holding a “Live Wire for Refugees” at Federation Square starting at noon on Saturday 31 August and ending at noon on Sunday 1 September – “a 24-hour non-stop community speakout for refugee rights” (details from firstname.lastname@example.org), and the Refugee Advocacy Network have organised a forum “Is Australia in crisis? DO HUMAN RIGHTS MATTER?” at Kaleide theatre, RMIT on Monday 26 August at 6.30pm. Details at http://refugeeadvocacynetwork.org/human-rights-asylum-seekers-a-forum-monday-26-august-630pm/.