Let Them Stay! – Rally against returning refugees to Nauru – 4 February 2016.

Following the High Court’s ruling that off-shore detention on Nauru was legal, protests erupted around Australia, including one called at 24 hours’ notice at the State Library in Melbourne:



For once this and other rallies received considerable traditional media attention, in addition to the extensive coverage on social platforms. First stop would be the event’s Facebook page, but there were reports also in The Age and on the ABC (focused on Sydney), for example. As always, accounts of the numbers present varied, but at its peak, a figure of around five thousand seemed reasonable. For such short notice it was a remarkable achievement.

At the of this post will be found a Media Release from the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, along with some recent statements from the UN regarding Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. One of the speakers at the rally was Alex Bhathal of The Greens, and the following links are from her Facebook page:


Part 2 of this article can be found here: http://junkee.com/72869/72869

The other main speakers were Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre; Mohammad Ali Baqiri, former detainee on Nauru; Michele O’Neil of the TCFUA; and Colin Long of the NTEU.

The rally began with speakers at the State Library, followed by a march down Swanston Street to Bourke Street, then along Bourke Street as far as the intersection with Exhibition Street, which was occupied for a time (Liberal Party Headquarters are just north of this point), then continuing up to Spring Street and so on to the Department of Immigration at Casselden Place, where there was a further sit-down. The arrangement of the photos following reflects these stages:

At the State Library –










On the march:



The first sit-down:




More on the march:




At Casselden Place:







MEDIA RELEASE – 4TH February, 2016


Brisbane’s St John’s Anglican Cathedral, amongst others, has been declared a place of sanctuary for asylum seekers facing deportation after yesterday’s High Court decision which allowed for their imminent removal to Nauru.
Anglican Dean of Brisbane, the Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt says he is declaring the church as a sanctuary, given the trauma and abuse these asylum seekers face if deported.

“The High Court’s decision means 267 people including 37 babies face imminent removal to Nauru.  They could be issued notices at any time and ordered to leave Australia within 72 hours,” said Dr Catt.

“This is a hugely significant action for any Australian church to take.  Historically churches have afforded sanctuary to those seeking refuge from brutal and oppressive forces.

“We offer this refuge because there is irrefutable evidence from health and legal experts that the circumstances asylum seekers, especially children, would face if sent back to Nauru are tantamount to state-sanctioned abuse,” said the Very Rev’d Dr Catt.

“This fundamentally goes against our faith, so our church community is compelled to act, despite the possibility of individual penalty against us”.

“It is an extraordinary step.  It is a step that will attract the attention of church communities around the world.

“The ancient principle of sanctuary goes back to The Old Testament, and was enshrined in English Common Law.  Where a state is causing grievous harm, churches can provide sanctuary and immunity from arrest by authorities.  The legality of Sanctuary has never been tested under Australian law, nevertheless we are determined to apply its moral precepts and protect the most vulnerable from certain harm.”

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer for the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, said that “Cathedrals that have offered to protect asylum seekers from deportation to a place where people face, rape, sexual assault, and unimaginable conditions, include: St John’s Cathedral Brisbane, St George’s Cathedral Perth, St David’s Cathedral Hobart and Christchurch Cathedral Darwin.

She also said that “many priests and vicars of local churches who feel compelled to provide the moral leadership that their position requires, have also offered Sanctuary. These include: St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church; Darlington, WA; Perth Wesley Uniting Church; Gosford Anglican Church; Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide; St. John’s Uniting Church Essendon; Paddington Anglican Church, Pitt Street Uniting Church and the Wayside Chapel in Sydney. Many other churches have offered to support the Sanctuaries in various ways”.

A press conference will be held on Thursday 4th February at 10.30am with The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt at St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane.

Media spokespeople:

The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt, Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce: 0404 052 494
Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce: 0428 399 739

Misha Coleman | Executive Officer (Wed, Thurs, Fri)
Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
Telephone 0428 399 739 | Email info@acrt.com.au
Follow us on Facebook | Join us on Twitter | Visit our website

John Ball
International Programs Co-ordinator, Act for Peace
jball@actforpeace.org.au | T +613 96506811 | M +61412528514  F +613 96508383  Skype: john.ball4
Level 4, 306 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC  3000, Australia


Best interests of the child must come first, UN child rights committee reminds Australia

GENEVA (3 February  2016) – The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has reminded the Australian authorities that, under the terms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a party,  the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration when taking any decision concerning children.

The Committee was reacting to the decision by the Australian High Court that the government’s policy of detaining asylum seekers offshore is legal, thereby clearing the way for more than 260 people currently in Australia, including dozens of children and infants, to be deported to an immigration processing centre in Nauru.

“The Committee had already expressed its concern in 2012 when it reviewed Australia at ‘the inadequate understanding and application of the principle of the best interests of the child in asylum-seeking, refugee and/or immigration detention situations’,”* said Committee Chair Benyam Mezmur. “This decision by the High Court greatly concerns us as these children and their families face a great risk in being sent to a place that cannot be considered safe nor adequate.”

Among those who could face deportation are reportedly 54 children, as well as 37 babies who were born in Australia.

Article 3 (1) of the Convention states:  “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”


*Committee on the Rights of the Child review findings on Australia 2012 – see paragraph 31


For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell  +41 (0) 22 917 9466 / +41 79 752 0488


The Committee on the Rights of the Child:

Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified to date by 196 States):

For your news websites and social media: Multimedia content & key messages relating to our news releases are available on UN

Human Rights social media channels, listed below. Please tag us using the proper handles:

Twitter: @UNHumanRights
Facebook: unitednationshumanrights
Instagram: unitednationshumanrights
Google+: unitednationshumanrights
Youtube: unohchr




Comment by the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, on the possible transfer of 267 people from Australia to Nauru

GENEVA (3 February 2016) – We are very concerned about the situation of the 267 people, including up to 80 children, at risk of being transferred from Australia to Nauru following the High Court’s decision delivered this morning in Canberra.

Central to the decision was a retrospective amendment to the Migration Act which was passed by the Australian Parliament shortly after the case was initiated and which validated the offshore processing of asylum seekers. We are concerned that
this amendment, as well as broader aspects of Australia’s policy on the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers arriving without prior authorisation, significantly contravenes the letter and spirit of international human rights law.

Most of these people were reportedly brought to Australia from Nauru to receive medical treatment and are in a fragile physical and mental state. The group includes more than 12 women and at least one child who have allegedly suffered sexual assault or harassment while in Nauru. The group also includes 37 children born in Australia.

We believe that transferring these 267 individuals to Nauru could further damage their physical and mental health, and would put Australia at risk of breaching its obligation not to return any person to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under the Convention against Torture. Moreover, sending these children to Nauru could contravene Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We remind Australia that children, regardless of their legal status, have the right to be treated as children first and foremost, and urge Australia to ensure that the principle of the best interests of the child
takes precedence over migration management or administrative considerations.

While we appreciate Australia’s efforts to upgrade medical facilities in Nauru, the country is still not equipped to respond to the needs of severely traumatized individuals, including children. In addition, there are inadequate systems for child protection, education or social welfare in place. Several independent inquiries, including the 2014 Philip Moss inquiry and the 2015 Senate inquiry, have found that Nauru is neither a safe nor an appropriate environment to send  people in situations of vulnerability to, in particular children.

We therefore urge the Australian Government to refrain from transferring all concerned individuals to Nauru.


For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 /rcolville@ohchr.org)or Cécile

Pouilly(+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

For your news websites and social media: Multimedia content & key messages relating to our news releases are available on UN

Human Rights social media channels, listed below. Please tag us using the proper handles:

Twitter: @UNHumanRights
Facebook: unitednationshumanrights
Instagram: unitednationshumanrights
Google+: unitednationshumanrights
Youtube: unohchr







“Light the Dark Melbourne” – candlelit vigil for refugees, 7 September 2015

Part of the gathering during minute's silence

From the callout issued by GetUp Australia:

The image of a Syrian child’s lifeless body washed up on the shores of a Turkish beach this week brought the world to its knees. His name was Aylan Kurdi, and he was just three years old.

The sad reality is that Aylan was one among millions of desperate people forced to flee from war and persecution. The world is facing a global refugee crisis on a scale we’ve not seen since WWII, but Australia – our lucky country of a fair go for all – is not doing enough. We can do better to help these people.
We need to do better.

That’s why on Monday night, we will light a candle to remember Aylan Kurdi. We will stand together in solidarity with people across the world who are forced to ask for protection from countries like ours. We’ll shine a light in the darkness, in protest of our country’s abandonment of the world’s most desperate people, who seek only safety and protection.

We will send a message to the world that our government’s inaction does not represent us, and that Australia says welcome.

In spite of threatened rain – which did eventuate but was brushed off by participants – thousands gathered in response to the call, and there were similar though smaller rallies in other centres. Speakers in Melbourne were mostly familiar from past rallies. They included ex-detainee Mohammad Ali Baqiri, Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), Father Bob Maguire, Zakia Baig of the Australian Hazara Women’s Friendship Network (AHWFN), and Sarah Ireland of Save the Children Australia. MC was comedian Anne Edmonds, assisted by two sign language interpreters.

Some links to media reports:

In addition many participants have uploaded photos to the event Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/events/1064515756893972/

Mohammad Ali Baqiri speaking

Mohammad Ali Baqiri

Sarah Ireland speaking

Sarah Ireland, Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Adviser at Save the Children Australia, based in Lebanon

Father Bob Maguire

Father Bob Maguire

Zakia Baig speaking

Zakia Baig from the Australian Hazara Women’s Friendship Network Inc.-AHWFN

Pamela Curr speaking

Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

More photos, in no particular order, and self-explanatory:

Stop the Forced Closures of Aboriginal Communities – Rally and March, 1 May 2015

This event has been heavily reported already, especially on this FaceBook page:https://www.facebook.com/events/554444444695682/ so no more need be said here. This YouTube footage is posted chiefly to give a picture of the size and varied nature of the turnout. Its core is a seven-minute shot of the entirety of the march as it passed a vantage point on Swanston Street, this being bookended by footage of the initial rally, some shots of the march at other points as it made its way through the CBD, and finally some pan shots of the occupation of the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets.
See also https://www.facebook.com/WARcollective

Walk for Justice for Refugees – Palm Sunday, 29 March 2015

As indicated in the title, this site is no longer posting regularly. But since we were at the march yesterday, and we had a camera, here are some photos from the initial rally at the State Library, and then on the march itself. The event Facebook page has plenty more. None of these seem to need captions or further explanation. (Last year’s corresponding rally was reported on this site here.)

At the State Library:

Looking over heads of part of the crowd

On the March:

Justice for Refugees banner at head of march

Placard against children in detention; child on man's shoulders

Nuclear Scumbags Awards Tour – Melbourne, 12 November 2014

Friends of the Earth, Melbourne’s Anti-Nuclear and Clean Energy Collective (ACE) held a Nuclear Scumbags tour during a nation-wide week of protests in connection with the G20 summit in Brisbane – Plan B. The tour delivered citations to the offices of the Federal Government, Rio Tinto, the Future Fund, BHP Billiton, GHD Engineering, ending at RMIT, whose current chancellor, Ziggy Switkowski, received a lifetime award…
Ziggy Switkowski's award

The full list of awards:

Australian Government: Radioactive Racism, Lies and Broken Promises
Rio Tinto / Energy Resources of Australia: Reluctant Rehabilitator
Future Fund: Bomb Bankrollers
BHP Billiton: Local Environmental Sustainability and Water Protection
GHD Engineering: Health and Safety at Maralinga
Ziggy Switkowski: Racist Scumbag Long Service Award

Some scenes from the tour:

There are more photos on the ACE Facebook page.

People’s Climate March, Melbourne – 21 September 2014 – photos only.


Melbourne led the way on a grand scale with an estimated turnout of 30,000 marchers. The event began at the State Library with music, dancing and speakers, including a welcome to country. The march down Swanston Street to the Treasury Gardens via Bourke Street seemed to go on for ever… More speakers and music at the gardens, as well as stalls representing a range of organisations. Reports have appeared on SBS and The Age. We are not in a position to add to these so this post must be restricted to photos, grouped under the rally, the march, and the end (though speeches and other activities were still in full swing when we left, about 1pm).

At the State Library:

On the march:

At the end: