As the country heads for another election, and both main parties seem to be reverting to the xenophobia of the 2001 campaign – the infamous ‘Tampa election’ – an extensive coalition of groups both political and non-political combined to organise an emphatic protest in Melbourne at the start of Refugee Week. Two rallies, one at the State Library, and a second at the Melbourne Museum, were followed by what has become the traditional march through Fitzroy to the Fitzroy Town Hall to join the annual celebration of diversity, the Emerge Festival. At the State Library the main speaker, apart from MC Sue Bolton, was Nazeem Hussain (from Salam Café and Fear of a Brown Planet), while at the Museum Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry called for an end to what he called ‘bipartisan bullying’. (See report of the event by Andra Jackson in The Age: Take the politics out, says professor). There were further speeches at the Town Hall, including a harrowing account of experiences in Sri Lanka from a Tamil refugee (see article referred to above) and contributions from a representative of the Hazara community, a Somali member of the newly-formed advocacy group RISE (Refugees Survivors and Ex-Detainees – http://riserefugee.org/, and long-time refugee activist Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
It would have been pleasing to say that the threatened rain held off, but it didn’t, as some of the pictures below may show…
Photos from the rallies and march, mostly self-explanatory:
On the march from the State Library to the Museum:
Meanwhile, at the Museum:
On the march again, this time heading for the Fitzroy Town Hall, via Nicholson Street, Gertrude Street, and Brunswick Street:
Arriving at Fitzroy Town Hall:
The final speakers: