News / Asia

Hundreds Rally to Demand Freedom for Australia Refugees

x
Phil Mercer
Vigils have been held across Australia to demand the release of more than 50 refugees who have been classified as a threat to national security.  The detainees have all been granted asylum but are being held on the orders of Australia’s intelligence services.
 
“Free Ranjini, free the refugees!  Free Ranjini, free the refugees!” protesters shouted.
 
From Perth to Brisbane, and from Sydney to Melbourne, hundreds rallied in support of 56 refugees who are considered to be a security risk.  Most were Tamils from Sri Lanka, while others have fled Iran, Burma and Afghanistan.
 
Friday marks one year since one of the refugees, a pregnant Sri Lankan called Ranjini, was detained along with her two young sons in Melbourne by immigration authorities.
 
Campaigners said the mother-of-three has suffered psychological stress as she attempts to cope with a baby born in detention as well as two increasingly unsettled older children.
 
Australia’s national security service, ASIO, does not have to tell the refugees why they are seen as a potential threat.
 
Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition says some detainees did have dealings with the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE - a group designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States. But he says they pose no danger to Australia.
 
“My discussions with those people, on the evidence I have seen from ASIO, yes, I am 100 percent sure that these people are not any kind of threat in the way that people normally think," Rintoul said.  "We are not talking about bombs in supermarkets.  The LTTE is not a proscribed organization; it has got no history of violent activity outside of Sri Lanka.  It is very difficult to see, you know, what kind of information that ASIO would have, which would indicate otherwise, and in any case I have said over and over again, if the government has got that information let us see it publicly.”                    
 
Although they have been granted asylum, most of the refugees have been incarcerated in Australia for between three and four years.  Officials will not say why they were granted protection only then to be branded a threat to national security.
 
Adverse security assessments cannot be challenged, but after pressure from campaigners the government has allowed the refugees’ cases to be reviewed by former federal court judge, who can make recommendations but has no power to free the detainees.
 
The government in Canberra has insisted that any refugee deemed to be a security risk would not be released from custody.
 
Advocates insist that such intransigence has prompted suicide attempts, hunger strikes and other forms of self-harm by the detainees, who could face months or even years in detention.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kamil from: Australia
May 10, 2013 2:48 PM
these are Islamic terrorists... most are from the Middle East who see Australia as easy and soft target. Most of the people who are parading for the integration of these scumbags are Muslims... that goes to show you that there is no difference between Muslims - there is no distinction between Muslim "moderates" and Muslim radicals... they want to destroy us from within... just like they did to Britain... have you been to London recently???

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid