'A dozen refugee activists have mobilised with less than eight hours notice to protest the forced removal of 19-year-old Tamil asylum seeker from Maribyrnong to Darwin. It is feared the transfer to Darwin is a first step to deportation to danger in Sri Lanka. Protesters are currently at Maribyrnong Detention Centre (MIDC) where some have locked themselves to gates to prevent the removal.' said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective.
'Asylum seekers deported to Sri Lanka are imprisoned as a matter of course, and some have faced torture. Despite the change of government in Sri Lanka, it is still not safe for Tamils. New prime minister Maithripala Sirisena was long a henchman for the brutal and corrupt Rajapaksa regime, including being defence minister at the end of the civil war. Tamil areas remain under military occupation and the new government has pledged continuing 'cooperation' with the Abbott government over 'people smuggling'.' continued Breen
'Activists think the 19 year old Tamil man is scheduled to be put on a Qantas flight. Qantas has recently announced flight bans for passengers who stood up for human rights, stopping a forced removal. Forced transfers and deportations can be a brutal process involving either physical or chemical restraint. Asylum seekers can rightly struggle against such moves when they fear being deported back to possible imprisonment, torture or death. These transfers can put the safety of all passengers on the plane at risk. Passengers have a right to stand up for their own safety and the safety of asylum seekers. Over 700 people have now signed a petition calling on Qantas to lift the travel ban https://www.change.org/p/qantas-don-t-ground-our-freedom-of-opinion-lift-this-unfair-no-fly-ban' said Breen
'The Refugee Action Collective calls on Qantas to rescind the travel bans (which may well be illegal) and to refuse forced transfers of asylum seekers. We demand the Immigration Department stop the forced transfer of the 19 year old Tamil man, and that the Abbott government stop deportations to danger in Sri Lanka, and elsewhere.' concluded Breen
For further comment call Amanda Zivic (currently protesting at MIDC) 0423 013 245
or Chris Breen 0403 013 183 from the Refugee Action Collective.