5 Australian human rights cases to take action for this January

In 2020, our global movement continued to stand up for justice, freedom and equality. We took action for the human rights of all, despite the difficult circumstances of a global pandemic. In Australia, we experienced some of the strictest lockdowns in the world. Standing up for what’s right and demanding human rights for all looked different – but it was not deterred.

In 2021, the fight for our human rights continues – right across the globe, and right here at home. Here are 5 Australian human rights cases, that need your attention now:

Demand the US drop the charges against Julian Assange

Julian Assange is currently being held at Belmarsh, a high security prison in the UK, on the basis of a US extradition request on charges that stem directly from the publication of disclosed documents as part of his work with Wikileaks. On January 4, the UK will decide Assange’s fate. This decision could radically alter the landscape of global media freedoms & undermine the public’s right to information, including evidence of potential war crimes. Take urgent action for Julian Assange now.

Amnesty International staff, activists and supporters protest for Julian Assange's freedom in Sydney
Amnesty International staff, activists and supporters protest for Julian Assange’s freedom in Sydney

Call #GameOver, and bring those detained by Australia’s detention regime to safety

More than 700 refugees and people seeking asylum were still detained in PNG and Nauru when we launched our #Game Over campaign at the beginning of 2020. Thanks to thousands of Australians standing in solidarity and pressuring the government for change, that number was reduced to 290. But that is still 290 too many. That number is about 500, when you factor in the refugees and asylum seekers detained in APODs (Alternative places of detention) on Australian soil.

Our collective action resulted in an acknowledgement from Peter Dutton in Question Time, who stated that the NZ solution is ‘still on the table’. That is of course, the Australian Government accepting New Zealand’s long-standing offer of resettlement. Add your name now, joining the call for the government to bring these people to safety now.

People call #GameOver outside Preston’s Mantra Hotel in Melbourne. © Amnesty International

Tell the Government it’s time to #RaiseTheAge

Across Australia, children as young as 10 are charged, brought before a court, sentenced and locked up behind bars. Instead of putting kids this young behind bars, governments can fund Indigenous-led solutions and community programs which have better outcomes for children and communities.

Last August, the ACT government committed to raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14. They’re the second jurisdiction to commit to raising the age – but the first to commit to raising it to 14. We must build on this momentum in 2021 and urge all states and territories to work to keep children out of the quicksand of the youth justice system. Add your name demanding governments #RaiseTheAge now.

Fluffy teddy bears in a row, looking out of prison bars
Fluffy toys behind bars, representing the children as young as 10 years old locked behind bars in QLD.

Call on the government to protect LGBTQA+ Australians from conversion practices

The conversion practices movement make pseudoscientific claims which tell LGBTQA+ people they can change their sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices are prevalent across Australia, and successive Australian state and territory governments have failed to legislate to adequately address and ban them. In 2020, the ACT and Queensland passed legislation to end conversion practices. Now it’s time for the rest of the country to follow suit. Call on the Australian Government to end conversion practices Australia wide.

Help free Vietnamese Australian man Chau Van Kham

Chau Van Kham is a 71 year old Vietnamese Australian. He was detained within hours of arriving in Vietnam in 2019 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for being a member of the political party, Viet Tan. His family in Australia have grave concerns for his health – particularly as prison conditions in Vietnam are notoriously harsh, with regular testimonies from detainees about the poor food quality, lack of drinking water and the absence of adequate medical treatment. Call for Kham’s immediate and unconditional release so he can be safely reunited with his family in Australia.

Amnesty International campaigner Joel Clark with Chau Van Kham’s wife, Trang.
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USA must drop charges against Julian Assange