Activist Resources: Act for Afghanistan

Between 27 September and 1 October, Action for Afghanistan and members of the Australian-Afghanistan community, are holding a week of action to pressure the Australian government to provide safe passage for people fleeing Afghanistan.

In the month since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan the Australian government has only offered 3,000 places in the humanitarian program to people from Afghanistan. They have not made any clear assurances, but has promised that this number is ‘a floor, not a ceiling.’

That’s not good enough. We need to keep up the pressure on the government until they announce real action. This week, over 100 prominent Australians have joined Action for Afghanistan in calling for the government to take action.

Individually we can take action to support these calls, and collectively those actions will pressure our government to act.

Amnesty International Australia, the Refugee Advisory Group, and people from Afghanistan are calling for the Australian government to urgently expand the humanitarian program and provide safe passage to people fleeing Afghanistan.

What the Australian government must do

  • Expand the humanitarian intake to include people fleeing the Taliban,
    • The government did this in 2015 when they offered 12,000 additional places in the humanitarian program for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. This offer should match commitments made by the Canadian and UK Governments of 20,000 additional places.
  • Grant permanent protection visas to all people from Afghanistan in Australia on temporary protection visas,
    • More than 4,200 Afghan nationals are living in Australia on temporary protection visas. The government has said that none of these people will be returned to Afghanistan “at this stage.” The Government must give these people the assurance that they will not be returned to danger, and grant them permanent protection visas.
  • Reform the community sponsorship program so that people across Australia can welcome people seeking safety into their community.
    • Australia’s community sponsorship program should allow Australians to sponsor a refugee to resettle safely in Australia, but the current program is slow and expensive. Reforming the program could allow willing communities in Australia to sponsor families and individuals, providing safe passage to people fleeing the Taliban.

What can you do?

1. Share the calls on social media

Take action on Twitter – it only takes 1 minutes, and it with show both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke that there are thousands of Australians who want them to take action.

2. Join an event

Join one several events that are being held throughout the week, including a calling party on Thursday 30 September.

3. Call your MP

Everyday people in the community taking the time to communicate to their MP is powerful.

We can’t stress enough how important it is that politicians hear from people from all walks of life and en masse. A large group of people contacting their local MP will have more impact than any single expert. That is the power our collective voices can bring and the impact you can achieve, regardless of how much you know about an issue.

And all it takes is a 5-minute call. Click on the button below and follow the simple steps to make a call.

4. Meet your MP

There are 120 Amnesty action groups covering the majority of electorates around the country. For Amnesty action groups having an ongoing relationship with your local MP is critical.

As an Amnesty action group, you have the power of representing all the Amnesty supporters in your community which may make your MP more willing to meet with you. If you would like to know how many Amnesty supporters are in your electorate please contact communityorganising@amnesty.org.au.

To organise a meeting with your MP, head to call your MP now.

When the phone is answered, state your name, the suburb you live in to demonstrate that you’re a local constituent and introduce yourself as a member of the local Amnesty group representing Amnesty supporters in your electorate. Explain why you are calling: “I am calling to ask for a meeting with my MP on Afghanistan … ” They may be unable to confirm a meeting over the phone – so be sure to send a follow up email after the phone call to ask for a date and time. If you don’t hear back in the next 7 days, call again.

Check out the MP engagement guide for everything you need to know about meeting your MP.

When we stand together as one we can make a real difference for men, women, and children in Afghanistan.

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Amanda Atlee is the Organising Lead at Amnesty International Australia