19 July this year marks the 8th anniversary of the announcement by then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, that “any asylum-seeker who arrives in Australia by boat will… have no prospect of being resettled in Australia… and will never permanently live in Australia”.
Since then, successive governments have maintained this arbitrary and punitive policy, forcing hundreds of people into a traumatic and prolonged state of limbo. Twelve people have died while held hostage by the Australian government offshore on Manus Island and Nauru. Many survivors of this regime, some of whom have been resettled in a third country and others who remain in limbo in Australia, continue to face significant challenges to their physical and mental health. Countless reports, testimonies, artwork, and literature have documented the human rights violations and abuse this policy has engendered.
Some 33 Medevac refugees are still being held in the Park hotel-prison in Melbourne while dozens more who were transferred here from Manus and Nauru are imprisoned elsewhere in Australia, including in Perth.
Over 200 refugees and people seeking asylum remain in Australia’s offshore detention system – 109 people on Nauru and 130 people in Papua New Guinea.
We call for the Perth community to gather in solidarity with all asylum seekers and refugees who have suffered as a result of policies and practices, including the 19 July policy, which have been carried out by and on behalf of Australian governments. This year will also mark two decades since the Tampa was denied entry to Australian waters, the SIEV X sunk, and the lie of the ‘Children Overboard’ scandal.
We will gather to remember all refugees whose deaths occurred in connection to Australia’s detention regime and border policies and to offer condolences to those who are still grieving; to acknowledge the separations from and impact on families, and to continue to call on the government to free all refugees and provide a permanent safe haven in Australia.
A comprehensive case study on Australia’s offshore detention regime is available on the Deathscapes website.
We acknowledge that this demonstration will take place on the Whadjuk Noongar Boodja and we pay our respects to Elders past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded, this always was and always will be Noongar land.