Hundreds of protesters yesterday rallied outside Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra, saying they wanted to highlight the uncertain futures of many refugees since the government replaced permanent protection visas with temporary visas.
The protesters were from Iraq, Iran, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Somalia, and included Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.
Most are in Australia on three-year visas or five-year visas that are available to refugees who agree to live outside the major cities.
Such refugees lose their visas if they to return to their homelands to visit family.
“The circumstances of the temporary visas are onerous as well as a bureaucratic nightmare,” Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said. “People are effectively in limbo in that are indefinitely separated from partners and from children as well as brothers and sisters.”
The temporary visas were introduced when the conservative government was first elected in 2013 as a way of deterring asylum seekers who come to Australia by boat. Refugees who do not arrive by boat are entitled to permanent protection visas.
Some asylum seekers who arrived by boat as far back as 2012 were only allowed to apply for refugee visas last year, Rintoul said.
When visas expired, some were not renewed in cases where the government decided that conditions the refugees had fled in their homelands had improved.
Chanting “eight years is too long” and “justice for refugees,” most of the 1,000 protesters had driven 650km from Melbourne to demonstrate, Rintoul said.
They carried a fake coffin draped in an Australian flag that they said represented human rights in Australia.
Heydar Aftahi, an Iranian Kurd, said he arrived in Australia by boat in 2010 and had his permanent residency visa canceled in May. He faces deportation despite having an Australian citizen wife and a four-year-old Australian son.
The 36-year-old Sydney interpreter said he was fighting for a visa in the Federal Court, but the government had refused him a bridging visa while his case was heard because he arrived by boat.
“I have no visa at all, having an Australian wife and an Australian son and I have to shut down my business as well,” Aftahi said outside Parliament House. “It’s discrimination just because I came by boat. They prevent me from applying for any other visa.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to meet a delegation of protesters led by Iraqi Council Melbourne president Samir Kafaji in Parliament House, but two lawmakers from the opposition Labor Party agreed to speak to the delegates.
The Australian government yesterday said that it had decided against buying the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine and identified a second case of a rare blood clot likely linked to the AstraZeneca shot. The Australian government had been in talks with the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant, which had asked the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration for provisional registration. However, Australian Minister of Health Greg Hunt ruled out a J&J contract, because its vaccine was similar to the AstraZeneca product, which Australia had already contracted for 53.8 million doses. Hunt said the government was following the advice of Australia’s scientific and technical advisory
The Indonesian government has said it is satisfied with the effectiveness of the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine it has been using, after China’s top disease control official said that current vaccines offer low protection against the novel coronavirus. Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s COVID-19 vaccine program, on Monday said the WHO had found that the Chinese vaccines had met requirements by being more than 50 percent effective. Clinical trials in Indonesia for the vaccine from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac showed that it was 65 percent effective, she said. “It means ... the ability to form antibodies in our bodies is still very
The Oscars are the glitziest night of the year in Hollywood and millions across the globe tune in, but they threaten to be a dud in China after the nomination of a Hong Kong protest documentary. Beijing-born filmmaker Chloe Zhao (趙婷), who is touted to win big for her acclaimed American road movie Nomadland, has also faced criticism back home after some questioned her loyalty to China. China has spent years “pining for Hollywood accolades,” entertainment magazine Variety said, and state broadcaster China Central Television has shown the awards live or on a delay since 2003. Online platforms in China, the world’s fastest-growing
FEARING THE WORST: High-powered weapons, as well as a hand grenade, were used in fighting between two clans over a land ownership dispute that is expected to continue Police are warning an “all-out war” could erupt in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands Province, after 19 people were killed in tribal violence last week. High-powered weapons, as well as a hand grenade, were used in fighting on Thursday and Friday near a town called Kainantu, resulting in 19 deaths, with many more people unaccounted for and properties destroyed. The fighting, between the Agarabi and Tapo clans, was over a land ownership dispute and broke out just kilometers outside of Kainantu. Police said it is believed that the fighting stopped on Saturday and Sunday as some fighters observed the Sabbath, but they fear