Next time there will be thousands

first_imgOver 1600 people so far have joined a ‘rapid-response team’ of GetUp members, agreeing to be alerted via text message at any time should the government attempt a second deportation of immigrants to offshore detention facilities, after Tuesday’s deportation of a Sudanese man, Waleed. “Waleed was in Australia after being bashed by guards in the Manus riot that killed Reza Berati. This morning the Turnbull Government sent him back to harm,” GetUp Human Rights Campaign Director, Shen Narayanasamy said.According to Ms Narayanasamy, over 1600 people have already signed up to conduct peaceful actions to prevent the deportation of vulnerable people to abusive offshore detention camps. “On Tuesday morning, the Turnbull government used the cover of darkness to sneak a man out of immigration detention facilities,” she explained, disappointed that the activist group’s effort to stop the refugee from being taken back to Manus Island had failed.“We’re talking about babies born in Australia, kids in schools with friends here, parents with links to the community. These people are terrified of what could happen to them; they’re feeling that at any moment they could be burst in on, handcuffed and thrown onto a plane.“A huge police presence took the man, handcuffed, onto a waiting private charter flight to an unknown location,” Ms Narayanasamy continued. GetUp! has launched an action calling on members of the public to commit to join actions if further deportations occur. Among the #letthemstay supporters are many Australian citizens of Greek and Cypriot descent, recounting their own migration ordeals during WWI and WWII, the Junta years of 1967-1974, and the Cyprus invasion in 1974.“At the moment, almost 300 other people face immediate risk of deportation,” Dione Protogenus told Neos Kosmos.“I remember when my parents arrived in Australia, running from the Turkish military. Most of the people deported are fleeing war. My parents left Pafos with two young children and came here to escape. I don’t see any difference. Offered a chance to a new life, I’m certain these people would make the most of it.”“We might not have come to Australia illegally but for some people whose lives are threatened, there is no other option,” she stresses. Meanwhile, Wednesday marked two years since the last successful people smuggling venture, a milestone for Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB). The Prime Minister reiterated his government’s commitment to protecting Australia’s borders, stamping out people smuggling and preventing people risking their lives at sea.“Secure borders and a well-managed migration system are the bedrock of confidence on which our successful multicultural society is built,” Mr Turnbull stated.“The reason Australians welcome high levels of immigration – the highest since the early post-war period – is that we have confidence that our government is in control of our immigration program, deciding who can come here and ensuring that when they do they receive the support needed to integrate into Australian society.”The Coalition Government strongly proclaims the program has restored security at the border, preserving the integrity to Australia’s immigration program and with it, the trust of the Australian people. Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said Operation Sovereign Borders has been a notable success, whilst the Coalition government has been conscious of the plight of Christians and other persecuted minorities “caught in the bitter sectarian conflict in Syria and Iraq (…) welcoming 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict zone and [we] remain focused on those persecuted minorities.”“Since OSB commenced, 700 people from 28 people-smuggling ventures have been returned to their countries of departure. Settlement in Australia will never be an option for people who attempt to travel illegally by boat. There are no exceptions.”Mr Dutton also emphasised that people smugglers should be warned that Australia’s maritime assets are strongly positioned to detect and turn back any people-smuggling ventures, working with regional partners to disrupt them to prevent vulnerable men, women, and children dying at sea.“Intelligence tells us that we must remain resolute because people smugglers are continuing to work hard to convince vulnerable people to get on unsafe people-smuggling boats. I urge families here in Australia to tell their loved ones overseas not to risk their lives and waste their money by attempting to come illegally by boat to Australia.”“Australia’s tough border protection measures remain in place and we are absolutely determined to make sure it stays that way.”Eve Panopoulos, mother of two and former teacher, has a different opinion. She left Greece during the Junta, following her outlawed communist husband and settled for manual labour until they were granted Australian citizenship and opened a small business of their own in the early 1980s. “After World War II and during the civil war in Greece that followed, close to or over 170,000 Greeks came to Australia, predominantly to Victoria. My husband’s uncle was one of them,” she says.“We too left; my husband and I. Our predicament wasn’t even that bad, but I do know what it feels like to constantly live under a state of terror and fearing for the life of your loved ones. Australia is a migrant’s nation. Apart from the Aboriginals, I don’t see how anyone can call themselves a ‘true Australian’. I don’t understand it when people whose ancestors are of migrant descent seem to forget where they came from so easily and campaign so fervently to have people like Waleed deported, knowing that they are sending him to his death.”*Members of the public can sign up to the campaign by sending a text message to 0437 929 733, and following the prompts, or by going to www.getup.org.au/deportations Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img