Australian Immigrant and Refugee Issues

Two refugees killed in latest boat disaster off Australia

By Patrick O’Connor, 28 March 2013

The latest tragic deaths raise further questions about the culpability of Australian authorities.

Australian opposition spokesman calls for refugees to be treated like criminals

By Mark Church, 16 March 2013

The Liberal opposition and Labor government are engaged in a vile competition to whip up anti-refugee and anti-foreigner xenophobia.

Nearly 100 perish in latest Australian refugee disaster

By Mike Head, 22 February 2013

The deaths in the Indian Ocean highlight the terrible plight of people trying to flee persecution throughout Asia and globally.

UN report details brutal conditions in Australian government’s Pacific refugee camps

By Mark Church, 7 February 2013

The contents of the UN report are a further indictment of the policies enacted by the Labor government.

Refugees step up protests in Australia’s offshore detention camps

By Mike Head, 15 January 2013

The detainees face living for months in tents and converted shipping containers.

Australian refugee lawyer condemns deportations to Sri Lanka

By Mike Head, 21 December 2012

A lawyer involved in 16 recent Sri Lankan deportation cases explains that methods being used by the government are unlawful.

Australian foreign minister visits Sri Lanka to tighten anti-refugee measures

By Mike Head, 14 December 2012

Gillard’s government is stepping up its partnership with the autocratic Sri Lankan regime to prevent refugee boats sailing from the island.

Protests continue in Australian refugee detention camps

By Mark Church, 8 December 2012

Detainees are protesting against the barbaric conditions in the Pacific island camps, as well as the uncertainty surrounding their asylum claims.

Australian government intensifies anti-refugee policy

By Mike Head, 22 November 2012

The Gillard government is increasingly violating the basic democratic rights of refugees, and repudiating any adherence to fundamental precepts of international law.

Nauru refugee hunger striker taken to hospital

By Mark Church, 19 November 2012

Omid’s protest highlights the brutality of the Australian Labor government’s policy of transporting refugees to be detained indefinitely on Nauru.

Hunger strike continues in Australian refugee detention centre on Nauru

By Mark Church, 10 November 2012

On the government’s instructions, Australian officials have refused to negotiate with the detainees over their asylum visa applications.

Australian detainees in hunger strike on Nauru

By Mark Church and Mike Head, 5 November 2012

Asylum seekers are protesting the appalling conditions on the island and the Australian government’s refusal to start processing their refugee claims.

Australian Labor government “excises” entire country to bar refugees

By Patrick O’Connor, 31 October 2012

Australia will effectively become a legal black hole for refugees, undocumented workers, and anyone else without recognised legal status.

Australian High Court strikes down ASIO-dictated detention of refugees

By Patrick O’Connor, 6 October 2012

Despite the unlawful character of the existing setup, none of the more than 50 detained refugees affected by adverse ASIO assessments will be released.

Australia pressures refugees to return to Sri Lanka

By Mike Head, 2 October 2012

Tamil asylum seekers are being coerced to return despite clear evidence of persecution and torture.

Australian government removes refugees to Nauru

By Will Morrow and Mike Head, 20 September 2012

Prime Minister Gillard’s government has gone far beyond the so-called “Pacific Solution” of the previous Howard Liberal government.

Australia: Refugees stage hunger strike against removal to Nauru

By Will Morrow, 3 September 2012

The desperate act of protest is the inevitable outcome of the government’s refugee law changes.

Latest Australian refugee disaster worsened by slow response

By Mark Church, 31 August 2012

Only 54 people have survived the sinking, after being stranded in the water for almost 24 hours before help arrived.

Australian government lies exposed over latest refugee vessel arrival

By Patrick O’Connor, 17 August 2012

Late last night the Senate approved new laws, authorising the indefinite detention of refugees in Nauru, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere, in blatant violation of international law.

Australian laws rushed through to detain refugees offshore

By Mike Head, 16 August 2012

The plan to incarcerate asylum seekers on remote Pacific islands is likely to pass the Senate today, just three days after Prime Minister Julia Gillard unveiled it.

Australian government reinstates anti-refugee “Pacific Solution”

By Patrick O’Connor, 14 August 2012

The new measures openly flout international law and mark a new benchmark in the Australian ruling elite’s contempt for basic democratic rights.

Australian government forcibly deports Tamil asylum seeker

By Will Morrow, 31 July 2012

The government is clearly seeking to exploit the case to intimidate Tamil asylum seekers in Australia and deter others thinking about fleeing Sri Lanka.

A portrait of a “people smuggler”

By Mike Head, 21 July 2012

The People Smuggler puts a human face on those involved in refugee boat voyages, and exposes myths peddled by Australian governments.

Australian ex-military chief to advise parliament on new anti-refugee laws

By Patrick O’Connor, 29 June 2012

The basic legal principles governing the treatment of asylum seekers, which were developed after World War II and the Nazi holocaust, have been openly jettisoned.

The reactionary politics of Australian “border protection”

By Patrick O’Connor and SEP candidate for Melbourne, 28 June 2012

Refugee deaths at sea will end only when asylum seekers are assured of safe passage to Australia.

At least four dead in latest Australian refugee disaster

By Oliver Campbell, 28 June 2012

The second refugee boat sinking in less than a week has underscored the deadly consequences of the Australian government’s “border protection” regime.

Many feared dead in Australian refugee disaster

By Oliver Campbell, 23 June 2012

The refugee boat’s sinking is the latest in a series of tragedies that flows directly from the Australian government’s “border protection” policy.

Australian government’s culpability in refugee boat disaster—Part 2

By Patrick O’Connor, 16 June 2012

On October 3 2009, Customs and Border Protection waited nearly four hours before alerting rescue authorities that a refugee boat with 108 people on board was sinking.

Australian government’s culpability in refugee boat disaster—Part 1

By Patrick O’Connor, 15 June 2012

On October 3 2009, Australian Customs and Border Protection waited nearly four hours before alerting rescue authorities that a refugee boat carrying 108 people was sinking.

Australia: ASIO assessments condemn refugees to indefinite detention

By Robert Morgan, 29 May 2012

The adverse intelligence assessments mean that more than 50 detained asylum seekers are trapped in a legal black hole with no means of challenging their imprisonment.

Australian State Coroner reports on three refugee suicides

By Will Morrow, 30 December 2011

The suicides are a tragic consequence of the Labor government’s refugee policy of compulsory detention.

Australia: Refugees narrowly survive another boat disaster

By Mark Church, 28 November 2011

Refugees aboard a stricken boat almost crashed onto rocky cliffs in stormy weather off Christmas Island, an Australian outpost in the Indian Ocean, on the evening of November 20.

Australia: Bipartisan agreement on retrospective anti-refugee law

By Will Morrow and Mike Head, 9 November 2011

Under the pretext of combatting “people smuggling,” the bill is clearly aimed at the asylum seekers who desperately attempt to get to Australia by purchasing places on board boats.

Australian “border protection” regime responsible for more refugee deaths

By Will Morrow, 2 November 2011

Late last night an overcrowded boat that was carrying more than 70 asylum seekers en route to Australia foundered off Java in Indonesia, killing at least 8 people.

Ten years on: The SIEV X tragedy and the assault on democratic rights

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 31 October 2011

The sinking of the SIEV X was not an isolated incident, but part of a fundamental political shift in Australia and around the world, marked by the abandonment of any adherence to democratic and legal norms.

Australian government appeals to anti-refugee sentiment after migration bill collapses

By Will Morrow, 21 October 2011

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her ministers have sought to out-flank opposition leader Tony Abbott from the extreme right by blaming him for the arrival of new refugee boats.

Australia: Ongoing conspiracy of silence over SIEV X tragedy

By Richard Phillips and Linda Levin, 20 October 2011

The tenth anniversary of the worst tragedy in local maritime history, has been met with a deafening silence from Australia’s political elite.

Ten years since the SIEV X tragedy

Did the Australian government deliberately allow 353 refugees to drown?

By Linda Tenenbaum, 19 October 2011

Ten years ago, on October 19, 2001, a grossly overcrowded, unseaworthy boat carrying more than 400 asylum seekers sank in international waters between Indonesia and Australia’s Christmas Island.

Australian government crisis deepens after High Court’s refugee ruling

By Patrick O’Connor, 6 September 2011

The overriding concern of big business is not refugee policy, but whether the Gillard government is capable of implementing the austerity and economic restructuring measures demanded of it.

Australian High Court overrules refugee “Malaysia solution”

By Patrick O’Connor, 2 September 2011

Gillard’s ability to remain as prime minister for much longer is now in serious doubt.

Australian government prepares to forcibly deport refugees

By Will Morrow, 4 August 2011

In a calculated bid to deter refugees from seeking protection, the Labor government plans to film the forced removal of the first group of refugees to Malaysia.

Australian government suppresses mounting unrest in refugee detention centres

By Will Morrow, 2 August 2011

Protests by inmates, attempting to draw public attention to the abuse of their basic rights, are being met by police violence, arbitrary removal to prisons and legal threats.

Australian government signs punitive refugee deal with Malaysia

By Will Morrow, 27 July 2011

Labor’s policy will send at least 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia, a country notorious for its mistreatment of refugees.

Australia: Inquest told that authorities could have prevented Christmas Island refugee disaster

By Will Morrow, 25 July 2011

Further testimony points to the Labor government being culpable, whether through negligence, indifference or deliberate action, for the fate of the refugees swept onto the island’s rocky cliffs.

Australian TV mini-series provides glimpse into refugee experience

By Will Morrow, 22 July 2011

“Go back to where you came from” gave audiences—continually bombarded with anti-refugee propaganda by the media and politicians—an insight into the hardships faced by asylum seekers.

Australian parliamentary inquiry whitewashes refugee disaster

By Will Morrow, 7 July 2011

With the complicity of the Greens, the inquiry’s report cleared the Labor government of any responsibility whatsoever for the loss of at least 50 lives.

Australian government defies parliament to pursue Malaysian refugee scheme

By Will Morrow and Mike Head, 17 June 2011

Yesterday’s events in parliament highlighted the tenuous existence of the minority Labor government and the reactionary character of its refugee policy.

Police attack protesting refugees at Australia’s Christmas Island

By Will Morrow, 13 June 2011

Although the police claimed to have had no choice but to open fire on Thursday night, the conflict appears to have resulted from a definite plan to crush opposition to the escalating number of visa refusals.

The Australian Labor Party and the live cattle export furore

By Patrick O’Connor, 10 June 2011

The self-declared “progressive” wing of the Australian political establishment has trumpeted its concern for the country’s cattle, while maintaining a deafening silence on the deportation of refugees to Malaysia and the war in Libya.

Australian government denies responsibility to rescue refugees

By Will Morrow, 8 June 2011

Evidence at a coronial inquest shows that the Gillard government refused to prepare for the foreseeable tragedy and is covering up the events surrounding last December’s Christmas Island disaster.

Australian government defies growing outcry over deporting refugees to Malaysia

By Mike Head, 7 June 2011

The Labor government has not only re-iterated its determination to proceed with the plan, but declared that there would be no exceptions for unaccompanied minors and pregnant women.

Australian government rejects UN criticism of refugee abuses

By Will Morrow, 31 May 2011

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay publicly criticised the Labor government’s recently announced “Malaysian solution”.

The Aboriginal “intervention” in Australia: four years on

By Susan Allan, 30 May 2011

Aborigines, the most oppressed section of the working class, were used as a test case for punitive measures against welfare recipients nationally.

Australian government denies basic rights to refugees

By Will Morrow, 21 May 2011

In a flagrant breach of international law, authorities have locked up newly-arrived asylum seekers, refused to process their refugee applications and are preparing to deport them to other countries.

Australian government plans to deport refugees to Malaysia

By Will Morrow, 12 May 2011

The blatant purpose of Gillard’s deal with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is to deter refugees from exercising their rights under international law to seek political asylum.

Australian government announces new laws to punish refugees

By Will Morrow, 27 April 2011

The amendments will introduce new temporary protection visas and pave the way for the deportation of refugees who join protests inside Australia’s detention centres.

Australia: Villawood riot sparks protests at other immigration detention centres

By Will Morrow, 25 April 2011

One hundred asylum seekers at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre rioted last week over their lengthy detention and rejected asylum claims.

Another suicide inside Australia’s refugee detention centres

By Will Morrow, 30 March 2011

The fifth suicide in the past seven months has cast more light on the Labor government’s inhuman treatment of asylum seekers.

Australia: Ongoing repression produced asylum seeker protests

By Will Morrow and Richard Phillips, 23 March 2011

Christmas Island residents and refugee advocates have denounced the Gillard government’s repressive actions and the provocative measures taken by its detention facility contractor, Serco.

Australian government uses tear gas and synthetic bullets to suppress refugee protests

By Carolyn Kennett and SEP candidate for Auburn, 19 March 2011

The Gillard Labor government this week mobilised federal police to violently attack protesting detainees inside the remote Christmas Island facility.

Australia: Labor keeps 900 refugees in detention pending spy agency reports

By Alex Messenger, 1 March 2011

For months, the Gillard Labor government suppressed these statistics, fearing renewed public opposition to its anti-refugee measures.

Australian government hypocrisy over refugee funerals

By Zac Hambides, 17 February 2011

The Gillard government organised burial services in Sydney for eight of the victims of the December 15 disaster, in which up to 50 asylum seekers died after their boat crashed on remote Christmas Island.

Australia: Report leaves unanswered questions on refugee deaths

By Zac Hambides, 4 February 2011

The findings of an Australian Customs inquiry have been used by the Gillard government to absolve itself of any responsibility for the deaths of up to 50 refugees on December 15.

The Australian refugee boat disaster and the Labor government’s “border protection” regime

By Patrick O'Connor, 23 December 2010

The deaths of an estimated 50 men, women, and children in the December 15 refugee boat disaster off the coast of Australia, is the latest devastating consequence of the Labor government’s militarised “border protection” regime.

Australia: Refugees stage detention centre demonstrations after boat disaster

By Patrick O’Connor, 20 December 2010

Refugees in one of three detention centres located on Christmas Island staged multiple demonstrations on Friday, desperately appealing for international assistance and accusing Australian authorities of responsibility for the boat’s sinking.

Australia: Further questions raised over Labor government’s role in refugee boat disaster

By Patrick O’Connor, 17 December 2010

The Labor government has declared that no government, military, or intelligence agency had been tracking the refugee vessel that sank off Christmas Island on Wednesday, killing at least 30 people. Its statement has raised more serious questions about the unexplained failure of authorities to intercept the boat.

Up to 50 refugees drown off Australian coast after authorities fail to intercept boat

By Patrick O’Connor, 16 December 2010

Serious questions are being raised about the direct culpability of the Gillard Labor government and Australian authorities in yesterday’s horrific sinking of a boat carrying up to 100 refugees off the shore of Christmas Island.

Australia: Labor seeks to overcome High Court ruling on refugee processing regime

By Alex Messenger, 2 December 2010

The Gillard government is preparing plans to overcome a unanimous ruling by Australia’s highest court, which declared that detained asylum seekers have the right to legally challenge refusals to grant them protection visas.

Australia: Refugees continue hunger strike as frustration and anger escalate

By Mike Head, 23 November 2010

About 230 asylum seekers have joined a hunger strike that began last Tuesday inside the detention camp on Christmas Island, a remote Indian Ocean territory. The detainees are protesting the lengthy delays in the processing of their claims for protection visas, and the Labor government’s high rejection rate of their applications.

Australia: Gillard Labor responsible for another refugee suicide

By Mike Head, 18 November 2010

A tragic suicide by an asylum seeker inside Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Detention Centre has highlighted the inhumanity of the mandatory detention regime that is being continuously expanded by the Gillard Labor government.

Australian government expands refugee detention

By Mike Head, 23 October 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week signalled the development of an extended detention regime, including hundreds of children housed in so-called community detention.

Australia: Labor government defends mandatory detention in face of asylum-seeker protests

By Carolyn Kennett, 23 September 2010

Desperate protests by asylum seekers in the wake of the suicide of Josefa Rauluni, a Fijian detainee at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre last Monday, have been met with complete indifference by the Gillard Labor government.

Australia: Local residents offer support to asylum seekers

By our reporters, 23 September 2010

WSWS reporters spoke to local people who had gathered outside the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on Tuesday to support protesting asylum seekers.

Australia: Gillard government responsible for suicide at immigration detention centre

By Carolyn Kennett, 21 September 2010

On the day he was due to be deported, Josefa Rauluni, a 36-year-old Fijian man, died after throwing himself off the roof of the Villawood detention centre in Sydney’s western suburbs.

Mass breakout at Australian refugee detention centre

By Mike Head, 1 September 2010

The desperate protests in Darwin highlight the barbaric character of the Labor government’s mandatory detention regime, which imprisons refugees and their boat crews, without trial, in violation of elementary legal and democratic rights.

Australia: Detained refugee dies in Perth hospital

By Leticia Marshall, 31 August 2010

An asylum seeker held at the Curtin detention centre in the remote north-west of Western Australia died on August 22 at Perth’s Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Australian PM Gillard and the reactionary nostrum of “border protection”

By Nick Beams, 9 July 2010

Announcing the revamping of the Australian government’s asylum seeker policy on Tuesday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard drew deeply from the well of nationalist, xenophobic and racist doctrines that has been a central source of the policies and ideology of the Australian Labor Party throughout its 120-year history.

Australia: Prime Minister Gillard unveils harsh new measures against refugees

By Patrick O’Connor, 8 July 2010

In a speech delivered Tuesday to the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Gillard announced that her government would seek to prevent refugees travelling in boats from reaching Australia.

Australian government to deport cleric as “national security threat”

By Mike Head, 26 June 2010

The Gillard government is deporting a Sydney-based Muslim cleric, insisting that he has no right to know why the intelligence agency has branded him a security risk.

More refugees drown trying to reach Australia

By Mike Head, 22 June 2010

As many as 170 people are thought to have died trying to reach Australia since the Labor government took office in 2007.

Exposure of Australian government’s policy on Sri Lankan refugees

By Mike Head, 26 May 2010

Two reports released last week further undermined the pretext given by the Australian government for its suspension of all refugee visa applications from Sri Lanka.

Australian government’s refugee policy claims more innocent lives

By Mike Head, 13 May 2010

Five Australia-bound asylum seekers perished in the Indian Ocean after apparently setting themselves adrift in a desperate bid to find a passing ship when their wooden fishing boat ran out of fuel, food and drinking water.

Australian government’s policy sparked fatal refugee boat fire

By Mike Head, 23 April 2010

Media commentators and politicians distorted the coroner’s findings to falsely accuse refugees of deliberately blowing up their boat.

Australian government to reopen remote refugee detention camp

By Mike Head, 20 April 2010

The Rudd government is re-opening a notorious refugee detention camp in Australia’s far north.

Australian government suspends refugee applications

By Mike Head, 12 April 2010

In a move that is unprecedented internationally, the Rudd Labor government on Friday announced an immediate suspension of all refugee applications from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

Australia: Inquest evidence shows Rudd government policies caused refugee deaths

By Mike Head, 2 February 2010

Early evidence at a coronial inquest into the deaths of five Afghan asylum seekers last April has confirmed that the men were victims of the Rudd government’s ruthless “border protection” policies.

No criticism of Labor as Australia rejects Tamil refugees

By Mike Head, 20 January 2010

No one in the media, or refugee advocacy and civil liberties circles, has condemned the Rudd government for using ASIO’s ruling to reject the Tamils.

Australian government denies visas to five Tamil refugees

By Mike Head, 14 January 2010

In a sign of close collaboration with the Sri Lankan regime, the Labor government has denied refugee visas to five Tamils for alleged security reasons.

Australian government in damage control after murder of Indian student

By Perla Astudillo, 13 January 2010

The fatal stabbing of a 21-year-old Indian student in Melbourne has again focussed international attention on the appalling conditions endured by many overseas students in Australia.

Sri Lankan Tamil refugee dies—a victim of Australian government policy

By Richard Phillips, 7 January 2010

The death of a 29-year-old asylum-seeker Jacob Christin in an Indonesian hospital on December 23 is another tragedy caused by the Australian government’s refugee policies.

Australian Labor’s refugee detention regime triggers Christmas Island riot

By Mike Head, 24 November 2009

Fears of imminent deportations, aggravated by increasing over-crowding, triggered a riot on Saturday night inside the refugee detention centre on Australia’s Christmas Island.

Australia: Defiant stand by Oceanic Viking refugees triggers political crisis

By Mike Head, 20 November 2009

The refusal by Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to disembark in Indonesia from an Australian Customs vessel, the Oceanic Viking, has triggered an extraordinary political crisis for the Australian Labor government.

Indonesian police shoot two refugees trying to reach Australia

By Mike Head, 18 November 2009

The real face of the Rudd government’s hoped-for “Indonesian solution” for asylum seekers began to emerge last week. Indonesian police shot and seriously wounded two men trying to reach Australia aboard an Afghan asylum seekers’ boat.

Australia-Sri Lanka deal for joint crackdown on Tamil asylum seekers

By Richard Phillips, 13 November 2009

By reaching a deal with Colombo—that is, with the regime responsible for the oppression of Tamils—the Australian Labor government is legitimising its police state measures and nullifying the basic right of all people to seek asylum under international law.

End the persecution of Tamil asylum seekers by Sri Lankan and Australian governments

By Wije Dias, 6 November 2009

The plight of Tamils living in intolerable conditions in Sri Lanka has been brought into sharp relief by the tragic drowning of 12 Tamil asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia in a small vessel.

“Pressure politics” at Sydney protest over asylum seekers

By Mathew Benn, 3 November 2009

A rally called by the Refugee Action Committee to protest the Labor government’s callous treatment of refugees was dominated by futile appeals for “compassion” from Prime Minister Rudd.

Australian government’s “Indonesian Solution” in disarray

By Richard Phillips, 2 November 2009

Two weeks after an Australian customs ship rescued 78 Tamil asylum seekers, the unresolved standoff over their future has focussed attention on the Labor government’s inhumane and illegal treatment of refugees.

Australian government intensifies crackdown on asylum seekers

By Richard Phillips, 28 October 2009

The Rudd government is planning an “Indonesian solution” paying Jakarta to incarcerate refugees intercepted while trying to reach Australia.

Australia: Rudd intervenes to block Tamil asylum-seekers

By Richard Phillips, 17 October 2009

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s response to the Tamil refugees is completely predictable and reflects the views of the entire political establishment, from the crisis ridden Liberal-National coalition to the corporate media and the unions.

Australian government deports Sri Lankan asylum-seekers

By Richard Phillips, 12 October 2009

In line with the previous Liberal-National coalition administration, the Australian Labor government has begun deporting refugees it claims do not qualify as asylum-seekers.