1-5 April 2021
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Inside Australia's torture regime: refugees speak out


About this session

The Australian state's refugee regime is one of the harshest in the world. Refugees arriving by boat are denied asylum altogether. Many have been imprisoned for several years, subjected to physical and psychological torture. Offshore detention centres, reopened by the Rudd and Gillard Labor government, are notorious. But the barbarism is also closer to home.

Currently hundreds of refugees are locked up in hotels and other centres in Australian cities. They were brought here with the promise of medical treatment but have instead had their torture extended for months on end, confined to tiny rooms and patrolled by armed guards.

Refugees who do make it out of these prisons do not experience the liberation and compensation they deserve. Instead they are deported or placed on bridging visas, making the threat of deportation a constant. Refugees on insecure visas live in poverty and are often victims of hyper-exploitative and abusive bosses.

Refugees in Australia also have a proud tradition of fighting back. This session aims to honour and further that contribution and to give voice to many of the brave political prisoners within the refugee community who have fought unrelentingly for freedom.

We will hear from Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish Iranian refugee who was imprisoned on Manus for over 6 years. He wrote an entire book on his phone and smuggled it out one text at a time. He has become an internationally renowned writer and a beacon of resistance for refugees and other activists across Australia and the world.

We will also hear from Thanush Selvarasa, who fled Sri Lanka and was imprisoned by the Australian State for 8 years. In January 2021 he was finally freed in Melbourne. Thanush is now living in Sydney and is part of a socialist organisation.

The session will also feature Lavanya Thavaraja, a refugee, union activist and socialist living in Melbourne. Lavanya is a prominent activist with the Tamil Refugee Council and has been involved with many struggles to win rights and wages for refugee and migrant workers. More speakers will be announced in coming weeks.

Recommended Reading

No Friend But The Mountainsby Behrouz Boochani
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