Onshore/Offshore: World Refugee Week in Perth

Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) will be hosting a series of forums at the Fremantle Town Hall during World Refugee Week on Saturday the 24th of June.

Onshore/Offshore: Fortress Australia consists of two forums, running from 1PM-5PM, and includes afternoon tea, information and campaign stalls.

Deportations and turnbacks: rhetoric and reality; exposes the sociological theory behind systemic Australian immigration issues. The panel, presented by scholars Farida Fozdar (Associate Professor, UWA School of Social Sciences), Aran Mylvaganam (Tamil Refugee Council) and Ali Khan (former Hazara refugee and migration assistant at Estrin Saul Lawyers) will examine ‘the politics of racism and nationalism that underpin government immigration policy’.

The theory behind such rhetoric and reality is not at all unclear. Many scholars have pointed out that Australian foreign policy is no longer shaped by the pursuit of national interests, but by a certain conception of the so-called majority’s so-called values. Deportations and turnbacks rely on the concept of Anglosphere- an overall rejection of multiculturalism and a mutual understanding that Australia exists in accordance with the notion of these elusive shared values, discussed vehemently on mainstream news bulletins with no clear definition of what they actually are, and who decided on them. Deportations and turnbacks: rhetoric and reality takes place at 1PM.

A future denied: the campaign for a humanitarian asylum seeker/refugee policy; will be presented by Victoria Martin-Iverson (registered Migration Agent/refugee rights activist) alongside Dr Caroline Fleay (Curtin Centre for Human Rights Education/Refugee Council board member) and Mehdi Valkili (asylum seeker and Iranian human rights defender).

This panel delves further into the structural and legal frameworks that shape Australia’s long-contested outlook on immigration. In recent years these frameworks have reflected the harsh, pragmatic foreign policy that grew popular during the Howard years and only continued to thrive over the refugee crisis of the 21st century. They reflect the notion that good international citizenship has only been attractive to successive Australian governments in the strictest of utilitarian sense, and that our US-appointed position as “Deputy Sheriff in Asia” lives on. A future denied: the campaign for a humanitarian asylum seeker/refugee policy takes place at 3PM.

On June 25th, the Refugee Rights Action Network will also be hosting a demonstration outside Perth Immigration Detention Centre to demand refugee experiences be recognised and articulated in a similar manner to which the public celebrates refugee contributions to Australian society. The RRAN states:

The United Nations cite that World Refugee Day is intended to honour the courage, strength and determination of people forced to flee their homelands under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. World Refugee Week is often used as a platform to ‘promote positive images of refugees and to celebrate the contributions that refugees make to Australian society’ however there are many people for whom Refugee Day is a cruel reminder of all that they have been and continue to be callously denied by the Australian government.”