Double refugee rally

THE Refugee Rights Action Network has two big rallies coming up, the first this weekend as part of a national campaign.

Today (Saturday July 21) RRAN members around the country will join a call for the Turnbull government to evacuate all asylum-seekers from Nauru, Manus and Christmas Islands to the mainland for processing.

Thursday marked the fifth anniversary since former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd announced Australia would never resettle any asylum-seekers who arrived by boat.

RRAN says since then hundreds of people have been left living in limbo, their mental health failing and their conditions unsafe.

It blames successive governments directly for the deaths of 12 people in detention.

The rally will be held at 1pm in the Murray Street Mall.

• Fazel Chegeni was found dead in bushland.

Suicide

The second outing will be on Monday July 30 from 8.15am where RRAN will gather outside the Coroner’s Court for the opening day of the inquest into the death of internee Fazel Chegeni.

Rallyers are asked to bring an origami crane in remembrance of Chegeni, who reportedly spent endless hours folding paper birds to be taken to people in need of a cheer-up.

But Chegeni was the one in need of a cheer-up; a mountain of reports while he was in detention showed how years of being behind bars had ruined his mental health and he regularly attempted suicide.

Chegeni had been deemed a genuine refugee and even spent some time living in Australia, but his status was revoked because of his involvement in a minor brawl at the Curtin detention centre – a brawl he didn’t instigate.

In its aftermath he was charged with assault and given a six-month sentence.

That was reduced to a good behaviour bond on appeal, but under Australia’s tough immigration laws it was not enough – he was deemed of poor character and sent back behind the wire.

His mental health continued to spiral downwards, he withdrew from classes and activities an in November 2015 he escaped from the detention centre and his body was later found in bushland.

by STEVE GRANT

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