Statement on last night’s protest outside Tony Abbott’s dinner

| November 11, 2017 | Reply

Fabrications, distortions, exaggerations, and disappointing reporting

Christine Forster’s allegations about the protest at Friday’s Liberal Party fundraising dinner have been widely reported in the media. Tony Abbott himself has hamfistedly weighed in, tweeting: “Disgraceful behaviour by protesters last night. Denying Australians’ real rights to uphold the supposed rights of boat people”.

Yet both Abbott (the dinner’s host) and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton (who was a ‘guest of honour’), are responsible for the long-term abuse of refugees, including the immediate crisis on Manus Island, where yesterday the authorities used force to empty the rainwater tanks that have been helping to keep the 600 men alive.

Forster and the other attendees at the dinner are the supporters and enablers of the acute, long-term abuse of refugees. Those journalists who choose to focus on damage to a piece of clothing in a situation when 600 refugees have been deprived of food, water, medicine and shelter for over a week are guilty of a disgraceful and extreme misdirection of moral energy in which we will have no part.

The media reports contain wild exaggerations and distortions about what actually happened at the protest. No one from RAC is aware of any protesters trying to punch or spit on anyone, nor has anyone been charged by police for such conduct. Perhaps Abbott and Forster hoped that the truth would remain shrouded in secrecy, as it so often is on Manus, Nauru and on the high seas under Operation Sovereign Borders. But video footage taken by the Sydney Morning Herald clearly shows that the damage to Forster’s jacket was caused by the police themselves (see around 1:20 on the video at http://www.smh.com.au/video/video-news/video-nsw-news/forster-makes-way-through-manus-island-protesters-20171110-4zws7.html

In contrast to Forster’s clearly false allegations, the long-term abuse of asylum seekers presided over by successive Australian governments, and its tragic toll of death, suicide, violence, self-harm, severed families, abuse, despair and broken lives is amply documented. We welcome the energy of Friday’s protest and call on the public to join us next Saturday at 1pm at Hyde Park North to demand that the government assume its most basic responsibilities.

We continue to stand with the men on Manus in peaceful protest; we continue to call for the government to immediately lift the barbaric siege; and, along with the trade union movement, churches, students, teachers, doctors, Mums and Grandmothers for Refugees, The Greens, and Young Labor Left, we continue to call for the government to bring the refugees to Australia.

Category: Statements

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