People protested outside the Australian consulate in Auckland, on 18 January, as part of an international day of action to support the Tamil Asylum Seekers who have spent 100 days on a boat in Indonesia in appalling conditions.
A protest organiser spoke of how 254 Tamil Asylum Seekers refused to leave the boat for fear of being locked up in an Indonesian detention centre or being deported back to Sri Lanka.
Returning to Sri Lanka is not an option, as one man who had returned to see his ill mother had been thrown in prison, without charges being laid, and is still locked up.
“The refugees are rightly demanding that they be given basic human rights and that Australia, as a signatory of the UN Refugee Convention, adhere to its international responsibilities” Priyaksha said.
The treatment of the Tamil asylum seekers highlights all the more the need for open borders. The Workers Party view is that while capital, commodities and rich people get to travel more freely around the world, workers’ freedom to move is increasingly restricted. Big companies can move freely to where labour is cheaper, for instance, but workers can’t move freely to where wages are higher. Labour and National governments favour free trade agreements, for instance, while imposing new racist immigration restrictions.
It’s in the interests of workers to support each other and make common cause for the maximum freedom possible.
Protests on 18 January for the Tamil’s cause are also being held in Australia, Canada and Britain.