Julian Burnside – Home
All men should strive to learn before they die,
what they are running from, and to, and why. - James Thurber
PRO BONO RESOURCE
CENTRE: click here
working to provide effective means for people and organisations in need to
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION: facts
about asylum seekers and refugees
Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre at
myths about refugees
New website: Compassion Without Borders
And find various refugee support groups across Australia here
Doctors for Refugees
Something different: if you have 23 people in a room, odds are that two
of them have the same birthday. With 75
people in the same room, there is a 99.999% chance that two of them have the
same birthday. It is utterly
counter-intuitive. Here is the reasoning
The government constantly tries to justify
cruel treatment of asylum seekers by saying they are worried about people drowning
in their attempt to reach safety here.
It is dishonest hypocrisy. Here
is why the “Drownings excuse” is false
Morrison has used
children in detention as a bargaining chip to get his Migration Act amendments
through the Senate. It is the conduct of
a hostage-taker. Presumably his Prime Minister approved. The character of this country has been
betrayed by his, and Abbott’s, dishonesty. A lot of people are asking me “What
can we do?” Here are some
By using the
release of children as a bargaining chip – something he was able to do without
his amendments – Morrison acted like a hostage-taker
Peace Prize 2014 Here is the text of my acceptance speech; and the ABC Big Ideas video of it is here.
Owen’s most lacerating war poem: Dulce et Decorum Est. “Dulce
et decorum est pro patria mori” translates as “It is sweet and right to die
for one’s country”
And read Anthem for Doomed Youth: the last line
will reduce you to tears
An update on the letter writing campaign
Greg Sheridan made
much of his desire to be able to call boat people "illegal". He was wrong
change knock us off, or are we a permanent fixture in the universe?
Rule of law and national security concerns
– the impact on human rights?
introduced sweeping amendments to the migration legislation on 25 September
2014. It is the plainest statement yet
that the Abbott government does not wish to comply with its obligations under
the Refugees Convention, consistent with its repeated failure to observe it
obligations under other human rights instruments such as the Convention on the
Rights of the Child, which it breaches constantly by holding children in
immigration detention, here and in Nauru.
For more detail on its
mistreatment of children, see the submission by Save The Children employees
to the Human Rights Commission enquiry.
a summary of the amendments to the migration legislation, see Chilout’s analysis of the new legislation
Just Australia campaign: Write to be Heard
From the Big Bang to
Life on Earth took about 9 billion years.
Life on earth emerged 2.1 billion years ago. This chart compresses the 2.1 billion
years of life on earth onto a 12-hour clock, to put human history into
perspective. It is arguable that,
despite our vanity, we are not central
to the design of the universe
Why sending Tamils back to Sri
Lanka is a breach of our obligations under the Refugees Convention.
breaches Refugee Convention obligations Tamils seeking asylum disappear into a fog
of Morrison’s petulance and contempt
Abbott says Sri
Lanka is a society at peace. Read the facts instead of believing him
Here is a
revealing observation about our government’s values
on Access to Justice
Learn about Liberty Victoria: protecting YOUR liberty
is an example of one of the Immigration Department’s 14-day
- write to asylum seekers held
on Nauru or Manus Island. Here’s how to do it
- write to Federal politicians. Here’s how to do it
And read excerpts
from Scott Morrison’s maiden speech in Parliament. He says what
his principles are. Was he mistaken
about his principles, or has he simply betrayed them?
Mental Health Subcommittee of the Joint Advisory Committee for Nauru Regional
Processing Arrangements - Nauru Site Visit Report 16-19 February 2014 - Executive summary
Offshore detention costs taxpayers $3,744 per asylum seeker
per day. Churches call
on Joe Hockey to stop writing a blank cheque for cruelty. See the detailed calculations
technology to make Intervention Orders more effective
“The Undesirables”: an account of the
detention centre on Nauru, by Mark Isaacs.
Published by Hardie Grant. A
must-read. Here is my Foreword to it.
Good article by
Chris Rau: Borders without Doctors (warning: file is
Remarkable article by Greg Sheridan published on 6
September 2001: under a heading “Inflammatory denial of human dignity”, he
behaviour towards asylum-seekers is appalling by any standards. Australia is
the only nation in the developed world that has a policy of mandatory and
non-reviewable detention for all asylum-seekers who arrive without a visa. You
should believe virtually nothing the Government tells you about this. …”
It is one
occasion where I can say he has written a very fine article, and that I agree
New website: Sorry, Asylum Seekers
warned of heavy metals contamination at Nauru
detention centre: another health risk to refugees. No response.
“illegals”, “queue-jumping”, “border
protection” and other myths
There is a much better way of dealing with boat-people. It would avoid all the harm done by
indefinite detention and it would produce huge benefits for the Australian
Harsher conditions in immigration detention
as Morrison’s promises of cruel treatment begin to bite
Nauru, the rule of law, and Australia
Time to make it
an offence for politicians to mislead or deceive us.
A bit of
information about Coal Seam Gas, and a few activist groups
concerned about it.
UNHCR reports on
Australia’s breaches of human rights regarding detention conditions and
processing of asylum seekers held on Nauru and Manus Island, November 2013
is a letter I received from a member of the
public recently concerning our treatment of asylum seekers. The writer has given me permission to make
the contents of the letter public.
Read the story of two boat people from Iran: see
why they are willing to risk their lives at sea in their attempt to reach
“Over the past decade, it is believed that
more than a thousand asylum seekers have drowned. The unseaworthy vessels are swamped through
leaky hulls, capsize in heavy swells, splinter on the rocks. Survivors
sometimes drift for days. Children have watched their parents drown, and
parents their children. Entire families have been lost.”
Bolt has been criticizing me vigorously in recent weeks. I am relieved.
“Promises, Promises” by Clarrie Burke
5 November is the
anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605: Guy Fawkes and all
that. It can still teach us some lessons
The idea that a deterrent policy might save people from
drowning in an attempt to reach safety in Australia is attractive but mistaken.
Barry Jones Oration 2013, at Werribee Park
addresses detainees in Nauru. Warns them
about “lies”, but overlooks his own lies. This is the man who thinks he can lie
to Australians in order to be allowed to brutalize refugees. Oh, and he claims to be a devout
Christian…Worships at ShireLive church. They must be terribly
proud of him.
Morrison insists that asylum seekers are “illegal”. It is untrue, but is calculated to make it
seem respectable to mistreat them. Here is a simple explanation of the legal
position. Now that we know our
politicians are stealing from us, it is important to recognize when they are
lying to us.
Anglican Synod condemns use of the word
“illegal” to refer to asylum seekers
Does the Abbott
government really care about people drowning?
Festival: A Letter to the thing I wish I had written: A Recent
History of Australia, written 20 years from now
Not a good look for
Brandis: rorting expenses to schmooze with
journos at Smith wedding
Sign on a church
in Gosford: Human Rights abuse starts with secrecy
On 17 September I
gave the Tim Costello Lecture 2013
September 1683, the Ottomans abandoned their siege of Vienna. This led, by way of holy wars
and odd bits of etymology, to coffee and croissants.
Fiona Scott’s fatuous comments blaming traffic congestion on refugees, and
persists with his dishonest use of the word “illegals” to refer to boat people.
The election next Saturday
will seal the fate of the next generation like no other. A few years ago,
climate change was the ‘greatest moral challenge of our times’. This time round, it has barely rated a
mention. We are playing
Russian roulette with our kids
This is a very
disturbing election, with both major parties trying to outdo each other in
their promises to be cruel to a particular group of human beings. So how should we vote?
The UN Human Rights
Committee has found 143 violations of international law by
Australia involving 46 refugees indefinitely detained because of ASIO adverse
security assessments; the decision was released on 22 August 2013
A failure of
political leadership leaves both major political parties trying to outdo each
other in cruelty to refugees and majoritarian rule
begins to look like mob rule. If
politicians treated animals this badly, they would be drummed out of office.
Do Human Rights Matter?: A forum on our
treatment of refugees: 26 August 2013, 6.30 pm at Kaleide Theatre RMIT 360
Swanston St Melbourne
How we can act decently and
Nauru: a statement by Salvation Army
PNG Arrangement: Defend the Bad against
A response to the PNG solution: disgracing
Australia’s name. But
counter-intuitively, maybe we should not try to break it down just yet.
Read this letter from an Iranian still held in
detention after more than 3 years, and finally on a hunger strike in
Senator Carr’s arrogant and misguided
views about asylum seekers
Why Senator Brandis
is dangerously wrong
Detention Logs: a new website to help you
stay informed of what we are doing to people who have done nothing wrong, but
have asked for our help.
ASIO assessments and the profound
unfairness of locking up people assessed as entitled to our protection.
Facts about refugees, compiled by the
Centre for Policy Development. For some people, the facts have a bearing on
their opinion. Unfortunately Abbott, Morrison and the Gillard government prefer
to ignore the facts as they chase votes.
is the information given to people carted to
Nauru against their wishes: first we hijack them, then we threaten them, then
we get Nauru to imprison them: that’s how we drive them to despair.
The Far West Community Legal Centre
desperately needs financial help. Follow
the link, see what they do, and please contribute if you can.
ASIO assessments: the Coalition shows its
warm fuzzy side
A reflection on Australia Day, 2013
Mother and baby locked up, possibly
forever, without being allowed to know why. This is not how Australia is
supposed to be.
Censorship on Manus Island: obviously we are
ashamed of what we are doing. And so we should be.
Voices from people detained on Manus Island. Think of their despair and ask whether this
is how we should treat people, at Christmas or any other time.
A child detained
on Manus Island tries to speak out.
Read the plight
of a boy found to be a refugee but held in detention in conditions which the
government knows are likely to result in his death.
stories about the dreadful treatment of refugees right now.
The process of ‘screening out’ asylum seekers at the point
of entry to Australia operates to create terrible injustice
Rule – the principle of reciprocity – the idea “do unto others as you would
have them do unto you” is nearly universal.
Here are some examples.
increasingly demonise boat-people it is worth remembering the voyage of the St Louis in 1939: It was
denied permission to land its cargo of 900 Jews, and as a result hundreds of
them died in concentration camps.
UNHCR report condemns Pacific Solution,
and here is their press release
A girl held on Manus
Island writes to Minister Chris Bowen
Some ideas for a
better, and much cheaper way of treating boat-people.
The cruelty of Temporary Protection Visas
Refugee policy: heading down the wrong track
Here is the Constitution
of Nauru – note the Charter of Human Rights at the start of it - and the very
recent Nauru Refugee Convention Act
important decision of the High Court in case M47/2012: the High Court held invalid
a regulation which prevented the grant of a protection visa to a refugee if
ASIO assessed the refugee to be a risk to security. Accordingly, a majority of
the Court held that the decision to refuse the plaintiff a protection visa on
the basis of that regulation had not been made according to law.
irresponsible people put around emails saying that refugees get more government
benefits than pensioners. It is false, as this report from the Parliamentary Library
shows. Spreading discredited stories
despite the facts is the mark of bigotry.
DASSAN: Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and
Advocacy Network: doing a great job in the Northern Territory
UNHCR does not seem convinced that Pacific Solution Mk II is a good idea. In particular, their letter to Minister Bowen
suggests that Nauru does not have the ability to undertake refugee processing,
and Australia does not have the right to side-step its Convention
obligations. See UNHCR letter
of 5 September 2012 to Minister Bowen
The $15 billion
challenge: there are prizes to be won in this home-grown challenge.
I am donating the prizes to find who has the best ways of spending $15
billion instead of throwing it at the Pacific Solution Mk II. See the challenge here.
A clash of national ideals is exposed by Go
National list of organisations helping
Asylum Seekers and Refugees
There are two
contradictions at the heart of Pacific
Solution Mk II
On 8 August
Barry Jones’ gave the 33rd Daniel Mannix Memorial Lecture
2012: eleven years on from Tampa
Tony Abbott on 7.30:
can we believe what he says?
Latest developments in Assange case
A marvellous Letter to the Editor from Dermot
Daley-really worth reading
A few simple questions for Julia Gillard and Mr Abbott
A brief response to the Report of the Expert Panel
on Asylum Seekers
The policy of deterrence: is it really who we are?
The evidence about asylum seekers, by Sharon
submissions to Expert Panel on Asylum
selection of the submissions to Expert Panel:
- Human Rights Law Centre submission
- Asylum Seekers Resource Centre submission
- Centre for Policy Development’s submission
- Greens submission
- Sev Ozdowski’s submission
- Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and
Advocacy Network submission
- my submission
- and The Conversation has put together an
expert panel to make recommendations: see their findings here
Abbott criticizes boat-people as unChristian. He is wrong. Read why.
Solution or Nauru Solution: some choice.
Australia being swamped with refugees? No: look at this comparison
Detained, possibly for life, without charge, without
trial, without appeal. this should not happen in Australia, but read about what
we are doing to this mother and her two children
Asylum Explained. Asylum Seekers Resource Centre has a
brilliant new resource about seeking asylum: this is useful to refugee
applicants, community supporters of refugee applicants, and just about anyone
not in the lock ‘em up brigade.
Senate Report recommends substantial
improvements to immigration detention system
Just Australia reports: 528 children remain in immigration
detention facilities or alternative places of detention as at March 2012.
Welcome to Australia…
Brandis and Ron Merkel - why Brandis is wrong
50 refugees face lifetime
detention without breaking the law, without reasons.
Offshore processing and the problem with
How do we respond to the fact of refugees
drowning at sea trying to get here?
Excellent article by James Hathaway about asylum
seekers being held by Indonesia
Have a look at the
website of Welcome to Australia – a really beaut
about boat people – get the facts here
op-ed in Newcastle Herald 3 November 2011
(original as published here: slow to load)
Senate Access to Justice Report (Dec 2009)
Refugee facts from the Asylum Seekers
Uniting Church Human Rights kit ; get a useful factsheet on refugees and a useful
summary of myths and facts from the Refugee
Council of Australia; and a useful compilation of asylum facts prepared by the
Australians All and The Justice Project
a Community Legal Centre to help you
The Rendition Monologues: available here
for any theatre group to perform
and diverse legal coverage on Stephen Warne’s website
news and projects
Special Review of CIA interrogation techniques
in Guantanamo Bay etc
Human Rights Committee Report on Australia
new report on the operation of the Victorian
Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities
Rights Watch 2009 Report
Australian Human Rights Group announces
its campaign for a Human Rights Act for Australia, to coincide with the 60th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 10 December 1948 – 10
Proust report on department of Immigration
response to Palmer and Comrie reports
Richard Kirby lecture, 2008
Report of joint parliamentary committee on
It’s Time for Australia to have a Charter
bloopers in commentary at the Olympic
English Court of Appeal holds government
to account for ‘special rendition’
for politicians who mislead the public. Ignore
Laurie Oakes and
Andrew Bolt who misrepresent or misunderstand the point.
See the argument here.
9th Manning Clark Lecture, delivered 10 March
Age editorial calls for scrapping of
report on mandatory detention
Melbourne's most popular arts venue: fortyfivedownstairs at 45
The Charter of Rights in Victoria
The Centre for Constitutional Rights
information on Human Rights, Asylum Seekers, Law, The Arts & Language and
News & Opinion, select from the navigation menu on the left.