A refugee rights activist has been ordered to pay $600 following a March demonstration outside the Melbourne Immigration Detention Accommodation in Broadmeadows.
James Crafti had participated in a Refugee Action Collective (RAC) picket of the detention centre, in an attempt to halt the impending deportation of an Iraqi refugee.
Saeed* (not his real name) came to Australia with his brother. Despite their circumstances being identical, and his brother being granted protection, Saeed’s case was rejected. He was denied an appeal and marked for return to Iraq.
The Australian government moved ahead with the deportation order. Border Force officers were met with a three-day blockade but were successful in removing Saeed from the compound. He was smuggled out in a van and driven to Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney, where activists again blockaded. Saeed was deported in August, after months of fights to keep him in Australia.
Crafti faced trumped-up charges of property damage and assault, and one count of obstruction, for his role in the protest. But primarily, this was an attempt by authorities to intimidate refugee rights activists: Crafti faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail for trying to stop the government’s appallingly inhumane actions.
In fact, $400 of the $600 penalty was payment to the owner of a car that drove into protesters at one of the facility’s gates!
On the morning of the trial, RAC held a protest outside the Magistrates Court. They called for the real criminals in the Australian government to be held accountable for the deaths of refugees in Australian-run camps.
We know the stories of torture and rape, of coercion and fear. Activists have vowed to continue the campaign to close the camps and end deportations.