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Working with Asylum Seekers

ATC members of WA continue to provide wel-fare and moral support to the detainees in the Perth Detention Centre. They have also been helping asylum seekers with resettlement into the community. Concerned ATC members in WA contacted their local Members of Parliament dur-ing the protest at the Villawood Detention Centre.

Work with asylum seekers

Last week, in an act of desperation Tamil asylum seekers climbed on to the roof of the Villawood De-tention Centre. There was widespread media cover-age of this issue. The ATC National Coordinator for Refugees and Migrants made himself available and worked with DIAC officials and the Tamil asylum seekers.

      He also gave several media interviews to ex-press the legitimate fear of persecution faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka. Media personnel present had mentioned how his participation in interviews was very useful in explaining the concerns of the Tamil asylum seekers to the wider public.

Meeting with DFAT

A NSW political team representative met with some officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The officials were updated on the impact of the 18th amendment and the need for the Australian government to push for international NGOs to be present in order for any foreign aid be-ing pledged for development. ATC‘s Blueprint docu-ment was appreciated by the officials.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s new powers are unnecessary and dangerous

NATIONAL constitutions come in two main types. Some are prescriptive, enshrining freedoms, curtailing the powers of the state and generally hampering would-be dictators. Others, however, tend to the descriptive, and are often revised to catch up with changes that have already happened. Into this class can be put Sri Lanka‘s 1978 constitution, this week amended for the 18th time, with unseemly haste.

      The Sri Lanka described in the revised charter is not a pretty place. It is one where the forms of parliamentary democracy are preserved but the substance has become subordinated to almost untrammelled presidential power.

A Unified Voice for All Tamils

Her assessment is borne out by others. A BBC crew following returning Tamil refugees observed a marked distinction between the poor institutional support they received and the support that Sinhala settlers in the same regions enjoyed from military, government and Buddhist authorities.

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