On the 26th of April 1976, the first boat of Vietnamese people sought refuge in Australia. Forty years on and Vietnamese people continue to flee Vietnam by boat today. It is estimated that there are currently 800 Vietnamese asylum seekers detained in either on-shore or off-shore detention centres or living in the community in Australia. Most are fleeing from religious and political persecution and are victims of various human rights violations at the hands of the Communist Party of Vietnam ? the ruling party of the one-party state.

Despite the widespread evidence of human rights violations and the persecution of religious people and political dissidents in Vietnam, the Australian government continues to deport Vietnamese asylum seekers back to danger. As recently as last week, four Vietnamese asylum seekers whose claims for asylum were rejected by the Australian government in April last year, were sentenced by Vietnamese authorities to 2-3 years in jail. It is anticipated that the crime of ‘organising an escape from Vietnam’ will be used against future refouled Vietnamese asylum seekers.

RISE implores all politicians, particularly those who represent and are voted in by a large Vietnamese constituency, to speak out against the treatment of Vietnamese asylum seekers by the Australian government and to call for their permanent protection in Australia.

Further, RISE condemns the Australian government for the cruel and degrading treatment of not just Vietnamese asylum seekers but all asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia since 1976 and who continue to arrive today.

One of the most harmful policies that impacts upon the lives of asylum seekers is mandatory detention, introduced in 1992 to deter and detain Vietnamese refugees fleeing by boat.

RISE stands firmly against such arbitrary, racist and inhumane policies, which legislate to indefinitely detain brown and black people fleeing from persecution. If the Australian government is to act in accordance with its international obligations, it must end mandatory detention and ensure the assessment of all refugees within the community.