Open Letter to Multi-Cultural Development Association (MDA)

Yesterday I attended World Refugee Day Community Festival at Annerley Soccer Oval.

I approached Red Cross, Amnesty International , 4EB, Palestinian Arts, Culture and Science Incorporation asking if they would help me with a Petition to free Ridha! by placing it on their stalls.

They all refused.

To sign a petition is a basic democratic right. In Qld we have been denied democratic rights in the past and one of the few such rights we retained was the ability to petition our members of parliament. Refugees need democratic rights too. Anyone can choose whether they wish to support Ridha by signing the petition. They have the democratic right not to sign, for whatever reason. But organisations such as the MDA, Red Cross, PACSI, 4EB, Amnesty should not take it upon themselves to deprive people of their democratic rights. I was told to go to the front gate and get individuals to sign the petition. But that is not the point – it is up to organisations to take the lead and to demonstrate their willingness to give people a choice to support who they wish – especially when it is a question of human rights and social justice.

4EB, Red Cross and PACSI said that the petition was political and that you can’t put political petitions on stalls at World Refugee Day.

Amnesty International offered to train me on how to run a campaign but said that they could not participate by taking up the petition.

I gave Amnesty my name and phone number and left them a copy of the Petition to Free Ridha. Amnesty rang me back today asking for more info. I had already given them the full story and the website reference. They said that they would try to look at doing a ‘UA’. I asked what that was. ‘AI’ said that a ‘UA’ is an Urgent Action that is sent all around the world. The caller actually said this in the age of the internet. The representative told me that Amnesty are opposed to preventative detention. I asked the rep. if that is the same as administrative detention that Ridha is on. They said: ‘no preventative detention is where an order is given to detain someone (like Melinda Taylor in Libya) – the Israelis don’t even bother to do that they just pick up who they feel like on the OPT (another acronym, this time for Occupied Palestinian Territories). I have not received anything from them yet about the UA (Urgent Action). I hope to be proven wrong but I think AI is just ticking all the boxes before they say they can’t do anything. Their representative told me he does not ‘do OPT’ meaning the Occupied Palestinian Territories he does Syria and has involvement in Libya. Well NATO and the supporters of the ‘no fly zone’ have done a wonderful job in Libya, haven’t they? At least he rang me up which is more than I have heard from 4EB or the Red Cross.

PACSI said that they would not get the stall again next year if they put the petition on their table.

All the stall holders at the World Refugee Day festival claim that Australia is a democracy where we (migaloo = many waters, many travel i.e. boat people) can freely express our views.

I asked 4EB to support the petition saying that Paradigm Shift 4ZZZ had done shows about what happened to Ridha. They refused. I asked them why. They said it is political?! I told them that Paradigm Shift (Fridays at Noon, 4ZZZ fm 102.1) is political so why isn’t 4EB? They did not answer but told me that the current station manager at 4EB came from 4ZZZ.

If what I was told by the stall holders is true, why does Multi-Cultural Development Association (MDA) prevent people from exercising their democratic rights.

The only help Ridha has received is from ordinary people. The Australian government say they won’t help because he is not an Australian citizen. The real reason is that the Australian Government supports Israel. Israel won’t help because they want to persecute Palestinians and drive them out of their homeland.

I ask the Multi-Cultural Development Association to assist me in gaining basic democratic rights for Ridha by asking people to sign the petition to free Ridha .

Ian Curr
25 June 2012

Sent to Frederika Steen, board member of MDA at 6.50 am 25 June 2012

5 thoughts on “Open Letter to Multi-Cultural Development Association (MDA)

  1. Samira, Fairfield says:

    I am so happy to know that there are people like you Ian. Well done on all good work you do .

  2. Gareth Smith says:

    Ian, your argument is unassailable. If Australia is a democracy then it follows there should be no impediment in any forum/venue/function of expressing one’s values or political beliefs. It may not be seemly to do so at a wedding, for example but the decision should always rest with the individual. PACSI, for example, should weigh the cost of not getting a stall in 2013 against the more fundamental responsibility to uphold democracy and freedom of expression particularly in the case of Khalid which is a textbook violation of humanitarian law. As for Amnesty, words fail me. I shall let them know that I will divert my contributions to the Fred Hollows Foundation instead. Bugger their offer to teach you how to run a campaign Ian, what hubris!
    Mr Peter Sawczak, Acting Assistant Secretary, Middle East Branch replied to my letter about Khalid saying:” The Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Australian Representative Office in Ramallah have sought information about the circumstances of Mr Khalid’s arrest and detention, including from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs…..” YES, WELL what was the result? Did the Israelis cough up some answers? If they did, when are you going to share them, Mr Sawczak? If not, what is Australia going to do about this? When is any country going to refer Israel to the ICC? How many more flagrant transgressions of humanitarian and international law has Israel to clock up before a tipping point is reached? Dare we ask in our wildest dreams for Australia to step forward and take the initiative? Now I’m really hallucinating. Thanks Ian for being the Good Samaritan, as usual.

  3. Settlers shoot villagers says:

    This footage, filmed by local Palestinian women in May 2012 hiding in their homes on the outskirts of Asira village, shows an alarming and rapid escalation in violence, captured from the moment a group of settlers, some masked and armed with guns, descended from their hilltop settlement.


    The video shows the settlers throwing stones at Palestinian homes, and fires beginning to burn. One of the masked settlers was armed with a “Tavor” rifle which is only used by infantry soldiers, raising the suspicion that he is a soldier on leave.

    Armed Jewish settlers and Zionist soldiers
    The footage appears to show the settlers gathered on the outskirts of the village throwing rocks. A few minutes later, Zionist boarder police are seen arriving at the fray.

    In the scenes that follow, several of the Jewish settlers armed with M4 rifles – one wearing what appears to be a police cap – are seen to point their guns at the group of Palestinian men and open fire. The Zionist soldiers present appear to do nothing to stop them from shooting.

    The video footage raises grave suspicions that the soldiers present did not act to prevent the settlers from throwing stones and firing live ammunition at the Palestinians. The soldiers did not try to remove the settlers and in fact are seen standing by settlers while they are shooting and stone throwing.

    A 24-year-old Palestinian man was injured in the shooting and five others were wounded by settlers who were throwing stones.

  4. PUBLIC FORUM: Being smuggled to freedom: behing the anti-people smuggling rhetoric says:

    Dear refugee supporters,

    This is to inform you of our public forum which will review and analyse the rhetoric surrounding “people smuggling”. We are all influenced by what the media and politicians say about this, and RAC wants to provide an opportunity to rethink the whole business. Please come along yourselves, and invite your staff, volunteers, students, and where appropriate, your clients. Please help us spread the message about this event by relaying it through your own networks.

    The details of the forum are below. Also find attached a copy of our flier, which you may spread around electronically or else print out.

    We hope to see at least some of you on the day. Best wishes.
    Paul McKinnon
    Refugee Action Collective, Qld
    Ph. 3392 3843

    PUBLIC FORUM: Being smuggled to freedom: behing the anti-people smuggling rhetoric

    Speakers include:
    Mark Plunkett, Qld barrister representing Indonesian fishermen, including juveniles, in people smuggling cases.
    Ian Rintoul, prominent refugee rights campaigner, Refugee Action Coalition, NSW.
    When: 3pm, Saturday 3rd March.
    Where: Kurilpa Hall, 174 Boundary St, West End.
    Getting there: Street parking; 199 bus from Adelaide St, City.
    Further info: Paul, , ph.3392 3843.

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