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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 13995

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (16:55): Since 19 December 2018, Sudan has been witnessing a wave of protests against the economic policies and alleged human rights violations of the government. According to Amnesty International, over six weeks there have been more than 300 protests in 15 of Sudan's 18 provinces. The government has responded to the protests with excessive and lethal force, using live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas and attacking the injured inside hospitals. At least 50 have been killed, dozens injured and at least 1,000 arrested and imprisoned. Activists fear that many more may face arbitrary arrest and torture. I'm informed that the government has cut off access to social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, and continues to reject the entry of international reporters to Sudan. Historically, this has been the government's tactic to limit reporting on violence, torture and killings as it continues to escalate the use of force. I draw the attention of members in this House to the record of human rights abuse in Sudan. More than 300,000 people were killed in Darfur. Many people in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains regions were killed, tortured and discriminated against, while millions were displaced and forced out of the country, including some who've received protection in Australia and in my electorate of Melbourne.

The Australian Sudanese community has called on the Australian government to take a stand against violence and arbitrary detention, bring human rights violators to justice and support the right of the Sudanese people to peacefully demand their rights. The Melbourne Sudanese community marched on Saturday for freedom, peace and justice and to demand that President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, step down. Australia and governments around the world must take action and speak up.

This government we have at the moment is channelling Donald Trump and seeking to fight an election campaign on who can make life hardest for migrants and refugees. Melbourne's Somali community has been targeted by this sort of politics from Donald Trump before, and today I want to make it clear that I will stand with the community against these attacks. Melbourne's Somali community is crying out for serious policies to address community needs, like schools, jobs, family migration, hospitals and housing. But this government's policies have made life harder for Somali Australians. It's shut down many good jobs in the family day care sector that were an important pathway to employment and care for the community. It's caved in to overseas government that have made it harder to send money to Somalia through hawala remittances, putting devastating pressure on families in Somalia. It has introduced so-called terror laws that make it harder for people to travel to Somalia and visit loved ones. It has made family migration harder. It has locked up asylum seekers, who've done nothing wrong, in offshore detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru, with the full support of Labor. And yet, despite all of this, the Somali community is thriving, making Melbourne a better place to live, and I will always stand with them.