‘501’ Australian deportees: Group asks that Kiwis support, not condemn

As a class action lawsuit begins to make traction by Australian deportees, dubbed 501s, an advocate for the group is urging New Zealanders to support them, rather than continue the condemnation.

A meeting was held in Auckland last night to strategise their action against the Australian Government over their treatment in detention centres, including the ominous Christmas Island centre.

Filipa Payne is a co-founder of the group Route 501 and Iwi n Aus groups and told Newstalk ZB everyone who was in attendance supported the move.

She said the meeting was about being present and face to face with people who have been through deportation.

There was also a detainee on video link from Christmas Island.

“Last night’s meeting was very special in the fact that we were allowed to attend a support group that had been running for about 14 months, with guys attending that have been through the removal process.

“One of the things that was very apparent is the trauma that is not being addressed in New Zealand and the displacement that is still taking place.

“I believe it is up to us as a New Zealand society to start giving aroha to people who have been through this process and not continuing the condemnation that Australia has placed on them.”

A key focus for attendees was talking about the class action against the Australian Government which said got the full support of everyone in attendance.

“This was about forming a collective and everyone was supportive and believed what we should be doing.”

The grounds for the action was abuse against human rights, she said.

“Absolutely and on Monday morning I will meet with a human right’s lawyer and will spend the day strategising and looking forward at what avenue we will take this down.

“In the next few weeks there will be a book launch, we will then be actively seeking funds from communities in New Zealand and Australia to support this kaupapa and we will be going forward.”

There were a range of deportees at the meeting; from those who had just landed to those who had been in New Zealand up to six years.

Payne said the class action was a “strong grass roots campaign and movement going forward”.

“We didn’t talk about any difficulties…we will go forward with strength, we will go forward with numbers and we will go forward with support”.

As for how people perceive 501 deportees, Payne said people here who thought that they might have some criminal association and switch off, usually say that they deserve to be treated like animals.

“I believe people hear the word criminal background or may have committed an offence and they basically stop listening and then they justify the actions that’s been placed on those people.

“I don’t believe anyone has the right to take away someone else’s human rights and the brutality that is implemented in Australian detention centres is absolutely disgusting and it’s time that Pacifica, specifically, stood up and said we will not allow this to happen to our people anymore.”

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