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Since Australia’s Commonwealth Government refuses to fulfil its international obligations, members of Australia’s (Ab)Original government – with the endorsement of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy – have decided to issue their own passports for a group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers who were refused entry into Australia This story relates to the recent debacle surrounding the Sri Lankan, ‘Merak refugees’ who claimed asylum status in Australia (as is their right under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention to which Australia is signatory) but – due to the government’s personal intervention – were detained at Merak, Indonesia, and never made it here. On 1st May 2010, Labour Day in Australia, a special Original passport signing ceremony was held in Melbourne. These passports will be delivered to the Merak refugees in a few weeks. Original Passports are recognised in many countries around the world, they have been stamped in Europe, Asia and South America. Obviously it’s a symbolic gesture since Australia is one of the countries that does not recognise the government which issued these passports! However, the impact of this gesture will increase with the number of people who learn about it. “Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries freedom from persecution” — Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
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