Home » Proposed at Wheeler Centre: Australian human rights activists team up with anti-war activists

Proposed at Wheeler Centre: Australian human rights activists team up with anti-war activists

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Images from Syria – before and after the start of the crisis there.  Humanising Syrians, humanising Syria.  (NB: There is one image of young refugees from Yarmouk waving to the camera – they were in a camp in Lebanon, May 2013.)

Information about The Fifth Estate, Wheeler Centre meeting on 21 July 2015

Wheeler Centre: SAFE HARBOUR



In the past decade, Australia’s stance towards asylum seekers has changed radically. No longer assumed to be refugees fleeing persecution, asylum seekers are now often described as ‘illegal immigrants’.

In recent weeks, there have been allegations that both major parties have paid people smugglers to return asylum seekers to Indonesian shores. The federal government has come in for particular criticism, with detention centre workers resigning in protest against poor conditions. There have been ongoing accusations, too, that Australian asylum seeker policies breach United Nations conventions. The newly created Border Force, merging the frontline operations of Customs and Immigration, has taken charge of Operation Sovereign Borders – where information regarding ‘on water matters’ is withheld from journalists.

As the number of refugees and displaced peoples increases around the world, Australia’s policies will gain increasing international attention. Join host Sally Warhaft with David Manne, Director of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, and Mariam Veiszadeh, human rights lawyer and ‘proud refugee’, for a conversation about seeking asylum, politics and Australia.

Below is the flyer handed out at the Wheeler Centre Meeting 


Safe Harbour

WHEELER CENTRE – 21 July 2015

To Sally Warhaft, David Manne, Mariam Veiszadeh, the Wheeler Centre, and Audience

If we are committed to supporting people who flee wars, how critical is it to have an ongoing conversation about (1) the role of our allies in wars and (2) mainstream narratives that help fuel the hatred and divisions needed to prosecute wars?


Would it be in the interests of asylum seekers if Australian human rights activists teamed up with anti-war activists?


Recently, the Wheeler Centre hosted discussions with David Kilcullen and Catherine McGregor. Both presented a military standpoint and ‘conventional wisdom’ regarding the current wars in Syria and Iraq.

The controversial appearance of Zaky Mallah on ABC’s Q&A has yet to be balanced by an equally controversial appearance of someone who challenges the mainstream narrative on current wars in the Middle East. Could the Wheeler Centre be in the vanguard and interview people who offer an alternative, well-researched narrative on the war in Syria?

David and Mariam, could AMRIS work with you on deepening the discussion within Australia about the war in Syria?

To the Wheeler Centre Audience, I encourage you to examine articles by Australians who challenge ‘conventional wisdom’ on Syria, for example, Dr. Jeremy Salt, Dr. Fiona Hill, Dr. Tim Anderson and Michael Brull.

Articles by veteran U.S. investigative journalist Robert Parry are also highly recommended.

I trust we can all contribute to discussions that foster hope.

Susan Dirgham

National Coordinator of “Australians for Reconciliation in Syria” (AMRIS)


Twitter: @SusanDirgham   Email: Susan.dirgham51@gmail.com

Bertrand Russell, a pacifist during the First World War, wrote in 1935,

The most difficult period in which to keep one’s head was the very beginning… One by one, the people with whom one had been in the habit of agreeing politically went over to the side of the war, and as yet the exceptional people, who stood out, had not found each other. But the greatest difficulty was the purely psychological one of resisting mass suggestion, of which the force becomes terrific when the whole nation is in a state of violent collective excitement.


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