Vision First firmly reiterates and emphasizes that refugees have an absolute right to be here. They are not guest, illegal immigrants or charity recipients. We were evidently not consulted when the UN Torture Convention was ratified – we would have opposed it – nor do we issue Recognizance Forms. We value each refugee as a human being deserving of the same respect and dignity as every other citizens.
Nobody is in any doubt the current welfare assistance fails refugees at every level. Protection claimants face brutal and unjust hurdles attempting to survive in this opulent city. Forcing anyone to live 37% below the poverty line is as cruel as it is constitutionally illegal. It is a matter that most citizens are unaware of and would consider shameful and unacceptable were they forced to confront its madness.
Every individual with a Recognizance Form was allowed into Hong Kong by the Immigration Department. The government considers it desirable that human beings should receive insufficient assistance, while being banned from working and punished with 15-22 months imprisonmentwhen they break the law. This is unacceptable. This has to stop in the name of the kindness and compassion of the average citizen.
Vision First walks and suffers with refugees. Another year, or day, should not pass without challenging the government’s failure to protect and civil society’s duty to address such glaring injustice. The responsibility and blame must now fall squarely onto the shoulders of those responsible for planning, implementing and perpetuating a mechanism of oppression. It is time to increase the pressure.
To this end, Vision First will close its shelter on 1 January 2014. We will also suspend all financial aid (150,000$ a month) to our 700 members, effective 1 December 2013. There will be no more cash for members who do not take a personal, active part in opposing an unjust asylum policy. The aim is to ensure that we stops filling gaps and lifting a burden that is absolutely the SWD’s responsibility – not ours.
Vision First will share its tactics with those who have suffered enough and dare to fight back. We will organize groups to achieve strategic targets. We will support any (legal) action that will usher in urgent change. Two million dollars of financial aid will be shared among members who are committed, join protests and bring strength to the collective. The first requirement is to produce a “Red Card” from Legal Aid Department for applying to judicially review a failed, oppressive welfare system. We will not fail our objectives. We will never fail the refugee community.
As Charles Darwin eloquently wrote, “Evolve or die, mate!”
click above to see a refugee ghetto in a farm shed