Australian government revokes Palestinian activist’s visa
11 April 2017
The Liberal-National government of Malcolm Turnbull last week revoked the visa of Bassem Tamimi, a well-known Palestinian activist, in a flagrant attack on democratic rights aimed at preventing him from addressing public meetings in Australia.
Tamimi was granted a visa on April 4, but it was cancelled by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) within hours. He was about to begin a speaking tour at the end of this week, organised by the Friends of Palestine, the Social Research Institute, the Palestine Action Group and Socialist Alternative.
In its decision, the DIBP explicitly confirmed that Tamimi had been blocked from entering Australia because of his political views. It stated: “The department has recently been made aware of information that indicates there is a risk that members of the public will react adversely to Mr Tamimi’s presence in Australia regarding his views of the ongoing political tensions in the Middle East.”
When questioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) about the specific grounds for withdrawing the visa, the DIBP refused to provide any details of the “information” it had “been made aware of.”
Instead, the DIBP elaborated on a deeply anti-democratic rationale for the ruling. Invoking draconian provisions of the Migration Act, it asserted: “The exercise of this freedom [of speech] does involve a responsibility to avoid vilification of, inciting discord in, or representing a danger to, the Australian community.”
In other words, voicing opposition to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is illegitimate, as it could “incite discord.”
The decision underscores the reactionary character of immigration laws…