Community members say they are expressing the overwhelming sentiment of Australians of Indian origin, who have been horrified by the Government's policy of abandoning citizens in India in the middle of a deadly pandemic, and the harsh penalties being imposed on those trying to make it home.
In the last two days, hundreds of people have signed a growing number of community-led petitions demanding the Government overturn the ban, drop the harsh penalties, and immediately begin arranging repatriation flights.
Petition creator Indu Balachandran said:
“The Australian Government has effectively made some citizens' lives lesser than others. And everyone is asking: why not the USA, or the UK, or Italy? We should all be outraged that state-sanctioned racial discrimination has become reality.
"This petition was born out of that collective shock and represents a broad coalition of Indian community members and community organisations across the country.”
Colour Code spokesperson Anisha Senaratne said:
"This policy sends a message to all Australians of Indian origin that they don't enjoy the same rights and protections of other Australian citizens based on their ethnicity.
“This petition, and the countless community members across the country outwardly calling out the ban as racist, are clear signs of how out of touch this Government is with multicultural communities in Australia.
It is clear that communities can, and will, mobilise against racial discrimination, and with a federal election on the horizon this is a message that the Prime Minister would be wise to heed."
Lead Victorian Convenor of the Asian Australian Alliance Molina Asthana said:
"The unjustified and harsh penalties imposed on the return of Australians from India is an unprecedented act to target a particular community and is racial in nature.
"No such ban, let alone penalties, were imposed on returning Australians from any other country.
"To arbitrarily criminalise the return of a person to their own home and families is also in blatant disregard of human rights, and is neither propotionate nor necessary."
Media contact: Alex McKinnon 0411 829 334
Indu Balachandran, spokesperson for Indian community coalition
Anisha Senaratne, spokesperson at Colour Code
Molina Asthana, lead Victorian convenor of the Asian Australian Alliance
Colour Code is a national movement of multicultural, migrant and First Nations peoples advocating, campaigning and organising for our communities. Colour Code has a membership of over 25,000 people from migrant and First Nations backgrounds across its digital channels, and is powered by GetUp.