We post this open letter of support for Councillor Jonathan Sri (for the Gabba Ward) who has been charged with official misconduct under Chapter 5A of Queensland’s Local Government Act 2009. The penalty includes a large fine and possible dismissal from office by the relevant Minister. Under section 244 of the Local Government Act 2009, a finding of Official Misconduct is not appealable in a court of law .
Cr. Sri recently won a resounding victory for the Greens in local government elections. His close colleague Amy McMahon won the seat of South Brisbane for the Greens in the 2020 state government elections. His campaign manager, Max Chandler-Mather, is contesting the upcoming federal election, up against sitting Labor member, Terri Butler, in nearby Griffith.
It seems that both the LNP and Labor have been unable to stop the Greens juggernaut at the polls are now trying backroom tactics to unseat Councillor Sri and his team.
To Whom It May Concern,
I live at xx xxxx xxx xxxx and I am a retired Commonwealth Public Servant and radio broadcaster.
I write to express my strong support for Councillor Sri’s involvement in the refugee rights protests at Kangaroo Point in mid-2020.
I know something of the circumstances which required that people, including Councillor Sri, needed to act to prevent an injustice from taking place.
Immigration authorities were attempting to remove, by force, an Iranian engineer, Farhad Rhamati, from Kangaroo Point Central Hotel and Apartments at 721 Main St, Kangaroo Point. The Australian government had detained Farhad Rhamati for 8 years for lawfully seeking asylum in Australia. In 2020, Farhad was confined to his room in Kangaroo Point under Medevac laws which require that the government provide a duty of care to asylum seekers in Australia; Farhad was then forcibly removed, firstly to Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation and then to Villawood in Sydney.
On 17 February 2014 at Manus Island, Farhad lost his friend and countryman, Reza Berati, who was murdered by G4S guards contracted by the Australian government to enforce offshore immigration detention policy.
Farhad’s detention on Manus Island was deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea Court.
During his ‘extraction’ from Kangaroo Point Central apartments, Farhad was assaulted by SERCO guards and handcuffed, dragged downstairs and forced into an unmarked white van to be transferred to Brisbane Immigration Transit Centre (BITA) and then onto a high-security ‘alternative place of detention’ (APOD) at Villawood, in Sydney. Farhad was handcuffed for the entire flight.
Given this history, it was reasonable for people monitoring these apartments to be concerned for Farhad’s safety and welfare. One of the people concerned was Cr Jonathan Sri. While I do not know what actions were taken by him, I believe the actions of which he accused should be considered both ethical and moral:
– blocking traffic as part of a protest outside a Kangaroo Point hotel where refugees were detained;
– temporarily lying down in front of a vehicle that was seeking to enter the Kangaroo Point hotel-prison; and,
– stopping and searching a vehicle that was leaving the hotel-prison.
I believe Councillor Sri showed high quality leadership by participating in these protests, including by blocking vehicle access, and that it was an appropriate use of his power and role as a Councillor.
I do not believe Councillor Sri’s behaviour constitutes misconduct, and in fact I think it would be great if more politicians took similar actions to stand against the unlawful detention of refugees.
I am concerned that attempts to unseat Cr Sri at the ballot box may have triggered back room tactics by his political opponents.