The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.61/No.28           August 25, 1997 
Australian Gov't Harasses Black Activist  

SYDNEY, Australia-A partial victory for democratic rights was won July 11 when visiting U.S. activist Lorenzo Ervin was released after three days in a Brisbane maximum security jail. The Australian government arrested Ervin and began deportation procedures July 8. His visa was unilaterally canceled on the grounds that he was "not of good character." His lawyer, Terry Fisher, said that Ervin was assaulted by prison guards.

Ervin, a former member of the Black Panther Party, began a four-week speaking tour in Brisbane July 7, hosted by Angry People, an anarchist organization.

Protests against his detention took place outside Department of Immigration offices July 10 in Sydney and Melbourne, with 100 people marching in Brisbane.

A High Court ruling on July 11 forced the Department of Immigration to withdraw the visa cancellation after Fisher argued that Ervin had not been allowed to answer the allegations against him. On July 14 Ervin was served with a list of questions from the Department of Immigration about the purpose of his lecture tour and his "criminal background," in an attempt to begin deportation proceedings again. Ervin was convicted in 1969 on charges of kidnapping and hijacking a plane from the United States to Cuba. He spent 14 years in prison.

The investigation against him started after fascist MP Pauline Hanson called for Ervin to be deported because he was "a known terrorist and gun runner."

On July 25 Ervin left the country, cutting his tour short by a few days, in order to avoid deportation. Canberra subsequently canceled his visa.

The government used the campaign against Ervin to bolster changes previously proposed to its already draconian immigration laws. The proposals include denying any appeal to those it decides to deport, as well as placing the onus on visa applicants to show that they are of "good character."  
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