Monica Jones, African American trans woman, activist and student, has been held in Villawood immigration detention centre in Australia since Friday the 28th of November with no access to visitation rights.
Monica has been a vocal advocate for the rights of people of colour, trans* people and sex workers, including in Phoenix where she has protested the targeting and profiling of vulnerable communities by Project Rose. It was the night after one of these protests that Monica was arrested by police and prosecuted, leading to the ‘We stand with Monica Jones‘ campaign.
In the US, people of colour and trans women are disproportionately affected by HIV. Monica had hoped to learn from the successes of Australia’s response to HIV, in particular those by peer led sex worker organisations and community led responses, internationally recognised as a success.
Monica’s advocacy work will be significantly facilitated by the completion of her student placement, where she plans to work as a social worker for her community after graduation.
Monica is being restricted entry to Australia in order to complete the 3 weeks remaining on her student placement after which she has a return ticket home to the U.S.A. Monica is in her 4th and final year of her social work degree. Without completion of her final 3 weeks of her student placement, Monica will fail this semester.
Monica wishes to highlight the stigma and discrimination experienced by sex workers, trans women and people of colour that may have led to her profiling at the border and subsequent detention. On World AIDS Day it is important to recognise that it is stigma and discrimination that fuels the HIV epidemic.
Sex workers, trans* people and allies are protesting on Monday at 2pm at:
– Federal Law Courts in Sydney ** moved to John Madison Building in CBD at last minute ** where Monica’s case will be heard
– Immigration & Citizenship Service in Melbourne
Community members, activists and allies stand in solidarity with Monica to show the Australian Government that together we will not stand for racism, transphobia or whorephobia.
**** Update on Court Proceedings and Media Coverage, late on Monday Dec 1st 2014 ****
Even after a last minute change in venue for the court proceedings in Sydney, more than 50 supporters came to #standwithMonica – causing the court to have to relocate to a larger room and find more chairs to accommodate everyone.
Supporters reported that Monica was misgendered by the state representative on more than one occasion. It became apparent that Australian border authorities were waiting for Monica on re-entry and that a film crew from the Channel 7 television show ‘Border Security‘ were present, having been tipped off in advance.
It was stated in court that Monica was on the list of those considered a “possible threat to Australia”, but without reference or explanation as to why the Australian government consider this to be the case.
When it became apparent that Monica faced a minimum of another week and a half in immigration detention – even if successful in her case – Monica made the decision to return to the U.S.A. and to fight the case from there via video link.
For more information, refer to Australian media coverage:
Interview on The Wire with Jules Kim, Monica’s field supervisor in her placement with Scarlet Alliance:
Want to show solidarity?
On Twitter – use the hashtag #standwithMonica
(thanks to Elena Jeffreys for co-authoring this post)