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Launch of the Australian Wrongful and Arbitrary Detention Alliance (AWADA)

March 20, 2024 IN WIP
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AWADA is an alliance formed by Kylie Moore-Gilbert, Cheng Lei and Sean Turnell to provide support and advice to the families of those wrongfully detained, and to policy makers. It is a delicate matter, and legal advice as well as other personal supports are needed.
Current cases are : Dr Yang Hengjun, Julian Assange and Robert Pether.


Online and live

ASPI is delighted to invite you to attend the launch of the Australian Wrongful and Arbitrary Detention Alliance (AWADA) via a special public event exploring the impact of hostage diplomacy on Wednesday 20 March.

The panel discussion, featuring former high-profile detainees Cheng Lei, Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert and Professor Sean Turnell, will be moderated by ASPI’s Executive Director Justin Bassi.

Hostage diplomacy is a threat to global security, human rights and the rules-based order. The arbitrary detention of citizens to punish and coerce another nation is a sinister and increasingly tempting tactic for authoritarian nations in the absence of countermeasures.
The discussion will focus on Australia’s approach to hostage diplomacy, why it is being increasingly used by authoritarian states around the world, and how multilateral coordination is needed to counter the ploy.

It will also explore the legislative reforms Australia can make to improve the way it manages cases of wrongful detention and hostage diplomacy. The panelists will draw on ongoing public cases and their own experiences to advocate for governments to include justice for victims and accountability in negotiations.

Please note this is a hybrid event with the option to attend in-person or online. For those attending in-person, light refreshments will be provided after the event.

Listen to interview:

It’s a situation you would probably have no idea how to handle, watching as someone you know is locked-up overseas with little access to family, lawyers, or the outside world.

Now, a new group called Australian Wrongful and Arbitrary Detention Alliance has been formed to help Australians who find themselves in that situation.


Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, political scientist detained by Iran.

Professor Sean Turnell, economist detained by Myanmar.

Cheng Lei, journalist detained by China.

Max Chalmers, Oscar Coleman.


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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

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