Pacific Solution

Letters to Tyranny #67

Dear Prime Minister,

The issue of refugees makes me afraid. Not fear of refugees, but fear of what Australia's treatment of refugees is doing to Australia now, and what it might lead to in the future. The practises of repression and brutality, meted out to detainees on Manus and Christmas Islands and Nauru, have been encouraged in the DIBP and in its contracted agents. I am afraid that these practises will appear in the actions of other arms of government and will be directed towards more and more Australians: dissidents, educators, journalists, etc.

I protest against the offshore detention of asylum seekers for the brutality and illegality toward its immediate victims, and I also protest against it because of the damage it does to Australia and for the precedence it sets.

Bring them here

Ruth Halbert

Letters to Tyranny #63

Dear Prime Minister,

Who in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection directed Wilson Security to hire a private investigator to spy on journalists and activists? If Australia's offshore detention policy is such a success why must such extreme measures be used to keep its details secret?

On behalf of Mr XXX XXX from XXX, the 63rd asylum seeker on Manus Island, close the camps and bring them here.

Yours faithfully

Ruth Halbert

Letters to Tyranny #62

Dear Prime Minister,

In previous letters I have written to you about Aziz, Shazad, Junaid, Imran, Aadil, Amir, Mamud and Nayser.

They are eight of the brave refugees whose stories are published on www.bringthemhere.org. Even the bare details completely contradict your government's emotive and false language of asylum seekers as "threats", "illegals", "queue jumpers". The asylum seekers are in fact victims, what they have done is not illegal and there is no queue for them to jump because Australia takes fewer refugees now that it did in the 1980s.

Can you start telling the truth, change the language and close the offshore detention camps?

Bring them here.

Ruth Halbert

Letters to Tyranny #40

Dear Prime Minister,

Today's asylum seeker on Manus Island who needs your compassionate assistance is the 40th: Mr XXX XXX of XXX. As Professor Jane McAdam points out:

"Australia is the only country whose law explicitly says it is 'irrelevant' whether or not our non-refoulement obligations are engaged when removing an asylum seeker."

But the non-refoulement principle is considered by all other countries, eve those who have not signed the Refugee Convention, to be sacrosanct. It is prohibited to return people to the country they are fleeing.

The Australian system of indefinitely detaining refugees and trying to send them back to the country they are seeking refuge from breaks International Law.

How does it feel to be Prime Minister of a country that has passed legislation to act illegally?

Yours faithfully

Ruth Halbert

Letters to Tyranny #24

Dear Prime Minister,

Chances are that Mr XXX XXX, the twenty fourth man on Manus Island, has never heard of John Kinsella the poet. But John Kinsella thinks and writes about Mr XXX and all the other refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. As David McCooey wrote in his review of Kinsella's book "sack", Kinsella's works 'imagine a relationship between political action and literary speech.' He chose this excerpt from 'Letter to a Younger Poet: for James Quinton' (pp118-123)

"Phosphate burning never passes
and pickles us in its grave. It doesn't
make you grow. Ah, guano, ah, fertile Nauru:
you will echo in this country down the track:
Pacific Solution. Makes phosphated bones
creak. And rock phosphate from the island
where the unwanted are now incarcerated."

and asks "Can poetry change the world?"

What is your response to the writers, thinkers, academics, artists and citizens who demand the end of offshore detention and the safe resettlement of the asylum seekers?

Yours faithfully

Ruth Halbert