offshore detention

Australia's slave trade

Dear Prime Minister,

On 12 March the sixth group of refugees was flown from Nauru to the US: seven men. Of the 2000+ refugees in offshore detention, only 146 have been sent to the US. These few have a chance to restart their lives, despite isolation and the financial burden of having to repay their airfares. But as Ai Wei Wei says the refugee swap with the US is

a complete insult to the understanding of refugees. It’s exactly like slave trading. You cannot deal with human beings by violating their [rights].
— Ai Wei Wei

He goes on to say:

If it’s not solved, it’s simply because we don’t want to solve it, because we benefit from the situation. Other people’s suffering and desperation is beneficial, so if those questions are not being answered, we will never solve the problem.
— Ai Wei Wei

A corrosive influence

But just saying over and over again that you respect human rights doesn’t make it true, not for the innocent human beings warehoused on Manus and Nauru for the last five years, or the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children being forced into prisons away from their families and communities at obscenely high rates.
All of the people suffering injustice right now in our community need action, not just words.”
...
“Victims of cruelty and injustice all over the world desperately need governments like ours to be part of the UN’s principled spine, not a corrosive influence gnawing away at the very foundations of human rights with their own hollow words and unprincipled actions.
— Daniel Webb, Human Rights Law Centre

Act by freeing all refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru

We know

Dear Prime Minister,

Reneé Pettitt-Schipp is a poet and former teacher of English to asylum seekers on Christmas Island. She continues to use the power of her poetic language and her increasing audience to remind us, again and again, of what we have done and continue to do.

The Will of Water
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
- Rumi

out beyond the reef
beyond the horizon, beyond
the breakers
there is a space
that will break
that will break, that will
unmake you

out beyond the breakers
beyond borders, tankers, Customs
freighters
out beyond eyes
beyond sight and the light
of conscience

hear the timbre of strain
sing a low, sad song
this vessel was never meant
to contain such weight

out in the middle of
we will decide who comes
and in the thick of the circumstances
every fear of each imagined ending
will engulf you
for we are a land that will not
(a line that will not)
give

out where mothers
are grasping for children’s limbs
we are losing patience with pity, turn away
we will not witness, it will not stick
for we did not see
heard no screams
let me wash my hands
I know nothing
of the will of water

out beyond the ocean
and all its undoing
you had a dream. I will meet you there
for when each life is at last allowed its living
the world will be too full
to write about.
— Reneé Pettitt-Schipp

You cannot wash your hands clean of what you continue to do. We artists will see to it.

Bring all refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention to freedom and safety now.

A stain

Dear Prime Minister,

Finalist for 2018 Young Australian of the Year, Kevin Kadirgamar, is a lawyer who assists asylum seekers and refugees suffering under our draconian, unfair laws. He says that our treatment of asylum seekers is

"a stain on the soul of our nation."

I agree with this remarkable young Australian when he says:

There is a duty of citizenship for all of us to stand up and say no, that is not the country that we are, we do not accept that, and to jealously guard Australian values. We all have the opportunity to help them find a much brighter future.
— Kevin Kadirgamar

How will your Government act to reflect the Australian beliefs of fairness and compassion?

Governor General Cosgrove made to be a hypocrite

Dear Prime Minister,

 Australia's punitive, repressive policy towards refugees is revealed yet again. At the UN, Governor General Cosgrove said

We have a duty to promote the rights of the most vulnerable, oppressed, discriminated communities, and to seek universality of human rights to all parts of our world.
— Governor General Peter Cosgrove

Yet Australia promotes its hardline policies of boat turn-backs on international waters, mandatory and indefinite detention and offshore 'processing.' Australia leads the world in exploiting and abusing asylum seekers by its policies of deterrence and punishment. We cannot pretend to uphold human rights. We deserve to be criticised and held to account.

NGV dumps Wilson Security

Dear Prime Minister,

Refugees and journalists reported serious allegations of abuse and criminal activity by Wilson Security guards in offshore detention centres. Arts activists staged a number of actions at the National Gallery of Victoria which also contracts Wilson for security services. Visiting artists at the NGV Triennial also protested directly against Wilson Security. The NGV has now ended its contract with Wilson Security.

Refugees and citizens will continue to protest against businesses associated with the illegal and inhumane treatment of refugees by Australia. End offshore detention and bring all refugees to safety and freedom now.

All refugees in detention are political prisoners

Dear Prime Minister,

Today, Melbourne's port was blockaded by protestors. Their banners included 'SOS Manus' and 'All refugees in detention are political prisoners.' How much did today's port blockade cost Australia's economy? On financial cost alone, how can you continue to allow the offshore detention of refugees?

Do not reply with the platitude 'We need to stop drownings at sea.' It is immoral to imprison and torture  the 2000 people on Manus and Nauru on the pretext of preventing other people's suffering. The boats have continued but the Australian navy now intercepts them (at vast expense) at sea and illegally and secretly turns them back. Last week, a boat with 29 Sri Lankan adults and children reached Australia's shore, which disproves your claim that no vessel has arrived for 3.5 years. Did the Sri Lankans claim asylum? If so, why were they flown straight back to Sri Lanka? How much did that 'special' flight from Exmouth cost?