A message from Saeed

Dear Prime Minister,

Today, I send a message of peace and friendship to all the politicians of the world. I especially send this to the Australian government. Our refugees do not wish for war and violence with the Australian government. They bring us a lot of damage. But there is no complaint about them. Just they forgot about peace and love. They need our help. Please send us the waves of love and peace. Imagine them in peace and love.
— Saeed, Manus Island, 27 December 2017

Saeed is a better person than I am, Prime Minister. I struggle to send love and peace to the Australian government. However I can pass Saeed's message on to you. What will you do for Saeed in return?

End offshore detention #407

Dear Prime Minister,

Claire Higgins' article for the Lowy Institute reminds Australia that we used to have a humane and responsive policy towards asylum seekers. During Malcolm Fraser's Liberal government of the 1970s detention was considered abhorrent by Australians. Fraser's then Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Lou Engledow, concluded that detaining asylum seekers would "not stop boat arrivals nor produce a final answer." He described both detention and the idea of turning boats back as a "challenge to our humanity."

When Vietnamese asylum seekers were sailing into Darwin harbour in the late 1970s, newspaper editorials advised against holding people “behind wire fences patrolled by guards.”
Australia once ... [had] compassionate and humane reception procedures. ... UNHCR observers in the late 1970s [noted] how Australian authorities brought refugee boats into the harbour, sharing food and other supplies with the new arrivals. At the local quarantine station, asylum seekers could cook their own meals and assist in running the facility, which the UNHCR said was “a psychological benefit” ... The UN refugee agency noted high quality medical treatment was available ... and that staff showed “a high degree of compassion, interest and preparedness to help which are clearly of benefit to those arriving in a new environment.”
— Claire Higgins,

Prime Minister, the majority of Australians urge you to return to the previous Liberal party policy of humane treatment of asylum seekers. End detention now and allow asylum seekers to settle in peace and freedom in Australia.

For the 130th man on Manus Island

On behalf of the 130th man on Manus Island, I present a second artwork of Mr Sha Sarwari. "Silent Conversation" is an installation of 1975 blank postcards. It was exhibited at Walker Street Gallery in Melbourne where it was awarded the national Home and Art prize. 

Hazara refugee Sha Sarwari with his floor-based installation Silent Conversation, featuring 1,975 blank postcards. Photograph: Michael Cranfield

Hazara refugee Sha Sarwari with his floor-based installation Silent Conversation, featuring 1,975 blank postcards. Photograph: Michael Cranfield

In the course of developing the artwork Mr Sarwari reflected on the meaning of seeking asylum when he was told by another Australian that "we welcome refugees but they should stay in their home country and build their own country ... it should not always be an option to leave, to run away." Mr Sarwari's response is:

But I don’t call it ‘running away’. By leaving, I say no to war, no to killing, no to destruction.
I think violence and fighting and killing will get you nowhere. It will keep going and going, especially where I come from, where the basic infrastructure of life in terms of values and the fabric of society is broken.
If I was back home, let’s say, to stay as that person said, to protect my life, I would be killed or kill someone. To me, not doing that is a contribution towards peace.
By leaving the country, I think all refugees, they’re not only seeking peace and protection. They are contributing towards peace and freedom.

Mr Turnbull, Australia needs these people who are committed to contributing towards peace and freedom. Close offshore detention and bring the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru here.