A political rhyme

I thought my first post back after my accidental hiatus /

Would be full of funny musings, an update on my life’s status./

(Free from uni, qualified at last, job hunting and house-move planning set my time steadfast.) /

Or, perchance, a recipe post, I’m overdue for a few of those; /

Plenty of good meals I’ve made in the past two months or so.

Instead, today, I share a rant of politics and power, /

And how a scummy gov’ment contrived to shorten the hour/

And day of parliamentary dismissal,/

To ensure they wouldn’t lose a vote on the floor; no it’s not apocryphal.

Bad enough the week before, they ignored the message sent /

By striking students out to plead and shake some common sense /

Into the minds of climate-change-denying politicians, who are proving remarkably dense. /

This week’s fight was for a different cause, another long-fought war;/

Of words and desperate actions to free those forbidden from our shore; /

Their only “crime” to have fled for their lives, to a safer haven/

Through a dangerous voyage not lightly undertaken. /

A passage that’s NOT illegal, despite what some may say,/

All they want is hope, and we’ve taken it away. /

For six long years, they’ve languished in island hellholes;/ it’s made many sick, with malaise physical and of the souls. /

They’ve bled and struggled and DIED there, out of sight and mind, /

Of the Aussie gov’ment, who are wilfully blind, /

To the cries of anguish from detainees and friends; /

Willing to #bringthemhere and let their trauma end.

And what about the kids? The nation began to ask. #kidsout became the rallying cry; was that too much to ask?

Momentum slowly built, then took off with a rumble; /

When a new independent stood and declared her trouble,/

With the current practices, and made her stand clear. /

“Support my Bill, it’s past time now to bring these people cheer/

And the medical attention that they so sorely need. /

The gauntlet thrown, the players aligned themselves one-by-one; /

Amendments saw Labor at LAST stand up strong. /

For a moment, we felt the gasp, of fresh clear air, /

Heralding a new way forward, the day was nearly here. /

But before we could release our sighs of relief, /

The government went and slammed the door, a thief!/

They knew they’d lose a vote but fought it all the same; /

Continuing their endless turn of passing the blame. /

They trotted out the tired lines of “stopping the boats” and “protecting borders”, /

Ignoring how we all know how they’re false orders,/

Designed to give a reason to an unreasonable crime,/

Of locking up the innocent, for fear and power sublime. /

Yet they call themselves Christian? That I don’t understand, /

When the foundation family once sought refuge in other lands. /

Today’s government has cognitive dissonance of the highest order, /

Drunk on power and influence, and an imaginary world order.

A fact they forget, or they’re choosing to ignore,/

Next year is an election year when we can settle the score. /

They’re on the nose already and can only delay so much,/

When their time’s up, it’s up, regardless of what they do to try to keep in touch, /

Their fake promises and tax cuts will be seen for what they are,

And if they try the racist dog-whistle, well it won’t get far – /

They tried it at a local level last month and it was found quite bizarre./

So angry people discouraged by the latest conservative gasp, /

Let’s follow the State example and chuck them out on their arse!

#BringThemHere

Still, we must protest and raise our voices. The US-Australia deal is all-but-dead…why can’t the government show some courage and bring them here to Australia? close the camps!

Excellent analysis by David Manne in the following article: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/05/opinions/us-australia-refugee-deal/

Also, a perspective from America focusing on the humanity at the US-Mexico border: https://vox-nova.com/2017/02/05/brains-bodies-borders-biases-and-the-circle-of-holy-belonging/#more-29821

Open Letter by RISE

14925772_1379868898719912_247068160084581267_n

Letter to the Australian Public – Re:Proposed legislation to ban refugees and asylum seekers who come on boats from entering Australia – 31/10/2016

On behalf of our members and governing staff from over 30 of the refugee and ex-detainee communities in Australia, RISE urges the Australian public to say NO to the Turnbull government’s plan to introduce legislation to ban asylum seekers who arrive by boat from ever being allowed into Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s proposal to impose a “life ban” on refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived since 2013, as well as future refugees who will be arriving to seek protection, will be tied up with the “No Advantage Policy”, which was crafted and designed under the Labor party.

Therefore, we urgently request the public to resist the Australian Prime Minister’s proposed legislation to ban refugees and asylum seekers who come on boats from entering Australia. You can contact your member in the House of Representatives and ask them to not to support it. Find your member, http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members. Australia as a nation should treat refugees, who come to seek protection, with respect. Instead Australian politicians past and present have used it to become the utterly politicised issue it is now in Australia.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s proposal only serves political parties like One Nation, Pauline Hanson, and her followers will be proud of their White Australia policies. These fear-mongering leaders will only boost the attitudes of racists and xenophobes, but will not bring justice to our refugee community.

Men, women and children are trapped in Nauru and Manus, held hostage by the Australian government and are used as political pawns. This is deliberately designed discrimination and well managed by Australian politicians. There is enough evidence that Australia’s treatment of refugees is barbaric, and that treating survivors of persecution in this way should not continue.

There are over 65 million displaced refugees around the world. Many are languishing without proper protection in interim camps. Australia’s discriminatory, human rights-violating “offshore” processing system for asylum seekers who arrive by boat adds tally to the interim camps and keeps refugees in isolation. Deterrence measures may lower the number of asylum seekers in Australia, but it is not a just and humanitarian solution for people trying to cross borders by boat, or any other form of transport, desperately seeking a place where they can be safe.

To lobby for international action, click on the following links and raise your concern:
UNHCR Geneva http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4a324fcc6.html
UN New York http://www.un.org/en/contactus/
World Human Rights Watch hrwpress@hrw.org , http://www.hrw.org/contact/new-york
High Commissioner for Human Rights nationalinstitutions@ohchr.org , infoDesk@ohchr.org

Treating refugees as the problem or as political pawns is the REAL problem.

Link to the letter : http://riserefugee.org/letter-to-the-australian-public-rep…/

RISE TEAM.
‘Nothing About Us Without Us’

Positive Action for Refugees

Hi.

In the upcoming election (which will be my focus for posting this week), remember:

Last time I talked about not being silent. Implicit in that call was a promise to do something, or some things, to help. Currently, I connect with refugees in my local community and support them through going to rallies, to luncheons and other fundraising/ activism community events.

I also follow a number of pages through social media, who suggest further things to do.

One is Sister Jane Seeks Asylum. Sister Jane is a nun who set up camp in from of Parliament House in Canberra last December (in Advent) to raise awareness about Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. Right now, she’s running a “Make a Ripple” campaign – each week listing actions one can take to help – like sending phone credit to Manus, so the men there can keep in touch with their families. Check it out!

Here is a Pledge one can take, supporting the action we want to see. Somewhat symbolic, but sets out the objectives clearly, asking that the signer commits to working towards these goals:

  1. Immediate release and settlement for all those suffering at our hands;
  2. End mandatory detention; 
  3. Raise the refugee intake substantially;
  4. Safe and just passage of asylum seekers to Australia, with no punishment based on means of arrival;
  5. Give permanent settlement visas, citizenship with full rights including work and family reunion.”

Here is Julian Burnside’s explanation of why we should care, as a reminder, with some potential humane solutions.

Also, if you’re so inclined, here is an open letter from CAPSA (Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum): http://jss.org.au/capsa-open-letter-june-2016/
They, too, have a list of points:

  1. Offshore, mandatory and indefinite detention are wrong.
  2. The principle of deterrence, by which people who have already tried to come to Australia to seek protection are treated harshly in order to stop others doing the same, cannot be justified morally.
  3. People seeking asylum in Australia should live in the Australian community. Those sent to Nauru and Manus Island should be returned to Australia
  4. Those living in the community should have the right to work, access to basic services, and to some financial support if they cannot find work.
  5. Children should not be held in detention anywhere, but be housed in the Australian community with the full range of services necessary for their welfare.
  6. In the Catholic tradition, if people are to live with dignity their family ties are essential. People should have the opportunity to be reunited with separated close family members promptly once they are found to be refugees

 

Finally, to end on a happy note – a post on Facebook I saw:

The kids are all right, I reckon.

 

 

 

What the F*** are We Doing?

TRIGGER WARNING – graphic imagery about food and mentions of rape, torture, murder.

Look, I wanted to write a positive refugee week post. I really did. I’ll do that tomorrow – positivity is important.

Right now, though…

Manus Lives Matter. A really good reminder from Sister Jane Keogh about how the men on Manus are people too. This sentiment is brought into sharp context when things like the image and situation below pop up in my newsfeed…

EW

Ew. Shudders. And this is the standard we give to them?

Along with the injuries. The deaths. The rapes.

This is what my effing govt is subjecting desperate people to?! I don’t know how much better it would be under Labor, either. I don’t think it could be worse though.

Why can’t we have some politicians with principles on the front benches of Labor & the  Coalition stand up and drag the rest of their parties into a better place instead of a blooming race to the bottom?!
(I understand there are some working behind the scenes, but I mean someone or some people at Shadow-/ Cabinet-level or higher to have the actual political courage, decency and will to be public about it and work towards it. Something like Fraser did.)

They say they’re stopping “deaths at sea”. Do you know what stops “deaths at sea”?? Proper fricking processes like true multilateral co-operation, high supported intakes, and BLOOMING HUMAN DECENCY! 
We are better than this, for goodness’ sakes.
/rant over. This just makes me so despairing sometimes….
Hang Parliament and elect people of decency, dammit!
(Here’s a link to a website comparing the Greens, Labor and Coalition’s policies on asylum seekers. You see the problem.)
By the way, the trauma counsellor whose article I pointed to on Tuesday has been sacked for speaking out. They want us to be silent – but I. Will. Not!
As a health sciences uni student, I cannot. As a Catholic, I cannot. As someone with a reasonable sense of empathy I cannot.
I will keep talking about these situations and highlighting what’s going on until something changes.
“Before you vote, think of the children on Nauru.” – statement from activist group Grandmothers (& Friends) Against Refugee Detention.

Reblogged – Your Fault, Dutton, Not Advocates

TRIGGER WARNING FOR DISCUSSION OF SELF-HARM, SUICIDE & NEGLECT OF DUTY OF CARE BY AUTHORITY

[Meme by lynettag of a still from Q&A with captions & speech-bubbles added. It reads: you know a government is morally bankrupt when its NSW mental health minister says she doesn’t have an opinion about the crisis happening in our detention centres…
Tony Jones speech-bubble – ‘What is your opinion on asylum seekers?’; NSW Mental Health Minister speech-bubbles – ‘I don’t have an opinion’ ‘I don’t know the facts’ ‘It’s not an issue I follow closely’]

 

Neglect by government.

How the hell do Dutton and the rest of the government (not to mention the Opposition) sleep at night? I honestly can’t fathom the kind of dissonance they possess. In Dutton’s case (and Morrison’s), it seems to me that they’re able to sleep by being heartless b–tards. I really hope they are turfed out in the coming election. I don’t like hating people.

I have one message for politicians who don’t support this abhorrence. Cross the floor!
By voting with them on these issues, even as you speak out against them, you become become complicit – and I (& others!) can’t vote for you.

Placard seen at the recent protests in Melbourne:
IMG_6745
(Reads: “I would vote ALP if ALP would #BringThemHere”)

You know how I was talking about knowing your ‘voting issues’ and ‘deal-breakers’ on Monday? As many of you would probably know by now, the humane treatment of asylum seekers is one of mine. Indeed, it’s my main one.

The current situation sickens me. Many on both sides of politics are complicit in it and I will NOT be voting for them.

Last Thursday I spent some time outside the Melbourne Immigration Office (opposite Parliament station on Lonsdale St) supporting the protest/vigil the Refugee Action Collective were holding there, in support of asylum seekers and in memory of Omid.

IMG_6777

Omid is the third man (I believe) to die from injuries directly caused by government neglect.

Hasn’t it gone on long enough?

The below article from Guardian Australia says more about the despair of people imprisoned on Manus and Nauru. Go here for the full article. As I warned at the top of this post, be aware that there are discussions of self-harm and suicide, mental health issues and sheer desperation in it.

Refugees don’t self-harm because of me, Peter Dutton, they self-harm because of you

Refugee advocates work day and night trying to prevent asylum seekers harming themselves – it is our greatest fear. To be blamed for it is devastating

Immigration minister Peter Dutton
‘We cannot sleep, Peter Dutton. We can close our eyes, but the horrors we are witnessing don’t go away.’ Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

Peter Dutton, what do you do between the hours of midnight and 5am? Do you sleep? If so, I really must ask – how can you?

Dozens of Australians sit up all night, every single night, comforting asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. You don’t have to, therefore the task falls to the advocates.

Let me tell you what this entails, since your statement blaming advocates for suicide attempts – of actually encouraging self-harm – suggests you are clearly unaware.

It is mind-blowingly hot on Manus and Nauru during the day, so our friends there try to sleep. We, safely onshore, sit tensely in the evenings, watching for the little green light that signals people have come online. When someone doesn’t show up, there is a flurry of frantic calls between advocates; when did you last hear from them? What did they say? Are they in danger of self-harm? Who do you know in the same compound? The result of these calls can be anything from relief upon locating our friend, safe and sound, or that which is becoming more common – they’ve harmed themselves and are in International Health and Medical Services, or have been beaten by guards and thrown into solitary confinement.

We cannot sleep, Mr Dutton. We can close our eyes, but the horrors we are witnessing don’t go away. And on the rare occasions we actually do get to sleep, we know there are no guarantees that our loved ones will be unharmed when we wake.

I will never forget the last night I actually slept for eight hours – it was in September last year, and I woke to discover one of my dearest friends on Manus had stabbed

 

#BringThemHere

From GetUp! – an email earlier in the week:

The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea has ruled that detaining people in Australia’s abusive Manus Island camp is illegal. That means they must be freed.1

So what happens next? Peter Dutton says ‘nothing will change’2 – but that’s just the final, stuttering scratches of a broken record. In reality, the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia are urgently deciding how to deal with this ruling.

We need to speak up together, right now.

Legally, the government might have a few options – but morally, there’s only one. The Manus Island camp must be closed, and everyone the government illegally imprisoned brought to safety in Australia.

Click here to sign the petition to #BringThemHere

The Australian government’s offshore detention regime has always sat on shaky legal ground (i.e. it’s illegal under international law), but the last six months have seen its corporate and popular support plummet. A growing number of voices – from doctors to investors – have spoken out against the human rights abuses in the camps, and the people power of #LetThemStay is turning the tide.

#LetThemStay showed that more people than ever support allowing people seeking asylum already in Australia to move into our communities. Now, we must prove once and for all that our shared compassion extends to those on Manus Island and Nauru.

While the government is scrambling for a response to this ruling, we need to say loud and clear that the people the government has imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru should be brought here to safety, and the camps closed forever. Sign the petition to #BringThemHere: http://www.getup.org.au/bringthemhere

Today’s news is the latest blow to the government’s brutal offshore detention regime. Together we can make this blow decisive – and build compassionate policies in its place.


Right now is a time of flux. Things are happening and the pressure has ratcheted up again. We have good news – like the protests that occurred today (Friday 29th) and will occur tomorrow (Saturday 30th).

There is also awful bad news – like the man ‘Omid’ who set himself on fire being declared dead (I swore when I read that).

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-29/nauru-refugee-who-set-himself-on-fire-dies/7371112 (trigger warning for suicide).

We have to act, now. I’ll be going down to the Melbourne rally. I will also email my local representative. Things have to change. It won’t be easy, but it is right.

Come on, Australia! We’re better than this – so let’s #bringthemhere to #letthemstay.

 

I #StandforSanctuary

Across Australia this evening in over forty towns and cities there are gatherings in support of asylum seekers threatened with deportation. Below is some text I’ve copied from GetUp’s page about the event, since I couldn’t screenshot it. This includes a list of the towns and cities participating. There are more cities involved in the actions than listed, too, so have a squiz around your town tonight!

Also, check out the list, right at the bottom, of organisations supporting these actions. We will not stand down!

The 267 banner

Stand for Sanctuary

This is an emergency.

A High Court ruling on Wednesday means 267 people – 37 of whom are babies, including those in the photo above – could be sent to the abusive detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru within days.1

Together, we must stand in the government’s way.

We can’t waste any time. The government is ready to put these vulnerable men, women and kids on planes to hell – and only a huge public mobilisation is going to stop that happening.

In an incredible show of compassion and solidarity, churches around the country have opened their doors to offer sanctuary to the 267 people Malcolm Turnbull wants to deport. We stand with them.

On the evening of Monday 8 February, thousands of people will rally in capital cities and towns around the country to stand for sanctuary, and demonstrate that together, we will do everything we can to keep these babies, children, men and women safe. We will demand that the government let them stay.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD POSTERS TO PRINT AT HOME

On this page, you’ll find all the events we know are being organised. Some are being organised by GetUp! and our partners, others are grassroots mobilisations. If you can’t find your local town or community on this page, and would like to hold Stand for Sanctuary event, just shoot us an email at standforsanctuary@getup.org.au and we’ll put it up on the page!

MAKE SURE YOU’VE SIGNED THE PETITION

Community organised events

ALICE SPRINGS
Where: John Flynn Uniting Church Lawns, Todd Mall, Northern Territory
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
RSVP here

APOLLO BAY
Where: Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 5:30pm
Organised by: Apollo Bay Rural Australians for Refugees

ARARAT
Where: Ararat Performing Arts Centre, Cnr Barkly and Vincent Street, Ararat, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Rurual Australians for Refugees, Grampians/Gariwerd

ARMIDALE
Where: Central Park, Armidale, NSW
When: Monday 8 February, 5:30pm
Organised by: Armidale Rural Australians for Refugees
RSVP here

BALNARRING
Where: St Mark’s Church, Balnarring, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 7pm
RSVP here

BEECHWORTH
Where: Beechworth Post Office, Corner Camp St and Ford St Beechworth, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm

BEGA
Where: Littleton Gardens, Bega, NSW
When: Monday 8 February, 5pm
Organised by: Bega Rural Australians for Refugees
RSVP here

BENDIGO
Where: Rosalind Park, Bendigo, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 7pm
Organised by: Rural Australians for Refugees, Bendigo
RSVP here

BIRREGURRA
Where: Birregurra Drapery Courtyard, 69A Main St, Birregurra Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Birregurra Traders Association
RSVP here

BLUE MOUNTAINS
Where: Leura Uniting Church, Leura, NSW
When: Monday 8 February, 5:30pm
Organised by: Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group

BOAT HARBOUR BEACH
Where: Meet in front of the boat sheds, Boat Harbour Beach, Tasmania
When: Monday 8 February, 6:15pm

BUNBURY
Where: Anzac Park, between Library and Senior Citizens building, Bunbury, Western Australia
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm

CASTLEMAINE
Where: Victory Park, Castlemaine, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Rural Australians for Refugees, Castlemaine

CENTRAL COAST
Where: Gosford Waterfront (near Gosford Swimming pool)
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Central Coast for Social Justice

DUNKELD
Where: Dunkeld Town Park, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Dunkeld Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support Group
RSVP here

EMERALD
Where: Emerald Community House Hall, 356-358 Belgrave- Gembrook Road, Emerald, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 7pm
Organised by: Emerald Community House
RSVP here

GEELONG
Where: Crn La Trobe Tce and Ryrie St
When: Monday 8 February, 4pm
Organised by: Combined Refugee Action Group

GERALDTON
Where: The Law Courts
When: Monday 8 February, 7pm

GLEN INNES
Where: Dunkeld Town Park, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Refugees Welcome Glen Innes Support Group

HORSHAM
Where: Horsham Botanical Gardens, Horsham, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
RSVP here

LITHGOW
Where: Cook Street plaza, Main street, Lithgow, NSW
When: Monday 8 February, 5pm
Organised by: Lithgow Asylum seeker and refugee support group

MAGNETIC ISLAND
Where: Alma Bay, Magnetic Island, Queensland
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
RSVP here

MANSFIELD
Where: Meet at the horse trough in the Medium strip near the roundabout outside Mansfield Hotel
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Mansfield Rural Australians for Refugees
Wear White

MOUNT GAMBIER
Where: Cave Gardens
When: Monday 8 February, 5:30pm
RSVP here
MYRTLEFORD
Where: Myrtleford Piazza, Clyde St, Myrtleford, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 7:30pm
Organised by: Myrtleford Refugee Support Group

NEWCASTLE
Where: Wesley Uniting Church, 150 Beaumont Street, Hamilton, NSW
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Hunter Asylum Seeker Advocacy
RSVP here

NOOSA HEADS
Where: Lions Park, cnr Noosa Parade and Noosa Drive, Queensland
When: Monday 8 February, 5:30pm
RSVP here

NORTHAM
Where: Northam Uniting Church, Duke St, Northam, Western Australia
When: Monday 8 February, 7pm
Organised by: Northam Welcomes Asylum Seekers

QUEENSCLIFF
Where: Queenscliff Uniting Church, Corner of Hesse and Stokes Street, Queenscliff, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 7pm
Organised by: Queenscliff Uniting Church
RSVP here

RYE
Where: Rye Community Playground, Point Nepean Rd, Rye Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
RSVP here

PHILLIP ISLAND
Where: St Philip’s Anglican church, Thompson Ave, Cowes, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Rural Australians for Refugees – Phillip Island

PICTON
Where: Town Square, Argyle St, Picton, NSW
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Picton Uniting Church

SEMAPHORE
Where: Semaphore foreshore, by the angel war memorial, Semaphore, South Australia
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
RSVP here

SHOALHAVEN
Where: 59 Junction Street, Nowra (outside Federal MP Anne Sudmalis’ office), NSW
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
RSVP here

SOUTH GIPPSLAND
Where: Wonthaggi under the mine whistle in Murray St, South Gippsland Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: South Gippsland Rural Australians for Refugees

STAWELL
Where: Big Hill, Stawell, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm

TALLAROOK
Where: Picnic at CWA Park, cnr Railway Pde and Main Road, Tallarook, Victoria
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
RSVP here

TAREE/MANNING
Where: Fotheringham Park, near the clock, Victoria St, Taree, NSW
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
Organised by: Rural Australians for Refugees, Manning

TENTERFIELD
Where: Bruxner Park, Rouse Street, Tenterfield, NSW
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm

ULVERSTONE
Where: Otto’s Grotto, Fairway Park, Ulverstone, Tasmania
When: Monday 8 February, 5:30pm
Bring stuff for a BBQ

WOLLONGONG
Where: North beach, Wollongong, NSW
When: Monday 8 February, 6pm
RSVP here
OR
Where: Serbian Orthodox, 82 Kenny st, Wollongong Where: Monday 8th February 6pm
Organised by: Serbian Ladies Auxiliary

Keep checking back – we’ll be listing all the community organised events we hear about here.

Organising your own event (or thinking about it)? Awesome! Click here to let us know!


References
[1] ‘Asylum seeker families face deportation to Nauru after High Court ruling’, SBS news, 3 February 2016

Stand for Sanctuary banner

 

Not In My Name

Hmph. Well, the High Court have decided to find in favour of the Australian government. But this isn’t over yet – not by a long shot.

We must keep showing the government that we care about refugees and asylum seekers. We want them to stay. Reminder for fellow Australians that there are protests happening across Australia over the next few days – see my previous post for more info, I’ll stick it to the blog dashboard.

I’m really angry, though I have to say I’m not that surprised. The situation in Australian regarding asylum seeker rights has become so bad that I’m always expecting the worst but hoping for the best.

I said all I could say this morning. Here is a screenshot of the Anglican Parish of Gosford’s post earlier today. Father Rod makes a very, very pertinent point.

letthemstay

 

 

 

 

See more here for the ABC’s take on it. Quoting from the online article:

High Court throws out challenge to Nauru offshore immigration detention

Updated about an hour ago

The High Court has thrown out a challenge to the Australian Government’s immigration detention centre on Nauru.

Key points:

  • Majority of court’s bench found current Government arrangements valid under Constitution
  • Advocates back calls to allow dozens of children currently in Australia to remain
  • Sarah Hanson-Young says “sending 90 children to dangers of Nauru is child abuse”

The case was launched by a Bangladeshi detainee on Nauru who was brought to Australia for treatment after she experienced health issues during pregnancy.

She gave birth to her daughter in Brisbane, and brought the challenge to avoid being returned to the detention centre.

Lawyers for the woman argued that it was illegal for the Australian Government to fund and operate detention centres in a third country.

During the case the Government changed the law to close a loophole in the funding arrangements, which it feared could be undermined by the challenge.

Today a majority of the court’s bench found the current government arrangements were valid under the constitution.

Justice Michelle Gordon, the most recent appointment to the bench, issued the lone dissenting judgment that the laws rushed through in June were invalid.

Before the decision, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton flagged his intention to send a group of 160 adults, 37 babies and 54 children currently in Australia back to Nauru, should the Government win.

One of the children facing return to Nauru is a five-year-old boy allegedly raped at the detention centre, but Mr Dutton has said he will take concerns from doctors about the boy’s welfare into consideration.

The boy’s alleged attacker remains at the centre.

The lawyer leading the case against the Government, Daniel Webb from the Human Rights Law Centre, has criticised the Government for changing the law while the challenge was underway.

Mr Webb said they “shifted the goalposts”.

“Right now, I’m sure in the Immigration Minister’s office it’s high fives all round,” he said.

“They won in the High Court, but let me tell you, around the country right now there are 267 incredibly vulnerable people who will be terrified.”

Mr Webb urged the Government to allow the detainees to remain in Australia.

“Our government retains both legal and moral responsibility for what happens to innocent people in our care,” he said.

“The stroke of a pen is all that it would take for the Prime Minister or our Immigration Minister to do the decent thing and let these families stay.”

Read more by clicking on the link above.

 

Let Them Stay, All of Them


Front page of The Age, and other Fairfax papers, 02/02/16. Read the article here and sign GetUp’s petition to let them stay.

I’m really cross about this, but also tired, in a sense. Will the government ever start having a shred of decency or are we as Australians going to continue to be pariahs? Today, possibly as you read this blog post, the High Court will be determining whether or not the government has the right to send about 250 people – 37 babies, 160 adults and 50-odd other children (to quote the article above) – back to Nauru.

The article I’ve linked to above (the url under the picture) explains things very clearly.
If the government wins the case, then they’ll be able to move the people to Nauru and hopefully, they think, out of sight and mind (fat chance!). They’ll also be then able to claim that they’ve “reduced the numbers” of children in immigration (mainland) detention, as that’s where many of these kids are coming from. It’s duplicitous and unfair. Nauru is not a place for children, given the uncomfortable heat, lack of adequate medical care, and reports of brutality by guards and resentment from locals. Last night on 7:30, a report detailed some of the horrors these children have experienced and why they’re scared to go back. The situation is so bad that a group of teenagers on Nauru have composed a video and petition, asking to be released to Australia – asking for help.

On the other hand, if the refugee advocates win the case, then it is highly likely the group will instead be flown off to Christmas Island. Reports have surfaced of the government building a new “family detention facility” there. That is still detention.

It sickens me. The government just don’t care about anything other than being “tough on border security” it seems, heedless of those whose dignity they trample on in the process. (An article on junkee.com has more regarding how and why this situation became the way it is.)

Not to mention the plight of people in community and other detention who have had their refugee claims dismissed and are facing deportation back to the countries they fled from, without being told their case particulars. They are living in limbo too.

There was a very good article in The Saturday Age on the weekend (30/01/16). In it, Michael Gordon discussed the situation and the current options for the government. I encourage you to read it. It is suggested that there are three options (with words in quotes taken from the article):

  1. Deliberately narrow option proposed by academic Robert Manne. “It would see the Nauru and Manus caseloads gradually and quietly settled in Australia, roughly according to how desperate their situations have become, with the other blunt edges of Australia’s policy, like turnbacks to Indonesia, remaining. Once the centres were empty, they would be mothballed, but retained as a weapon to deter future arrivals.” (Similar to the Howard government approach.)
  2. A small group of Coalition MPs have been “quietly urging Turnbull to act and focusing their attention on the potential to collaborate more closely with Indonesia, with turnbacks on the table. The reformers are acutely aware of the dynamics within the Turnbull government, knowing that supporters of the deposed Tony Abbott will exploit any perceived policy retreats. As a consequence, they are opting for discretion and caution.”
  3. The most long-term and ambitious approach, with “more than 30 experts, advocates, academics and government and non-government officials from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar [working] together”. They aim to develop “a regional approach to mass people movements that would render unnecessary dangerous boats trips and the cruel policies Australia has developed to deter them.” (It is an ongoing discussion; the second of six planned meetings over three years was held recently.)

The right thing to do, here, requires political bravery. We can but hope that the right people have the courage to step forward and make the change, as some are doing in the third option above. Until then, we’ll just have to keep reminding them that we are better than this and can do better than the current situation.

Let them stay, drat it!!

To that end, there have been snap protests called…see if there’s one near you. If you’re in Canberra, there is a major protest going on at 11:15 tomorrow, after the verdict has been handed down, in front of High Court. If you can, come out and show the government that people care!