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Newsletter for 25 April 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Roadside Demo Report
Coffs Harbour Market Report
Events on Manus Island

Roadside demonstration report

Last Thursday, a much-depleted group of supporters held  a roadside demonstration in Bellingen. We received lots of positive responses and support from passing motorists and pedestrians, which is always encouraging. It would be good to see more of our supporters participating in these demonstrations, as they are such a good way of getting our message across. We cannot simply fold our tent because Minister Dutton tells us that the Coalition policy will not change, notwithstanding our “bleating” about the issue. Our response was to create a new placard, especially for Mr Dutton!

Our upcoming roadside demos are as follows:
Thursday 4th May adjacent to the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour.
Thursday 18th May on the Pacific Highway in Nambucca Heads, adjacent to the Plaza shopping centre.
Thursday 1st June on the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour, opposite the Base hospital.
Thursday 15th June on Waterfall Way in Bellingen, adjacent to the library.
All the roadside demos start at 3.00 pm and end at 4.30 pm.

Coffs Harbour market report

Our market stall on Sunday at the temporary venue was a great success. The sun shone brightly, we had lots of visitors, collected 75 signatures on our petition, sold lots of merchandise and welcomed some new supporters. In addition to the many positive conversations that we had with market-goers, we also gave out information sheets about our group and about offshore detention. Our colourful stall continues to attract a lot of attention, and we didn’t have a single difficult conversation throughout the morning.
Our upcoming markets are as follows:
Saturday 20th May: Bellingen
Saturday 3rd June: Valla Beach
Sunday 25th June: Coffs Harbour
As  always, we are looking for helpers between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm, so if you are able to help out for an hour or two at any of these markets, then please put the dates in your diary.

Events on Manus Island

Supporters will be aware that there was a serious incident at the Manus Island detention centre on Good Friday, in which many shots were fired. Eye-witness accounts speak of drunken naval officers shooting into the detention centre, causing panic amongst both the refugees and detention centre workers. Minister Dutton immediately linked the incident to simmering tensions around an allegation of sexual assault that had taken place some weeks earlier, and suggested in addition that asylum seekers had lured a five year old child into the centre. The senior police officer on Manus, Inspector David Yapu, states that the incident was caused by drunken naval officers who attacked both the asylum seekers and members of the  workforce at the centre. He further stated that  a ten year old child had entered the detention centre a week earlier, had subsequently been returned unharmed to his parents, and that the two incidents were not linked.
Having insinuated that  the asylum seekers were to blame for the incident, rather than  the  drunken naval officers, Mr Dutton now says that we should let the police investigation run its  course. Echoes of the “children overboard” story here ! 

Our roadside demo in Bellingen

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