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Newsletter for 24 October 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next Market Stall - Bellingen Sat 18th November
Next Roadside Demo - Bellingen Thursday October 26th 2:30pm
Australia slammed by the UN Human Rights Committee
What next for the refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru?

Market report

There were lots of market- goers at the Harbourside market in Coffs Harbour on Sunday, and we had a busy time handing out leaflets, collecting signatures on our petition and selling our asylum seeker merchandise. All in all, a very successful morning, with lots of positive and encouraging comments from the many people who visited our stall. A big thank you to our faithful team of regular helpers and to Kim, the market manager, for her ongoing support. As a result of our sales at recent markets, we will be sending $150 to the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown this week to help them in their vital work.
Our next market stall will be at the Bellingen Community market on Saturday 18th November from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm. If you can help out for an hour or two, then please email Mike  to let him know.

Next roadside demonstration : Bellingen, Thursday 26th October, 2.30 to 4.00 pm

Our next roadside demonstration is this Thursday on Waterfall Way, Bellingen.  You will find us by the roadside opposite the golf club, just before you get to the Yellow Shed. It would be great to see some new faces in addition to our usual band of regular supporters, especially at a time when both the Coalition and the Labor opposition seem to think that there is not a high level of opposition to the current punitive policy on asylum seekers and refugees. We know from the responses that we get to our demonstrations and market stalls that there most certainly is widespread unhappiness in the community with the current cruel and unlawful government policy, which is largely supported by the Labor opposition in Parliament. We have lots of banners and placards to share, so please come and join us if you can.

Australia’s asylum policy slammed by the UN Human Rights Committee

Last week the UN Human Rights Committee met in Geneva to consider Australia’s responses to a range of issues, including the government’s record on detention practices for refugees and asylum seekers. To put it mildly, the UN’s response was less than positive. The Committee complained about Australia’s “chronic non-compliance” with, and disengagement from, the Committee’s work. Indeed, the Vice Chair of the Committee, Professor Yuval Shany, stated that Australia  “has very little to be proud of” and said that its compliance rate was so low that it was “completely off the charts”. Amy Frew, a lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, reported that: “Today, the UN gave Australia a grade of E –and that’s not an E for effort. The condemnation shows how far we have strayed  from the promises we made to uphold the civil and political rights of Australians and people in our care.”
This grilling in Geneva came just a day after the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a statement saying that the conditions on Manus Island amount to an “imminent humanitarian crisis” and a “looming humanitarian emergency”. UNHCR visited the Manus detention centre in September and is calling on Australia to immediately evacuate the men from PNG to Australia.
What more will it take for our government to recognise the cruelty and utter futility of its detention policy, and to bring all the people on Nauru and Manus to Australia?

What next for the refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru?

We reported last week that asylum seekers and refugees on Manus are being offered the “opportunity” to relocate to Nauru, in spite of the fact that the detention centre on Nauru was slated for closure given that the current contractor does not intend to bid for a further contract due to reputation damage caused by its association with the regime of mistreatment of the detainees. This week, however, Minister Dutton  announced the appointment of a new contractor to take over the running of the detention centre. The new contractor is Canstruct, a civil engineering and construction company based in Queensland. The company was involved in the construction of “temporary” accommodation units on Nauru in 2013. We have to ask the questions : What kinds of services will a construction company be able to provide for the detainees? Who will manage their health and medical needs? How will the many needs of the detainees be catered for?
It is deeply disturbing to learn that an Australian company is prepared to risk its reputation by taking on the running of a detention centre in which so much harm has been inflicted on the inmates.
Please contact Canstruct and urge them not to take up this contract. Remind them about the reputational damage that they will suffer if they collude with the government in its ongoing mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees. You can contact the company at:

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