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Newsletter for 12 December 2017 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next Roadside Demo - Bellingen Thursday January 11th 2:30pm
Message of appreciation
A letter from Manus Island
Our open letter to Shayne Neumann

Roadside demonstration report

We had a terrific turn out at the Big Banana last Thursday for our final roadside demo of the year, and it was good to welcome a number of new supporters. We endured the sweltering sun and the biting bull ants, and there was lots of support from passing motorists. As always, there were some dissenters, but they were a very small minority. We intend to keep up the pressure in 2018, with our first demonstration on Thursday  11th January from 2.30 until 4.00 pm in Bellingen. You will find us on Waterfall Way, near the Yellow Shed, opposite the golf club car park. Could our roadside demos feature in your New Year’s resolutions? Please come and join us if you can.

A message of appreciation

As you will be aware, we have made significant donations to the Asylum Seekers Centre during 2017 to support their work with refugees. They recently posted a note of appreciation on their Facebook page, which reads:

“We would like to acknowledge the Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca District for the fantastic support we have received from them over the last year. We are truly grateful for your work in raising funds and awareness for Asylum Seekers Centre.  This passionate community group has an amazing presence in the community in northern NSW. Each month they raise funds for ASC through their stalls at local markets......AND they have chosen to continue their fundraising support for ASC into next year. Thank you!”

A letter from Manus Island

Some of you will have read the deeply moving article in The Saturday Paper by Behrouz Boochani, who has been on Manus island for the past four years.  His account details the events of recent weeks, the peaceful resistance of the refugees and the brutality that they faced when being forcibly removed from the original detention centre to three locations in Lorengau. As Behrouz says at the end of his article: 
“Ultimately they beat us down and with violence put an end to our peaceful protest. But I think we were able to communicate our humanitarian message to Australian society and beyond. This sentiment is what all people, whether in Australia or elsewhere, need more that anything else these days. Feelings of friendship. Feelings of compassion. Feelings of companionship. Feelings of justice. And feelings of love.”

You can read the full article on our Facebook page.

The open letter to Shayne Neumann

Last week we finally sent our open letter to Shayne Neumann, the Labor Shadow Minister for Immigration, with 535 signatures collected at our recent market stalls. The letter reads:

Dear Mr Neumann,
The Australian government has clear obligations under the Refugee Convention and international law to treat people seeking asylum with respect and humanity, to assess their asylum claims in a timely manner and to resettle in Australia all those arriving on our shores who are found to be refugees, regardless of their mode of arrival.  We therefore call upon the Labor Opposition to:
  • make unambiguous its opposition to mandatory detention.
  • demand the immediate resettlement in Australia of all genuine refugees on Manus and Nauru who are not cleared for resettlement in the US.
  • commit the Labor Party to working with other countries in the region and with UNHCR to provide alternative, safer pathways to eventual resettlement in safe countries, including Australia.
  • demand that people currently held in offshore detention who have close family members living in Australia be able to rejoin them here as a matter of urgency.
The covering letter to Mr Neumann can be found on our blog. The details were also posted to seven Labor Senators and MPs, in the hope that they might raise the issue
with the Shadow Minister. This letter too can be found on our blog.

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