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newsletter for 20 Feb 2018 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Next Market - Bellingen Sat 17th March
U3A session on refugee issues
Next Roadside Demo - Big Banana Coffs February 22nd 2:30pm
Behrouz Boochani reports from Manus
Seriously ill mother still trapped on Nauru

Coffs Harbourside market report

A great turnout of ten supporters  to help on our stall in Coffs Harbour on Sunday. The new venue , apart from the lack of shade until the newly planted trees grow, is very pleasant and well set out.  There was lots of positive interaction with visitors to our stall, as well as lively conversations  amongst our supporters. As always, a very good response from members of the public, together with deep dismay about the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees by our government.
Our next market stall will be at the Bellingen Community markets on Saturday 17th March.

U3A session on refugee issues

Some 25 people attended the U3A meeting on the subject of refugees on Monday 19th February in Nambucca Heads. In the first part of the meeting, Michael Blockey gave us a very comprehensive overview of the development of asylum policy by governments on both sides of politics, and mapped out the shift from the bipartisan policy of welcoming refugees to one of demonising them for party political advantage. The result has been the “race to the bottom” in which politicians use the tactics of fear and nationalism to turn the Australian public away from the tradition of wanting to give people a helping hand and to offer them the opportunity to build a new life in a safe country. In the second part of the session, Vigeeta Chauhan, who works for Settlement Services International in Coffs Harbour, gave us a detailed picture of how SSI works with newly arrived refugees to assist them in navigating  the complexities of moving to a new country, learning  a new language and adjusting to a completely new existence. SSI supports the refugees with housing, education, health issues, shopping, finding employment and much besides. It is a vital service, without which many refugees would simply find it impossible to adapt to their new lives. You can find further information at:

Next roadside demonstration: Thursday 22nd February in Coffs Harbour

Our next roadside demonstration is this Thursday 22nd February outside the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour from 2.30 until 4.00 pm. Please do try to join us if you can, but remember to wear covered shoes to keep the ants at bay! We have lots of banners and placards to share and we need to continue to demonstrate to the public that many Australians are deeply appalled by the government’s cruel and punitive policy, which is designed to break people’s spirits and to encourage them to return to the danger that they have risked their lives to escape from.

Behrouz Boochani reports from Manus

On the fourth anniversary of the brutal murder of Reza Barati  at the hands of those paid by the Australian government to protect him, Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee held on Manus island, writes passionately about Reza’s murder, and about the plight of the men still languishing there, many of them since 2013. Behrouz writes: “His death is an utter tragedy. The way he was killed, and the violence that left him dead, more than anything else, echoes the level of ruthlessness inherent in the system of offshore processing. Four years have passed since that event and questions are still left unanswered. Why didn’t the police force try to stop the attack by the locals and G4S officers on that night? Why weren’t those two Australians ( G4S guards implicated in Raza’s murder) pursued and investigated? And why didn’t they appear in any court? Also, what was the role of G4S guards who had the responsibility to protect the refugees? And why didn’t they carry out their responsibilities appropriately?”
You can read the whole article, together with a very moving poem by Behrouz, on our Facebook page.

Seriously ill mother still trapped on Nauru

The very sick mother who needs urgent heart treatment, remains on Nauru, simply because she insists that she cannot leave her only son on Nauru whilst she undergoes treatment in Australia. The Australian Border Force – not well known for its expertise in diagnosing patients’ needs – has received repeated requests, including two in January, for the mother to be evacuated from the island, but refuses to budge on the need for her to be accompanied by her son. The latest medical report states that : “she is at extremely high and imminent risk of having a catastrophic cardiac event such as heart attack, or sudden death due to arrhythmias.”  A former senior medical officer on Nauru who treated the mother, repeatedly warned the Australian immigration authorities that she needed a higher level of care than can be provided on Nauru. He states: “ For the Australian Border Force to use her son as a way of denying treatment is breathtakingly cynical.”
If you would like to protest about this to the government or the opposition, then please phone Malcolm Turnbull on (02)6277 7700 or Bill Shorten on (02) 6277 4022.

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