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Letters to Coffs Advocate up to May 2015

Coffs Coast Advocate

May 2015

Dear editor,
Peter Sobey’s letter (Advocate 23rd May) is a timely and important reminder to us not to lose sight  of our moral, ethical and international responsibilities in these turbulent times. Do we still remember: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink”? I would like to believe that we do, and that we are still capable, as a nation, of showing compassion and generosity of spirit.  It is clear, however, that our political leaders prefer the easy option of resorting to jingoism and sloganeering rather than grappling with the complex issues relating to people fleeing their countries by whatever means, in a bid to seek safety for themselves and their families. These wretched souls would, of course, like all of us, prefer to remain at home in their familiar surroundings, and would surely do so if they knew that they would be safe, and free from persecution or starvation. Our leaders, sadly, knowing that there are more votes in taking a hard line  than in demonstrating some compassion and leadership, persist in demonising asylum seekers and in peddling the lie that their sole purpose in refusing to help is to save lives at sea. Let us ask them just three questions:
  • Are the policies that they have adopted – both Coalition and Labor – compatible with their oft-proclaimed Christian beliefs? 
  • Are the recent pronouncements by our Prime Minister about the thousands of asylum seekers adrift at sea compatible with his much-vaunted leadership role in the region? 
  • Are the actions of the Coalition government compatible with our responsibilities under the UN Refugee Convention, to which our government is a signatory?
Sadly, the answer to all three questions is “nope, nope, nope”.
We deserve, and asylum seekers deserve, better leadership than this.

15 August 2014

From: Mike
Sent: Friday, August 15, 2014 2:09 PM
Subject: Letter to the editor
Amanda Jennings (Your Say, 13th August) is right to draw our attention to the terrible loss of life in Gaza and to link this utter failure of humanity to the plight of refugees. 
Readers might like to know that, following her visit to Christmas Island in April, the Human Rights commissioner also reported that “these children are actually identifying themselves by their numbers, not by their names, which is shocking.” 
Does that ring any bells? 
A more recent report by the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce had this to say about the Abbott government’s treatment of unaccompanied children in detention: “This is state sanctioned child abuse which the Taskforce believes will warrant a Royal Commission”. 
It would appear that, as a nation, we have learned nothing from our past failures in relation to children’s wellbeing. We seem to be happy to continue to look the other way.
It is surely time for us to stand up and tell this government that they do not act in our name. I hope that many readers will turn out for the March in August in Coffs Harbour on 31st August and support those of us advocating on behalf of refugees. 
We need together to send a clear message to this morally bankrupt government that we expect them to act with integrity and humanity towards those in need of our assistance.


14 May 2014

Bellingen rural refugee group active again

UNITED: Members of Bellingen Rural Australians For Refugees.
UNITED: Members of Bellingen Rural Australians For Refugees.
THE controversy surrounding the Manus Island Detention Centre has led to the rebirth of Rural Australians for Refugees (RAFR) in Bellingen.
The Bellingen RAFR group was formed in 2001 following an exhibition of refugee art and a forum at the Bellingen Global Carnival, with 20 local residents meeting to discuss what they could do to change what they overwhelmingly believed to be a moral problem driven by party politics and politicians.
The group met on a weekly basis and adhered to a four-point strategy consisting of education, support/fundraising, networking and political lobbying as the foundation of all their activities.
Two Bellingen representatives went on to join the Freedom Bus on its first journey to Australia's detention centres at Villawood, Maribyrnong, Woomera, Perth, Port Hedland and Curtin.
A spokesperson said with many people now alarmed by the death of Reza Berati on Manus Island while seeking asylum, the group was meeting again with renewed energy and new members.

The group will be attending local markets to present the facts to the local community.

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