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Newsletter for 26 May 2015 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca Districts

Hi Everyone

Stall at Valla Markets Saturday 6 June 2015

Following our very successful presence at Bellingen market in May, we are now planning for our next market at Valla Beach on Saturday  6th June. 

As usual, we are looking for volunteers to help with the stall. If you can spare an hour or two between 8.00 am and  1.00 pm, then please let Mike know by emailing him at, or phone 6569 5419.  It would be good to see some new faces, and you will enjoy the experience !

see Facebook

This newsletter is stored here for archive purposes. To read complete newsletter click below

Letter to Nambucca Guardian News

"Dear Editor,

One of the most common phrases in use in society is “Lest We Forget”. It is most commonly used to remember the sacrifices that so many people made in so many wars over the last hundred years.

More than sixty million people died in WWII – that is around 30,000 people a day for six years. This conflagration had a huge cost and we would be extremely foolish to forget the lessons learned.

In 1939 the boat St Louis left Europe with 937 Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. They were met in Cuba and Florida by anti-Semitic demonstrations and refused permission to disembark. The ship had to return to Europe and many of the people ended up being murdered in gas chambers.

One of the lessons learned from WWII was that people fleeing persecution should be shown compassion and offered asylum. This lesson was codified in the UN Refugee Convention to which Australia duly signed and ratified because it was the right thing to do.

Today, in the Straights of Malacca, thousands of people are floating around in the ocean, dying of starvation and thirst, because no nation will grant them asylum. Malaysia and Indonesia have been emboldened by the Australian stance of pushing boats back out to sea. Our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has even seen fit to congratulate them for doing so.

The issue of asylum seekers is a complex issue that can not be usefully addressed with asinine three word slogans. It can not be solved by persecuting asylum seekers with conditions that are worse than what they are fleeing. That path will just diminish us. It is morally bankrupt.

If one would like an example of someone who has lost their moral compass witness any government politician seeking to justify the imprisonment of children in our gulags in Manus Island and Nauru.

When the Government claims that it is stopping people dying at sea, what it is really saying is that it is better that these people die somewhere else where we do not have to take any responsibility.

There is a truism that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. All the more reason that we should ponder the words “Lest We Forget” and seek to build a world where we treat our fellow human beings with compassion and respect.

Peter Sobey"

Mike's letters to the Guardian News and Coffs Coast Advocate are on our blog

Why does Tony Abbott hate boat people?

​​If this image does not display it is also on the blog

Vietnamese asylum seekers held on naval ship for one month

ABC Radio National AM program 26 May 15

Revelations Australian authorities held Vietnamese men women and children held at sea for nearly a month

Senate estimates has heard revelations that Australian authorities detained 46 Vietnamese people including children at sea for nearly a month. The group was returned to Vietnam in April but officials cannot say what has happened to them since. The estimates committee has been told they were interviewed while at sea but the questioning process took less than an hour in some cases.

Pressure on Labor Party to change their policy on Asylum Seekers letters to all Labor senators ahead of Party Conference

Dear Senator
I understand from press reports that the Labor Party will discuss the Party’s policy on asylum seekers when it holds its conference in July. I welcome that, and I earnestly hope that the ALP will adopt a principled policy stance which reflects our international obligations  under the UN Refugee Convention and which recognises  the immense harm that the current Coalition policy, largely supported by the ALP, is inflicting on innocent people, many of them children.  That harm includes the emerging evidence of the sexual abuse of women and children in the Nauru detention centre.
Richard Marles, in an interview on Sky News in early February, stated that: “We need to be doing everything practicable to get these children out of detention as quickly as possible.” So what does that mean in policy terms? To date, we have not been told. In relation to Nauru, it has to mean the closure of the detention  centre and an end to the pretence that releasing families into the Nauruan community constitutes a solution to the problem. Save the Children, which has considerable experience of the situation, has repeatedly stated that Nauru is not a sustainable long-term option for the resettlement of refugees.
It is surely time for the ALP to recognise that the current policy stance is deeply flawed, is in contravention of our international obligations and is inflicting intolerable harm on a group of already-traumatised people. It’s time to move on from the sloganeering of “stopping the boats” and from the convenient lie  that the policy is all about saving lives at sea. The ALP should work with other nations in the region to develop regional solutions to a complex problem that is not going to go away, and that a civilised nation cannot turn its back on.There are many Australian citizens in our communities who are looking to our political leaders to rediscover their roots by adopting principled, humane and fair policies that can be confidently explained and promoted to the electorate.
I do hope, therefore, that the ALP, with your support, will listen to those voices within its ranks who are advocating a change in policy; a policy which is rooted in sound principles, international law and common humanity.
  Yours sincerely,

New T-shirts that are available..

and Amnesty (no asylum seekers shirts but Human rights defender and fighting the bad guys)

and John has  just found this online shop run by the Refugee Rights Action Network in WA which has a great range of T-shirts

#RefugeeWeek from Sunday 14 June 2015 to Saturday 20 June 2015 
“With courage let us all combine”

Refugee Week, coordinated by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is Australia's peak annual activity to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society.

This year Refugee Week includes World Refugee Day on 20 June.

RCOA has chosen “With courage let us all combine” as the theme for Refugee Week in Australia for 2015 to 2017. Taken from the second verse of the national anthem, the theme celebrates the courage of refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. It serves as a call for unity and for positive action, encouraging Australians to improve our nation’s welcome for refugees and to acknowledge the skills and energy refugees bring to their new home.

More information relating to this year’s theme can be found here


National Rural Australians for Refugees - now has current news on their web site 

Blog  includes articles from many sources and letters to politicians.
  (5309 page reads)

information on costs of offshore detention.

The next newsletter is being drafted on the blog.  If you want to see what is in it so far go to

Our Facebook page can be found at 

Twitter Account  @RARBellingenNam

Email Address

David Wallin

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