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Newsletter for 27 March 2018 Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and NambuccaDistricts

Next Roadside Demo - Toormina, April 5th 2:30pm
Next market stall Valla Beach 7th April
Harmony Day Festival
Freedom Stories DVD for loan
A Message from Manus

Roadside demonstration report

It was touch and go for last Thursday’s demonstration in Coffs Harbour, given the morning rain and the grey skies, but , in spite of the strong wind and the occasional spot of rain, we had a very successful time. A great team of eleven supporters waving placards and holding banners, and lots of support from passing motorists. We all agreed that it was well worth the effort. Our next demonstration will be in Toormina on Hogbin Drive, about 150 metres from the fire station, opposite the landscape supplier. We will gather a bit further down from our usual spot, so that the car horns from passing motorists don’t disturb the residents in Barco Court. Date and time: Thursday 5th April from 2.30 to 4.00 pm. Do come and join us if you can.

Next market: Valla Beach, Saturday 7th April from 9.00 am to 1.30 pm

Our next market will be at Valla Beach on 7th April. You might recall that the last Valla Beach market in February had to be cancelled because of heavy rain. Let’s hope that on this occasion the sun will shine and that we will have lots of visitors. This will be the final opportunity to sign the open letter to Bill Shorten, as we plan to send all the signed letters to him in the days following the market. Please come and join us at the market if you can, and add your signature to the letter. If you can help out at our stall for an hour or two between 9.00 am and 1.30 pm, then please let Mike know by emailing him

Harmony day in Coffs Harbour

Sunday’s Harmony Day celebrations in Coffs Harbour Botanic Garden  were full of colour, joy, and aromas from so many different cultures.Hundreds of people from across the world who have made Coffs Harbour home put on a spectacular show of dancing, music, traditional dress, and wonderful food.  It was a truly memorable event and it was great to see so many of our RAR supporters enjoying the occasion.

Freedom Stories DVD still available to borrow

This excellent documentary, which we advertised some weeks ago, is still available for anyone to borrow. The documentary comprises personal stories from former asylum seekers who were eventually resettled in Australia.It was reviewed in the newsletter of 27th February, which you can find by clicking on the link to our blog below, and scrolling down until you come to the newsletter of 27th February. If you would like to borrow the DVD, then get in touch with Mike at :

A message from Manus

Many thousands gathered in towns and cities across Australia on Sunday to protest about our government’s cruel treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, particularly those still languishing in offshore detention. A letter from Imran, who has been detained on Manus for five years, was read out at many of these demonstrations. In his letter, Imran expresses his gratitude for the many good people in our communities who continue to campaign for justice for our asylum seekers and refugees. He writes: “ Five years of incarceration and in exile is more than enough. We have been put to the test again and again, so horribly, yet we have stood the test of time. We are named in various ways, however, the inevitable fact is that we are just human beings with a real heart which knows how to love others.  We have lived without love for 1696 days in a hostile setting.” You can read Imran’s letter on our Facebook page.

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Twitter Account @RARBellingenNam

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Freedom Stories : a great DVD available on loan

Freedom Stories : a great DVD available on loan

You may remember that we advertised this DVD, available on loan to RAR supporters, a couple of weeks ago. Freedom Stories is a documentary-based project that brings together a collection of personal stories from former asylum seekers who sought asylum in Australia at a time of great political turmoil circa 2001, but who have long since dropped out of the media spotlight. The people who participated in the project are all now Australian citizens. Given the ongoing controversies over  “boat people” it is timely that their stories be heard. To borrow the DVD, contact Mike at: The DVD is licenced for public viewing, so in addition to viewing it at home, you might like to consider organising a viewing for a local group, which could have a big impact for our cause.
Margaret Henley, who has recently watched the film, writes:
 I experienced a mixture of emotions as I watched this documentary:  elation at seeing these former refugees as productive Australian citizens, sadness at hearing of the traumas they suffered and anger at the heartlessness of the Australian government’s treatment of these asylum seekers.
 I admired Aoham, a teacher from Iraq who struggled with the difficulties of finding a teaching job at a school other than an Islamic one. Reyhana, after suffering depression for three years after leaving detention, now works at the Migrant Resource Centre in SA. She no longer wears a veil and emphasised that she now has the freedom to make that choice.
 What impressed me about the men who were interviewed was their determination to establish their own businesses, from tiling to painting to forming a company, which organises work for sub-contractors. They did not avoid talking about the pain of being separated from family, the depression many of them still suffer from and the memories of self-harm they witnessed in the detention camps.
 One of the more unexpected stories in the documentary showed Sherie, mother of three sons, one of whom has cerebral palsy. She was taking driving lessons in a truck, almost ready for her Heavy Rigid licence but aiming for the licence that will enable her to drive B-doubles. “I’ve always wanted to be a truck driver” she said.


Urgent report on terrifying ordeal for refugee family


Dear Queenscliff RAR members…

Here is a report of latest action in what was already a terrifying ordeal for this family.

Please send this on far and wide.

It is crucial that we let MP's and our own communities know what is happening to terrified and vulnerable people who have sought our protection.

It is hard to believe that we have a policy that allows this to happen. 


The Tamil Refugee Council has described as reprehensible an attempt on Tuesday to deport a Tamil family previously removed from their home in Biloela, central Queensland.

Priya, her husband Nades and their daughters – 9-month-old Dharuniga and 2-year-old Kopiga, who were born in Australia – endured a traumatic week in detention at the Broadmeadows detention centre (MITA – Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation).

But things took a turn for the worse yesterday.

According to Priya, she and Nades were handcuffed, put in a van and taken to an airport. Their baby daughters were separated from them and travelled in another van.

They were flown to Perth, where they were put on an aircraft with several dozen other Tamils, who were deported to Sri Lanka last night. A last minute legal intervention resulted in Border Force officers removing Priya, Nades, Dharuniga and Kopiga from the plane.

“This was a dastardly and reprehensible action,” said Ben Hillier, Tamil Refugee Council spokesperson. “Dharuniga and Kopiga were born in Australia. This is their home –  they have never been to Sri Lanka and do not hold Sri Lankan citizenship.

“Priya and her family fled Sri Lanka in 2000 and Priya came to Australia five years ago. She has not been in the country for 18 years and her family is no longer there.

“Nades faces persecution for his former association with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which was militarily defeated by the Sri Lankan armed forces in 2009.”

The campaign to grant the family protection and allow them to return to their home in Biloela continues. Around 60,000 people have signed an online petition requesting that the Home Affairs Minister intervene.

“The community of Biloela is shocked and dismayed that Border Patrol rounded the family up last night and tried to send them to Sri Lanka – despite the pleas of so many to reconsider deportation,” said Angel Fredericks, a family friend and resident of Biloela.

“The way the family was treated is an absolute disgrace. We are holding a vigil tonight, 5.30pm, at the Biloela Lions Park, to reflect on the inadequacies of our broken system. I am deeply distressed by the manner in which these four beautiful souls are being treated.

“Handcuffed like criminals. Separating babies and infants from parents. Has Australia learnt nothing from our history? I urge the government to take a long look and think about what it is doing.”

The Tamil Refugee Council is calling on the Australian government to return Priya, Nadesalingam, Dharuniga and Kopiga to their home in Biloela, and to give Priya and Nadesalingam permanent protection so they can continue building their lives and raising their children in peace.

Media contacts:
Ben Hillier 0430 453 503
Angela Fredericks 0420 315 153