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Bello Nambucca RAR Newsletter 28th April 2020

 Detention Centres are Not Safe Places for Refugees
There is little doubt that pressure is now growing to persuade the government to release the people currently held in onshore detention in Australia. There are more than 1,400 of them, and it is surely now time for the government to take action, in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that these people are safe from harm. Other countries have taken action to release asylum seekers from locked detention into the community, in recognition of the fact that crowded detention centres, where social distancing is impossible, are dangerous places at this point in time.

The Mantra hotel in Melbourne, which is being used as an Alternative Place of Detention (APOD), is a case in point, and it has attracted a lot of publicity in the past two weeks.  A group of refugee advocates staged a drive-by peaceful protest, with placards in their car windows advocating an end to the detention of the asylum seekers, who mostly comprise men who have been transferred from PNG for urgent medical treatment.

The organiser of the peaceful protest was arrested at his home before the protest, had his house searched, his computer and other devices confiscated, and was held at the local police station for a number of hours. He, and all those who participated in the protest, were handed hefty fines on the basis that they were contravening the COVID-19 legislation relating to gatherings.

One of the refugees, Fahad Bandesh, appeared recently on Q and A to plead with the government to allow them to be placed in safe, community detention. He has also been vocal in representing the needs of the refugees staying at the hotel. His reward was to be moved from the Mantra hotel last week, against his will and without his possessions, and is now detained at the Melbourne detention centre (MITA).
Dr David Isaacs spoke out in recent days about the plight of the refugees in the Mantra hotel and other places of detention. He explained to Radio National listeners that these crowded places are inherently unsafe and that there is a real danger that the inmates will contract the COVID virus. He reminded us that many of these men have been cooped up in the hotel for up to nine months, awaiting, but largely not receiving, the medical care for which they had been evacuated from PNG.  He described the situation as “unforgivable”, and a form of torture.  He explained clearly that the men should be released and that they should be in community detention. Many of them have friends and family in the community who could help to take care of them. He also reminded us that this cruel policy is incredibly expensive, costing some $350,000 a year for each refugee!

Could you please consider writing to the acting Minister for Immigration, Alan Tudge, and to your local Federal MP, who for most of us is Pat Conaghan?

Point out to them that crowded detention centres and hotels are not safe places, during this pandemic, to hold asylum seekers and refugees.
Remind them that these people have been held for long periods of time, which is both unnecessary and hugely expensive.
Ask that they be released into community detention as a matter of urgency.
Ask them to reply to the points that you have raised.
Contact: Tel: 02 6277 7790 or 03 9887 3890
          Tel: 02 6277 4446 or 02 6652 6233


 Dear RAR Supporters

It’s almost time to close the non-existent orders for the virtual lunch. Please check out the menu to get your orders (donations) in. Last order by Friday, 8th May.

All funds go to the Asylum Seekers Centre in Sydney

NB. We have received a donation of two cases of champagne from the Northern slopes of the famous Mt Isa Vineyards – it will flow at the non-event!

Thank you to all who have already generously donated.

Georgie and Margie

0414 592 519


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