Dear Ms Andrews,
I am a member/friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society. I live in the electorate of ***. We have committed to writing a letter to your government every week until all refugees and asylum-seekers who remain on Nauru and in PNG under Operation Sovereign Borders are appropriately re-settled. We also seek humane treatment for refugees and asylum seekers on-shore. We are copying this letter to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Immigration, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.
Twenty years ago the Tampa troubled the Australian political waters, carrying its cargo of mostly Afghan Hazara asylum seekers. Soon afterwards, in response to the events of September 11, Australia sent its troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. We wonder if you reflect on what has been achieved by Australia’s hard-line stance over those 20 years, against people fleeing the terror of living under the same oppressors that we sent our soldiers to fight.
One of the asylum seekers aboard the Tampa, then 7yo Abbas Nazari, was among a small number resettled in New Zealand. He is understandably grateful for the way New Zealand welcomed him and provided him with an environment in which he could flourish. In detention centres and APODs, and on Nauru, there are hundred of others people who sought a life free from persecution. Instead they encountered persecution by successive Australian governments, which has in many cases broken their spirits and jeopardised the possibility of them ever having a second chance at life. Many Afghans have been living in our community on temporary visas for many years, being prohibited from organising the family reunion that would have brought their family members to safety ahead of the recent Taliban re-conquest.
While we understand that it is necessary to prevent people getting into dangerous, unseaworthy boats to try to make it to Australia, it is completely unnecessary to continue to punish them after so many years. These people have suffered enough. We urge you to take a pragmatic and compassionate approach by:
* releasing all refugees from detention
* expediting permanent settlement options for them and their families
* doing everything humanly possible to bring as many Afghans who in any way assisted Australian forces and diplomats during those 20 years, with their families, to safety in Australia.
Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: email@example.com (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: firstname.lastname@example.org (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs)