27 November 2021

Dear Ms Andrews,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. 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.

As you know, regarding those refugees who your department has released some into community, some have been released into ‘community detention’ without work rights, others have been given bridging visas with work rights. In line with your Department’s apparent policy of intentional disempowerment, there has been no explanation given to them about the reason for the different treatment. But you may not be aware how these people are spending their time. In general, they are gathering with their friends and supporters, at last able to surround themselves with caring people and to build relationships of support. (Unfortunately your department has signalled its intention to move many of those interstate, so they will soon need to begin all over again). They are all looking for ways to contribute to our society. Some of those unable to work are spending a lot of time at the gym to fill in time, but are also offering their services for free to anyone who needs it, with household maintenance or gardening or other jobs. Those newly released with work rights are looking for work and accommodation. All of them have mixed feelings about their freedom, because they grieve for their brothers still in detention. They do what they can to support them.

Minister, there has not been a public backlash against your government for releasing these refugees. Can you please explain why your department has deemed it necessary to continue to detain their friends in conditions that they experience as ‘torture’, gradually dismantling their wellbeing and exposing those in the Park Hotel to COVID-19? Why is this necessary when there is room for them in the Australian community and the hearts of the Australian people? We would appreciate a reply to this specific question, but please do not cite border control, as no-one believes that the continued persecution of these people  – now for over 8 years – achieves anything for national security.

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

20 November 2021

Dear Ms Andrews,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. 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.

We are grateful that 4 more refugees were released into the community from the Park Hotel this week. One of them arrived on Christmas Island when he was 17. He has been held under Operation Sovereign Borders for nearly 9 years, meaning he has not been able to obtain an education or any employment experience, or even learn to drive. Finally release, he has been given 3 week’s accommodation in a Budget Hotel in Ardeer, after which he will receive no Centrelink support. Instead he is expected to find work having never worked in his life and speaking fairly basic English.

Minister we continue to deplore the arbitrary nature of your Department’s treatment of these people. Tax payers have been paying nearly a thousand dollars a day to keep each of them in the Park Hotel for more than 2 years, and now you deprive them of all government financial support? Those left behind in the Park Hotel and other detention facilities continue to suffer because your Department refuses to inform them when, if ever, they will be released. Is this how you would want your loved ones treated if they were forced to flee to another country in search of safety?

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

13 November 2021

Dear Ms Andrews,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. 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.

As your government moves into election mode, we expect that your campaign will focus on asking the Australian people to trust your record on economic management. In which case, we submit that one of the facts relating to your portfolio that needs to be foregrounded is the amount of tax-payers’ money you are spending to keep innocent refugees and asylum seekers in captivity off-shore and on-shore under Operation Sovereign Borders. An analysis of your own figures provided to the Senate reveals that the Australian people are paying $4.3 million per person per annum to keep each of 107 refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru. Can you please also make public the amount that is being paid to hotels such as the Park Hotel in Melbourne to incarcerate those brought to Australia under Medevac legislation? I protest in the strongest terms that the money I pay in taxes is being used for these purposes. 

Even more important than the money is the immeasurable cost in human suffering. Can you imagine the desolation of these people, rejected by Australia and yet held by the Australian government in interminable limbo? There is no justification for continuing this expenditure, when other options are available. Will you accept the New Zealand offer to resettle 150 refugees per year, and end this costly torture? 

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

6 November 2021

Dear Ms Andrews,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. 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.

We do not have a photograph of Mrs Hesari, mother of Iranian refugee Omid Masoumali who self-immolated on Nauru in 2016. But her words pierce their way to any parent’s heart, and we trust to yours:  

We named our baby boy ‘Omid’, which means ‘hope’ in Farsi, because we had beautiful dreams for him. Now all we have is the cold stone of his grave, where he died, lonely and innocent, in a foreign country. Australia has taken our hope, our Omid.

We do, however, have a photograph of Omid. As he looks out at you from the photo, we invite you to meet his gaze with compassion. 

Omid Masoumali

Among Omid’s last words before he set himself alight were these:

You have made our lives miserable and hopeless. I am very tired and exhausted. You have peeled off our skin.

The Queensland coroner this week released his findings into Omid’s death, recommending that Australia “provide more certainty to refugees to ensure those who are successful in their asylum applications are resettled in third countries expeditiously, and that refugees are given some assurance that will be achieved.” The uncertainty around their indefinite detention is slowly killing the spirits of Omid’s fellow detainees. Will you go down in history as the minister who ended this torture?

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

30 October 2021

Dear Ms Andrews,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. 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.

In his book, ‘After the Tampa’, Afghan refugee Abbas Nazari wrote of how New Zealand provided his family with ‘love, dignity and security’ so that they could rebuild their lives. He has gone on to flourish and become a contributing member of NZ society. What a contrast this is with the way that Australia rejected his boat mates, and then went on to imprison, torture and vilify so many who have bravely undertaken similar journeys in search of safety. 

The refugees and asylum seekers in the Park Prison also yearn for love, dignity and security – basic human needs that we all share. Instead they have suffered prolonged indefinite detention, which in many cases has profoundly damaged their mental health, and your government’s failure to keep them safe from COVID-19. One of these refugees currently infected with COVID-19 in the Park Prison writes the following:

Mr Morrison Government I would like you to imagine what we are in and how we are… Where is your humanity today? We are anxiety about this condition. We are mentally ill. We are physically ill. And we unsafe in this condition. Please and please let us free. We want to be free. Like a member of your parliament. And we want to live like a member of your family. We don’t want to die with COVID-19. 

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

23 October 2021

Dear Ms Andrews,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. 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.

This week, a COVID outbreak within the Park Prison has sent our already depressed and dispirited friends into further isolation within their isolation. This outbreak was predictable, and avoidable if you had been prepared to release these men into safety in the community. We request specific answers to these questions:

  • How much longer are you prepared to keep these men incarcerated? 
  • What purpose is served by their continued detention apart from the gradual destruction of lives?
  • Will deaths from COVID be enough to shift your policy?  If so, how many will it take? 

We also note that a third interpreter has been murdered in Afghanistan this week – each one a friend of Australia, each one a loved one to their family and friends. We hope that no more will need to die in order to convince your government to urgently increase its intake of refugees from Afghanistan to at least 20,000 people. We beg you to proceed with haste to bring as many as possible of the people who have been put at such grave risk by Australia’s sudden exit, to safety and a new life in Australia. 


Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

16 October 2021

Dear Ms Andrews,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. 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.

Park Hotel, Melbourne, refugee call for freedom

As those of us in NSW and Victoria are beginning to experience, or still longing for, freedom from COVID restrictions, please consider how much more desperate is the longing for freedom of those you have detained in places like the Park Prison for so many years. The men in the attached video are literally crying out for the freedom to walk in the sun, to associate with loved ones and build new relationships, to meaningfully contribute to a community. Will you watch the video, and consider possibilities for granting them what they so long for? They could all be settled in New Zealand within months, and you could thereby become the minister who ended this dismal chapter in our nation’s history.

https://www.facebook.com/106784358281517/videos/1350192255400651

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

9 October 2021

Dear Ms Andrews,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. 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.

We were most distressed to hear your announcement this week that your government is handing responsibility for the 124 refugees and asylum seekers who remain on PNG to the PNG government. For more than 8 years your government has held them in conditions where they are denied their rights to freedom and choice. Before you wash your hands of them would it not be fair to offer them more choice than either settlement in a country where they have been traumatised, or continued waiting and uncertainty? There may be some who happily choose to stay in PNG, but there are many whose experience there has led them to not feel safe. If you accepted the offer from the NZ government to resettle 150 per year, then they would have a genuine choice, and all those who wished to could be resettled and begin to rebuild their spirits and their lives. 

Minister, we beg you to end this appalling chapter in our nation’s history with an act of mercy towards vulnerable people on whom this nation has inflicted so much pain.

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

2 October 2021

Dear Ms Andrews,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. 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.

The following is a message to you from one refugee who is currently detained in the Park Hotel, along with 43 others.

He says: I love Australia, I love its people, but these policies are terrible. I think Australia is a beautiful country, a peaceful country which understand justice.  I have respect for Karen Andrews. This detention is ruining my mind. I want to be busy, to go to gym but I can’t, I have no energy. I have no control over my life. I ask myself, “how many seasons are there in Australia”, because in here I have only one season. 

Minister, this suffering is so unnecessary. We recognise that boat turn backs are preventing further arrivals. The ongoing detention of these refugees and asylum seekers off-shore and in places like MITA and the Park Hotel serves no purpose other than to further crush the spirits of people who are already thoroughly demoralised. Will you:

1. Release all asylum seekers and refugees currently detained under Operation Sovereign Borders into the community and commit to achieving permanent settlement options for them this year?

2. Set a limit of 6 months on the length of time that anyone can be kept in immigration detention?

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.

25 September 2021

Dear Ms Andrews,

I am a friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which is based in the electorate of Melbourne. 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.

The following are the parting words of one refugee, Vali Heydari, who recently left Australia for the USA. We are of course happy that he has finally been granted freedom, but mourn with him his nine lost years in detention and the ongoing detention of his friends:

I came to Australia with energy, with hopes and dreams. For Australia to welcome me, hug me. Who said ‘welcome to Australia’? No-one. I don’t want any cents from the government to support me. The Australian government broke our hearts. When I came to Australia I haven’t used any medication. Now every night I get 8 tablets.  I spoke with ABF they said to me “control yourself, you are not normal”. 100% I am not normal. 9 years I gave the best years of my life. I’m not just talking about myself. I talk about my friend here. 3 times he’s been rejected, he’s asylum seeker. He even asked to go back to Nauru, ABF they refuse. He gonna be lonely now. Why they do this? Serco business, IHMS business, ABF business. Who can listen to our voice, who can help us? I got my refugee determination in 2015. Prove I can’t go back to Iran. I go back to Iran they gonna kill me. I was accepted by the USA in 2018. Why I wait so long? 

Minister, this suffering is so unnecessary. We recognise that boat turn backs are preventing further arrivals. The ongoing detention of Vali’s friends serves no purpose other than to further crush the spirits of people who are already thoroughly demoralised. 

Will you:
1. Release all asylum seekers and refugees currently detained under Operation Sovereign Borders into the community and commit to achieving permanent settlement options for them this year?
2. Set a limit of 6 months on the length of time that anyone can be kept in immigration detention?

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow minister for Immigration and Home affairs), and to your local Federal MP.

Send the text to the Prime Minister via their website HERE, and to the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, HERE.