6 March 2022

Dear Mr Morrison

I am friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which meets every week 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 Minister for Home Affairs, the Minister for Immigration, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

We were so pleased that Mehdi Ali and his cousin Adnan flew to freedom in the USA this week. Like others who have left, Mehdi’s joy was tempered by his knowledge that his brothers continue to be tortured in indefinite detention by your government. Before he left, Mehdi wrote about his mixed feelings having seen others leave: “Of course, we all rejoice in this hell for the freedom of every individual, but it is obvious that the reality of our captivity is felt more than ever by the freedom of one person, and it torments our minds and souls. Why can’t we all be free together?”

Prime Minister, can you answer his question? The continued detention of these men serves no public policy purpose, and is at odds with every human right instrument to which we are a signatory. Another refugee, still detained in the Park Hotel, addressed a rally today: 

Mr Morrison says he is a Christian. I thought Christianity is about mercy, sympathy, empathy, care and love. What kind of Christian detains innocent people for 9 years? What kind of parent detains other parents for 9 yrs? Imagine how would you feel, not able to see your kids, care for your kids, for 9 years. We don’t ask anything of this government, we don’t need anything. Just open these doors and let us go. 

Yours sincerely

*

Send your letter to:

The Prime Minister via his website HERE.

Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).

Mr Alex Hawke: alex.hawke.mp@aph.gov.au (The Immigration Minister).

Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow Minister for Immigration and Home affairs).

And to your local Federal MP.

26 February 2022

Dear Ms Andrews

I am friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which meets every week 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 Immigration Minister, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

Mehdi Ali, currently detained by your government in the Park Hotel, has written this week about his memories of the days leading up to the release of a large group of asylum seekers from the Hotel over a year ago. He writes of the mixture of hopeful anticipation and trepidation that they all felt as they waited for the announcement, when time seemed to pass every more slowly than usual. He then describes the terrible silence that fell on the group that remained because they were not chosen to be released – with no explanation for why they were left behind.

The repeated experience of dashed hopes, of being kept in the dark about the reasoning behind the Department’s decisions, combined with the soul-wearying monotony of detention without end-date, is breaking these men’s spirits. Minister, these men, and others like them around Australia and off-shore, are in your hands. It is within your power to put an end to this misery. We seek reassurance that you are doing everything in your power to speedily reach agreement with the New Zealand government so that these people can at last settle in a country where they are welcomed and supported to begin to heal. 

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to:

Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).

Mr Alex Hawke: alex.hawke.mp@aph.gov.au (The Immigration Minister).

Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow Minister for Immigration and Home affairs).

The Prime Minister via his website HERE.

And to your local Federal MP.

20 February 2022

Dear Ms Andrews

I am friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which meets every week 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 Immigration Minister, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

We were very pleased to hear your announcement on Thursday that your government is close to an agreement with the New Zealand government to accept their offer to take 150 refugees per annum. We note that this offer has been on the table for 7 years, and that in that time all those currently in detention could have been resettled and be rebuilding their lives. So we hope that this announcement marks a genuine intention on the part of your government to speedily end this intolerable situation in which innocent people are detained for so long. We also note that this quota will mean that some refugees may still wait for lengthy periods, and we beg you to allow them to do so in the community. 

We urge you to conclude these negotiations quickly so that this suffering can end. Surely your government has vilified, rejected and tortured these people long enough, so that to make an issue of the possibility that they might one day seek to come here ‘by the back door’ is just cruel. It is also unnecessary. These people have been so resoundingly demoralised by the Australian Government’s treatment of them that most of them have no wish ever to come back to Australia. 

While you still have a chance, will you leave a legacy of mercy and let these people out to walk free?

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to:

Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).

Mr Alex Hawke: alex.hawke.mp@aph.gov.au (The Immigration Minister).

Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow Minister for Immigration and Home affairs).

The Prime Minister via his website HERE.

And to your local Federal MP.

13 February 2022

Dear Ms Andrews and Mr Hawke,

I am friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which meets every week 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 Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

As author Arnold Zable locked himself into a cage outside the Park Hotel in Carlton, Melbourne, on Saturday, in solidarity with the 33 refugees and asylum seekers you have locked inside that building, he reflected on the fact that it gave him an opportunity to imagine: 

I’m imagining what it must be like, looking through that window, month after month, and now it’s year after year, and trying to put myself in their shoes. And putting myself in their shoes is putting myself in the shoes of my brothers… Putting myself in their shoes is putting myself in the shoes of refugees throughout history. Many of us here in this country have got an ancestor or family member going back one two three four generations who has come from somewhere else, often in search of freedom. So really, the refugee is us. They’re a mirror reflection of humanity’s quest for freedom throughout the ages. 

Writers need a good imagination, but so do politicians, because their actions affect the lives of so many. Ministers, I’m wondering if you would enter into an exercise of imagining what it is like for these men, and others like them around Australia and offshore, to be indefinitely detained at your pleasure for so long. This cruel and unusual punishment is sapping the will for living from our friends, who cannot understand why they are being punished for the deeply human act of seeking freedom and safety. 

Ministers, we cannot understand it either. Another person who locked himself in that cage on Saturday was Rev Tim Costello. Tim was able to inform the gathered crown that even Peter Dutton had admitted to him that the continued detention of these men serves no public policy purpose; and that the ‘ring of steel’ around Australia’s northern shores, not the prolonged and indefinite detention of vulnerable people, is what has stopped the boats of asylum seekers arriving at our shores. 

While you still have a chance, will you leave a legacy of mercy and let these people out to walk free?

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to:

Mr Alex Hawke: alex.hawke.mp@aph.gov.au (The Immigration Minister)

Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).

Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow Minister for Immigration and Home affairs)

The Prime Minister via his website HERE.

And to your local Federal MP.

5 February 2022

Dear Ms Andrews and Mr Hawke,

I am friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which meets every week 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 Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

Will you read the article in this week’s Saturday Paper by Mehdi Ali, who you have detained in the Park Hotel? https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/life/2022/02/05/the-worst-torture-destroys-persons-character/164397960013265

He writes about the ongoing torment, for him and his fellow detainees, of indefinite detention, and how he struggles to sleep as his mind oscillates between despair and desperate hope for release. He writes about how he and his fellow detainees suffer more than those in prison because they have no idea of an end date. He writes: 

The law is not supposed to be a matter of personal taste, but it is clear my case can only be settled by the taste of one individual in this country: the minister. There is no explanation or clarity for it. I am a human being who has been deprived of my basic rights because of one man’s powers. Nine years is far too long for a boy to be held for no reason.

Ministers, we wonder how you sleep at night, knowing that you hold such power over the lives of vulnerable human beings, whose only ‘crime’ has been to ask Australia for safety. You have the discretion to end this misery, and see Mehdi and all those refugees detained for so many years released and settled in the community. Will that be your legacy?

Kind regards,

*

Send your letter to:

Mr Alex Hawke: alex.hawke.mp@aph.gov.au (The Immigration Minister)

Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).

Ms Kristina Keneally: senator.keneally@aph.gov.au (Shadow Minister for Immigration and Home affairs)

The Prime Minister via his website HERE.

And to your local Federal MP.

29 January 2022

Dear Mr Morrison,

I am friend of the Centre for a Compassionate Society, which meets every week 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 Minister for Home Affairs, the Minister for Immigration, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

We remind you of some words in your maiden speech to Parliament. In the spirit of Desmond Tutu you reminded us that:

We expect Christians to be those who stand up for the truth, to stand up for justice, to stand on the side of the poor and the hungry, the homeless and the naked. And when that happens, then Christians will be trustworthy, believable witnesses. 

Prime Minister, there are some poor and homeless people who have been made so by your government’s punitive refugee policies. They have fled their homelands seeking safety, and instead have been met with the ongoing horror of indefinite detention. As Rev Tim Costello has recently pointed out, it would be illegal to treat a dog this way, and it is illegal under international law to treat people with such cruel and unusual punishment. 

Desmond Tutu has run his race, and we imagine that he died knowing that he stood courageously for the principles that you also claimed to hold dear. Will your legacy be the continued and completely useless destruction of these people’s lives, or will you adhere to the values that your Christian faith espouses?
Yours sincerely,

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to the Prime Minister via his website HERE.

You could cc it to:

15 January 2022

Dear Mr Hawke,

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 Home Affairs, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

The world has certainly noticed your use of your ministerial powers this week to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa and see him detained once again in the Park Hotel. Your reasoning that to do otherwise would be to fuel anti-vaccination sentiment speaks of a deep concern for the health of the Australian community. 

Minister there is another risk to the health of the Australian community which you have the power to heal. The festering wound to which I refer is the continuing and indefinite detention by our government of innocent people. As the 33 men who are Djokovic’s fellow detainees in the Park Hotel look out their windows at the people enjoying their freedom, it is not only the refugees who suffer. To those people who look up at the faces in the window, aware or not of who is detained there, there is a great moral injury in the fact that the government which represents them is inflicting such suffering on people who came here already traumatised, seeking safety and freedom. 

This appalling situation must end, and it would only take a stroke of your powerful pen to do so. We beg you to release these men into the community, and expedite permanent settlement options for them and their friends in detention on- and off-shore.

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Mr Alex Hawke: alex.hawke.mp@aph.gov.au (The Immigration Minister)
You could cc it to

Send the text to the Prime Minister via his website HERE.

8 January 2022

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, the attention of the world’s media has been on the Park Hotel, because your Department has chosen to detain Novak Djokovic there along with 33 refugees who have been in immigration detention for more than 8 years. No doubt Mr Djokovic is suffering, and his supporters have heard about the bugs in his room and the terrible food. His dream of winning the Australian Open may be jeopardised.

Can you imagine how much worse it is for the 33 men you continue to detain in that facility even though they have spent more than 8 years in some form of immigration detention? These people have dreams as well, which may be less ambitious than Mr Djokovic’s; but you continue to deny them the possibility of pursuing even those modest dreams. Refugee ‘Joy’ writes:

When I came to Christmas Island in 2013 I was young man. I had dreams. I wanted to build up my career. I wanted to make a beautiful family. But my dream never come back. Because everything was ruined and finished. Who can give back my dream? My beautiful Life. And our 9 years. Is there anyone who can give back our 9 years?

Minister, this torture must end. We beg you to find – as a matter of urgent priority – permanent settlement options for these people and others stranded in indefinite detention on- and off-shore, to allow them to begin to heal and to get on with their lives.

Yours sincerely,

*

Send your letter to Ms Karen Andrews: karen.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au (Minister for Home Affairs).
You could cc it to

Send the text to the Prime Minister via his website HERE.

18 December 2021

Dear Mr Hawke,

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 Home Affairs, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration, and to our local members of parliament.

We welcomed your announcement this week of improvements to the Community Support Program in the form of an expanded cap and reduced costs to community groups. We were also pleased to hear that you will consider making these places additional to the regular intake, and we urge you to follow through on this. We note that Australia’s allocated humanitarian intake of 13,500 was less than half filled last financial year, and so there is room for us to increase the intake of refugees from Afghanistan this year. We beg you to take this opportunity to bring to safety more people who have been friends to Australian forces and diplomats. 

We wish you and your family a safe and restful Christmas. As you prepare for Christmas festivities, please spare a thought for those refugees who languish in detention in places like the Park Hotel in Melbourne, unable to gather with loved ones. There is room at our Christmas tables, and in our hearts, for these people, and we grieve the wasting away of their spirits as they wait for your government’s mercy. Here is a Christmas message for you from inside the Park Hotel.

Eight+ years in arbitrary 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.

11 December 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.

On Friday the world community celebrated Human Rights Day. We note that your government announced this week a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games, in protest at China’s poor human rights record. Minister, Jesus teaches us to first take the log out of one’s own eye, before attempting to remove the speck from a brother’s eye. We are astonished that your government sees fit to criticise another government on their admittedly egregious human rights violations, while you keep innocent people in indefinite detention on- and off-shore.

Will you listen with an open heart to the pain of one detainee in the Park Hotel, spoken to an assembled crowd on Human Rights Day?

I would like to tell you Australia government: 9 years is enough, please enough is enough. The Australian government torturing us, paid for by your taxes. Please pay attention, coz today is our human rights day. Is there anyone can tell me who can give back our 9 years? When I came to Christmas Island in 2013 I was a young man, I had dreams, I wanted to build up my career. I wanted to make a beautiful family; but my dream never come back. Coz everything was ruined and finished… Who can give back my dream? my beautiful life? our 9 years? Is there anyone who can give back our 9 years? Mr. Morrison government could you please give back our young life, those 9 years. Please tell us. We want those 9 years back. My only demand to the government of this beautiful country was freedom and safety. What we found is that the prison has been torturing us for 9 years, without any reason.

Today we want justice

Please we want help 

Please we want support

Please set us free 

Please we want to be free 

Please we want freedom 

Please open the windows 

Please open the doors …

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.