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.

18 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.

As the world rightly laments what is evolving under the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan, it does not escape us that our own government continues to perpetrate horrors on people under its influence. The treatment of people detained on- and off-shore under Operation Sovereign Borders seems designed to demoralise them, and strikes us as arbitrarily cruel. We read of a stateless man in Villawood detained for 11 years with no hope of release, and now quarantined in a windowless cell because he is a close contact of a COVID positive guard. We hear from our friends in detention of the complete lack of explanation given to them about why they must wait so long, why they are suddenly moved, or released, or not released when others are. We hear that after paying millions of dollars to detain these people, when a few are finally sent to the USA our government does not even pay their airfare – and they will have to repay a loan given to them for this purpose by the IOM. We read of young people still detained who were minors when they arrived on our doorstep, and who have had their most formative years stolen from them.

Minister, can you imagine what it would be like to spend nine years of your life in immigration detention, unable to plant your feet in a country you can call ‘home’, unable to build a life of your own design? We beg you to recover the cherished Australian value of fairness, and urgently grant all these people their right to freedom. 

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 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.

We continue to watch with dismay as the Taliban re-instates its oppressive rule, likely persecuting women, the Hazara minority, journalists and all dissenters. We urge you to increase Australia’s quota of refugees from Afghanistan, and do everything possible to bring Australian citizens and those who worked with our military or diplomats, to safety in Australia with their families. 

Minister, on Nauru, in APODs and detention centres around Australia your government continues to lock up people who dissented: people who opposed oppressive regimes, or who offended them simply by being themselves. These are the very people that as a supposedly egalitarian, democratic society, we should welcome for their courage in resisting oppression and in making the dangerous journey to find safety in a new land. Instead, your government collaborates with oppressive regimes like the Taliban to heap more misery on their shoulders in the form of indefinite detention. How much longer must they suffer?

We urge you to release all refugees into the community, and commit to finding permanent settlement options this year for all refugees currently detained on- and off-shore under Operation Sovereign Borders. 
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)

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

4 September 2021

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. 

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)

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

28 August 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 welcome the release this week of some refugees from detention, and are so pleased that at last these people can enjoy some freedom. However we are aware that those who remain in detention suffer greatly, not understanding why they continue to be incarcerated when their friends have been released. Many of these people have been hiding the true circumstances of their life – for 8 years – from their families back home so as not to cause their families pain. Here are the words of one of these men: 

“Let us back to our life. We are human. My best age is past in detention. I want to be free, I want to have a relationship, I want to walk alone, I want a puppy. Our family don’t know, we keep covering our pain.”

We urge you to immediately grant freedom and permanent protection to all refugees currently in our detention centres and APODs, and living in the community on TPVs. You have an opportunity, with the stroke of a pen, to improve your government’s legacy by ending an enormous amount of unnecessary suffering, and we beg you to do so. 

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)

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