Dave/Cherry on Sat, 6 Jul 2002 16:33:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> July 8, Day of Fasting for Detainees + Fasting promotions

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   Mon. July 8, National Day of Fasting for Detainees                              
     Dave/Cherry <ross777au@bigpond.com>                                             

   Fasting promotions                                                              
     Dave/Cherry <ross777au@bigpond.com>                                             


Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 10:37:12 +1000
From: Dave/Cherry <ross777au@bigpond.com>
Subject: Mon. July 8, National Day of Fasting for Detainees

Dear friends and supporters,

As you know, there has been a lot of media interest in the role of 
the Refugee Embassy in relation to the refugee breakout, including 
interviews with BBC World News, CNN, and some European News mob.

However, media interest here in Australia has had a bit of a nasty 
touch to it, heavily orchestrated by DIMIA.  ABC Radio's PM crew did 
an interview with me yesterday, and they really beat up a two word 
message that I received from the "Desert Liberation Front", which was 
merely that the escapees had reached "relative safety".  The 
interviewer did a bit to make something more of that than it was (and 
never even bothered to ask how old that piece of information was... 
it was, in fact, quite old), and then their news crew beat it up a 
bit more, until it became the second lead story on their news 
broadcasts throughout the night, as though they had some really 
strong evidence regarding the whereabouts of the escapees.  The truth 
is that they had NOTHING.

What bothers us is that the media takes the REAL information that we 
have and says, "We don't believe it," and then when we say we DON'T 
really know much, they invent things that we have not said.  We have 
had several reports from journalists that DIMIA is pushing them to 
create a picture of a conspiracy which would justify even greater 
oppression and secrecy at Woomera.  The amazing thing is how much the 
media (even the ABC, surprisingly) has either knowingly or 
unknowingly, co-operated with it.

Anyway, we felt like the ABC news reports more or less gave the 
impression that we were the official mouthpiece for the people who 
staged the breakout.  After what happened at Easter (when I was 
arrested for trespassing even though I was a good 100 metres away 
from the Detention Centre property), I decided that it might be time 
for me to absent myself from the activities there in Woomera.  So I 
have left Woomera.  Thanks to mobile phones and email, I should still 
be able to function reasonably well where I am at the moment.

It is strange that the police have not even come near me since the 
breakout, despite the fact that one guard (named Ian something or 
other) has been noising it around town that he supposedly saw me 
during the breakout.  (He didn't, of course, because I wasn't there, 
and the videos they took themselves will, no doubt, show that.)  So 
why am I helping their cause by stating that Ian Whoever is saying 
this?  Because I think that the sooner the spotlight is shone on such 
liars, the sooner the real conspiracy can be uncovered.

I am happy to be interviewed by the police eventually; however, I 
will probably have to refuse to answer some questions because, yes, 
we have been contacted by someone whom we believe is in direct 
contact with the people involved in the escape.  (Note that the 
media, too, have been contacted, and yet no one is saying that they 
are part of the breakout!)  We don't know names, locations, etc. and 
we don't want to know.  The actions of the people involved in the 
escape were foolhardy to say the least.  We continue to dissociate 
ourselves from that kind of action.  But the bottom line is that we 
do not believe that the detainees are criminals, and if they chose to 
run for it then all power to them!  We have no desire to assist the 
police in capturing them.

There's a lot more that is happening, but we'll leave it there for now.

Many thanks to the people involved in various hunger strikes around 
Australia.  It has been suggested (quite rightly) that people do not 
need to make some commitment to the death in order to stage a hunger 
strike.  The primary concern is to focus attention on the fact that a 
very serious hunger strike is going on behind the tightly sealed 
doors of Woomera Detention Centre.  If it's nothing more than a 
48-hour "famine" (like World Vision often organises) we need to have 
something happening in every town and suburb.  Get your little local 
papers to write it up if the big boys won't cover it.  Do everything 
you can to get DIMIA to open the doors so that the media can see what 
is really happening at Woomera... not selected quotes from detainees 
released to selected representatives of the media who have agreed in 
advance to write the story the way DIMIA wants it to appear.  (We 
have complained to Mediawatch about the story in Saturday's 
Australian, which totally distorted the information they really 
received from the detainees themselves about the breakout being a 
totally spontaneous decision in response to pleas from the people 

Believe me, it is a lot easier to break OUT of Woomera even now, than 
what it is to break IN.  DIMIA and ACM have a lot to hide, and it's 
becoming more and more impossible for them to contain all the fallout 
from the many lies they have told and that they continue to tell. 
That is why they have totally sealed up the place.  So lots of hunger 
strikes, please, in every neighbourhood and on every block in 
Australia, to draw attention to the real life and death battle, and 
stop demonising people who acted impulsively to free a few captives.

Maybe we should even consider a national day of Fasting in sympathy 
with the hunger strikers.  I've got a very full plate myself, but how 
about I get it started by saying that the day will be this coming 
Monday, which marks a fortnight since the hunger strike began.  (And 
everyone who is writing to detainees, please pass that message on to 
them in your letters:  Monday, the 8th of July, a National Day of 
Fasting for Asylum Seekers in Australia.)

We'll need everyone who can to mobilise that as quickly as possible. 
News releases, mailouts to everyone you know, promotions of every 
possible sort.  Announce it in your churches on Sunday too.  There 
may be a better day to do such a thing, but there isn't time to 
debate it.  So let it be Monday, 8th of July.  Perhaps we should all 
wear a black armband as well, as a sign of our mourning for those who 
are suffering under this present regime.

Please believe me, that we are talking about a life and death 
situation out there at Woomera.  And that is something that I am 
VERRY certain about (in case any media reps get this mailout). 
Regardless of what "relative safety" means with regard to those who 
have escaped, those who remain are in "relative danger" and we're 
talking about life-threatening danger.

Love and peace,

Dave McKay
Refugee Embassy

(You can still phone Ross and the others at 0407-238805)
- -- 
for the moment, mail to fold@idl.net.au will be automatically 
forwarded to ross777au@bigpond.com, so you may reply to either 
address and it will reach me. 


Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2002 09:04:40 +1000
From: Dave/Cherry <ross777au@bigpond.com>
Subject: Fasting promotions

National Day of Fasting for Refugees

We have not heard much feedback on the announcement of a national day 
of fasting, and we want to emhasise that it will take a lot of 
solidarity from all refugee advocate groups for this to have the 
desired effect.  We sent out our own press release on it, but, 
hopefully, you are each sending them out too.  The media itself is 
the best tool for getting thousands of people to join in, but we need 
to make the media very aware first.  So it doesn't matter if every 
group out there sends to the same media contacts... the more sources 
they get the press releases from, the more convinced they will be 
that this is a genuine movement in solidarity with the hunger strike 
at Woomera.

So please send out news releases... the sooner the better, stating 
that your group (or you) are participating in the National Day of 
Fasting (on Monday, 8 July).  (And let us know too, so that if the 
media contacts us, we can talk it up with reports that it is 

But also send out letters to everyone else on your mailing list, 
calling on them to join in.  If several people can send letters to 
church representatives (both locally and nationally), that will be a 
very good source of support.  Fasting is a churchy type thing to do, 
and so if we can get them behind it, it will have more impact.  Does 
anyone have a directory of church representatives or something like 
that?  If not, at least let all of your local church leaders know. 
Just go through the phone book and call them if nothing else.  Muslim 
support is essential too.  Please contact any mosque or Muslim 
leaders that you know of.

The idea of wearing a black armband on Monday is to make it more 
visible that people are actually doing it.  If, for example, you can 
get a good percentage of the workers in your office or other 
workplace to wear armbands (Maybe you can make them and hand them 
out.)  then you can call the media and have them come there for an 
interview.  I think that the sympathetic media will be happy to know 
where the greatest areas of support and participation are.  However, 
I don't know how many people would go to the trouble of making a 
black armband.  I'll leave it up to each individual group to decide 
whether they want to mention that in their press releases, etc..

One way or another, we need to make the fast visible on Monday.  If 
it's possible to take a day off work and fast in some very public 
location, that would be good.  Fasting enmasse (like they do for the 
48-hour famines with World Vision) is also good.  Short notice will 
handicap us a bit, but even half a dozen people gives you the 
opportunity to call the media and tell them the location.

Anyone willing to fast for longer periods (Three day fasts are 
supposed to be very beneficial for health, as they cleanse out the 
bowels, etc.) should probably time their fasts to FINISH on Monday 
night, so that they can get the advantage of so advance publicity 
(e.g. on the weekend) leading up to it.  It may even be a good time 
for those who have already started fasting to consider finishing... 
if they can last until Monday night.

Arrange press conferences in the mornings, so the newspapers have the 
rest of the day free to write and publish the stories for the 
following morning's newspapers.

The only way they are going to report the day of fasting on Monday is 
if they have someone to interview, and so you need to give them a 
location to come to. (Without it, the story will be that the fast 
flopped, and the cause suffers as a result.)  Do everything you can 
to emphasise that this is nothing by comparison to what those poor 
people inside are suffering.  We must get the Government to open up 
the gates and let the media talk to those people.  We must give them 
a sympathetic ear.

Some good news is that the mobile phones held by the detainees have 
been turned back on.  Cherry spoke with representatives yesterday and 
she said that their spirits were quite dramatically lifted by word 
that other Australians are joining them (even if only symbolically) 
in their hunger strike.  This is one of our best opportunities yet to 
communicate a message of very deep personal and emotional support. 
They are actually turned OFF by offers of material support, but a 
show of support for their REAL demand (freedom) is what they want.

The fact that Steve Fossett almost landed in Woomera last night was 
also a great encouragement to them.  For a moment, it focussed world 
attention on Woomera, and it gave the people inside something to lift 
their heads and to raise their hopes.  They were all out in the yards 
watching the sky to see if they could spot the balloon.  (The world 
media was there too, and Cherry was able to get an interview with 
Reuters, during which she read out the short messages that the 
various groups inside had sent out to be delivered to the media if 
the balloon landed.

So please keep talking up the fast all this weekend.  Craig Hendry in 
Adelaide is entering his third day of fasting in front of Parliament 
House down there, and there are others joining in there and elsewhere 
from what we hear.  This is a crucial stage in this whole campaign. 
Coupled with the Women's Weekly article, we may be able to get 
middle-class Australia thinking about what is really happening behind 
the razor wire.

Love and peace,

Dave McKay for the Refugee Embassy, Woomera

P.S.  It seems I just got away from Woomera in time myself.  A short 
while after I drove away, police started impounding vehicles of 
anyone they suspected, and they came (finally) asking to speak to me. 
The problem with things like impounding vehicles, or seizing papers, 
is that they cause a great deal of hardship to people who turn out to 
be innocent after all of the hassle.  I'm glad to be away from there.
- -- 
for the moment, mail to fold@idl.net.au will be automatically 
forwarded to ross777au@bigpond.com, so you may reply to either 
address and it will reach me. 


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