Dave/Cherry on Thu, 11 Jul 2002 20:17:29 +0200 (CEST)

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Dave/Cherry <ross777au@bigpond.com>
     Refugee Embassy update
     Kyogle Refugee Embassy + 3 Day Hunger Strike
     Refugee Embassy update

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Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2002 06:59:21 +1000
From: Dave/Cherry <ross777au@bigpond.com>
Subject: Refugee Embassy update

News from Woomera, Tuesday, 9 July.


The mobile phones, through which the public and the media can contact 
detainees inside of the Woomera Detention Centre are still turned 
off.  They were turned on briefly on the fourth of July, but were 
taken away from the detainees the next day, supposedly because DIMIA 
feared a national security threat.  The paranoia came because some 
students travelled through Port Augusta, South Australia (170km south 
of Woomera) on their way to a Students for Sustainability conference 
in Perth.  Although the authorities have known since the students 
left Port Augusta for Perth that same day, that they represented no 
threat to Woomera or to the national security, the phones have 
remained turned off.

Selected members of the media who agree to write what the Government 
wants them to write, and to ask only the questions that the 
Government wants asked, are being allowed limited access to the 
detainees, as they enter the 16th day of their hunger strike to the 
death.  The hunger strikers are at the stage now, where permanent 
physical damage could result.  Earlier this year, they staged a 
15-day hunger strike, and some detainees were in hospital for weeks 
and months afterwards as a conseuence.


The Australian High Commissioner in London ordered that 
hunger-strikers outside Australia House in London be arrested if they 
refused to move away from Australia  House, on the grounds that their 
presence took away from the "decorum" of Australia House.

The Hunger Strikers have moved a short distance away, despite the 
fact that they had earlier received permission to stage their protest 
outside the embassy.

However, they have announced that they will move back to the spot 
immediately in front of Parliament House, and court arrest at 11:30am 
Tuesday morning, London time.  Some of them are prepared to go to 
jail to highlight the inhumanity of the present Australian Government.

This action by the Australian High Commissioner is just one more 
evidence of the brutal attitude that our Government is taking toward 
the democratic right to protest against their cruel and inhumane 
policy toward asylum seekers.  This war against refugees is gradually 
turning into a war against Australia's own citizens.  The cries of 
"shoot the refugees" being heard from Hansonite supporters of John 
Howard all over Australia, are now turning to "shoot the protesters".

We call upon our Government to show compassion and common decency in 
its treatment of asylum seekers and those who support asylum seekers.


Reports of hunger strikes in other countries continue to come in, 
including strikes in Mexico, Israel, India, the U.S., and in London. 
While the National Day of Fasting has come and gone, many centres 
around Australia continue to have rolling fasts.  People in Newcastle 
are being issued with black armbands, to be worn in solidarity with 
the starving hunger strikers at Woomera Detention Centre, in support 
of their fast, which has entered the 16th day today.

In Kyogle, New South Wales, one woman has taken a vow of silence for 
twenty-four hours, as a symbol of solidarity with the detainees who 
have been silenced by the Government's efforts to isolate them 
through incarcertation in the most remote areas possible, denial of 
visits, phone calls, media access, and through interference with 
their mail.

We cannot stress strongly enough the obvious lack of credibility any 
government must have when it must cut off all links of communication 
which may provide information to contradict its own lies.  Until the 
links of communication are opened, we can only believe the worst 
about anything that Phillip Ruddock and John Howard choose to say 
about their policy on asylum seekers.  The bottom line in all that 
they say is that they are totally unaccountable... to the courts, to 
the media, to the U.N., to the general public, to the lawyers acting 
on behalf of the detainees, and most of all to the asylum seekers 
themselves.  Liars invariably hide the truth.  Truth and secrecy are 


The Refugee Embassy and other refugee advocate groups in Australia 
are now calling on the governments of the world to impose sanctions 
on Australia, in the same way that they did with South Africa, in a 
bid to end apartheid.  The psychological torture that our governement 
has systematically imposed on the prisoners in their concentration 
camps has resulted in an epidemic of mental illness and suicide 
attempts within those camps.  Children as young as nien years old 
have tried to commit suicide.  The present strike to the death is the 
final effort by extremely brave but extremely desperate people to 
make themselves heard before they die.

It is time that the world and the Government of Australia stood up 
and listened to the pleas of oppressed and totally innocent 


The Refugee Embassy bus will be travelling to Baxter today, to be 
present at the "grand opening" of yet another prison for innocent 
people in Australia.  It is hoped that the bus will be able to then 
travel on to Adelaide, where it will stand in support of a hunger 
strike in front of Parliament House there, which has been going for a 
full week.

Ross Parry, at the Embassy bus can be contacted on 0407-238805

Dave McKay can be contacted on 0422-142-702 or on (02) 4954-2590.

Dave McKay and Ross Parry
Refugee Embassy
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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Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2002 08:46:09 +1000
From: Dave/Cherry <ross777au@bigpond.com>
Subject: Kyogle Refugee Embassy + 3 Day Hunger Strike

The 3-Day Hunger Strike in Kyogle, far northern NSW (population 3,500) was
pretty amazing.

We scored front page of the widely-read local newspaper, The Northern Star,
who followed up on the second day with another piece and on the third day
with a positive article on migration.

Prime TV gave us a top spot on the 6pm News on the first day. Local ABC and
commercial radio did live-to-air and recorded items. Our town newspaper
(Talking Turkey) has our story today.

People signed letters to Ruddock asking for safe haven visas for Afghans
and an end to repatriation plans for Iranians. (9 pages of signatures for a
small town's pretty good going!)

The level of awareness of the issue and discussion amongst townspeople has
risen dramatically.

One observation I made and so did the two other women on the hunger strike
was that it was mostly the "little old ladies who go to church on Sundays"
(small town, you get to know a large percentage of the population) who
steadfastly and determinedly ignored us. In fact it was one woman working
in the local Anglican op shop who made one of the two negative comments we
had ... "Let them starve". When I asked her if that meant kids, too she
angrily snapped at me to "Go away!"

(The other negative comment was a dyed-in-the-wool National Party voter, a
bloke not used to having his women-folk stand up to him who offered me a
gun "to shoot the bastards". However a short 'chat' revealed that he had no
well-considered arguments to back up his 'anti' stance ... what a surprise!)

The media picked up on the fact that my mid-sixties female friend held a
36-hour silent fast. She had written a statement to the fact that her
silence was symbolic of those whose voices are not being heard ... those in
Woomera and all other detention centres.

I think a Tampa Day silent vigil would be very effective. It need only be
very short (this means more people will commit to it) maybe a couple of
hours. I've found advanced press releases (at least the day) before work a

I can only make observations on protests in country towns:

# Monday, which August 26th falls on, is a good day because Sunday's a
pretty slow day in rural Oz. Get your press release in by early Saturday.

# Thursdays are good days because they're pension and dole days. Many
people in the bush only go to town on Thursday.

# Drama's great ... we envisaged a row of silent protesters, faces painted
or masked (to represent the faceless), each with a written statement on a
board/poster. TV and newspapers love picture opportunities ... this would
be a great one.

# This is a relatively risk-free protest that's eminently suitable for kids
to join in and the media love that.

Two final points:

If kids are better off (a) with their parents and (b) not in a detention
centre, why were the two boys who escaped from Woomera not with their TPV
father, rather than their imprisoned mother?

And, what's really pissed me off has been the lack of effort (apparently)
on the part of mainstream media to get info on the Woomera hunger strikers
whilst happily reporting the new "more humane" facility at Baxter. (NAIL
HIM on this one ...) and the confusion over whether the hunger strike has
ended or not with no effort on media part (?!) to clear up the uncertainty.

I phoned the ABC newsroom at 5am this morning to plead with them to try to
get good info ... more phone callers would be great.

Cloud -- Kyogle Refugee Embassy Bus


Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2002 17:08:06 +1000
From: Dave/Cherry <ross777au@bigpond.com>
Subject: Refugee Embassy update

Refugee Embassy Update, 5pm Thursday, 11 July


Ever wonder why the new detention centre at the El Alamein army camp 
needed to be given a new name (Baxter) instead of the real name (El 
Alamein)?  We've been told that El Alamein is Arabic for "welcome to 
the land".  Can anyone verify whether this is true?  If so, it is 
undertandable that the Government would be deeply embarrassed by such 
a name for our latest high tech concentration camp.


The Government announced that the hunger strike is off at its 
official opening of the El Alamein detention centre yesterday, and we 
challenged it on the grounds that there is very little that anyone 
can believe from a government which has banned all contact between 
the hunger strikers and the general public.  Its aim, through 
isolation, has been to convince the hunger-strikers that the general 
public has no interest in their plight, and to convince the general 
public that the detainees have no interest in hunger-striking.  Until 
the Government opens the doors to ALL of the media (and not 
hand-picked puppets who will publish only the lies and propaganda 
that Ruddock decrees) and until the Government opens the doors and 
phones to contact with the outside world, we can only believe the 
worst about what is happening inside.


For any groups (like the Newcastle Action for Refugee Rights) who 
have planned further actions this week in support of the hunger 
strikers, here is an idea which comes to us from Kyogle, NSW.

Instread of a hunger strike, how about silent vigils at selected 
public sites?  Even a four-hour vigil (over lunch hours, after work, 
or whenever) can be quite effective.  Paint your faces white (or wear 
masks) to represent the facelessness of detainees (and perhaps wear 
or carry a number) and paint bold black vertical lines across your 
lips, symbolising the stitches that many detainees have placed in 
their lips in protest against Government attempts to silence them. 
Prepare placards that briefly state your case, and display them in 
silence for the duration of your vigil.  You may need one 
"un-stitched" spokesperson to handle media questions, but you could 
also rely on press statements, placard information, or use a pad and 
pen to write answers to questions.  This painted face approach gives 
the TV something more visual to film.


Phones are still off at Woomera.  And the media still does not ask 
why.  Visits are still off at Woomera.  And the media still does not 
ask why.


"The Worst of Woomera" is out, and the first copies have left the 
post office in Adelaide.

The book will be officially launched at the NSW State Parliament, 
1:30pm Tuesday, 16 July, in the Jubilee Room.  The public and media 
are invited.  Dave and Cherry will be there, along with NSW MP, 
Arthur Chesterfield Evans.

There is an urgent need for funds to cover the cost of printing these 
booklets.  Postage alone will be about $2,000, and we have a $10,000 
printing bill to pay.  Every little bit helps.  Day to day costs have 
risen too, and so our moratorium on asking for support is being 
lifted.  We appreciate that many of you are committed in other areas, 
but if we are going to get these profiles out to the masses of 
Australia, it will take some serious financial sacrifice on the part 
of many supporters.  Can we count on you?

Contributions can be made at any Westpac Bank.  Deposit the money in 
the name of Ross Parry, account number 544-823, branch number 

Our apologies for a recent typo in the branch number on some 
mailouts.  The money should still reach us, as Ross Parry is the only 
person with that account number and that name.
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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