I fled genocide in Burma
with my wife and children
We were separated in Indonesia
There wasn’t enough room in the van taking us to the boat heading for Australia
All the time I think about what happened
When I close my eyes
I can see that van leaving
A week after my family arrived in Australia
the Rudd government announced
the July 19 policy
This meant that people who arrived in Australia by boat
would be sent to Manus Island or Nauru
and never resettle in Australia.
When I arrived in Australia I was sent by force to Manus Island
My family are now living on bridging visas in Sydney
but I’ve been detained on Manus Island for almost 5 years
When I talk to my youngest son on skype
He asks me,
“When are you coming?”
“When are you coming?”
I can’t say anything in response
I do not know if or when we’ll be together again.
I was born in East Africa
When I was five years old I held my mother’s hand
while we ran from bullets being shot in the civil war
I grew up in a refugee camp.
This is where I got married
and had two beautiful children
My children were only 1 and 3 years old
when I was forced to leave them in the refugee camp.
After I left my children I made my way to Indonesia.
It was there, before I got on the boat that I found out I was pregnant
I gave birth to my son while I was in detention.
The security guards were on watch in the hospital
as I welcomed my child into this world.
My son was five years old when we were granted protection
This visa protects us for the next five years.
I am grateful for this protection
but I long to be with my children
On this visa I am not allowed to apply
for my children to live in Australia
I’ve been told that maybe after ten years I can sponsor my family
I cannot be separated from my children for this long
I am thinking I have no choice
I am grateful to be safe
But I think I have to give up my visa for my children
I think I have to leave Australia
And not come back…..
Thank you to all those who came out to walk for justice for refugees in Perth on April 9 2017. Here are some of the awesome people, banners and signs we saw today.
It was great to see so many people turn out to the Perth Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees 2015.
We thank the photographers for allowing us to share their photos here: ZebedeeParkes.com, Kikei.net, Geoff Bice, Eira Clapton.
Noongar elder and UCA minister Rev Sealin Garlett gave the Welcome to Country.
Afghan Hazara Ashraff Mohammad came to Australia by boat in 2011.
Ashraff now supports other asylum seekers and volunteers on the Welcome to Australia committee.
Michelle Bui from the Refugee Rights action network brought messages from those people who are detained on Manus and Nauru.
Prominent business person Janet Holmes a Court spoke about international obligations to protect refugees.
Former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and Senior Australian of the Year Fred Chaney
Multi-award winning author Tim Winton called Australia to turn back from harsh policies towards asylum seekers.
You can hear the entire Tim Winton speech here on the ABC’s Radio National website
The text of the speech is here on The Age website.
Moderator of the Uniting Church in Australia Synod of Western Australia Rev Steve Francis spoke of asylum seekers living in the community.
Bishop Tom Wilmot blessed the walkers before we set off.
A big thank you to Father Chris Bedding for being our MC on the day.
The Welcome to Country was brought by Auntie Doolan Leisha Eates and her husband WalterReza Sidiqi, former asylum seeker spoke of the conditions in detentionUniting Church in WA Moderator Rev Ron Larkin spoke at the rally
Rev Chris Bedding was the MC for the eventSenator Sue Lines and Melissa Parkes MP talking about the Labor for Refugees movement
Eira Clapton Chairperson of CARADSarah Cornock-Ross from Refugee Rights Action Network spoke of the people she knows in detention now
“Not in my name” banner carried down Hay St Mall, with 1000 people behind itPaul Montague and Laura MayAlison Atkinson-Phillips and Sarah Mumme
Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees 1pm 13 April 2014
We were over 1000 people from a wide group of civil society organisations, churches and individuals calling for humane policies for asylum seekers and refugees in Australia.
We are deeply troubled by the Australian Government’s treatment of asylum seekers.
On Palm Sunday 2014 the palm branches used in Christian church celebrations were also put to extra use for the sake of asylum seekers. On the steps of St George’s Cathedral over 1000 people from a wide array of Christian churches brought their palm branches from their church celebrations and joined with community organisations gathered to proclaim a message of justice for asylum seekers.
The action was echoed around the country with vast crowds gathering in most capital cities in Australia to call for an urgent change to the Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers.
As Rev. Ron Larkin, the Moderator of the Uniting Church in Western Australia, said in his speech on the day, “Transferring asylum seekers offshore doesn’t excuse Australia from its human rights obligations.” Rev. Larkin went on to highlight the plight of the many children who are suffering the ramifications of Australia’s harsh detention policies: “The Uniting Church will not stand by and watch as the lives of children are scape-goated by brutal government policies.” Reinforcing the offer of sanctuary made by the Uniting Church in Australia for the children without parents currently held on Christmas Island, Ron proclaimed the inherent dignity of all asylum seekers saying, “Each person seeking our help is a child of God and not a tool of deterrence for Government policy.”
These messages were followed by the heartbreaking account of Reza Sidiqi, an Hazara man who was granted asylum in Australia after arriving by boat, and the harrowing reports from Manus Island via the Refugee Rights Action Network’s, Sarah Cornock Ross. Sarah explained the increasing desperation of detainees along with the rapid deterioration of their mental health, revealing how “their incarceration is killing them slowly, progressively, surely and without mercy.”
In an act of a unified and peaceful call for change, the crowd walked with their palm fronds through the streets of Perth. Pausing in the Hay Street Mall for a minute’s silence, the diverse convergence of parishioners, protesters and activists sent a powerful message as they knelt and stood behind the lead banner which read: “Not In My Name.”
Huge thanks to all who helped to make this event happen, and to all those who made the effort to come and join us on the walk.
To: News Editor
From: Justice4Refugees WA
Sunday 25 March 2018
Dr Carmen Lawrence and new Anglican Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy will address the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees today at 1pm at St George’s Cathedral, 38 St George’s Terrace, Perth.
While Minister Peter Dutton considers fast track visas for South African farmers, thousands of refugees and people seeking asylum languish in the limbo of offshore detention and temporary protection visas. People in Manus and Nauru are approaching their fifth year in limbo, with the devastatingly slow US resettlement deal only a far off hope for some, and an unachievable dream for many. Approximately 30,000 refugees (the “legacy caseload”) await visa grants or live on temporary visas with their futures shrouded in uncertainty and limbo. Many families are separated with no hope for reunification due to cruel policy, and live in constant fear of deportation to danger.
Dr Carmen Lawrence, Professorial Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Western Australia has been involved in the pursuit of human rights for decades and knows we can do better to respond to people seeking safety on our shores.
Dr Lawrence, who will be joining the walk, said, “We must say no to the limbo and uncertainty of offshore detention in Manus and Nauru, no to the separation of families and no to the limbo of temporary protection. We can and we must offer safety to those who have turned to us for refuge.”
The Justice for Refugees WA network is calling on Australia’s political leaders to abandon the current harsh and unjust policies, and to provide permanent protection for people seeking safety. Instead of prolonging their despair, we can provide protection and freedom. As evidenced by the contributions of previous refugee intakes – for example the Karen community in Nhill, Victoria and more recently Syrian refugees calling Australia home – the Australian community will benefit both economically and socially from welcoming refugees.
Newly installed Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Kay Goldsworthy AO, Australia’s first female Archbishop, is adding her voice to the call for a humane response to people seeking safety saying, “Australians are a compassionate people. Instead of limbo and uncertainty, we can offer safety, freedom and a future.”
As one of her first major public appearances Archbishop Goldsworthy will join Dr Lawrence as a speaker at the start of the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees.
Abdul Aziz Adam, Sudanese refugee currently on Manus Island, whose words will be read to the crowd at the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees has said in an online statement: “Nothing has been resolved after the Manus siege; we are still prisoners after nearly five years. Two refugees were badly bashed recently. The US deal is very slow and not a solution for all. People from Iran, Somalia and Sudan are not being accepted. I am from Sudan, and Iranians are the largest group on Manus. We demand freedom not indefinite detention. Australia remains responsible for our plight and could easily take us or speed up the American process or accept the NZ offer which is still on the table.”
For further information contact:
Geoff Bice, Social Justice Consultant, Uniting Church WA on 0438 910 650.
The Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees is endorsed by a broad range of more than 50 community organisations, churches, faith groups and human rights groups, including:
- Amnesty Australia
- Anglican Social Responsibilities Commission
- Anglicare WA
- Art of Humanity
- Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
- Australian Red Cross
- Bikes for Refugees
- Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum
- Catholic Archdiocese of Perth
- Catholic Education WA
- Catholic Mission
- Christian Life Community
- City of Fremantle
- Common Grace
- Council of Margaret River (Refugee Welcome Zone)
- Crossing Borders
- Curtin Centre for Human Rights
- Doctors For Refugees
- Ethnic Communities Council of WA
- Fremantle Refugee Rights Action Network
- Hills Network For Refugees
- Independent Education Union WA Branch
- Jesuit Social Services
- Jewish Spirituality Australia
- Jews For Refugees
- Justice, Ecology and Development Office;
- Catholic Archdiocese of Perth
- Labor For Refugees
- Love Makes A Way
- Multicultural Services Centre WA
- Mums For Refugees
- Presentation Sisters
- Propel Youth Arts
- Quakers (Religious Society of Friends in WA Regional Meeting)
- Refugee Rights Action Network
- Riverview Community Services
- Salvation Army
- Socialist Alliance
- Socialist Alternative
- St Vincent de Paul Refugee & Migrant Support Program Students For Refugees
- Teachers for Refugees
- TEAR WA
- The Greens WA
- The Humanitarian Group
- Unionists For Refugees
- Unions WA
- UnitingCare West
- Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Western Australia
- Welcome to Australia
Why not think about volunteering or donating to ensure vital services are provided to people seeking asylum and refugees in Perth?
|CARAD is a respected voice for the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and detainees and a provider of essential services, ensuring that all people seeking safety in Australia are able to live with dignity: www.carad.org.au/become-a-volunteer/|
|RRAN WA is an activist group hosting regular campaigns and actions to end mandatory detention and offshore processing, as well as organising visits to people in detention in WA – contact email@example.com to show your interest!|
|THE ASYLUM SEEKER HUB is a service provided by the leading agencies in Perth working with people seeking asylum, operating every Thursday from 9pm till 12pm at Riverview Church: 1 Thorogood Street Burswood: www.facebook.com/asylumseekerhub|
Thousands of people seeking protection while living in the Australian community are at risk of destitution and homelessness due to the latest government move to completely cut income support for people who need it the most.
- add your name to the statement in response to the government’s planned cuts to the Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) program: https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/takeaction/forced-destitution/
- Write to the Prime Minister – here’s some handy hints: http://asrccampaigns.nationbuilder.com/handwritten_invite_to_pm
You could also write to your local MP and express your concern about our treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum
Stay connected to find out about more opportunities to get involved: www.facebook.com/Justice4RefugeesWA/
Want your photo featured here?
Download the I’m attending because… poster, take a photo with your reason and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org !
#OutOfLimbo #Justice4Refugees #EvacuateNow