Last year, the Melbourne lawyer Julian Burnside QC asked us to write an individual letter to an asylum seeker imprisoned in the concentration camps on Nauru and Manus Island. We sent our letter to him in Melbourne and he forwarded them in bulk to the refugee camps for distribution. We included a self addressed stamped envelope for a reply if the refugee wished.
The letter was to express our sympathy at their awful plight and our support and best wishes, to let them know that not all Australians hold the terrible, cruel, racist views of the Australian Government in general and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in particular. And of the cruel minister, Scott Morrison, who knowingly allowed torture and abuse of children in these concentration camps.
I sent my letter off in mid last year and here it is:
30 April 2014
I am one of millions of Australians who are totally against the Australian government’s policy of harsh treatment of asylum seekers like you. Not all Australians are hard people.
I want you to know that we wish you could be housed in decent accommodation in Australia while you await processing for a visa.
We feel very bad about the way you are being treated and want to help you. The way you are being treated is not the Australian way. I am one of millions of Australians who want to show compassion to you, not harsh punishment. You have not committed any crime. You are not criminals. We know that.
But our government thinks that by treating you so badly, it will stop other asylum seekers from coming. This is a very bad policy. You have done nothing wrong.
I hope you can bear the conditions where you are and that this letter will help you. Be assured that many of us are trying to change the mind of the government.
I wish you luck and good health.
You can write to me if you wish and tell me your story. Where did you come from? Why did you leave your country? How did you get here? Are you alone or do you have family with you? If your life was in danger in your home country, please tell me about it. It will help me to make other people understand and change their minds.
I wondered a bit why I’d never got a reply, although I wasn’t that surprised.
But on Saturday, I found out why. The letters were intercepted by the Department of Immigration and stopped from delivery! They were never passed to the refugees! Apparently other people had noticed the lack of replies and contacted Mr Burnside. It took him months of enquiries to the department and the minister, with a notable lack of replies, before FOI enabled him to apply pressure. Finally, a few weeks ago, the department of Immigration sent Mr Burnside three large boxes containing the thousands of our letters, all marked RTS, Return To Sender.
The department used the excuse that the Nauru government would not accept the Australian stamps on the return envelopes. But why should that have stopped delivery of the letters?
Mr Burnside thinks this illegal action may constitute a crime, being interference with the mail. If there’s a class action possible, count me in!
What a dirty, nasty, underhanded, dishonest thing the Department of Immigration has done. This is a government department which is paid for by you and me, which is supposed to be fair and impartial. Plainly, they are being directed from above by that awful maggot Morrison. I am furious!
* Of course, Lord Rabbott QC SC KCVO VC Bart. has said Aborigines want to live in their ancestral desert homes as “a lifestyle choice”! Does this idiot know nothing?! Does he learn nothing? Does he think before he speaks?
I say keep it up, Tones. The longer you stay PM, the easier we will be able to reinstate a rightful Labor government next year. What an idiot.