December 9, 2015
Teachers take action for refugees on Human Rights Day
Teachers at schools in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will participate in group actions tomorrow (December 10th) for Human Rights Day, holding banners at schools calling for the government to “close the camps, welcome refugees”, and for “education not detention”.
The Australian Education Union Victoria has called for members to participate and the NSW Teachers’ Fed and Federal AEU are encouraging members to tweet selfies to the hashtag #educationnotdetention.
Asylum seekers detained on Manus Island have responded to the planned action with a letter of thanks and support (in full below); “Thanks you for standing up for us, when the entire world is silent. We deeply appreciate your support… Your action can give us energy to continue to struggle in this hell that is Manus Island. [Your actions] prove that there are many people who do care about us and that they are against mandatory detention.”.
The action follows the stopwork at Yeronga High School in Brisbane where teachers demand the return year 12 student Mojgan Shamsalipoor who was forcibly transferred to a Darwin detention centre and threatened with deportation to danger in Iran.
Lucy Honan, teacher at St Albans Secondary College in Melbourne’s North West says staff at her school are participating in the action at lunch on Thursday because “all students deserve supportive schools and security, not the abuse we have seen in offshore prisons, or threats of deportation to danger.
“This school and suburb wouldn’t exist if “boat people” and refugees had been excluded after World War II and the Vietnam war. It is cruelty and madness that the billions of dollars spent isolating and abusing refugees on Manus and Nauru isn’t spent on our schools and resettling refugees in the community.”
Sydney teacher Tim Davis-Frank says “How can we teach students not to bully if we stand by while the government scapegoats and bullies asylum seekers? The Border Force act is supposed to stop teachers, and health care and social workers from speaking out against the government’s refugee policy. But we won’t be silenced.”
Teachers in hundreds of schools will take part. Schools confirmed to
be participating in the action to date include
Sydney: Glebe Public School, Beverley Hills Intensive English Centre
(see photo below),
Chatswood Intensive English Centre
Brisbane: Yeronga State High School
Melbourne: St Albans Secondary College, Mount Alexander College, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Fairfield Primary School (see photo below), Sunshine Secondary College, Innerwest regional AEU meeting.
#EducationNotDetention #freetherefugees and tweeted to @TurnbullMalcolm
We want to begin by saying thanks very much to all of you – to the
wonderful teachers who are taking part in this powerful action today
Thanks you for standing up for us, when the entire world is silent. We
deeply appreciate your support for this rally. Your action can give us
energy to continue to struggle in this hell that is Manus Island.
[Your actions] prove that there are many people who do care about us
and that they are against mandatory detention.
There are many teachers among us and we need you to tell the truth for
us, about the Manus Island hell, to the Australian government and to
all the the people that we should be free.
The government has imprisoned us, 900 asylum seekers for 29 months on
Manus Island. The situation is utterly inhuman and difficult over this
period. We have been under heavy mental pressure and many of us can’t
sleep without sedatives because of the torture we have endured here
We have lost two of our friends – one when we were attacked by locals
and another because of the lack of health facilities.
The government has done everything to persecute us. We desperately
request the government to end their illegal detention of us in this
Just like other refugees in Australia we need safety and resettlement
in a safe place
We do not have the option to come legally to Australia because of
on-going war in our homelands but it is not illegal to arrive by boat
to seek protection.
The government has used us for blackmail and their own political
interest. The Australian government [detention] contractors like
Transfield are making money from human abuses.
We are not criminals, we are good people, like others seeking help and
safety place. We know that teachers are people who can understand the
agony that we suffer. Teachers have so often been part of the
struggles to make the world a safer place and part of struggles for
justice and equality.
It is true that if there were no teachers in the world, we will live
Finally of the teachers and all of us on Manus Island, we want to say
thank you very much for taking your time to participate in this
powerful action that will send a message to many people around
Australia and around the world.
With your help , one day we will be free.
We wish one day to repay you
from Manus Asylum seekers