Open Letter to the Refugee Movement: Kids Out, All Out!

Open Letter to the Refugee Movement

Kids Out, All Out!

Every one wants children out of detention.

The Australian Human Rights Commission report, “The Forgotten Children 2014” which was released in early 2015 renewed interest attention to the situation of children in detention.

As a result we have seen the formation of groups such as “Grandmothers Against
Detention of Refugee Children”. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has ‘Kids Out’ as one its key campaigns.

Since the election of Malcolm Turnbull, the Greens have also prioritised the focus on children. Adam Bandt said a key test for Turnbull was “Releasing children who are locked up in detention.” GetUp’s Transfield divestment campaigner Shen Narayanasamy recently argued in The Age ‘People might be swayed by the Stop the Boats rhetoric, but they draw the line at child abuse’.

But the truth is that there are few children in detention even if you count Nauru as well, where there were 87 as of July. The issue for children on Nauru is not detention per se, it is the fact that they are incarcerated on Nauru. Getting them out of detention, only to leave them on Nauru would be worse than an empty victory. Keeping families and children on Nauru is still child abuse.

By continuing to focus on “children in detention”, there is a serious risk of both disorienting the people in those groups and also misdirecting their significant energy and mobilising ability. Limiting the focus to children, inadvertently actually limits the impact on the government. The fact is that the government is getting children out of detention including significant numbers out of detention on Nauru. Things have moved on since the “Forgotten Children”. To end the abuse of children, we have to end offshore processing and close Nauru.

It is time to campaign for what we really mean – close Manus, close Nauru.

We also need to end mandatory detention, onshore as well as offshore. So long as the architecture of detention and deterrence exists, there is always a risk that children and others will be detained again in the future. Detention is not OK for anyone.

It is understandable that people think campaigning for children is a relatively soft target, that can appeal to a much wider layer of appeal than “end offshore processing. It is also sometimes argued that “children out” is only a first step; and that the groups will go to campaign against offshore processing after “children out “ is achieved.

But that is not the way politics works. When Howard released the children from detention in 2005, ChilOut folded. There are ways to tap into concerns about children in detention without disarming the campaign groups.

Our slogans have to be “Free the Children; Free Everyone; Close Manus & Nauru; End Offshore processing.”

With the ascension of Turnbull it is essential that we don’t sell the campaign short. More and more people see through the Liberals “Stop the Boats Slogan”. More than ever we have to demand: Stop the abuse -free ALL the refugees.

Refugee Action Collective

Can you help us promote October 11 – Stand Up For Refugees Rally?

  • Distribute Posters/leaflets in your area – available from outside New International Book Shop at Trades Hall (corner Victoria & Lygon Sts Carlton – enter via Victoria St) – Alternatively text your address and quantity required to 0403 013 183 and we can mail them to you
  • Help with Saturday morning stall in
  1. Brunswick – contact Lucy for details 0404 728 104
  2. Vic markets or South Melbourne (alternating each week) – contact Peter 0409 866 414
  3. Northcote- contact Chris 0403 013 183
  • Wednesday 23rd stall at Flinders St Station 5.30pm
  • Morning leafleting on the Upfield line – call Chris 03 9386 7791
  • Join the health, community and education workers contingent to lead the rally
    Or bring a contingent from your community
  • Help RAC on a stall, or handing our flyers at these events:
  1. Protestagainst Transfield this Friday Sept 25, noon, 509 St Kilda Rd
  2. No War on Syria rally this Sunday 2pm State Library
  3. Anti-islamophobia rally, Bendigo Town hall, noon, October 10th

 

 

 

 

 

FIRST REFUGEE BABY BORN ON NAURU BUT THERE’S NO FUTURE

MEDIA RELEASE

FIRST REFUGEE BABY BORN ON NAURU BUT THERE’S NO FUTURE

A Rohingya baby became the first baby born to a refugee family on
Nauru on Friday 18 September.

The baby girl, Nourkayas, was 3kg, and mother (Mama Citi) and baby are
reported doing well (baby photo available on request). Nourkayas is
the third child for the Rohingya family that already includes a 7
year-old boy and a 3 year-old girl.

The baby on Nauru after the mother refused to be transferred to Port
Moresby for the birth.

“We are very happy that all has gone well for mother and baby; but it
is a risky precedent. The fact that refugees are sent to PNG and
asylum seeker mothers are sent to Australia to have their babies says
that Australian authorities do not believe that Nauru is safe,” said
Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The Australian government has a responsibility for all babies born to
asylum seeker and refugee families; all pregnant women should be
brought to Australia to give birth.

“We wish the family well, but we know the conditions on Nauru – no
education, and no resettlement – put a dark cloud over their future.”

The birth will also seriously add to the family’s difficulties on
Nauru. In the Nibok camp, family housing is stifling hot converted
shipping containers, with only a small fan for ventilation.

The heat makes the accommodation unbearable; while the frequent water
and electricity shortages make the situation impossible.

“All the problems of looking after a new baby are magnified.
Sterilising bottles for example could become a nightmare,” said
Rintoul.

“There needs to be consistent policy from the government. All
mothers-to-be should be brought, with their families, to Australia to
give birth, where there is proper medical facilities to ensure the
health of mother and baby.

“Any birth is risky and Nauru hospital has limited staff, limited
resources and no specialists. Any complication would risk the
well-being of mother and baby. It is too big a risk to take.

“If the government had the best interests of mother and child at
heart, they would not be on Nauru in the first place.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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