Dave/Cherry on Sat, 29 Jun 2002 23:28:40 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Embassy update[s]

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   Embassy update                                                                  
     Dave/Cherry <ross777au@bigpond.com>                                             

   Refugee Embassy news flashes                                                    
     "geert lovink" <geert@xs4all.nl>                                                


Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2002 13:59:18 +1000
From: Dave/Cherry <ross777au@bigpond.com>
Subject: Embassy update

Dear friends and supporters,

It's about time we gave some kind of a news update.  Things are 
happening so quickly (and changing so quickly) that an update is 
hardly written before it is out of date.

We have received the first boxes of clothes as a result of the 
clothing appeal, and we understand that more are on the way.  In 
particular, we have had an offer of a virtual VAN LOAD of BRAND NEW 
clothes from the Samaritans and Saint Vinnies, for the Afghanians. 
We should explain that we are not saying anything about these clothes 
being given in connection with possible deportation.  We do not think 
they would take them under those circumstances.  We also have to be 
clear that they are not being given by the Government.

The detainees are reticent to accept ANY favours short of freedom, as 
they have seen that DIMIA uses every favour to convince the public 
that they are living quite comfortably and that they should be 
grateful for all that they are getting.  They really ARE grateful for 
the compassionate interest and concern that supporters have shown 
(and they express it constantly), but they feel that virtually every 
time they smile, someone is standing by to click a camera and say 
that the smiles proves that they have it good where they are now.

Along with the clothing, there is a move to send about twenty boxes 
of children's books, which were collected by a trade union in Sydney. 
(Terribly sorry, Duncan, but I've lost the name of your union, as 
well as the email address!)  Anyway, we have instructions to give the 
books as outright gifts to individual detainees.  (The 400 books that 
make up the detention centre "library" cannot be checked out, and so 
parents cannot read them to their children.)  I don't know how much 
room detainees have to store all of these things, but I'm sure that 
the books will be much appreciated... as long as DIMIA doesn't give 
us problems with delivering either the books or the clothing to the 

Actually, we must say that both DIMIA and ACM here in Woomera have 
been incredibly co-operative for the past two or three weeks with 
regard to visitors, and with regard to gifts being delivered to 
detainees.  We really must give them credit when they do something 
right, since we are pretty hard on them when they do things wrong! 
My wife, Cherry, and our daughter, Christine, and her husband, Robin, 
have been here for two and a half weeks now, and they have been able 
to visit close to forty detainees.  This has included both morning 
and afternoon visits.  It goes a long way toward making up for the 
totally unfair banishment of Ross and myself from visiting the centre.

At the moment, a five to ten-minute documentary is being made of our 
work here, by a volunteer documentary-maker.  We are hopeful that we 
can get some clips from that onto our website, but we are also 
hopeful that we may be able to make it available for showing around 
the country.

The response to our appeal for sponsors and distributors of the 
booklet full of refugee profiles has been amazing.  We are now 
sorting through the various offers, including a number from proper 
publishers.  As soon as we have something definite, we will pass that 
on.  We are keeping a list of all the people who have written in 
offering to distribute them (and also those who have offered to 
contribute toward the costs), so that we can notify you when we have 
something concrete.

Apparently there is a plan by someone who is strongly opposed to our 
presence here, to have the refugee profiles stopped through an 
injunction before it can go to press.  However, we are taking steps 
to ensure that there can be no legal grounds for doing so.

We like to think that the introduction of three mobile phones into 
the compound just a few days before the United Nations delegation 
arrived was a result of our campaign against the poor telephone 
service available inside.  We can now phone delegates from the 
various groups and speak with them at no cost to them, and for about 
50 cents a minute to us.  This service has been a great success over 
the past few days with the hunger strike, as media interest has 
sky-rocketed.  Our phone also is ringing constantly, as media from 
Australia and overseas continues to seek updates on the strike.

It seems that media pressure to be allowed inside the centre, in 
order to see for themselves what is going on, is growing too.  Hurrah!

You can never be certain with something like a hunger strike whether 
it may stop at any moment.  However, there are strong indications 
that this one is destined to end in tragedy.  It really does seem 
like more of a slow motion mass suicide.  As tragic as that may be, 
it will go down in history not as a crime by the detainees 
themselves, but rather as a massive indictment against the absolute 
heartlessness of Phillip Ruddock and John Howard against totally 
innocent and tragically abused people.

I've probably overlooked heaps of things, but that should be enough for now.

Dave McKay
Refugee Embassy
Post Restante
Woomera 5720
Phone: 0407-238805
- -- 
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. 


Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2002 18:20:09 +1000
From: "geert lovink" <geert@xs4all.nl>
Subject: Refugee Embassy news flashes

From: "Dave/Cherry" <ross777au@bigpond.com>
Sent: Saturday, June 29, 2002 5:08 PM
Subject: Refugee Embassy news flashes

Dave here, at the Refugee Embassy in Woomera.

I've just had an idea.  We are being totally cut off from the 
detainees as a result of the breakout (but we believe it is really 
because the Government was getting embarrassed by the hunger strike), 
so I am thinkng that we could make the next issue of the Freedom 
Banner an issue completely full of letters from well-wishers around 
Australia and overseas.

We will give preference to letters from overseas (or from remote 
parts of Australia), because we want them to know that their story is 
going out far and wide in spite of all that the Government is doing 
to block them from being heard.  (I was interviewed by BBC-TV World 
News last night, and they were very sympathetic!)

All phone lines have been blocked (both in and out), and visits have 
been stopped until further notice.  But it is against the law for 
them to interfere with mail going INTO the centre.  (Not that Ruddock 
has ever let a little thing like breaking the law stop him in the 
past!)  Hopefully if we address these Freedom Banners to the 
detainees themselves, they will receive them and it will give them 
courage to continue on.

By the way, I passed word on just before we were cut off, to one of 
the detainees that someone was thinking of going on a hunger strike 
in solidarity with them, and his voice began to break just on hearing 
it.  It would mean so much to them if someone with a lot of courage 
and the will to stick with it, were to go on a hunger strike in some 
capital city in Australia.  It needs to be done out in public, so 
people can see for themselves that you are not eating, so you would 
need a back-up team to provide shelter and warmth during the night. 
Best done in a very public place (mall, or even in front of 
Parliament).  Anyone brave enough to take up the offer?  You honestly 
do not know how much it could encourage these people, and it would 
also give the media something to focus on OUTSIDE the centre, that 
would direct public attention to what is quietly happening INSIDE. 
This needs to be done quickly, as they are slowly starving themselves 
to death.  The sooner we help them, the better, and maybe if someone 
will start, others will join.

Hope to hear from some of you soon.  Keep the letters short. 
Unfortunately, we will not have time to reply to them individually. 
Hope people will understand.  We'll use the best ones.

News note:  Our Refugee Embassy bus was totally covered in obscene 
spray-painted graffiti calling on the public to rape the refugees and 
shoot their supporters.  This is the kind of Nazi hooliganism that we 
are facing... all the way up to the top!

And while I'm here, some good news is that a 48-page booklet of 
Refugee Profiles, called "The Worst of Woomera" (the first 20,000 of 
them, at least) will be printed in Adelaide in the next two weeks. 
Those people who have offered to donate to support this, please 
deposit your donations in Ross' bank account as quickly as possible, 
so that we can keep our printer happy (as we are hoping to be able to 
do several print runs).  We will be sending out bundles of these to 
all the people who have written saying that they are willing to 
letter-box anything from 50 to a thousand copies.  We would request 
that people wanting free copies to distribute please send SOMETHING 
to help with the postage charges, so that we have some indication 
that you are genuine about distributing them (five cents apiece is 
fine).  This is because it is easy to ask for ten thousand copies of 
something just because it is free, with the very best intentions, and 
then not get around to distributing them.  We want genuine 
distributors, and a little payment on your part is a token of that. 
I hope you will understand.  The bank details for making payments is 
printed below.

Love and peace,

Dave McKay
Refugee Embassy
Woomera 5720
Phone: 0407-238805

make donations at any branch of the Westpac bank, by filling out a 
deposit slip in the name of:

Ross Parry
Account number 544-823
Branch number   735-065

Thanks, everyone, for your support!


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