There was barely a dry eye at the Palm Sunday rally for refugees held at the Lennox beachfront last month when Mullumbimby resident Julia Hall read a heartfelt letter from a Manus Island detainee.
The young man from Afghanistan, who cannot be named for his own protection, has been in detention since January 2014. His letter spoke of oppressive living conditions; loss of family and friends, both at home and through misadventure in detention; loss of skills and the ability to work; and loss of the opportunity, as a young man, to build a future.
He also acknowledged:
“ . . . a small but precious army of people who care.
Thank you to our advocates and friends.
Thank you to the people who act . . . who are writing to their MP’s and talking to their friends to share the injustice of this place.
Thank you to the religious who take the love for your neighbour seriously.
Thank you to the people who know the equality in humanity and act upon it.
You have empowered us and given us a small voice”.
And he appealed for continued support, appealing to Australians:
“to keep speaking for us, to yell for us, to scream for us.
Please keep putting peaceful, but loud, democratic pressure on the people who hold our freedom in their hard hands.
To the Australian Government . . . please consider our lives as important and end the pain detention inflicts upon us.
Please bring us to Australia, we will make it our home, we will give your our hearts and with every action we will show our thanks”.
Ms Hall, who has been corresponding with detainees on Manus Island since late 2015, has come to know this young man, and others like him, very well. She will share her insights into their circumstances and experiences at the next meeting of Ballina Region for Refugees which will be held on Saturday 20 May at Northlakes Community Hall, Whiting Way, Ballina (off North Creek Road). This meeting is open to the public.
For more information email BR4R at firstname.lastname@example.org