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    The Flotillas of Hope

The Flotilla of HOPE

a journey of compassion to Nauru

On Saturday May 15 2004, the Flagship "Eureka" of Flotilla of Hope set sail for Nauru, leaving Australia from Sydney Harbour (after the goodbyes at Pyrmont Point), sailing via other places such as Brisbane, and then on its way to Nauru.

On 23 May the vessel "One Off" joined the Eureka in Brisbane, its last Australian stop and farewell celebration.

Other vessels from The Republic of Ireland and New Zealand may join the Flotilla in the next few weeks after this.

The Flotilla reached Nauru on World Refugee Day 2004 - but the boats were repelled by the authorities. Below are the news stories of this voyage.

Introduction

Details and information on this page includes information from the Flotilla website at flotilla2004.com. This website is no longer online.

Over 350 people on the boat now known as SIEV X died trying to seek a better life. Countless others have drowned or gone missing in similar circumstances; thousands more have been interned in Australia's camps. The lives of those who are not citizens have been declared without value.

Up until now, those fleeing in boats have been met with military force, slander and the terrible cynicism of electoral rivalry. A new and shifting atlas of excisions and offshore penal colonies has been manufactured to circumvent the search for a better life.

In Australia, an asylum policy remains as fiction. In reality, the movements of people as something other than things for The Economy has been banned. We are all, with different degrees of violence, governed by this restriction on our lives and therefore in solidarity with those who, courageously and with hope, risk everything for freedom.

And so, those who are confined in Australia's concentration camps have put the question of 'freedom or death' starkly before us. It is necessary for the rest of us to make the voyage beyond symbolic indignation and act. It is possible and necessary to refuse the monopoly of governments over action, space and the valuing of lives.

This voyage of this Flotilla recalls the old law of the sea - which obliges us to give assistance to anyone in peril, without regard for flags - and seeks to open a multitude of flows toward a new world for which maps are yet to be created.

Therefore, the Flotilla will use a diversity of tactics: boats converging to Australia's north in mid-2004 crewed by autonomous affinity groups; media streams and online protests; radio waves and OpenFlow events.

Everyone is invited to make the voyage in their own way.

The Flotillas of Hope poster

The Flotilla

Details and information on this page includes information from the Flotilla website at flotilla2004.com. This website is no longer online.

The SV Atlantic Adventure

Currently docked in Ireland, the Atlantic Adventure will be departing in the Spring (Northern Hemisphere) for Nauru.

Yacht Eureka

The Eureka is a yacht sailing from Sydney in May 2004 for Nauru, in the Pacific Ocean. Together with other vessels, the Eureka will make a Flotilla of Hope to visit people held in the Nauru Detention Centre and draw attention to the plight of people who come to Australia without the right papers. She is being crewed by people from Sydney, Newcastle (Aust.) and London.

Eureka is a sloop-rigged Swanson 42. Sloop rig means she has one mast, and one headsail. She was designed by Ron Swanson and is 12m / 42 feet long. She is fibreglass construction, and heavily built for cruising rather than racing. She is a double-ender, which means she has two 'sharp ends', which is for the purpose of breaking a following sea. She was lovingly built by Rob D and Roger C, and they intended to call her Imagine. Bought by Michael C, ex-Hydrographer (chart-maker) of the Australian Navy, launched in 1981 as Eureka, she sailed around the world. Eureka is now owned by Lance, who has sailed her for the last 10 years up and down the Australian east coast and into the Pacific.

The One Off

One Off is a gaff rigged timber vessel, 34 feet long and although launched in 1974 she is a much older style of boat. She is sound and sails well for her type. She was built by Authur and Agnes Pitt for use as both professional fishing and enjoyment. She has a 65HP BMC diesel engine.

For this planned expedition, a small crew of good people who were prepared to help in the organising as well as the sailing would be good. The One Off is still looking for crew members, preferably residing in Queensland so as to prepare and get to know each other.

Flotilla of Hope

ZNet | Asia
by Lynda Smith
May 10, 2004

Back in Easter 2002, a group of concerned people from the Hunter region of NSW, Australia, appalled by the Australian Government's attitude and policy on asylum seekers, joined the actions of the Festival of Freedoms in the South Australian desert. This became Hope Caravan. Along the way, the 'O' in Hope transformed from an organisation to an organism.

In 2003, Hope Caravan went to the Baxter Detention Centre in South Australia. Many strong bonds and friendships were formed with some of those people initiating the Flotillas of Hope project, which in association with Hope Caravan, sails to Nauru this month to arrive on the tiny impoverished Pacific island of Nauru.

This diverse group of people include a research scientist, an award winning film maker, teachers of maritime studies and multicultural education, a shipwright as well as a soccer coach from the Brisbane based, Tigers Refugee team.

Nauru

Nauru is the smallest republic in the world with a population of only 12,000. It not only faces an environmental catastrophe but also economic bankruptcy.

The exploitation of Nauru's rich source of phosphate began in the early 1900s. After World War l, the Australian, British and New Zealand governments took over the original mining company that had been previously German owned. It was called the British Phosphate Company. As demands grew for fertiliser, so did their profits. However, only 2% of the revenue went to the Nauru people. At the time of Nauru's independence in 1968, mining had destroyed over one-third of the tiny island. In 1991, Nauru took the Australian Government to the International Court of Justice for the exploitation of its economy and environment. In 1993, Australia settled out-of-court for $57 million with an additional $2.5 million per annum for the next 20 years. By the late 1990's, the money had all but dried up.

During the Australian federal election in 2001, the Howard government seized the opportunity to pressure Nauru into taking asylum seekers from the shores of Australia in return for many millions of dollars. These refugees were removed by the Australian military in violation of the International Refugee Convention. This was the beginning of "The Pacific Solution". Many of these people were initially rescued by the now infamous Tampa, a Norwegian Freighter off the Western Australian coast. In denying the Tampa refugees access to the Australian mainland, and their rights under Australian law, Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, said, "whilst this is a humanitarian decent country, we are not a soft touch and we are not a nation whose sovereign rights in relation to who comes here are going to be trampled on".

Nauru continues to deny entry to all lawyers, journalists and representatives of human rights groups as well as independent doctors and psychiatrists from assessing the health of the refugees.

Nauru has since been called Australia's Guantanamo Bay.

These refugees merely sought to flee life-threatening persecution and repression, economic deprivation and poverty and to bring themselves and their families to a safe and secure environment. This must be surely the most basic right of any individual, yet in seeking to exercise it, they have come face to face with the Australian army.

In the last week, three Australian lawyers were ordered off Nauru before they had a chance to appear in a court case challenging the legality of the island's detention centre for asylum seekers. Their visas were revoked by Nauru's Minister for Justice, Russell Kun. On April 27, he appointed his uncle, former Finance Minister and paralegal "pleader", Reuben Kun, to present the detainees' case.

Manus Island

There are approximately 21 million refugees worldwide, yet there is only one who is on a remote island in solitary confinement. The Australian government pays $23,000 per day to detain Aladdin Sisalem, a 25 year old man who has suffered persecution most of his life. The son of a Palestinian refugee (his father) and an Egyptian mother, Aladdin was born in Kuwait. Persecuted in his home country, he began a perilous journey in search of a country that would accept him, travelling via West Papua, Papua New Guinea, finally arriving in the Torres Straight Islands, where he was seized by the Australian Police before being taken to Thursday Island. When he asked Australian authorities for asylum, he was removed and taken to a detention centre set up by the Australian Government on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Even if he wanted to return, Kuwait will not take Aladdin back after his period of absence. Egypt does not want him. Israel does not consider his "right of return" as a Palestinian.

It is noted that the 1948 Universal Declaration Human Rights, Article 14, states "everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution". Ongoing, indefinite suffering by asylum seekers both here and on the offshore detention centres is a clear indication that these basic human rights are being violated.

On 15th May, Flotillas of Hope departs Sydney Harbour, sailing up the east coast of Australia, converging in Brisbane, before departing for Nauru on 23rd May. The boats should arrive at Nauru on 20th June (World Refugee Day) with their "Cargo of Hope" which will include toys, educational, recreational items and a generator for the country's hospital.

The voyage of this Flotilla recalls the old law of the sea - which obliges us to give assistance to anyone in peril, without regard for flags - and seeks to open a multitude of flows toward a new world for which maps are yet to be created.

Therefore, the Flotilla will use a diversity of tactics: boats converging to Australia's north in mid-2004 crewed by autonomous affinity groups; media streams and online protests; radio waves and OpenFlow events.

From: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=44&ItemID=5498

Human rights activists on mission of mercy to Nauru

Sydney Morning Herald
By Sarah Price
May 9, 2004
The Sun-Herald

Human rights activists are embarking on a 4000-kilometre trip to Nauru to draw attention to the "innocent" asylum seekers on the island republic.

"We're going to give them hope and highlight the plight of these innocent people," crew member Stavros Georgopoulos said.

The nine activists who will be sailing in two boats, the Eureka and the One Off, under the banner Flotillas of Hope, will go armed with teddy bears and toys for the detained children and an electricity generator for a hospital on the island "as a gesture of goodwill from ordinary Australian people to the Nauruans".

But Mr Georgopoulos is unsure of whether they will even be able to land on Nauru to deliver their gifts to the asylum seekers.

Their applications for tourist visas have been knocked back and he is doubtful they will be able to get on to the island.

But that is not going to stop them trying and Mr Georgopoulos says they will be "Australian citizens who will be illegal boat people" in Nauru.

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs said last week that 260 people were still being held in the processing centre on Nauru, 74 of whom are children.

A spokeswoman said the department was currently examining the files of the Afghan asylum seekers at the facility against the updated country information from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and decisions were expected to be handed down shortly.

Decisions on the applications from the other asylum seekers were also pending, she said.

A spokeswoman for the Nauru government, Helen Bogdan, said the activists would be likely to be turned away from the island just like anyone would be turned away from any country if they did not have the appropriate visas.

Ms Bogdan also said she would caution anyone travelling to Nauru in a small boat because it was isolated and surrounded by a dangerous reef.

The activists will leave Sydney on May 15 and hope to reach Nauru on June 20, which is World Refugee Day.

The trip follows others Mr Georgopoulos has made to the Woomera detention centre at Easter in 2002 and the Baxter detention centre in 2003 to visit detainees.

"One of the reasons we went to these particular camps is because they are isolated in the desert, they didn't get very many visitors," he said.

Mr Georgopoulos said the Federal Government's Pacific solution was keeping the issue of asylum seekers "out of sight and out of mind".

"We're going to make sure we bring it in sight and in mind," he said.

"It's a problem, a big problem from a human rights angle."

One of the crew members, a British man, is flying out from England to take part in the trip.

Mr Georgopoulos said the crew member, Timothy Perkins, found out about Flotillas of Hope on the internet.

The activists have raised $20,000 to help fund the trip and to buy the gifts for the asylum seekers.

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/08/1083911461429.html

A flotilla of Hope to Nauru

AAP Adelaide
By Lauren Ahwan
December 3, 2003

Refugee advocates are planning to sail to Nauru to highlight the plight of asylum seekers.

Supporter Stavros Georgopoulos today said the plan, dubbed Flotillas of Hope, would be similar to Easter protests held over the last few years at South Australia's Baxter and Woomera detention centres, but promised it would be peaceful.

"We're not going there to liberate them (detainees) and break them out - that's stupid, where would we go?" Mr Georgopoulos said.

"We're just going there to be with them. Just this action itself is radical enough. "Instead of going to the desert, we're going to the ocean."

Mr Georgopoulos said since raising the Flotilla of Hope idea two weeks ago, at least 35 refugee advocates had confirmed they would sail to Nauru and he was now in the process of securing boats.

Interest had also been shown by supporters in the US, England and New Zealand, he said. "Personally, I would love to see 353 boats, with each boat symbolising one of the deaths on the SIEV X (which sank during its voyage to Australia in October 2001)," Mr Georgopoulos said.

"We want to give hope to the refugees at Nauru and shame (Prime Minister John) Howard by putting the spotlight on the issue and showing that these island prisoners do exist.

"My deeper, deeper vision is to raise enough money to buy a boat so, just like there's the Greenpeace Warrior, we could have the Hope Warrior sailing around permanently."

Mr Georgopoulos said the trip to Nauru was planned for June or August next year and would take two months, including one week on the island. Last Easter at Baxter 32 protesters were arrested during clashes with police.

The previous year at the now-mothballed Woomera centre, 50 detainees escaped en masse, aided by protesters who tore down perimeter fences.

AAP la/cbs/br

[as posted on the newswire - no URL]

Refugee advocates to set sail for Nauru

SBS World News
3.12.2003
18:03:15

Refugee advocates say they plan to sail to Nauru to highlight the plight of asylum seekers.

The plan, dubbed the Flotillas of Hope, would be similar to the Easter protests held at South Australia's Baxter and Woomera detention centres.

But refugee supporter Stavros Georgopoulos promises it will be peaceful.

Mr Georgopoulos says the protesters are not going to try to help the detainees in Nauru break out of the detention centre there.

Instead, he says the protesters are going to the Pacific island just to be with them.

Mr Georgopoulos says, since raising the idea two weeks ago, at least 35 refugee advocates have confirmed they will sail to Nauru.

He says he in the process of securing boats for the two-month journey, planned for June or August next year.

Last Easter at Baxter, 32 protesters were arrested during clashes with police.

The previous year at the former Woomera centre, 50 detainees escaped as a group, aided by protesters who tore down perimeter fences.

http://www9.sbs.com.au/theworldnews/region.php?id=74258&region=7

Supporting organisations and people:

Act Elemental, Jim Allen, Anarchist Action, Tobias Andreasson, Jack Aschmann, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Atlantis Ecological Community, Australian Education Union, Julie Bailey, Wolfgang Bauer, John Bell, Andrew Blanckensee, boat-people.org, Nigel Boettiger, Bonny Pirates, Cyndi Boste, M.Christine Boulan-Smit, Boundless Plains to Share, Peter Bouquet, Ruth Boydell, Reverend Dr Brian Brown, Dave Brown, Alison Buchanan, Sue Christopherson, Deepchild, The Australian Democrats, DJ Dreadful, Pat Drummond, Drummond family @ MacMasters, Ecumenical Social Justice Group, Allan El-Khad, Elissa Elvidge, Eowynne Feeny-Scott, John Foley, Bettina Frankham, Peter C Friis, Lee Frost, Stavros Georgopoulos, Hasan Ghulam, Girruwaa Yarrundanginya Dance Group, Great Lakes RAR, Anne Goddard, Grandmaster Monk, Greens Queensland, Greens NSW, Marty Greig, Caroline Greville, Kim Grierson, Sandra Griffin, Rachel Hannan, Matt Hamon, Duncan Harty, Daniel Harvey, Jennifer Harwood, Craig Hendry, Bishop Roger Herft, Hinkler Burnett Greens, Hemp Embassy, Nonie Hodgson, HOPE Caravan, Annie Hughes, Bernadette Jameson, James Jarvis, Tony Kevin, Saeed Khan, Kill your tv, Peter Kingston, Helena Kitely, Vivien Langford, Mary La Rosa, Ezra Lee, Joanna Leigh, Le Minibus, Last-First Networks, Launceston Peace Action Network, Lebanese Muslims Association, Lesbian & Gay Solidarity, A & J Lloyd, Sarah Love, Lily Ma, Euan Macloud, Mahesh, Neil Mallard, Bishop Michael Mallone, Jennene Marum, Beth Mackenzie, Cherie McCosker, Reg Mombazza, Marty Morrison, Daniel Moss, Muel, Peter Murphy, Muslim Women's National Network, National Tertiary Education Union NSW, Nauru Wire, Newcastle Action for Refugee Rights, Newcastle City Council, Newcastle Greens, Newcastle Uni Students' Assoc, Nimbin Museum, No One Is Illegal, NSW Teachers' Federation, Octapod, Michael Organ MP, Pacific Connections, Jane Paterson, Peace Boat, Peace Movement Aotearoa, Power Box Productions, Project Missing Link/Fri, Project SafeCom Inc, Queensland Peace Network, Chris Raab, Random Crew, Reclaim the Streets Syd, Refugee Action Coalition Sydney, Refugee Action Collective Victoria, Refugee Action Collective Qld, Refugee Rights Action Network, Lillian Reilly, Resistance, Liesel Rickerby, Dr & Mrs Romney Newman, Lisa Rosenberg, David Ross, Gillian Ross, Arif Ruhani, Rural Australians for Refugees, Barry Rutherford, Salarium, S-A-V-E Australia Inc, Martin Sharp, Roslyn Sharp, Search Foundation, Lynda Smith, Socialist Alliance, Danielle Storey, Rachael Stacy, Starhawk, Tierranostra, John Tomlinson, Treason, TPV Legal Centre, Paul Troyano, Paul Tully, Maureen Turner, Saif Uddin, Uniting Church Adelaide, Anousha Victoire, Denise Vietch, Voices from the Vacant Lot, Volunteers for Tawo, Jody Warren, Ronald Webb, Nick Wood, xborder, Young Christian Workers.

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