Thursday May 13 2004 - 6:00am WST
For Immediate Release
The mercy voyage to Nauru by a number of boats, crewed by human rights advocates under the project name of 'Flotillas of Hope' plans to sail to the island to bring teddy bears and presents to the children as well as messages of solidarity, and intends to leave this Saturday.
The public at the voyage farewell ceremony at Sydney Harbour (Pyrmont Point) will be addressed by Sydney Mayor Clover Moore, and speakers from both the Australian Democrats and The Greens (Senator Kerry Nettle) will be amongst the well-wishers, while later ceremonies will take place in Brisbane with Democrats leader Senator Andrew Bartlett. Refugee groups also plan to meet the Flotilla in Coffs Harbour and possibly at other locations.
But a letter, received a few days ago from the Nauru Justice Ministry, accompanied by writing from Nauru's Australian representative Ms Helen Bogdan, has warned about a "dangerous reef" and sharks off the Nauru coast.
The warnings are reminiscent of a promotional video issued by the former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, and promoted widely by the Minister in middle eastern countries during 2002, under the motto "Don't try Australia, it's not worth it". This video warned asylum seekers against coming to Australia, suggesting an environment of treacherous seas, shark-infested waters, poisonous snakes and deadly spiders.
The letter from Nauru authorities also quotes the Nauru Immigration policy of 1999 and its regulations from 2000 - both years quoted as creation dates of the legislation seem to indicate a strong Australian influence on the policies - and warns that "illegal entrants" could face imprisonment of up to one year.
Now the Flotillas coordinator Mr Stavros Georgopoulos has also received a letter from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Pacific Bilateral Section. The head of this DFAT section, Mr David Hallett, has sought a meeting with project representatives. In the meeting Mr Hallett seeks to offer a "briefing on what we can and cannot do for our citizens when they travel abroad".
Mr Georgopoulos has replied to the DFAT letter by inviting Mr Hallett to the Sydney farewell ceremonies and for a visit of The Eureka, the Flotillas' flagship.
For more information:
Flotillas of Hope
[phone number posted]
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Flotillas of Hope:
Hope Caravan Flotillas Forum:
A flotilla of Hope to Nauru:
ZNet Asia report "Flotilla of Hope"
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, Hassan 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.