Writers for Refugees was founded in December 2013 by fiction writer Kalinda Ashton and poet and spoken word artist Benjamin Solah with the aim of protesting the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. Their first major task was to encourage prominent writers, academics and journalists to join them in speaking out against policies of mandatory detention, offshore processing and the elimination of the prospect of permanent resettlement in Australian for people who arrive here by boat. Rochford Street Review have signed up and fully support their aims.
Next Thursday (13 March 2014) Writers for Refugees will be having their official public launch in Melbourne at 6pm at Bella Union, Level 1, Trades Hall, Corner of Lygon and Victoria Streets. Speakers and readers will include Arnold Zable, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Abe Ape, Jeff Sparrow and Ali Alizadeh. (Facebook invite https://www.facebook.com/events/408501482616562/)
Unfortunately we wont be in Melbourne for the launch but if you will be we would urge you to attend and show your support.
If you can’t make the launch you can still show your support by signing and agreeing to the Writers for Refugees Statement: http://writersforrefugees.com/2013/09/03/writers-for-refugees-statement/
The statement reads:
As a writer, I am opposed the system of mandatory detention of refugees in Australia. This system, which in some cases sees refugees, including children, imprisoned for years, is inhumane and unjust. I acknowledge the suffering faced by refugees presently held in detention centres both on- and off-shore and will continue to speak out about my country’s treatment of those seeking asylum. Refugees are facing dangerous, inappropriate and inadequate conditions on Nauru and Manus Island and being further traumatised by their exposure to such facilities. Others are drowning at sea while Abbott continues to vow he will turn back the boats. I am committed to upholding human rights and extending generosity and assistance to those fleeing persecution and oppression. I choose to use my voice as a writer to speak for the voiceless and the silenced who have come to Australia by boat seeking freedom and asylum but were met with ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading’ treatment. I wish to acknowledge those who have lost their lives or their hope attempting to seek safety and solace here. I read this statement to call on the Australian government to welcome refugees and end these policies.
– Mark Roberts
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