Zebedee Parkes

A sharing of culture, food and art that supports refugees and asylum seekers, including those in detention, is at the heart of the Food for Thought project.

Ravi, author of From Hell to Hell, a collection of poems and drawings from his time in Nauru detention centre, or “human dumping ground” as he calls it, first started thinking about Food for Thought the day he got out of detention.

The world has reacted in anger, solidarity and protest to US President Donald Trump’s Muslim immigration ban.

Taxi drivers have gone on strike, major corporations such as Google are condemning it and protests continue at airports across the US.

Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s Theresa May, not known as advocates for human rights, are speaking up in opposition.

As the people on Manus Island prepared to see in the New Year, drunken immigration officials and police beat up asylum seekers who were then taken into police custody and denied food and medical treatment. PNG politician Ronny Knight responded by tweeting “They deserved what they got”.

Barely a week earlier Faysal Ishak Ahmed, a Somali asylum seeker in Manus Island detention centre, died on Christmas Eve after months of being denied adequate medical treatment.

Hundreds of days of protests by refugees on Nauru, landmark court decisions, the Nauru Files, politicians’ offices occupied, parliament interrupted, suicides in detention, damning international reports and many more people becoming active in the campaign for refugee justice is the story of the refugee campaign this year.

The significant growth of campaign groups and the development of new ones means we are in a better position to end the indefinite and cruel mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees.

The offshore detention hellholes of Nauru and Manus Island are becoming increasingly unviable as more damning reports are published, court cases in Papua New Guinea continue, private service providers under the pressure of boycott campaigns decline to reapply for contracts and protests grow in Australia.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s latest plan — third country resettlement in the United States — is a reaction to this pressure, while also maintaining the policy of boat turnbacks, border security rhetoric and denying asylum seekers the right to be resettled in Australia.

Doctors 4 Refugees banner

Phone calls, emails, social media posts, street protests, visits to MP’s offices and Senate inquiry submissions are building momentum to block the federal government’s latest anti-refugee bill in the Senate.

The proposed legislation seeks to place a lifetime ban on any asylum seeker who comes to Australia by boat from ever setting foot in the country. It includes refugees who are resettled in another country and wish to come on tourist, business or partner visas decades later.

Celebrations of multiculturalism happened in 26 cities and rural locations across Australia on October 22 as part of Welcome to Australia events organised under the theme of “Walking together to welcome refugees”.

In Sydney, helium balloons, musical performances, bright red shirts and smiles gave it a carnival like atmosphere. For some it would have been their first refugee rights event.

Doctors and health professionals, with community support, have won a significant victory against the government’s agenda of suppression, fear and secrecy. Health professionals have been made exempt from the secrecy and disclosure provisions of the Border Force Act.

It is amazing how radical believing in the simple notion of welcoming refugees in Australia has become. ABC’s Q&A program on alternatives to detention on October 10 gave some insight into how convoluted the debate on refugees has become.

A number of “compromise solutions” are being put forward but none of them address the worldwide refugee crisis or end Australia’s cruel detention system.

A couple of hundred students took part in banner drops, live artwork and marches at Sydney University's Camperdown campus to save the Sydney College of the Arts.

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