#LetThemStay

Refugee activists have been holding LetThemStay actions and protesting against refugee policies outside the office of Federal Labor MP Sharon Claydon every Thursday afternoon since February last year.

The group, which includes members of The Greens, Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Quakers, Uniting Church, Catholics and Grandmother's Against Children in Detention, raise a chorus of supportive horns from passing traffic.

They say they will not stop until all refugees are free.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton announced on April 2 that for the first time in a decade there were no children in Australian detention centres. “When I got the call,” he said, “it was something I was proud of.” With the announcement came news that 196 of the 267 asylum seekers who lost the High Court case challenging the government's legal right to deport them to Nauru would be moved to community detention in Australia.
That the Australian government can find $6 million to fund a film aimed at convincing asylum seekers to not come to Australia and yet cut more than $50 million from Screen Australia speaks volumes about its priorities.
The University of Sydney Resistance club held a #LetThemStay action on campus on February 24 which was endorsed by the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) and attended by Labor, Greens, socialists and LGBTIQ activists on campus.
On February 18, a delegation of Victoria University staff and students delivered a letter to the office of Tim Watts, Labor MP for the federal seat of Gellibrand. The letter, signed by 125 students and teachers — in only two days and before most students were back at university — pleaded with Watts to follow Premier Daniel Andrews' example and advocate that the 267 vulnerable asylum seekers, including 36 babies, not be sent back to Nauru.

Following the stand taken by doctors, teachers and church leaders to prevent the transfer of 267 asylum seekers from the Australian mainland to Nauru and Manus Island detention centres, an open letter was launched at a Law Institute of Victoria forum on February 24.

I feel privileged to have been able to spend several hours on the community picket outside Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane where people were rallying in solidarity with Asha. Asha is the refugee baby who was being treated for burns after an accident in Australia's notorious offshore refugee detention camp, in the increasingly dictatorial Pacific island state of Nauru.
Not for some years has there been so much justifiable outrage over bipartisan cruelty towards refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. The groundswell of community organising to keep the 267 asylum seekers, being threatened with deportation to Nauru and Manus Island, is a bright spot on an otherwise bleak horizon.
The vigil for baby Asha outside the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane continues, as the hospital joined a growing group of institutions offering sanctuary to refugee families. In a statement on February 12, a Lady Cilento Children's Hospital spokesperson said: “Children's Health Queensland can confirm that a 12-month-old girl from the Nauru Detention Centre is currently receiving care at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital. “As is the case with every child who presents at the hospital, this patient will only be discharged once a suitable home environment is identified.
The #LetThemStay vigil outside Lady Cilento Hospital is a rare and remarkable moment for Brisbane, not only because it makes visible the resurgence of public concern about our government's inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, but because it's already one of the most significant radical uses of urban space this city has seen in decades.
Photo by Marziya Mohammedali The High Court ruled on February 3 that the federal government has the power to send 267 refugees and asylum seekers to Nauru, with only 72 hours' notice. But a #LetThemStay groundswell across the country is demanding the refugees be allowed to stay -- with snap protests across the country. The 267 people includes 37 babies — many of whom were born in Australia — and at least 15 women who were allegedly sexually assaulted on Nauru.