My Open Personal Appeal To Our Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Dear Mr Morrison,
I came by boat to Australia from England in 1960. And I was welcomed, along with over a million other migrants from Europe, with open arms.
My friend, Tri Nguyen, came by boat to Australia from Vietnam in 1980. And the Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, made sure that Tri, along with over 100, 000 other people seeking refuge in our country, was free to resettle here.
In 2014 over the Easter weekend I joined Tri on the last leg of his thirty-five day walk from Melbourne to Canberra, towing a wooden boat through Benalla, Wodonga and Wagga Wagga, to introduce himself as a “boat person” and assure the ordinary Aussies he met that “boat people” like him were nothing to fear.
My friend, Taher Forotan, came by boat to Australia from Afghanistan via Indonesia in 1999. And after some months in detention, the Liberal Prime Minister, John Howard, allowed Taher, along with over 10,000 other people seeking safety in our country, to stay here and raise their families here.
In 2013 Dr Taher Forotan received the Pride of Australia National Fair Go Medal for his work helping refugees suffering mental health issues as a result of their trauma. And Taher’s daughter, Dr Homa Forotan, is now a Medical Registrar at the Princess Alexandra Hospital we all can go to for help in a medical emergency.
In 2013, the same year Taher was awarded a Pride Of Australia Fair Go Medal, the Labor Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, declared that in future asylum seekers who came by boat to Australia would never be allowed to settle here.
Since then 3,127 people, almost 90% of whom had been proven to be genuine refugees, Australia has sent into exile to Nauru and Manus Island. “And seven and a half years later, we’re still left with 1,500 people in … a cruel form of limbo”. Like our friends here who remain locked up in the Kangaroo Point Hotel.
Brother Scott, as a fellow Christian,
I beg you to honour your Christian values this Christmas;
I beg you to leave Canberra and come to Kangaroo Point;
I beg you to walk through these gates, and meet these refugees face to face;
I beg you to listen to their awful stories and to look into their mournful eyes;
I beg you to enter the pain of their experience, of being betrayed by the very government they had prayed would provide them their salvation;
I beg you to feel the deep, profound, desolate sense of hopelessness they have been forced to endure, being detained indefinitely by your government, for up to eight years, without any hope of release.
Brother Scott, as a fellow believer,
I beg you to repent of the hard-heartedness of your government’s callous policies;
I beg you to respond to these brethren with a heart filled with the “loving-kindness” I trust you have not forgotten, that you referred to in your maiden speech in parliament;
I beg you to remember that, while you are under enormous political pressures as Prime Minister to look strong, not to look weak and loving-kindness can look weak, you don’t need to punish these people as a perverse object lesson to teach other people not to come by boat – your Border Security Force all-too-often boast they can stop the boats.
Brother Scott,
I beg you, as Christ says, to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners and … set the oppressed free.” (Lk.4:18)
You could set them free, as others have been set free, into our community, right here and right now.
If you feel can’t set them free in our country, you could set them free to enjoy the hospitality of our Kiwi cousins.
But either way, I beg you to set the prisoners free this Christmas.
Yours sincerely, Dave Andrews

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