Messages to and from Maribyrnong

"Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law". Article 6, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948.

From time to time detainees at the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre have sent out appeals and statements to the outside world. Some are posted here, along with transcripts of the Christmas card messages elsewhere on this site (to see scanned images of the cards, click  here.)

After the messages from inside come messages from supporters outside, the Australian people who, according to the Australian government, don't want asylum seekers here...

Messages from detainees:

Messages from outside:


The death of Viliami Tanginoa, Friday 22 December 2000

Detainee Request 31/12/2000
To DIMA manager and ACM manager
From all the detainees at Maribyrnong detention centre

We will have a peaceful protest on 1 January 2001 in the detention centre because of what your staff did to our beloved brother Villiami Tanginoa on Friday 22/11/2000.

The staff tried to grab him without him signing any papers. The staff stopped detainees from giving him food and smokes. The staff took it lightly while they could save his life. One of your staff was shooting basketball on the pole where he stood.

We want freedom, out of this place.

Signed by all detainees in the detention centre.

Finally, we send love to all our brothers and sisters protesting outside.

(For more on the death of Viliami, click here.

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Open letter, 23 November 2001

To Whom It May Concern
We, the detainees of Maribyrnong Detention Centre request to express the following concerns, which are frustrating and humiliating the detainees:

  1. Medication: No proper medication is available to the detainees. Panadols are given for almost any sickness. The nurse is available only few hours a day.
  2. There was a recent room search being conducted, which lasted for five hours. No reason was given as to why the search was conducted.
  3. ACM officers search rooms everyday counting detainees by putting torch light into their faces.
  4. The announcements for detainees are made too loud early in the morning, which often disturbs our sleep.
  5. Most of the times this place is overcrowded. At times 6 people are accommodated in one room wherein they have to sleep on the floor.
  6. The room search was conducted sayings that it was DIMA's orders whereas DIMA said that they knew nothing about it.
  7. Detainee's faxes are delayed.
  8. Often phone calls are not connected, saying that the lines are busy whereas they are not.
  9. Ration for milk and sugar are not increased even when detainees are increased.
  10. There are only 3 public phones available for approximately 100 detainees.
  11. Handcuffed problems still persist even when detainees need to be taken to the hospitals, RRT, Federal Court, etc.
  12. Every day rules change along with the ACM Manager's mood.
  13. There is only one safe to watch TV without any more chairs. There are not enough chairs or tables to write or read the newspaper.
  14. Toilets are slushy and stinking.
  15. Carpets are dirty and smelly.
  16. The sanitary conditions have become worse in this place.
  17. The lights in the dormitories are controlled by the control, which is quite disturbing and uncomfortable. Often the air condition vents do not work.
  18. The ACM security have no humanity. Their behaviour is quite rude. The manager Mr David Randich is very rude and follows quite inhuman policies. We request that we may be treated like human beings and not criminals.

Thank you
Yours sincerely
Signed by 30 detainees of Maribyrnong Detention Centre, 53 Hampstead Rd, Melbourne.

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Fax received from Maribyrnong Hunger Strikers March 2002

The following is the text of a fax received today [17 March] from inside Maribyrnong Detention Centre, by hunger strikers protesting their conditions:

(Posted to RAC-Vic news by Simon O'Neill)

We in Australian detention centres are facing all kinds of oppression, discrimination, some are as under:

    1. At arrival we face a system which is based at negative intentions.
    2. Deputed Compliance Officers or Case officers will not tell us about our rights: even at request their attitude is maximum heartbreaking and negative.
    3. Once as applied applicant, most of the time decision is being made without given any opportunity of applicant's comments, which is most of the time rejection of application and claims.
    4. Applicant if lucky given a chance to go for an appeal in RRT, Refugee Review Tribunal, but no legal assistance being provided, short time is given and no consideration is given at whatever the claims or the evidences are submitted. The result is refusal, not to give Protection Visa.
    5. There was only one form of relief in Australia for Refugees Courts of Australia, and this Govt had also narrowed our appeal rights from Courts through new legislation in September last year.
  1. Can somebody ask occupational health and safety enforcement agencies to certify these torture centres to whom they had named as detention centres from all the aspects.
  2. They had not only snubbed our freedom of movement, we can't say anything - there is not any place where we could complain and someone will listen.
  3. Our detention is baseless, lawless and inhuman.
  4. Detention centres are run under illiterate or irrelevant qualified personnel, or they are not qualified at all to have such jobs.
  5. Duty of Care is no more than a joke here. We are the victims of gross negligence - unhygienic atmosphere and tasteless bad-smelling food.
  6. For nearly one hundred detainees, only 4 hours a week doctor, and nurse is only available daytime - at weekends she leaves the centres at 12 noon, and detainees are left over to the experiments of ACM officers. The nurse does all other things other than nursing.
  7. We do have a counselor but no counselling.
  8. Counselling and activity officers always entertain only people of their choice.
  9. Whenever any high officials visit the centre, extra cleanliness and arrangement of BBQ or other good looking good taste foods are arranged.
  10. Compaints and rectifications system is unknown by ACM or DIMA.
  11. Laughing at refugees and at their circumstances by most of the ACM staff.
  12. Discouraging visitors of detainees and imposing baseless irrevocable bans at visits.
  13. Every day now rules and restrictions by oppression manager of Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre, regarding food, fruits, drinks. Already shortage of tea, coffee, milk, sugar, toilet rolls.

Once again we appreciate your interest and help - and condemn this human ill treatment of Australian Government.

Detainees of Maribyrnong Detention Centre

[Note - the posting above omits an introductory paragraph in the original, running as follows:
We all detainees of Maribyrnong Detention Centre and on behalf of all detainees in Australia and on behalf of refugees in general anywhere else in the world, are thankful to the members of Free Refugees Clubs, to the organizers and to all the participants of these gatherings. We appreciate from the core of our hearts for these precious times they spare for the refugee cause in Australia protesting against the inhuman treatment of this Government, since many years, despite the international obligations of this Government to protect human rights in this (so-called) democratic society. Todays and future participants of this and similar protests against human rights abuses, will be remembered in golden words in the history of Australia. History will never forgive those responsible for human misery, whether they were political opportunists or others with some secret agenda.]

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Ban on visitors

Open letter 20 March 2002

Ref lifting ban from Ms Kristalo Hrysicos, Jenell and others.

Dear Sir, Madam
We all detainees of Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre request your urgent intervention to lift ban from some of our visitors, unjustly and baselessly imposed by the ACM management of the centre.Most of us don't have any relatives in Australia. These visitors mean to us everything. Especially under situation of fear and hope. In fact their visits gives us hope and strength to keep up the morale. They are lifeline for us.

In their presence we feel secure and safe. They are bridging the gap of love and care wheat we miss badly in detention.

Their visit does not offend any of us and we strongly believe that they are not security risk to us or to any of the Commonwealth Australia's installations.

Please consider with sympathy and love to lift the ban immediately.

We all look forward your urgent and kind action in this matter.

Detainees of MIDC

Signed by 41 detainees of Marirbyrnong Detention Centre.
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Transcripts of Christmas messages Dec 2001

(To see scanned images of the cards, click here.)

Card 1

In my life, I have spent 33 years in a prison called Iran. Now I am spending my life in a different prison called "Detention Centre". I don't know how long I have to spend in this prison. But I am sure life in worst criminal prisons is far better than the life here in the detention centre. Please tell Australian government that we are not criminals but normal human beings ( I think they forgot it)

Card 2

Either drop of water together in Ocean, or the Ocean will overflow.
What can we find from the Law without human rights.
We came here to protect our life and live as free human [beings]. But what has happen to is
Now we are living like an animal, in a cage. Is this the human rights we hope?

Card 3

Before coming to Australia, I read a book which said that "In Australia people don't lie". But after spending 30 months in this detention centre I realised that I have never seen anybody lying so much.

Card 4

At this cheerfull event while kissing, hugging each other other, especially family members, pl[ease] don't forget the people who are misplaced, who they lost their ID for what crime? They don't know, they are not begging you material, or money - what they expect is to spread a word of sympathy & awareness - Pl[ease] stop this very much human issue not to be [politicised] by politicians.

Card 5

I wish for the day when the birds are not kept in cages.
Oh! I forgot, what about human beings?

Card 6

In a dictatorship country, the people are tortured because they do the crime of fighting for freedom, equal rights and human rights and justice. But in Australia we don't understand why we are being tortured?
We want to know under what reason we are facing this prison and torture.
How long will this crime against humanity go on?
Can you please tell us why we are [paying] this dear price and for what reason?

Card 7

After escaping from Taliban. I am facing another Taliban. I escaped from Taliban looking for peace, but Australia had led down all my hopes.

Card 8

"Do not refuse kindness to anyone who begs it, if it is in your power to perform it"
(Proverbs 3:27)

Card 9

When I came to Australia I thought I can save my life and my family in safety country. I carry everything on my back travel by boat plane to arrive here. I thought when I came here I can take my rest? But unfortunately I can[not] save my life and my family in Australia. I fled from Saddam Hussain and his government to Australia because Australia is far away from Saddam Hussain. But unfortunately I found Saddam here and his government ...
the good word I want to say it I found worse than Saddam Hussain and worse than his government. I mean what I said and I can make sure for everybody

Card 10

I used to think that it [Australia] is a good country. But now I realised that this country is not a free country. It spoiled my life and the fate of my four kids. I don't understand why they call this country as "country of migrants" Please don't say if you don't follow.

Card 11

Dear Australians,
We are not in a position to wish you merry Christmas. Yet we wish you a merry Christmas. On this eve of Christmas please remember when you celebrate Christmas with your family members, please remember that we too have family members but because of the crime we did (being illegal migrants) we can't celebrate Christmas. We already lost whatever we had, please don't humiliate us. Tell your government that we are also human being with lots of emotions and feelings.

Card 12

I have a family with two kids outside. Never in my life I imagined a country like Australia to be like this. The only crime we people did in our lives is that we are refugees and we believed that Australia gives asylum for refugees. That's why we are facing this punishment of being in this detention centre for unknown time.

Card 13

Why is there no difference between animals, criminals and Asylum seekers in this country

Card 14

Dear Australians,
I think, I am very unlucky to spend my 18th birthday in this prison. I hope at least next year I celebrate my birthday outside.
I never thought Australia to be like this, locking up people who seek asylum.

Card 15

How long, O Lord? Wilt
	thou forget me forever?
How long wilt thou hide they face
	from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
	and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be
	exalted over me?
		-Psalms 13
If ever you find yourself alone,
	in a strange new land of hope,
	very far from the pain of yesterday,

Would you not also want to find
	yourself embraced by your new neighbours? Welcomed home,
	and offered shelter from your sorrows?

For this is the compassion that
	every man hopes from his peers.

The lack of this brotherly compassion,
	is now the source of all my tears.

	- Any Refugee,
	Asylum Seeker,
	or other 

Card 16

Maribyrnong I.D.C.
53 hampstead Rd
maidstone VIC 3012

I congratulate this christmas (2002) to all Australian people and all persons who read my letter.

I'm from IRAN - 31 - that in 1999 as a refugee arrived to Australia. I was during those years at woomera, port hedland, perth and at the moment in maribyrnong detention centre in melbourne.

two weeks ago I read a article about Afghanestan Zoo in papers after arrival taleban group to city and oppres on animals by Taleban's group. all the animals died due to anybody hadn't feed and care them. and just has left a lion that calling "marjan" that a part of its face injured by bombing.

on 21-century at a big country like Australia we have a new group of Taleban that working as a legal worker in Detention centres of Australia that calling ACM about five months ago just due to ACM's carelessness at port hedland detention centre who (didn't find[d] and safe some dangerous tools) about 40% from my body burnt and I'm very depressing for my body and I have a lot of suffering for this situation during these months.

but, at present I'm wishing I was captive in Taleban's zoo, because I would [be]released after that disappear Taleban group. but in detention centres I haven't got any hope for freedom and usually I'm thinking to deported or suicide.

Our children have faded and we have been mental sick and we haven't any way.

I hope at this new year, the Australian government and people solve our problems. I'm living in these detention centres for a long time for anything and any sin.

Merry Christmas

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Letter to Arne Rinnan, Captain of MS Tampa

Here is a transcript of a letter written by a detainees at Maribyrnong on behalf of detainees throughout Australia, and posted here with the approval of the author. The original is being sent to Captain Rinnan via the shipping company. A scanned copy can be seen here:

Tel. 03-93181999


c/- WALIENIS WILHEIMSEN[Wallenius Wilhelmsen],

Dear Sir,
I am greatly honoured in writing this letter of appreciation on behalf of all prisoners of refugee in australian detaine Camps, we [are] deeply moved by your decishion which saved 430 human lives off the australian coast last year, which we see as an act of bravery and more over a decishion made by a great leader at an era w[h]ere human beeings treat fellow humans as animals

We also greatly appreciate your altruism which not only saved lives but freed them from extremly traumatic exsperience which most of my fellow detainees have and still go through.

Captain as victimes we are desgusted by the australian government for [being] unwilling to help the refugees who are strugellng for freedom with no destiny, uncertain future and indefinate sentance. But we would never give up hope becouse now we know that there are poeple such as you who would bring hope to refugee plight.

We once again thank you from the bottom of our hearts and applause you and your crew for saving those lives despite the australian governments obligations[?objections] towards you[r] incredible decishion.

We wish you our blessings & pray that we would have more people or great men like you who would bring light to our boardem and hopelesness so that we would once again live in peace and harmony.

We wish you all the best in your retirement and hope that you would continue your great work to bring freedom to our lives.

Thank you Sir!
yours sincerly,
all refugees through
detentioncentre in

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Statement of welcome

(For a scanned copy of the original, click here. Note that signatures have been suppressed to avoid victimisation.)


Asylum seekers kept screaming, crying, dying, harming themself. Kept writing to so called ombudsman, Australian press, M.P.S., intelectuals, media, to UN, Amnesty, Human Rights International, etc.

Seven (7) asylum seekers commited sucide in Australia's mandetory detention cntres, beside grate number of asylum seekers attempted but were saved with serious harms to their physical and mental health while dependents of asylum seekers back in their home lands kept facing unbelivable sufferings under unimaginable circumstance.

Australian politician's character remained like hyena's and voltures our carcass's of asylum seekers for their political intrests. Beside large part of Australian's were not involved because of their daily life style and other economics problems and because of media's negative projection of asylum seekers in Australia was main reason of their no intrest at the ill treatment of refugees by their government.

Under above thick dark clouds of brutality inhuman treatment negligence to the United Nation's obligation, violation to Human Rights, Tempa arrived at the international horrizon to disclose all what was hidden from Australian's and international comunity. Very first time in John Howard's six years tenure government could not hide it's fascist and recist policies toward asylum seekers from Australia public. It is exposed to every one that their leaders had been lying to them. All what was negatively propogated against the refugees was nothing but a conspirecy.

We all detainees at Meribynong Detention Centre Melbourne Victoria and on the behalf of all asylum seekers, who are detained in various detention centres countrywide in Australia welcom our grate friend and a grate human being of this time. We salute at his cour[a]gious stand first rescuing helpless asylum seekers in the open sea and later handing over these trumutised people to Australian authorities. We salute to the son of Norway at his darring stand against all the pressure of Australian Government.

I were [wear?] heartiest welcome to Captain Arne Rinnan the son of the sea for all the things he has done to expose Australian Government before Australian public and international comunity.

40 detainees at MIDC

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Message of thanks 6 June 2002

To everyone who has supported us and Nader we say 'thank you for your great hearts'. We appreciate your concern and help in trying to save Nader. We do not understand why the Australian Government hates us so much and how the Australian Government can be so inhuman in its treatment of asylum seekers. However, we know many Australian people have great compassion and again we thank you for your efforts and your support.

Hossein and Bahram

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From the outside:

Mayday messages

Here are transcripts of the 84 messages collected at the blockade - except one, which was written in Arabic and which we need to get translated! Scanned images of the messages can be seen here.

Note - some of these messages were written in longhand, some printed. For simplicity all are given here in conventional format. In some cases it has not been possible to reproduce signatures and non-textual matter, but this is will all be visible on the scanned images. I have also suppressed full names where these were given - it is known that ACM have been trying to identify visitors to the centre who may have taken part in the Mayday protests, presumably with a view to banning them from future visits...

Update - 9 May: reduced photocopies of the messages have been successfully handed over to the detainees, who are reported to be overwhelmed by this show of support. Thanks to all involved.

We'll keep visiting until the day comes when we can invite you to our homes. We look foreward to the day you're free - Actors for Refugees.
In truth all human beings are equal - regardless of race, creed, economic status or other - keep fighting a system that destroys souls - Andrew xxx
By devaluing your lives we have devalued our own - both individually and as a nation - courage!
I wish you love and support from the bottom of heart. You are all amazing people who stand up to the worst hardships and we all send you our love - Michael xxx
I am deeply saddened by our government's callousness towards you. I cry when I think about what you must be feeling. My heart is with you - and also the hearts of thousands and thousands of people in this country. Freedom!
In memory of Villiami who died in detention in Maribyrnong. AUSTRALIA.
Keep up hope. We support with action your desire for freedom.
To everyone trapped behnd bars - we are listening - we are with you! ...
I hope you find peace and freedom, and we'll work at changing things until you do. Thinking of you - Eva.
Please do not give up hope. You are in the thoughts of many of us.
Dear friends - you have courage. You are not illegal. Keep living.
The bars are only tempory.
You are welcome
our government is not
You will soon be amongst our great civilisation.
Free the refugees.
Lock up fascist Ruddock
Open the borders
Close the camps
Let 'em land
My dearest friends in detention, please know that so long as you are so unjustly caged, so long are we all no more than ill-treating unhumans. No one is free unless we all are. I am so very sorry that words cannot describe that you suffer and fear in this unreasoning ugly punishment, while Australians who should live in the best the kindest the grandest motherland abide in unthinking unfeeling ignorance or our government couldn't do this to our newest fellow Australians to be. You have no choice but to wait for us, but will you, please & forgive us till we can say welcome with all our glad hearts together.
My prays are with you all.
Wait in your white light as we all FIGHT!
Kisses + hugs Love Mishele, Joel, + Breanna xx
To all the amazing, heroic detainees at Woomera. I promised you we would keep fighting.
No borders
No nations
People are people & deserve to be treated as such.
No mandatory detention. Free the refugees.
We share a common humanity (Raimond Gaita)
We feel your pain!
May peace be with you all. We are trying. Don't give up.
Laughlin xxx
Shut down the detention centres now!
The things that happen in our country by our government make me embarrassed to be an Australian!
Stop Howard and Ruddocks lies!
End this racist policy.
The Liberals lie, spy and deny, to defend the indefensible.
To you all: I'm sorry the government fucked you over. They're like that.
Love you all. Don't lose hope. Ceri xxx
P.S. Keep smiling :)
Hello All.
I am one of the "Australians" who support you. Don't worry. Don't give up. David (me) loves you all!
From David xxx. Bright Blessings.
Justice will prevail!
You are all welcome in our land & in our homes!
Dear friends,
We will not stop the fight until you are free. Do not give up hope. There are many Australians who welcome you to our country.
Stay strong.
Take heart from the people in this country who are fighting for you.
Do not give up hope. There are many who hear your struggle, & welcome you to this country.
We are trying hard,
Have heart.
Let us open our hearts & open the "floodgates" - smash open fortress Australia!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in wrongful detention.
I am very ashamed that my own country is treating you, our honoured guests so badly. I will do everything in my power to get freedom for all of you.
No one is a refugee by choice.
You are forced out of your land and globalisation's greed is major contributor to create the reasons why people have to flee.
You are heroes! We are always thinking of your struggles and your suffering. We wish you freedom. Many Autralians do not want yo to be detained - we welcome you.
Don't give up hope. We are fighting for you. No mandatory detention!!
To our friends, keep hope in your hearts, there are many Australians with open hearts, who welcome you all, and fight for freedom.
To my dear brothers and sisters in detention,
There are people all over Australia who care about you. Please don't give up hope. The appalling policies of our governemnt must be overturned. You are welcome in Australia. Free the Refugees. close the Camps.
With love xxoo
All of us except Aboriginal people, are refugees to this country. How dare we deny the detainees freedom!!!
Asalamu Alaykum
Brothers & sisters,
You are welcome in Australia.
Bruce xxx & family
This racist government does not represent all Australians.
-Freedom is not a privilege.
Keep strong comrades.
I am ashamed of my country while you remain in prisons. Courage. We will win.
Keep up the fight.
Freedom is your right!
You have a right to be here. Stay strong. Change will come.
Howard & Ruddock - Find some humanity! Let our friends into the community & out from behind your bars!!
There is no right to lock you up.. Be patient. Things will change!
Welcome all!
End the prison system the government call mandatory detention!
Phillip Ruddock & John Howard do not represent us! We welcome you & love you. We will continue to fight until you are free! Sarah
We will fight until you are free.
I really feel your pain and disbelief that Australia could treat you this way. We will work to free you and give you choices in your life. Don't give up hope. Change is coming.
STAY STRONG You'll be out of that dump very soon.
Your courage is inspirational. WELCOME! Stay strong. We will close the concentration camps.
With love xx
We hold hope - & will act on our hope that a better world is very possible.
We want you to know freedom in our country. May this be your country too very soon.
My voice speaks out for your freedom. My hand stretches long to offer you friendship.
See you at the visits!
Love, xxxxx
To my friends at Maribyrnong. We're thinking of you on May Day - & every day.
Alice (& baby Olive)!!!
Dear Refugees,
I am deeply disturbed about the treatment being given you my our terrible government. Be assured, though, for it will change.
I am ashamed to be Australian.
Welcome & Brothers and Sisters!
Howard, Ruddock
The meek will inherit the earth
- Stop your racism xenophobia victimisation of the most helpless & fragile.
We are all standing for the end of detention centres & the abuse of human rights.
Just as my famly were welcomes as refugees we welcome all those fleeing persecution & violence overseas.
Free the Refugees.
Lock up Howard & Ruddock
Dear Friends,
I am so sorry for the treatment you have received that has placed you behind bars. Please know that many of us care about you and your families.
From the bottom of my heart I say welcome and we love you and are trying to raise awareness of your situation.
Love and prayers,
Freedom for All
Those racist hell holes will be shut down soon!
End mandatory detention now!
The rich get greedier, the poor get needier.
Free the Refugees.
Australian SAS in Afghanistan at war!!
Afghans in Australia in detention!!
What's going on Liberals/ALP?
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some [day] you'll join us
& the world will live as one.

Imagine all the people
Living life in Peace.
Welcome to Australia.
Put an end to this racist governmet's policy of mandatory deention. FREEDOM FOR ALL REFUGEES!
I am appalled at this government's and this country's attitude to refugees. Howard and Ruddock chill me to the bone. I hope you are free soon.
To the asylum seekers in detention. You are welcome in Australia! Let's lock up Ruddock &Howard. they are criminals! They are racist! they are mean! They are inhumane!
We will get you out!
Love & hugs.
Dear Friends,
You wish to become Australian. Until, you are allowed to do that I will be ashamed to be an Australian myself. You have a shabby welcome, may the memory of it diminish as you find the justice you deserve. I am so sorry this is happening to you there are many like me voicing our protest. Do not give up hope.

We care about you. We will fight for your freedom.
Our grandfathers did not give their lives so we could treat people like shit. Lest we forget.
Don't give up on freedom for refugees. We'll keep fighting for you.
Howard and Ruddock don't speak for me. Not in my name!
Free the Refugees!
There are Australians who understand. Soon there will be more!
Golden Rule: treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.
Mothers care about all children. I am one & I care.
xxx Diana
Dear friends/refugees,
I think of you every day and I wish I could do more to help. I am so ashamed of my country that allows people like you to suffer in detention, when you have already had such bad things happening to you. Please let us know what we can do to help. Letters? Gifts? - Keep hope - freedom will come and you have many supporters. xxx Lin
I am thinking of you always. My heart goes put to you and I promise to continue fighting for your freedom. Injustice diminishes us all. Love and solidarity,
A humane & just society is judged by how it treats all its people. May we continue to fight for a better world for everyone. We have heard your cry for help!
Please forgive us because too many of us don't want to know what's going on. My thoughts are with you. Please know not everyone feels like our government.
There are many, many more each day that are ashamed of the Australian Government in its policy to refugees. It is hard to say that it is our Government.
I am glad I did not vote for you [ie Ruddock and Howard - the card was pinned under a picture of Ruddock] Your mean actions will take the positive BLESSING GOD endowed on this land away from all of us.

(The final message was written in Arabic - watch this space for a translation ...)

In recent months a growing number of Australians have been writing letters to detainees in Australia's detention camps, giving the lie to Government claims that the Australian people do not want "that sort of people" in the country. Anyone who would like to write to someone, whether in Maribyrnong or elsewhere, but does not know how to go about it should contact Kate Durham and Julian Burnside by email to [email protected] - they have names and addresses - or the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre in Footscray, email [email protected] Phone 9689 5075, website is also worth looking at the posting from Helen Osborn to Ausnews on April 21 - reposted to the Mdc-watch list on 26 April.

Here is the text of a letter recently forwarded to a detainee in Maribyrnong - published with the sender's consent, but name suppressed by request:

In our town of xxx, we recently held a Vigil lasting one hundred hours to publicise the plight of people like yourself, who have come seeking asylum in Australia after escaping from a brutal regime in your own country. The people who participated in the Vigil, day or night, rain or shine, and passers-by who spoke with them and read the leaflets, gained a tiny insight into the level of courage and perseverance you have shown.

You have left everything familiar, probably dear friends or family as well, endured great hardship and utterly basic living conditions, in order to survive. What a terrible shock when you arrive here and find you are not made welcome! How hopeless you must feel to be confined not knowing when you will be released to start your new life.

I am very sorry that this is the way our country has treated you. More and more Australians are becoming aware of your predicament, and are doing their best to put pressure on the Government to change the system.

We hope very much that you will soon be able to move freely in the Community and begin to live a normal life in a welcoming environment.

Please do not give up hope.

Yours in friendship

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