OCTOBER 2020 – Heroes behind The Indefinite Sleepout to End Indefinite Detention.
This month we nominate heroes behind The Indefinite Sleepout to End Indefinite Detention. In August 2019 a group of healthcare workers from Wollongong decided to start this sleepout in the Wollongong Mall, in solidarity with more than 1,300 refugees and people seeking asylum detained in Australian immigration centres, to get a taste of what life in limbo felt like. They operate under the banner of ‘Doctors 4 Refugees’ and ‘Refugee Action Collective Illawarra’.
This group has gathered many supporters who travelled to Wollongong to join them. They have endured smoke haze, extreme weather, drunken bystanders and a global pandemic. Rahima Sarmed, a refugee from Afghanistan, is one supporter who stands out. She slept out for 200 nights, in the Mall.
In March, the group was forced to leave the Mall but the Sleepout did not stop. Instead the doctors and their supporters sleep outside their own homes, on a balcony or backyard, and put up daily posts on their Facebook page. Their goal is to draw community attention to the inhumanity of locking people up with no end in sight, no hope.
On 1 October 2020, they will have spent 415 nights sleeping outdoors, with no end in sight, just like people stuck without hope in our immigration detention centres and hotel rooms, waiting for medical treatment.
During the COVID pandemic, the two people who stand out for sleeping out EVERY night are Dr Javed Badyari, one of the founders of the group, and Pamela Dunn, one of the Sydney Grandmothers for Refugees. Every day on Facebook, these two post images of themselves and their swag or tent, with the number of days of the Sleepout. They never give up. This action of giving up the comfort of their warm beds during the winter is such a powerful statement of the strength and commitment of so many people who work tirelessly, without acknowledgment, because they cannot stand by and let this cruel, inhumane situation go on.
We pay tribute to Rahima Sarmed, Pamela Dunn, Dr Javed Badyari and the hundreds of supporters who have slept out, for maintaining this action. You send a clear message that people stuck in immigration detention are not forgotten and we will keep on highlighting this injustice.
Day 396: “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission, can alter the course of history” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
In response to the false information being circulated about #medevac health information. Here is accurate information, from parliament: