Australian musicians join the call to #LetThemStay
Big Scary lead a sizeable chunk of the 2016 Laneway lineup to stand for human rights.
If you haven't been keeping up with the #LetThemStay campaign, there's no better time to start. Australia's inhumane treatment of asylum seekers is facing widespread protest across the country. From vigils to banner drops and sit-ins, the pressure is building on the government to #LetThemStay, #BringThemBack and #CloseTheCamps on Manus Island and Nauru, where refugees have faced immense amounts of violence, abuse and neglect. The Perth leg of Laneway Festival saw Big Scary's Jo Syme organise this group photo, adding over two dozen more voices to the call.
Photo by Daniel Boud
Pictured are Hermitude, Violent Soho, The Smith Street Band, Japanese Wallpaper, Airling, Kučka and Kirin J Callinan in addition to Big Scary, whose live performances at Laneway Festival over the weekend featured the words "Big Scary Against Offshore Processing" as a backdrop, to an audience of thousands.
Drummer Jo Syme told us "It was Tom's suggestion for the projection. I bought up the idea for the photo of musicians holding a sign, and after thinking about it, Tom approached me with the great and bold idea of making our own projection saying something. It's cool that he was unflinchingly in agreement on the importance of the problem."
"The weekend of the Adelaide/Brisbane/Sydney Laneway Festivals is when Daniel Andrews wrote to Turnbull about Victoria being willing to take care of the 267 asylum seekers who are slated to be returned to Nauru. Then when I landed home in Melbourne I attended the 'Melbourne Stands for Sanctuary' rally in support of people in detention. I was very moved by the speakers, including those who have worked on Nauru, those who were asylum seekers and are now part of our community, and teachers. I've been following the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre facebook page for a long time, and I have seen doctors, nurses, teachers and more posting great photos with similar signs to what we made. I just wanted to add my own photo, because anything to keep this issue in the news is helping. I had a lucky opportunity to be on tour with bands who are really popular, and I had a feeling that they were the kind of folk who would agree with the message."
"There are so many experts - doctors and specifically paediatricians, who are telling us in no uncertain terms that the conditions on Nauru are fucked. I'm paraphrasing there, but it feels like words such as 'damaging' and 'detrimental' are not strong enough to describe the way we are holding completely innocent people in. And before anyone questions the word 'innocent' – firstly, seeking asylum is not illegal. Secondly, terrorists aren't getting on a boat to come and bomb Australia. It's just not what they need to resort to."
On the response from the public, she added "Everyone has been so supportive. From the bands' 'fuck yeah' response when I asked if they wanted to be in the photo, to the amount of shares on twitter and facebook, to the messages from people saying 'thank you', and the media pickup by all the biggest music blogs... Not one single word of dissent from our fans."
"I definitely think people's attitudes are changing. Sometimes I think I live in a bit of a liberal bubble. I live in Melbourne, in Fitzroy. I don't read the News Corp publications. I'm the minority there. But, when five premiers (both Labor and Liberal) feel the confidence to write open letters to our PM offering to support and keep the 267 asylum seekers from Nauru in their states, that means there's a wider movement of acceptance."
"The treatment [of asylum seekers] should be compassionate and safe. Specifically, that means faster processing times. That means processing in safe, modern conditions where kids have access to education. Hey, maybe it could even mean letting people live in the community whilst we process them, not behind bars. It's so, so expensive having offshore processing facilities."
This comes after Tom Ballard and 99 other comedians from around the nation penned an open letter to Malcolm Turnbull, urging him to decide against returning 267 refugees - a cohort that includes 37 babies and several adults with terminal illness - to Nauru.