Tag Archive: resistance


Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Today is the anniversary of the public execution of  two indigenous freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener, on the 20th January 1842. This commemoration is held annually at the monument established in their memory at the corner of Victoria and Franklin St in Melbourne. The monument was built in 2016 by Melbourne City Council after a decade long campaign by the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener Commemoration Committee – it remains the only monument in a major Australian city that recognises the frontier wars that occurred as Australia was colonised. Had Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener killed? Yes. Fighting to protect their people, their lands, their culture, their languages, their laws and their way of life.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Aunty Carolyn Briggs standing with descendants of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener and representatives of their Tasmanian tribes

Australia is a country living out many complexities – the dominant narrative and what the history classes teach is that no one was here, or very few, or that those who were here were sub-human somehow and uncivilised. To name and recognise Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener is to honour those who survived a holocaust. The blood of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children has been spilled on this land, not all were able to fight; sometimes there were diseased blankets, poisoned food, attacks as people were sleeping, overwhelming numbers and overwhelming force.  To remember the names of these two men is to symbolically remember all those who lost their lives at the colonial frontier.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Acknowledging these men, hearing this story, knowing these names goes some way to undoing the erasure of aboriginal people existing in this place which is a step toward relationship with them now.

“What hope is there for us? …it’s you.”

Hear the anger and the grief of this question, yes – but hear too the longing in the answer. In her welcome, Aunty Carolyn Briggs asks another question: “How would you honour this sacred ground if you were walking in a churchyard? Peoples blood has been spilled on the ground here, how will you show them respect?”  She tells us that the answer is to live well here, bringing: no harm to the land, no harm to the water, no harm to children. This is a challenge when we know that fish are dying in our major waterways from mismanagement, Aboriginal people are still dying, locked up and their children are still being taken away.  But someone has hung a banner here today that reads: “Homelands Heal”, and someone has asked: “What hope is there for us?” and answered: “It’s you.”

homeleands heal

Today brings to mind Jacques Ellul’s, The Meaning of the City, in which he discusses how the Hebrew word for city is ‘iyr or ‘iyr re’em and that this can have multiple meanings – “it is not only the city, but also the Watching Angel, the Vengeance and the Terror… we must admit that the city is not just a collection of houses with ramparts, but also a spiritual power. I’m not saying it is a being. But like an angel it is a power, and what seems prodigious is that its power is on a spiritual plane.”  An old Uncle stands up and shares that he has a vision that this year might be the year of revelation.  He remarks that: “White men made this place lawless. You can’t have a spiritual connection to this place except through us.” Because there was law in this place before the colonisers introduced prison and executions, and spirituality in this place before the colonisers brought the Bible.  Are we listening to the city of Naarm (Melbourne)? What does it have to say?
Melbourne’s first official public execution was apparently quite the festive spectacle and we are given to know that 3000-5000 people attended the public hanging of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener.  There were perhaps 100 people gathered to listen to songs and stories at this years commemoration… maybe next year there will be more.
“What hope is there for us?
It’s you.”
buried below Queen Vic Markets
Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

“We share communion to remember what has been dismembered.  This exhortation lies at the heart of the church’s eucharistic ritual, repeated with each element for emphasis. It reiterates and sums up the deep wisdom of biblical faith, the product of a people all too familiar with distress, displacements and near disappearance.  Whenever you ingest this memory, said Jesus on the eve of his execution, you join yourselves to our historic struggle to make the broken body whole.  It was, and is, both invitation and imperative, equally personal and political.  If we refuse to heed it, we are ourselves doomed to drift forever on or be drowned by the tides of empire, refugees all.” (Ched Myers, 2012, Our God is Undocumented)

This is one loaf of bread. One body.
It’s broken.

As Jesus’ body was broken on the cross for us.

this bit might be me…
this bit might be Andrea…
this bit might be Alex…this bit might be Sarah…

 [as we say each name of refugees on Manus and Nauru and our political leaders we place a piece of bread for each of those not here on the empty chairs]

this bit might be Abdul, or Shahriar, or Nasiri, or Shamindan or Scott Ryan, or Peter Dutton or Malcolm Turnbull

When we eat this bread it is a reminder that we are all part of one whole – we might be a different colour, we might be a different size, of a different shape – but we are all part of the same body… connected.  And we are all of us broken.  In each taking a piece, and eating it at the same time, we are invited back into wholeness with God and with each other.

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff  peaceful non-violent resistance

14 Nov:
#Manus refugee who has been catatonic & close to death for a week was taken to Port Moresby for treatment yesterday. Waited a week for treatment. Dangerous to make dying people wait. https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/375889/catatonic-refugee-evacuated-from-manus-island  @ManusAlert

15 Nov:
A critically ill refugee was sent to Lorengau Hospital by the #PIH doctor in the #Manus camp. There were no beds in LGH. And no seats in the crowded hospital, so he had to sit on the floor. Doctor sent him back to the camp because it was better than sitting on the floor in the hospital. Standing room only for man who might die.  @ManusAlert

Nasiri, Manus
I just would like to say I would like to go out of here to start new life and normal life. I don’t want to go Australia at all, just need to go somewhere else to start my life. I would like to get out of here to treat my medical problem, because I didn’t receive treatment here. 

I know that we came to Australia illegally, but being a refugee is not illegal. The Australian government kept me here as a prisoner and we can’t go out of here by our decision, even for treatment.

Leader               Hear our cries of frustration, grief, and anger, O God
As the voices of asylum seekers are silenced by fear and the pursuit of power

Hear our cries in despair at the powerlessness we feel,
To make the story turn out right
To overturn the actions done in our name
To inspire our neighbourhoods to new attitudes
To infect the public discourse with grace

 

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

(to the tune of Teddy Bears Picnic)

Every person who comes by boat is sent off across the sea
There’s lots of terrible things go on, so far from you and me
Across the seas where nobody sees
We drain the hope from refugees
Today’s the day the refugees have detention
Still 5 years on, the children have detention

 #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

Universal Children’s Day deadline: Christians praying in Senator Scott Ryan’s office to get #KidsOffNauru

  • Five Christians praying in the Senator’s Moonee Ponds office intend to remain until he joins his three Coalition colleagues in calling for Australia to free all refugee children and to stop the inhumane offshore detention of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus.
  • The action, on Universal Children’s Day, coincides with today’s national Teachers Walk Off at 2.30pm calling for #KidsOffNauru and #KidsOffAllOff

Five Christian leaders and refugee advocates are holding a prayer vigil in the Moonee Ponds electoral office of Federal Liberal Senator Scott Ryan to call for the removal of children and adults from offshore detention on Nauru and Manus Island.

The prayer action by the inter-denominational movement Love Makes A Way coincides with the United Nations Universal Children’s Day, the deadline for the Kids Off Nauru campaign. Love Makes A Way is part of the campaign, which calls on members of the Australian Parliament to work together to bring all children and their families detained on Nauru to Australia by today and to resettle them in Australia or in another suitable and welcoming country.

Those praying inside intend to remain until Senator Ryan joins his Coalition colleagues Julia Banks, Russell Broadbent and Craig Laundy to publicly call on the Government to free refugee children and end offshore detention. Advocates outside Senator Ryan’s office will hold teddy bears and toys to symbolise the way that children in detention are being denied their basic rights.

Dozens of children and their families continue to be subjected to the effects of detention on Nauru. Recently there have been repeated incidents of suicide attempts, including children dousing themselves in petrol. Some children have given up eating, and many bang their bodies repeatedly against walls in their distress. Those that have been removed from Nauru are often confined to hotel rooms under guard, or are waiting in onshore detention centres. And even if they are released into the community, permanent protection and resettlement are not currently on the table, nor does there appear to be any discussions about resettlement happening with other safe and welcoming nations.
Andrea Alvis, a mother, social worker and Uniting Church member, is one of those praying in the Senator’s office. “I am deeply concerned that the Australian government is knowingly doing harm and causing irreparable trauma to the children, young people and adults held in indefinite detention,” she said.

Brad Coath, from Urban Neighbours of Hope (Churches of Christ) has been visiting people in immigration detention in Melbourne for seven years. He says: “We’ve seen that our policies are destroying people.”

Most major Christians denominations have publicly opposed child detention, and have called for Australian politicians to agree on a humane solution. Love Makes A Way is calling on Senator Ryan, as a senator representing all Victorians, to speak up in the Liberal Party and to publicly insist that Australia uphold its obligations, as a signatory to United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to ensure “in all actions concerning children…the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration”. This can only be guaranteed by ensuring all refugee children are removed from Nauru today.
“We pray for a change of heart in our leaders”, says Reverend Ian Ferguson. “We ask Senator Ryan to publicly call for the removal of children from Nauru and invite him to join us to pray for these children and families that are suffering because of our Government’s policies.”

The sit in and prayer vigil will run from 12 noon at the office of Senator Scott Ryan, Suite 1, 12 Pascoe Vale Road, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LoveMakesAWayForAsylumSeekers
Twitter: @lovemakesaway #lovemakesaway
Web: http://lovemakesaway.org.au/

Participants in today’s prayer vigil:

  • Rev Alex Sangster – Uniting Church in Australia
  • Rev Ian Ferguson – Uniting Church in Australia
  • Brad Coath – Churches of Christ
  • Sarah D’Astoli – Catholic Church
  • Andrea Alvis – Uniting Church in Australia

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Leviticus 19:33-34 New International Version (NIV)

33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

 

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Leader          Hear our cries of frustration, guilt, and anger, O God
                        As the voices of refugees are silenced by fear and the pursuit of power

Voices of lament

1 Hear our cries in despair – we cannot find our way home from here!
2 We seek a way to solve this
3 We seek a way to speak truthfully
4 We seek a way to bring change
1 Hear our cries in confusion as the issue is complex, the solutions are slow and the answers are never simple
2 The debate is loud and vicious as people seek to score points for power while detaining and compounding damage on vulnerable people
3 Why can we not see the public leaders who have compassion?
4 Why can we not find the public dreamers of justice?
1 Why can we not hear the public proclaimers of hope?
2 Hear our cries in despair at the powerlessness we feel,
3 To make the story turn out right
4 To overturn the actions done in our name
1 To inspire our neighbourhoods to renewed minds
2 To infect the public discourse with grace

 

…to infect the public discourse with grace.

The Children’s March is organised by a group of parents, children, artists and activists working together for a better future for refugees and asylum seekers. It will be at 11am Sunday October 21 and will begin at Birrarung Marr (by the river, behind Federation Square), Melbourne Australia.

The Children’s March for Children on Nauru is an all ages, family friendly protest to say to our government – enough! It will be a peaceful, safe and inclusive event to bring children and young people together to call for the release of the almost a hundred children still left in indefinite detention on Nauru.

 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that that all children have the right to live a full life. We call on the Australian government to end mandatory detention and offshore processing of all refugees and asylum seekers.

Solidarity is extended to all communities that are persecuted because of where they come from or the colour of their skin. We acknowledge the founding racism that connects Indigenous incarceration and the incarceration of refugees.

 

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
And the dreams that you dare to
Oh why, then oh why can’t I?

 

All We Can’t See: Illustrating the Nauru Files – a powerful exhibition as part of Melbourne Art Week that invites artists to respond to the redacted case file notes from Nauru… the images giving a human face to the human cost of the experience of being on the receiving end of Australia’s policy of offshore detention.

all we don't know exhibition fortyfivedownstairs melbourne August 2018 refugees Nauru files

all we don't know exhibition fortyfivedownstairs melbourne August 2018 refugees Nauru files

 

all we don't know exhibition fortyfivedownstairs melbourne August 2018 refugees Nauru files

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Saturday 19 May 2018, Palestinians and solidarity activists gathered and walked together – reaching for peace – to remember The Nakba.  The Nakba is ‘the catastrophe’, the year when the Israeli state forcibly expelled three quarters of the Palestinian population from their villages and homes. This was one of the first acts in an ongoing process of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.

The catastrophe continues, 70 years on, fueled this week by the inflammatory choice of the Trump government to move the US embassy to East Jerusalem, and then the killing of dozens and injuring of 2,400+ Palestinians gathered to protest the move and what it  symbolises for their future.  The UN proposed a motion for an independent inquiry into the Gaza violence… many countries abstained. Only two vote to oppose it: the US and… Australia. Why Australia?  It seems telling that Naarm Melbourne should be at the walk in solidarity.

Occupied but unconquered.  Long live the intifada!

I have to look that one up, intifada, and Wiki tells me its “an Arabic word literally meaning, as a noun, “tremor”, “shivering”, “shuddering”. It is derived from an Arabic term nafada meaning “to shake”, “shake off”, “get rid of”, as a dog might shrug off water, or as one might shake off sleep,or dirt from one’s sandals”. This brings Matthew 10:14 to mind: If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. There is no welcome, there is no listening, there is no where else for the people of Palestine to go.  Intifada “is a key concept in contemporary Arabic usage referring to a legitimate uprising against oppression. It is often rendered into English as “uprising”, “resistance”, or “rebellion”.” Today, that resistance and strong spirit to live was carried in the hands and voices, and marching feet of Palestinians and their children. Today, hope was carried in the hands and voices, and marching feet of Palestinians and their children.

 

From here, in Melbourne Australia, it is difficult to comprehend what is happening in Gaza. It’s not a war of the military and armies (bad enough) – but non-combatant ordinary people trying to go to school and work and live life behind fences.  It’s likened to apartheid in South Africa and comparisons drawn to the Berlin Wall, but we have not learned from these atrocities.  What will be the story of how history remembers the Palestine-Israel conflict?  Who will be seen as the oppressors and the oppressed? What might reconciliation and restorative justice look like in this land because I know my freedom is bound to yours. In this way Israel need to understand that their freedom is tied to Palestines’ and the freedom of Palestine to that of Israel.

From the front, a speaker says:

Palestinians are fighting for their lives, Palestinians are humans, we are humans, we are Palestine.

And I wonder whether maybe the solution is there somewhere… in the call to our common humanity.

westword lmaw vigil 287

An act of public witness and liturgical protest in a response to the current crisis on Manus Island following the government’s closure of the island’s immigration detention centre.  Sunday 19 November 2017, Tim Watts, Labor MP Office, 97 Geelong Rd, Footscray

We are here today to stand in solidarity with men who the Australian Government have held on Manus Island in limbo for over four years. We are here today on the unceded land of the people of the Kulin Nation because on October 31 the Manus camp was officially “closed.”

We are here today because water, food and power have been cut off. Over 600 men have been abandoned. They are collecting water in rubbish bins. They are digging wells to survive. They are showering in the rain. And left starving and without medical care. Because they can no longer tolerate political games and human rights abuses.

There has been no plan. There has been no justice. Their lives are on the line. Men have stated: We can’t blame the sea for drowning people but we blame Australia for killing us. People need a genuine solution. Not to be shifted from one prison to another where their lives remain at risk.

We echo their calls for freedom and safety and call on the Australian government to bring people back to Australia immediately and provide safe resettlement. We want the government to know that we are watching this humanitarian emergency unfold and we do not accept the violence, the abuse, and the ongoing persecution of refugees.

westword lmaw vigil 313



 

We hear stories of the men on Manus in their own voice. Raise our arms as they do in non-violent protest. We spell out SOS in cups in solidarity and symbolically of life-giving water denied. We make decorations together with our children and tell them stories… we want to teach our children justice. We make chains of the names of those we know on Manus and symbolically tear those chains. Felt and red lights denote the blood on the hands of our democratically elected Government who are treating people this way in our name.  We have barbed wire on our tree instead of tinsel – neither the welcome you thought you’d be given nor the home you hoped to find. We sing, to remember and be re-membered.  We make decorations, we recite, we pray, we sing… it feels like something. Wherever two or three are gathered… there is our hope.

 

Hold on (Love Makes A Way)

(tune: Keep your hand to the plough/Keep your eyes on the prize)

They are coming across the sea,
From their homes they have had to flee,
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We are here to sing and shout,
Why you keeping God’s children out?
We say love makes a way, hold on.

Chorus
Hold on, hold on,

We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We say welcome the refugee
We say set all the people free
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We have room in our hearts to care
We have plenty enough to share
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

 

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I push the miscellany of moving to one side of the table. Housing applications, to-do lists, measuring tape, a stray key… the tissues can stay.  I light a candle.  I have to.  Nothing else makes sense. Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart.  It didn’t make much sense to take this on – planning a vigil, to add in an extra thing. What time or strength or capacity did I imagine I had? It’s a conceit for people to imagine the idea is mine or its execution.

I light a candle, teal, it transitions in colour from light to dark and I think of the waves. The overloaded boat you give up everything to catch – all that remains is you – skin, flesh, person, a life… alive. Unless the sea takes you.  You are rescued, you think saved, you are taken to a waiting place but it isn’t liminal or moving. It’s not a threshold to a new door.  It’s not a threshold to anything.  The door you knock on, pleading, cold, hungry, desperate, skin, flesh, person, alive… remains closed.

 

 

It’s hard to know how to respond when circumstances seem beyond understanding (such as Australia’s inhumane and fear-driven approach to asylum seekers and refugees).  It’s tempting to think ‘there’s nothing I can do’ or ‘nothing I do will make any difference’ and feel absolved of taking any action.  Both personal and political power are at play here.  The person I need to answer to is me.  Just because we can’t do everything doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do something because I believe people are using their agency where they can – doctors, teachers, church and community leaders, yes even some politicians…  in speaking out you aren’t raising your voice alone but joining in a bigger chorus that are asking for the world to be different. Do you want the world to be different? Say so.  Even if it’s with only the cat watching and some “Radical Paint”.

 


What are Australian politicians saying about refugees?

“And so what I say to people when they are a little bit apprehensive about Australia taking more refugees, it’s really about what are the services we are going to provide, what communities are we going to put in and how are we going to integrate people into our community.

“These are beautiful people.

“I am so proud of humble country folk who are being part of the solution. We can do this, we can replicate this in many towns across Australia and it will bring so much good.”

Andrew Broad, National MP

 

… the current refugee crisis [is] the defining humanitarian issue of our time “and a challenge Australia has all too often failed to rise to”.  While Australia’s refugee debate was toxic, there were points of potential consensus between political parties. “I believe we can build out from these areas of consensus to increase the positive impact Australia can have on the international refugee crisis.”

TimWatts, Labor MP

 

“We have been taken for a ride, I believe, by a lot of the advocates and people within Labor and the Greens who want you to believe this is a terrible existence. These photos demonstrate otherwise. People have seen other photos in recent weeks of those up on Manus out enjoying themselves outside this centre, by the beach and all the rest of it.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90 per cent of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken — I have been very open about it — is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down — the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities.”

Malcolm Turnbull

 

“They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them …

They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here… They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them.”

Malcolm Turnbull

 

“They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English,”… “These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.

“For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“The difficulty of course on Manus is that this Government never put anybody on Manus. We inherited a situation where 50,000 people had come on 800 boats and it was a terrible, terrible situation. The deal that was struck between Prime Ministers O’Neil and Rudd at the time provided for no arrangement for what would happen to the people the end. It was open-ended and we have the mess to clean-up.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“You’re talking about those that have been found not to be genuine refugees. What should they do? They should go back home. Because if we allow people who are not refugees to come here, we then displace people who have a legitimate claim to make of persecution like the Yazidis we brought in most recently under the 12,000 Syrian and Iraq program. So if you want to displace genuine refugees you allow those in that are here simply for an economic claim.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

 “The loss of one life is one too many, and I’m determined to get people off Manus, [and] to do it in such a way that we don’t restart boats.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

 “To start off, you open up the camps. You bring transparency, you actually process these people, and you start actually finding a place for these people to go. I think that is a huge change from what we’re doing at the moment.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration

 

“Well we’re the Opposition, so we’re calling on the Government. Australia has a moral obligation to ensure that these refugees have access to essential services- including security, health services, medical services- and we want the Government to be upfront. The Turnbull Government must work with PNG to guarantee the safety and security of these people and these men should immediately relocate to alternative accommodation in East Lorengau and the other facilities so they can access water, food, shelter, and receive the appropriate medical attention.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration

I’ve been feeling a bit defeated of late, going through the motions but not feeling like there’s any progress or that anything changes. From the personal to the political the treatment of refugees in this country feels appalling. Going from yet another house inspection to today’s rally (Rally + Occupy for Manus: End the Siege, Bring Them Here) felt like “another thing”, an action that might not be progress, an action that might not make a difference… Difference is a funny thing. Because as I walked with these people, sat with with people, sang with these people… I realised they are heartbroken too. Evil was named and called out. It was planning meeting, protest, sing-in, sit-in… the message from the front is that we must take courage from one another. We sit with Manus… how does Manus sit with us? We are angry and we are hopeful. We are not alone and there is work to do.

This is our happening on our watch. Recurring rally’s are happening every Friday in solidarity with the Manus men. We are living through a time of extraordinary refugee and migrant crisis, Australia is 87 times the size of Jordan and they are playing host to 2.7 million displaced persons. Developing regions host 86% of refugees, globally 1 in 200 refugees is a child. This isn’t a thing that’s going away anytime soon. We need not to only be defending the basic human rights of these 600 on Manus but countless others. Build the world you want to live in and get amongst it.

#BringThemHere #LetThemStay

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