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Woomera Booklet Meets Flak

The recent publication of "The Worst of Woomera," (WOW) by Dave and Cherry McKay of Woomera's Refugee Embassy, attracted criticism almost before the ink could dry.

The self-published A5 booklet tells teh stories of some dozens of teh refugees still imprisoned in Woomera DC, why they fled their homes and what their experience has been in Australian 'reception centres'.

Claims were posted to teh website melbourne.indymedia that the stories were being published without the permission of those in the book, and implied greed and indifference by Dave and Chery.  The critic said that Dave and Cherry put at risk refugees' families back in their home coutnries, and that the Refugee Embassy was a religious cult trying to turn a buck on the stories.  The post also claimed that lawyers were trying to stop the publication.  These claims quickly found an audience in mainstream newspapers, which framed it as a sad story about stupid and selfish activists.

The truth, naturally, is a bit more complicated.  According to Dave McKay, all the stories were told on teh udnerstanding that they would hopefully be published, to inform Austrlaians about teh real people caught by te political rhetoric.  After the first issue of the WOW went to press however, some new visitors to teh Woomera DC told many refugees that the stories would be used to identify and punish their families back to their home countries, and that that was why the book was being published.  Two refugees withdrew permission for their stories to be included.  Their stories were removed from the booklet, and some of the false names used were changed to better disguise the people involved.  All of the stories appearing in the current 3rd edition have been approved by all refugees included.

Reports of legal action to stop the publication appear to be complete fabrications, and Dave McKay says that they haven't been contacted by any lawyers wanting to stop or change the publication.

In fact, in the latest development critics of the book have been ordered to remove all references to lawyer Abby Hamdan, who they claimed was pursuing the Refugee Embassy to stop publication.  That lawyer now apparently wants nothing to do withteh whole debacle, fearing for litigation by Dave and Cherry because of the slurs perpetrated against them.

So far 50,000 of the WOW have been produced and distributed, and the Refugee Embassy have every intention of producing as many as people want to read.  That their efforts to publicise what the government desparately wants hidden should meet difficulties is unsurprising; what is surprising is that the government has the wit to realise the power of ordinary peoples stories.

Copies of the book may be ordered singly, or in bulk (up to 880 copies at one time), from teh email address, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via Box A678, Sydney South 1235.  There is no set price on the 32-page A4 sized books, but their production cost is about 50c each.
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