Letter of Support from Canadian Senator Thanh Hai Ngo


11 May, 2017
“Firstly, I would like to extend my gratitude for your work and dedication to the cause of refugees in need. I would also like to thank you for bringing this important and pressing issue to our attention.

Despite their assurance that refugees would face no sanctions or retributions for leaving the country, the government of Vietnam continues to jail, beat, torture and prosecute refugees returned to them by the Australian government. The occurrence of these violations of basic human rights and civil liberties are at the core of why many are choosing to flee and are well known by the Canadian and Australian governments.
In response to the influx of refugees and asylum seekers, Australia has established offshore detention facilities to hold people and their families while their claims are being processed. As you may know, claims and processing can takes a significant amount of time, and the living conditions in these immigration detention centers remain far from ideal. It is my understanding that in recent years, the Australian government has further tightened its regulations on refugees and asylum seekers arriving on its shores. Most recently, it has removed the mainland from its migration zone, meaning everyone can be funneled into offshore detention centers, regardless of where they land.

Given the strong relationship between the Canadian and Australian governments, we will discuss and bring this reoccurring issue on Vietnamese refugees to the attention of the Australian High Commission and to the appropriate authorities here in Ottawa, Canada.

Thank you as well for bringing this list of potential refugees to my attention. Please note that Canada’s immigration policies only recognizes refugees in immigration detention centers who have been validated by the UNHCR. I understand this long process often keeps immigrants and their families in difficult situations. It is therefore preferable to consider options once official documentation from the UNHCR have been processed.

Again, thank you for your effective advocacy for the cause of Vietnamese refugees. I look forward to more information and updates about these cases in the near future.

Kind regards,

Senator Thanh Hai Ngo

Since the families were granted refugee status by the UNHCR in May 2017, we have, at Senator Ngo’s request, provided his office with full documentation and an update on each of the refugee claimant families, as well as copies of each of their UNHCR refugee cards. Senator Ngo has now brought their cases to “the highest authorities within Canada’s Immigration Department for their immediate consideration”.

Thanh Hai Ngo is the first Canadian Senator of Vietnamese origin. Representing Ontario, the Conservative Party of Canada Senator was nominated on the advice of then Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012. Born in Vietnam, Senator Ngo immigrated to Canada in 1975 after fleeing Vietnam via Malaysia. “In Parliament Senator Ngo continues to advocate for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and continues to be a champion against oppression in Vietnam and around the world.”

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I am a writer and editor, passionate about helping refugees and about exploring the challenges life throws at us through my writing. A former journalist, I previously worked in publishing and taught French to university students. I am a member of Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney (SASS) and have also served on the board of my children’s school for the past 13 years, including three terms as vice-president. My work has appeared in online and print publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, Independent Australia, New Matilda, Eureka Street, Jewish Literary Journal, The Forward and Online Opinion. I can be contacted at sebban@tpg.com.au Tôi là nhà văn/nhà báo, và cũng là chủ bút. Với nhiệt tâm muốn giúp đỡ cho người tị nạn và tìm hiểu sâu xa hơn về những khó khăn trong cuộc sống mà chúng ta phải đương đầu qua những bài viết của tôi. Là một cựu phóng viên, trước đây tôi từng cho phát hành các ấn phẩm và đã từng dạy môn Pháp ngữ cho sinh viên đại học. Tôi là thành viên của Tổ chức Giúp đỡ Người Tầm Trú Sydney (Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney, SASS); và trong 13 năm qua, tôi cũng là thành viên trong ban đại diện hội phụ huynh học sinh của trường các con tôi học, với ba nhiệm kỳ làm phó chủ tịch. Những bài viết của tôi được đăng trên báo và trên trang mạng của những tờ báo như The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, Independent Australia, New Matilda, Eureka Street, Jewish Literary Journal, The Forward and Online Opinion. Để liên lạc với tôi, xin gởi email đến địa chỉ sebban@tpg.com.au