Today, hearts are breaking in Melbourne and Colombia as little Benny Clarke marks his 5th Birthday without his Daddy and sadly, the second of Benny’s birthdays that this loving father and son have spent apart. Today, on Benny’s special day, there will be no hugs and kisses from his Daddy. There will be no gifts of Superhero toys for Benny to open – no laughter and no games. Today there will be no contact between a loving father and his son because Benny and his baby sister have been abducted and are being illegally retained in the home of their maternal grandmother, a convicted criminal who is serving 4 years home detention in Ipiales on the border of Colombia and Ecuador where corruption, crime and violence is rife.
Today also marks 409 heartbreaking days that Robert and his precious children have been wrongfully separated. But the pain Robert and his family in Melbourne feels is greater than grief – they hold grave fears for the safety of their precious children who are currently being illegally retained in a country where violence is the second highest cause of death. According to data released by the WHO in 2017, Colombia is ranked 5th in the world for violent deaths having had 23,530 violent deaths compared to Australia’s 224.
To protect Benny and Lucia from harm we need to bring them home as soon as possible. Thanks to your incredible support, Robert’s petition to the President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez has gained more than 28,000 signatures! But we need more….
Today on Benny’s 5th Birthday when many are at home in social isolation, please give little Benny the best birthday gift ever by continuing your support to reunite Benny with his Daddy in Australia. Today, please reach out to your family, friends and colleagues and ask them to show they care by signing and sharing the petition so that when the Covid-19 travel bans lift, together we can help bring Benny and Lucia home to the country of their birth where they will be loved and safe from harm.
A special thank you to all 16,000 of you who have signed our petition. It has been heart-warming to experience such an overwhelming show of support from across Australia and around the world including many Colombians who are outraged by this blatant injustice. What has been surprising, shocking and somewhat consoling, is I am not alone in my quest for justice. We have been contacted by a large number of parents and families in similar circumstances to me and my family. It is heartbreaking to think the Hague Convention is being ignored by many countries.
It is with enormous gratitude I would like to thank Alysia Thomas-Sam and Tineka Everaardt from A Current Affair, Tessa Akerman from The Australian and also The Daily Mail for sharing my story to help bolster support and signatures on my petition.
If you missed the stories please watch and share from:
A Current Affair – Kidnapped – Producer: Alysia Thomas-Sam Reporter: Tineka Everaardt
The Australian – Father in battle to bring kids home from Colombia by Tessa Akerman
The Daily Mail – Heartbroken Aussie father’s Colombian family holiday turns into a nightmare when his wife leaves him, ‘takes the kids’ and refuses to return from overseas – and he hasn’t seen them since.
Don’t forget to like our Facebook Page, Follow our Instagram Page and Subscribe to our Youtube channel. The fight is ongoing and my family still needs all the support we can get.
On Friday 24 January 2020, Robert Clarke and his Australian family will launch an international media and social media campaign calling for public support to help rescue Benny and Lucia Clarke from illegal retention in Colombia.
The campaign will draw attention to the Colombia’s failure to uphold the fundamental principles of the Hague Convention and call on people to add their voice by signing the petition addressed to the President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, asking him to honour Colombia’s commitment to the Hague Convention and “Help bring these two precious little Australians home!”
The campaign will be generated by the international-award-winning Australian Public Relations Agency, Insight Communications known for conducting media and social media campaigns including the award-winning Where’s William? (Tyrrell) campaign that raised national and international awareness of abducted Australian toddler, William Tyrrell (the little boy in the Spiderman suit).
The aim of the Clarke Family’s “Help Bring My Children Home” campaign is to attract global media attentionon the illegal abduction and retention of Benny and Lucia Clarke under The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. A key focus of the campaign will be to draw international attention to the failure on the part of the Colombian Government to honour their agreement under The Hague Convention and publicly reveal the harm being caused to young Benny and Lucia as a result of Colombia’s non-compliance.