Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘asylum seekers

Another death in detention

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“You can’t keep someone locked up for two years behind an electrified fence and tell them they’re free. All he wanted was one day of freedom – one day – and they wouldn’t give it to him. Well now he’s free.” – A close friend of a refugee named Shooty* spoke these words to us after Shooty died in immigration detention at 3am Wednesday.

The above is the headline introduction to an email I received today.  In the hope of gaining even a small number of additional supporters for the cause, I am republishing this email here.   What is REALLY clear here is that we, Australia, are risking people’s lives.  This young man had been granted refugee status, yet we still kept him behind bars.  Not good enough.

Yesterday news broke of yet another life lost in our detention system. A young Sri Lankan man took his own life after nearly two years of detention inside Villawood — despite being granted refugee status (but not release) earlier this year.

 It was supposed to be a day of celebration. Only a few weeks ago he had asked to spend this Wednesday at his friend’s nearby home, celebrating the Hindu holy day of Diwali, “the festival of lights.” Yet, despite no objections from Serco (the private security firm running Villawood) and the fact that four guards were set to accompany him, the Department of Immigration refused his request – claiming it wasn’t a “compassionate or compelling reason” for a day’s release from Villawood.

Who stands accountable when a man is locked away for seeking asylum, refused even a day’s respite after nearly 730 days of captivity and finally takes his own life in despair? Tell our government enough — end this disgrace. 

http://www.getup.org.au/detention-disgrace

While yesterday’s observance of Diwali was meant to be a “celebration of the victory of good over evil and the uplifting of spiritual darkness,” unfortunately the long-term detention that Shooty suffered broke his spirit. Sadly, a friend yesterday described Shooty as “one of the strongest” in detention and “the last person I expected to commit suicide.” When others were down this was a man who lifted their spirits and kept them positive. “He was loved by everyone.”

 Yesterday the Minister for Immigration confirmed 462 others who have already been granted refugee status and have had health and security assessments are still behind the razor wire right now, awaiting their final security clearance. But it doesn’t need to be this way: ASIO, the government agency in charge of performing these security checks, says there’s no legal requirement in their Act for refugees to be kept in detention. Meanwhile, there have now been six suicides in detention since Labor took office, and transition to community detention hasn’t been happening fast enough.

It is a sad day when a young man finally on the edge of freedom breaks under the weight of an inhumane system and takes his own life. Tell our government, never again:

http://www.getup.org.au/detention-disgrace

Thank you for using your voice,

The GetUp team

* NB: We’ve used the young man’s nickname over fears that family members, still in Sri Lanka, may face reprisal if his real name is publicised.

Support is available, in Australia, for anyone who may be suffering depression or other mental illnesses by calling Lifeline on 131 114

Written by Robyn Dunphy

October 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm

HeraldSun screams “thugs”?

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I broke my silence on this already: I will continue.

Thugs?  Could we possibly have some rational reporting instead of headlines designed to feed moral panic?

Do they publish any of the ASRC myth busters: no, they take the line of what they think sells papers!  No thought for the damage it does!

Irresponsible reporting, in my view.  Very irresponsible.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

April 26, 2011 at 11:30 am

Xenophobia

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As many readers may know, I have been out of the country visiting my husband.  This article is therefore several days old, but it was brought to my attention upon my return by themoleblogger.

Ross Gittins raises some very interesting points about the asylum seeker debate, looking specifically at the reactions of people and how those reactions can be manipulated by politicians and the media.

What we need are more members of the media speaking out clearly.  We need to acknowledge the problems and challenge the moral panic that seems to be gripping this country.  We need to find our humanity again.

Ross says, “…in their efforts to gratify and exploit public resentment of ”illegals”, governments of both colours have given the highest priority to preventing individual asylum seekers from telling their stories to the media. They must continue to be seen as monstrous invaders, never as flesh and blood.”

It is time we, the people, took a stand.  We must make it clear we will not be manipulated for political advantage.  Or are you happy to be a tool of unhumanity?  The choice is yours.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Who locked up the children?

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This article today runs with the opening phrase of “Julia Gillard locks up …” 

No, Julia Gillard doesn’t lock up anyone.  WE, the Australian citizens are locking up these children, just as we did under Howard (which the article also refers to).

Prime Ministers do not do these things personally.  Prime Ministers and parliaments (assuming we are indeed a democracy) are simply doing what WE, the citizens, ask them or tell them or let them do.  WE are personally responsible, every single one of us.  For WE give the power.

Time for us to voice our disapproval of what our representatives are doing in OUR name.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

January 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

Australia cops criticism…

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… and rightly so.  While my personal page is off-line as the topic is considered sub judice currently, naturally the two articles I discuss here are close to my heart.

Australia has again been highlighted as the only developed democracy without national human rights law.   Perhaps if we did have such a law, my family and I wouldn’t be in the position we are currently in.  It has been interesting, as I discovered neither the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 nor the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 are scheduled to or declared under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act.  I was not aware of this until last week and I am horrified.  I hope all Australians are horrified at such a discovery.

The second article was written by Malcolm Fraser.  Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister of Australia from November 1975 for seven years.  I remember him well, as I had recently arrived in Australia in February 1974.  Malcolm has been involved in humanitarian work for many years.  He points out the regression in Australia’s policies since that time 35 years ago when we welcomed Vietnamese refugees.  That community is now, he tells us, nearly a quarter of a million strong and contribute greatly to Australia.  What changed?

What I have learnt about Civil and Human Rights in Australia over the past year has been enlightening: yet not in a way I would have ever expected.  It has been a sad year for me personally, of course, but I cannot consider only my personal situation.  I am horrified when I consider the possible extrapolation of my situation across the country.  I am still haunted by the images of the Christmas Island tragedy and the Christmas Island detention conditions.

It is time: time Australians stood up for what is right.

Fears Groundless?

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Two days ago this report appeared in the SMH.  This might be a reference to an entirely different boat, but I am haunted by information I received last night that there are currently efforts underway to locate a boat believed to be in trouble.

If it is the same boat, how terrible for the people.  They will have been at sea for a great deal longer than anticipated as they were expected to arrive three weeks before the Christmas Island tragedy, according to the above article.

I hope it is not the same boat.  Please let it not be the same boat.  There is nothing in the mainstream media this morning that I have noticed, so perhaps nothing has been found. Or nothing has been

This article published some days ago in The Age is a very good article on why people risk their lives in this way.   I came across another article the other day that was also pertinent. 

There are SO MANY displaced people and refugees in the world.  What are we, as a species, doing to ourselves?

While I know that mathematically as our global population grows, so will the numbers of refugees and displaced persons, I find the figures upsetting.  The UN figures state there were 26 million Internally Displaced Persons around the world in 2008.   15.2 million refugees in 2009.  Asylum seekers are refugees who have not had their refugee status recognised.  I quote the UN web site:

At the beginning of 2009, there were some 826,000 asylum-seekers of concern to the UN refugee agency. They are found around the globe. UNHCR advocates for governments to adopt fair and efficient procedures to determine if an individual asylum-seeker is a refugee, recognizing how difficult it is in many cases to document persecution.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

December 29, 2010 at 10:17 am

US$11 million for a Christmas Tree

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Jewellery decorates an $11m Christmas tree at the Emirates Palace hotel in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi on December. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Interesting.  Not the Christmas Tree, the comments.  This story is published in the same Australian paper, the HeraldSun, that just two days ago was carrying terrible comments from readers about asylum seekers.

Now readers of the same paper are saying this $11 million should be being used to feed the starving in some of those very same countries asylum seekers are coming from.  While I agree that $11 million for a Christmas Tree could definitely be better spent, I find it hard to accept that one day we, the Australian people, can be jumping up and down and saying we don’t want asylum seekers, then we do a complete about face and say other people should do this and that for essentially the very same people.  Either people need help, or they don’t.

I understand there is a passage in the Bible, Matthew 7:5 to be precise, that says: Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (English Revised Version).  Yes, I’m an atheist; even so, it is appropriate to quote a passage from the Bible at Christmas, given whether I believe or not, that is what Christmas is about.

Are these the same readers that commented in relation to the asylum seekers?  I’m not about to start delving that far into the analysis.  Over 88% of the readers who took the poll were against the asylum seekers (although I did note it was a badly worded poll question), so it stands to reason at least some of those readers made comment on both articles. 

I made the comment then about greedy people.  Seems here we are saying someone else should take care of the problem, just keep it away from our doorstep.  How charitable of us.

Let me predict a typical response would be: “Oh, but the people coming to Australia on boats are not the same people we are referring to, and we are only talking about the boat people.”  Are you?  Can you be sure they are not the same people?  Do you know beyond reasonable doubt that is the case?

Hypocrisy is an ugly thing.

When some of those people get to Australia, we incarcerate them on Christmas Island, among other places.  When they become distressed due to the treatment by our hands, we kindly pump them full of drugs to keep them quiet.  We make the women ask for sanitary supplies in the most embarrassing circumstances.  Yet we have the cheek to criticise others.

Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

December 18, 2010 at 9:34 am