Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights

Another death in detention

with 6 comments

“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

Advertisements

Written by Robyn Dunphy

October 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Tony Abbott – do not do it!

leave a comment »

Good grief, what politicians will do to win power.  One of the benefits of living in Australia, at least I believe it is still a benefit, is the right to criticise our politicians, even if we are of the same persuasion!

While Mr Abbott continued to condemn the Malaysia option, the carrot for him is that the proposed changes would ensure as prime minister he could send people to Nauru.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbott-muddies-water-on-boats-20110912-1k63e.html#ixzz1Xn2wbdfj

Furthermore:

A separate change would also ensure the minister could send children offshore without having to establish this was in their best interests.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbott-muddies-water-on-boats-20110912-1k63e.html#ixzz1Xn37Hz84

No.  Definitely not.

May I remind ALL politicians of the requirements of the International Refugee Convention as discussed by Michael Pearce: 

Withdrawal from Refugee Convention may be last resort

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/withdrawal-from-refugee-convention-may-be-last-resort-20110831-1jly1.html#ixzz1WhHoDtzt

At first I thought, “What? We can’t do that!” then I read the article. Michael takes an extremely pragmatic approach to the debate, together with presenting a fresh perspective.

Public policy in Australia seems to have reversed the legal position. The major parties and public opinion seem to say that we should refuse refuge to those who reach our shores and seek asylum because that denies refuge to those in the so-called queue. That is, we should abrogate an obligation which is legally binding on us so that we can comply with an imagined obligation by which we are not, in fact, bound.

Michael goes on to say (emphasis added):

This course will no doubt be very unpopular in some quarters and for good reason. It would signal to all that we, one of the richest countries in the world with enviable space and resources to spare, did not want to share with the bedraggled and desperate few who, by good fortune, wash up on our shores. But this is only to tell the truth about who and what we are as a people.

Would that more people listen to people like Michael.

Why this desire for off-shore processing?  What exactly does it achieve?  Why the desire to send unaccompanied children off-shore?  What does that achieve?

Chris Bowen needs to read some history. 

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said unaccompanied minors presented ”very emotional and difficult issues”. ”The overriding obligation is to say to parents, ‘Do not risk the lives of your children to get the prospect of a visa in Australia.’ ”

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbott-muddies-water-on-boats-20110912-1k63e.html#ixzz1Xn5AF2xs

Parents don’t send unaccompanied children in order to get a visa – they send them to save their lives.  What of all the unaccompanied children sent here from England many years ago?  Was that OK because they were English?  I actually work with a woman who is friends with a person who was sent by their parents to Australia to save that (then) child’s life in precisely the same way children are being sent now.  Unless Mr Bowen is totally oblivious to the realities of life, he knows in his heart if he were faced with the same decisions some of these parents are faced with he would do EXACTLY the same thing.  So would any parent.  Do not make glib comments in the media to try to paint parents as being in the wrong for trying to save their children.

Australia MUST remove the guardianship of these children from the position of Minister for Immigration.  It is hard to imagine a greater conflict of interest existing.  How this came about is beyond comprehension.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

September 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

HeraldSun screams “thugs”?

leave a comment »

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

I tried – I really did

with 6 comments

When Villawood went up in flames I tried to stay quiet.  I posted a comment to a friend on Facebook and that was the extent of my activism.

Today I read some comments in The Age that just make me despair of any hope for mankind.

Four Detainees still on Villawood roof screams the headline.  I do have to commend The Age for presenting far more balanced reporting than the HeraldSun.  I read articles in both papers earlier in the week.

The bit that forced me to break my silence was this:

Meanwhile, acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan today condemned a rally outside the centre, planned for Monday by the Refugee Rights Action Network.

Mr Swan said the rioters’ actions could not be defended and the rally would be inappropriate.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily appropriate at all. There has been unacceptable behaviour by people inside the facility,” he told reporters in Cairns.

“We cannot, in any way, condone the sorts of acts and behaviour we have seen at that facility in recent days.”

Mr Swan refused to be drawn on the police’s decision to deny food to the four protesters still on the centre’s roof.

No, I do not condone the specific behavior either, but I sure as hell understand it.  Just because we do not condone something does not mean we cannot understand it and fight for change when WE are the ones causing the behaviour in the first place.  The Refugee Rights Action Network has every right to protest to highlight the inhumane treatment of these poor people.  Unacceptable behaviour inside the facility?  Only AFTER unacceptable behaviour on our behalf outside the facility.  Let’s be real about the chicken or the egg here!

These people have an INTERNATIONAL RIGHT to seek asylum, to seek safe refuge.  They get here and, despite what much of the media might like us to believe, we treat them badly.  We have been criticised,  rightly so, for our policies.  But we treat them so well, you say?  Really?  Remember the sanitary products?

What makes US so damn special that we can treat our fellow humans this way?  You, yes, you reading this: you think this can never happen to YOU?  Think again, for what will YOU do if Australia gets invaded (or similar) by a regime you are terrified of?  Will you seek asylum somewhere?  But you are special, aren’t you, so you wouldn’t think of you ever being in the shoes of these poor people in Villawood.  Think again.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

April 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Breastfeeding

with 2 comments

Breastfeeding

A friend feeding her baby son

This photo was originally posted on facebook in protest at the banning, by facebook, of breastfeeding photos taken by a wonderful photographer, Christopher Rimmer.  That caused quite an international media storm! My friend has given permission for the photo to be used here.  You can see some of Christopher’s stunning work here.

Breasts.  What are they for? For FEEDING babies.  Yesterday the following status was floating around facebook (I’ve just noticed there are no capital letters in facebook, so that is not a typo 🙂 ) and I was reminded that in 2011 it seems we are still freaked out about a woman doing the most natural thing in the world – feeding a child.  The status was:

So I was on the toilet this morning, eating toast with Vegemite and a bowl of muesli and…What? You think there’s something wrong with eating in the toilet? Did that irk you a little? Then why do people suggest breastfeeding mothers feed their babies in the toilet? If you’re a fan of brestfeeders’ rights, I DARE you to put this up as your status.

Why all the hullabaloo about women feeding their children where ever it is necessary?  Sex.  Western civilisation particularly has this “thing” about breasts almost being classed as genitals.  They aren’t.  Do people get aroused over the sight of a cow’s udder?  No?  Human breasts are for the SAME purpose.  To produce milk to feed offspring.  Yet from all the hype around the topic of where and when it is appropriate to feed a child, one would think this was an insult to humankind.  Or an invitation to have sex.  I do not get it.

If anything, the situation seems to have got worse, rather than better, in the years since I had babies (over 30 years ago).  I remember a fuss over women breastfeeding on planes in the USA just last year.  So are mothers supposed to starve their children while flying?  I’ve yet to see any breastfeeding mother actually flaunt her breasts while feeding.  Miranda Kerr posted a photo of her feeding her new baby and congratulations to her for doing so.  Other celebrity mothers have done similar recently.  We need more of it.  Yet they cop criticism for doing so.  I applaud them for raising the profile of the debate.

Debate?  There should be no debate.  Strangely for me, I haven’t researched if trying to restrict breastfeeding is in contravention of any human or civil rights international conventions or convenants, but morally it certainly is.

Surely feeding a child is a basic, almost THE most basic, human right.  It should most certainly be a civil right.  I’d love to see a precedent case!

Breast milk is the most appropriate food for a baby.  Some women can’t breastfeed and have no option but to bottle feed.  We certainly should not be almost criminalising those mothers who do breastfeed.  I could cite a string of articles about the benefits of breastfeeding, but you can all Google as well as I can and I’m sure if you are reading this, you already have an interest, one way or the other, in the topic.  I’m simply looking at the question from the perspective of human and civil rights.

I’m almost sorry I am not going to be breastfeeding any more children, because I’d love to give some of the anti-breastfeeding brigade a run for their money.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Xenophobia

leave a comment »

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?

leave a comment »

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