Posts Tagged ‘refugees’

The Spiritual Famine in Australia

March 31, 2017

It wasn’t always like that, but now it is, and so well entrenched too. One hardly dares to put on the TV. Night after night we get these terrible pictures and images of war. Anxious faces of children not even knowing if the person taking the footage is friend or foe. And yet, Australia imprisons those victims of terrible wars. I know of no better way to describe of what Australia has turned into than to quote a foreword by well-known Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas on a book, “They cannot take to the Sky.” It is written by several authors concerned how Australia is treating refugees

The foreword was published by The Guardian.

“In Australia in 2017, They Cannot Take the Sky is also necessary. For nearly two decades now, Australian politics has been corrupted by a toxic and destructive national debate about asylum seekers and refugees. Unfortunately, fought out as much across media – traditional and digital – as it has in our parliament, the issue of asylum has become inexorably entwined with our security and existential fears arising from the threats of international terrorism.

Our leaders, across the political spectrum, have failed in the democratic imperative to ensure a cogent and humane approach to the issue. In fanning the hysteria of partisanship they have betrayed our trust. That great leveller, history, will ultimately judge us on what kind of country we created for ourselves at the beginning of the 21st century. This isn’t the place for political analysis. All I want to suggest is that in all the screaming across the parliament floor or on social media, we forget that the asylum seeker and the refugee is a real person, with a real body and a real consciousness, that they are as human as we are.

We know that the detention centres we have built on our continent, on Nauru and on Manus Island, are not places we would ever countenance imprisoning Australians. We know what we have done. We don’t need history to instruct us on that.

The stories in this book – these accounts, these testaments – they are all a form of witnessing to what occurred during our watch over the last twenty years. There are moments of brutality and incomprehension; how can it be else? But there are also moments of great humour, of inspiration and of almost heartbreaking generosity. Time and time again, a voice will offer thanks to the individual kindness of an Australian that dared to visit a refugee in prison, that offered assistance as the newcomer tried to navigate their way in a foreign and perplexing country.

These stories also act to break down the cumulative and dangerous stereotyping of refugees as having always the identical and same experience. These storytellers are not only Muslim or Afghani or Tamil; they are also, and just as importantly, mothers or fathers, brothers or sisters, artists or students, workers or scientists, lovers both straight and gay. Some of them embody the rawness and fury of youth and some the wisdom and caution of age. The cumulative effect is one of a great and powerful chorus that sings the possibility of a hope that Australia has been denying itself, the enrichment that comes from openness and charity.

Hani writes, “I realised that freedom is not walking free. It means to be free mentally and physically.” Chained to policies that we all know in our hearts to be destructive and inhuman, can it be said that we Australians are truly free?

Many years ago now, I was having a drink with a cousin in Athens. We were talking and drinking late into the night and as it will always be with a Greek, we were furiously discussing politics and history. She was reflecting on the White Australia Policy and arguing that if we had not had such a racist attitude to the immigrant in the late 1930s, there would have been a generation of Jewish artists, scientists and intellectuals who might have made Australia their home. “Think of it,” she said, grabbing my hand and holding it tight, “Think of what your country could be if you had not had such stupid laws.”  

They Cannot Take the Sky is full of great writing. I hope that in the future that many of the narrators will be the writers of a great new wave of Australian literature. Their experiences as refugees cannot be forgotten, that will always inform the work that they do. But I can’t wait to hear their stories of Australia and their stories of the world. I wish my country were not beholden to stupid and wicked laws that gutless men and women created out of fear and ignorance; and yes, out of venality and the lust for power.”

 

Go and figure this one out!

February 5, 2017

 

Most of the world knows about  refugees. Italy alone took in 180 000 during 2016. More than three years ago anyone trying to reach Australia by boat would from then on be locked up. Manus and Nauru were the places agreeing to house refugees. Australia vowed never to let those into Australia.There are  more than 1200 refugees still on those Islands. Most have been granted refugee status.

The cost in housing refugees has been in the billions. Private contractors are the main beneficiaries as well as New Guinea  and Nauru. The idea in not letting the refugees ever into Australia was that letting them in would result in an armada of refugees coming to Australia, clamber over our dunes, take our jobs or bludge of welfare! They would covet our  women and make cliterectomy compulsory for all.

The idea of locking the refugees up had to be seen as harsh enough to deter the so called ‘people smugglers.’ At present refugees trying to flee to either Europe or elsewhere in primitive boats have a chance of 1-100 in drowning. We know that many are desperate enough to take that gamble. The Australian Government knew that risk of drowning wasn’t enough a deterrent. The idea was born that the punishment for not drowning had to be far more severe. Teach the survivors a lesson they won’t forget. More importantly, the message would go out. “Don’t think of coming to Australia.”

That’s why the conditions for refugees locked up  indefinitely had to be far more stringent and better thought out. The refugees were not charged with any crimes. They just had to be kept locked and deprived of the most essential need of all. A future to look forward to. For children not to grow up in freedom and get an education. Teach them a lesson.  After several suicides and many incidents of self harm, even by children, the Government rejoiced and proudly stated that no boat had arrived. The prime minister Turnbull was jubilant; “We are the envy of the world dealing with refugees,.” he announced proudly.

It was decided that after the UNHCR, the UN, and Amnesty International had become vocal in condemnation that Australia tried to fop off the refugees elsewhere. Forty million dollars was spent to bribe Cambodia in taking just three refugees. Two have since left.

Now Trump and Turnbull ( Trumble) have locked themselves into horse -trading over allowing 1200 refugees from Manus and Nauru  into America. The vetting will be extreme. Americans are justly asking why Australia can’t take them in. It must be a mystery. Per capita Australia has far more space than the USA. So what about that deterrent?

If you dare to come to Australia you might go to America?

More importantly, what about those people? You know the people on Manus and Nauru?

Go and figure!

Protesters stand firm on Nauru and Manus refugees cruelty.

November 30, 2016
Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-01/politics-live-december-1/8081808

Politics live: Protesters target Parliament House for second day, abseil down front

By political reporter Stephanie Anderson

Related Story: Question Time protesters should be punished, MP says

Map: Australia

Protesters have again breached security at Parliament House, abseiling down the front of the building to unfurl a banner.

It comes a day after Question Time in the House of Representatives was interrupted by a group rallying against Australia’s offshore detention centres

If you drown at sea, you will be spared the horrors of Nauru.

October 22, 2016

imagesI5LQBIC6 refugees

Australia used to be kind to refugees/ migrants like Italy is now. However, it has lost its way and punishes refugees by imprisoning them on Nauru for not having drowned at sea.

Watching this program shows abuse of  refugee children in detention on Nauru. (be warned: it has confronting images)
http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2016/10/17/4556062.htm

Bob Dylan seemed to have understood the issue.

I pity the poor immigrant
Who wishes he would’ve stayed home
Who uses all his power to do evil
But in the end is always left so alone
That man whom with his fingers cheats
And who lies with ev’ry breath
Who passionately hates his life
And likewise, fears his death

I pity the poor immigrant
Whose strength is spent in vain
Whose heaven is like Ironsides
Whose tears are like rain
Who eats but is not satisfied
Who hears but does not see
Who falls in love with wealth itself
And turns his back on me

I pity the poor immigrant
Who tramples through the mud
Who fills his mouth with laughing
And who builds his town with blood
Whose visions in the final end
Must shatter like the glass
I pity the poor immigrant
When his gladness comes to pass

The Pariah State?

August 19, 2016
Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

http://theconversation.com/why-does-international-condemnation-on-human-rights-mean-so-little-to-australia-53814

“Australia’s human rights record is increasingly subject to international critique alongside pariah states like Saudi Arabia and North Korea. On the face of it, this juxtaposition is easily rejected. But strong evidence backs the increasing weight of international sentiment opposing Australia’s record.

Australia may already have pariah status in terms of its asylum policies. So why does its government – and perhaps also the majority of its people – seem to care so little for Australia’s tarnished international reputation?

Australia’s behaviour condemned – again

Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2016 condemned Australia for its “abusive” approach to asylum seekers. It noted widespread criticism of Australia’s outsourcing of:”
Read on!

The magic of Finnish Education.

May 3, 2016

Finland’s children do better at school by going to school less! It seems contradictory but it is not. Not only that, but they do not get any homework either. Have a look at this video.

With the latest female refugee setting herself alight at the death-camp of Nauru, the second within a week of doing so, and the dreadful stance of our Government on refugees. ( Our own PM, Turnbull stating ‘we must not get too misty eyes'( about refugees) we might get to the real reason of our well ingrained acceptance of bullying and torturing of refugees. We simply are just not educated and developed enough to understand the meaning of empathy and understanding of those outside our own narrow little world.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-03/dutton-says-asylum-seekers-encouraged-to-self-harm-by-advocates/7378938

The Minster for immigration Mr Dutton, is now blaming refugee advocates for encouraging self harm. To think that New Zealand has offered to take several hundred refugees away from the dreadful state they are in, and then to, at the same time, make sense of Australia’s refusal allowing that to happen makes one wonder if North Korea isn’t a more humane country.

Will Australia’s PM wash the feet of refugees on Manus and Nauru?

March 25, 2016
untitled

Molenbeek

 

The terrorist attacks carried out in different countries have invariably been committed out by own nationals. In Australia too, the very few instances of ‘terrorism’ were carried out by Australians, as have been the terrorists attacks in France and now in Belgium by their National citizens. In Norway, it was a Norwegian.

For Malcolm Turnbull to blame the Belgium carnage onto refugees or slack Border Control is malicious and plain wrong. The Belgium Ambassador pointed this out very clearly. Turnbull was trying to make political gain out of the misery of others, fanning the flames of xenophobia.If anything, our government is guilty of terrorism. They have jailed refugees on Manus and Nauru without trial for no reason other than to prevent others  trying to escape the hell-holes of Middle Eastern wars. Of the 12000 refugees that Abbott promised to accept in Australia lst September only 26 have been accepted so far.

Canada promised to take 25 000.  I believe most of them have now been settled in Canada.

I think it would be nice if our Malcolm Turnbull in the spirit of Easter, made amends and anoint the feet of those people so badly wronged by him. It is never too late.

The refugees will forgive!

 

 

Grasshopper, my Friend.

February 24, 2016
The Grasshopper

The Grasshopper

 

Just when the feverous counting of white spaces with fonts reached its peak, salvation turned up. It always does. We left the books on the outside table and nipped off to see a very good movie. It is called ‘Spotlight.’

“It’s not a stretch to suggest that “Spotlight” is the finest newspaper movie of its era, joining “Citizen Kane” and “All the President’s Men” in the pantheon of classics of the genre. Full review
Ann Hornaday·Washington Post.”
It is perhaps the best movie of the year and I can see it winning lots of awards with ‘Carol’ running a close second.
After  seeing the movie I felt pleased our own Cardinal Pell will finally front up too.  After the skirmishes between scores of lawyers and doctors he will finally, and by hook and by crook, but more by crook,  while luxuriating from his delightful 4 star hotel in Rome, face the victims of years of dreadful abuse by his church.
What I would not give for our Government to face similar scrutiny about the abuse, including sexual, of the asylum seekers.  I think it might well be inching its way to there.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-24/australias-immigration-policies-violating-international-law/7195432
But, the movie was not the end of it. With reckless abandon we went straight to Harris Market and bought a great rack of lamb for afterwards. A barbeque was coming. Actually, already before the movie and still counting lines of yet another book, I felt a barbeque coming on. You know how sometimes two people are subconsciously thinking of the same thing and at the same time. I don’t think that a barbeque is necessarily pushing itself on the consciousness of filmgoers just having seen a movie about child abuse. Perhaps a couple merging into a single unit. Or is it a kind of telepathy perhaps voodoo thought transference?
But this movie was so much more. With sighs of relief  the audience  were stunned, and remained seated going through all the credits at the end of the movie without a murmur. No one seemed to want to get up, go home. It is that kind of movie! Right at the beginning of the movie we were greatly comforted that the audience were not the usual or habitual food-eaters. Perhaps a couple of choc-tops ice- creams; it was a hot day. No buckets of eggs wafting pop-corn or cartons of chilli-con-carne. We were a serious lot. This movie had in its credits a list of the over 70 paedophile priests that were shifted around from Parish to Diocese in Boston and seemingly around the world, and included Australia on the receiving end, with at least Bendigo  and Mittagong  receiving paedophile priests that were soothed into escaping  justice by the presiding cardinal.
The Grasshopper

The Grasshopper

Anyway, the Webber was fired up and the rack of lamb, after getting marinated with rosemary, garlic and lemon juice, was just perfect and still pink inside. While eating the rack of lamb with Jap Pumpkin I noticed a friendly grasshopper staring at me while crawling over my hand. I was intrigued why it wasn’t hopping. I always thought they could only hop. Not this one though. It walked putting one lanky leg after the other. We both got on very well. It finally left my hand and went straight to a bottle of wine that I opened to go with the lamb. It was cheeky little number. Quite ambitious with a lot of peach on the middle palate.  The hopper knew it too. It climbed the bottle to the top.(one leg after the other). Having reached the top it found the cap screwed back on. A bit of a bummer, don’t you think? I quickly took my iPhone and here are the two pictures I took.
Enjoy!

The world’s best advertisement.

November 12, 2015

Just imagine, what we could be missing out on by locking up refugees indefinitely on Nauru and Manus island.

The architect of Manus and Nauru is now our treasurer.

September 21, 2015
 Morrison and Abbott. Alleged perpetrators of crimes against humanity.

Morrison and Abbott. Alleged perpetrators of crimes against humanity.

The smiling architect of the horrors of Nauru and Manus, Scott Morrison, made Malcolm Turnbull Australia’s new Prime Minister. I don’t often write about politics. It is a too depressing subject. He gave his support to Turnbull for which in return he was made treasurer. A Machiavellian turn of events. It was Scott Morrison whose ‘creative bend’ conjured up the evil of what will eventually be seen as one of the worst acts against refugees.

During the Abbott’s regime the boats who did make it anywhere near Australia’s coastline were intercepted by Australia’s defence force. A clamp on all news about boat arrivals were put in place as secret ‘operational matters’. All questions about refugees were left unanswered by simply referring them to ‘operational matters’ and people were referred to as ‘illegal maritime arrivals’.

Those refugees that did make it were shipped over in secret to the islands of Nauru and Manus island and put into detention. It was with great fanfare and drum-rolls that ‘the boats had been stopped’ and from then it became a mantra repeated over and over again by a glowing Tony Abbott. He would face the camera, and after due licking of lips, would announce  ‘we have stopped the boats’.

While the Manus and Nauru centres were set up well before Abbott’s and Morrison’s collaboration. The  suicides, sewing of lips together, and crimes of rape,and sexual abuse  by guards that have finally been coming to the attention should have ensured their immediate closure. There was never a clamp down on journalists trying to find out the fate of thousands of refugees locked up in indefinite detention during the days of ALP Prime ministerships.

The following from Wikipedia:

Australian immigration detention facilities comprise a number of different facilities throughout Australia (including one on the Australian territory of Christmas Island).[1] They are currently used to imprison people who are detained under Australia’s policy of mandatory detention, and previously under the now defunct Pacific Solution.[2] The facilities are currently operated by Serco, and were previously run under G4S who used to be named Global Solutions Limited (GSL), under contract from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).[3]

Pacific Solution facilities[edit]

Manus Island regional processing facility (Image by DIAC)

Since the implementation of the Pacific Solution Australia also funded immigration detention centres on:[citation needed]

Controversy[edit]

The facilities have been a source of much controversy during their time of operation. There have been a number of riots and escapes,[13] as well as accusations of human rights abuses from organisations such as refugee advocates, Amnesty International, the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations.

On January 2014, the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens accused the government of a cover-up over a violent clash on 18 October 2013 at the Manus Island facility between the Papua New Guinea army and the Papua New Guinea police mobile squad hired for the facility’s security, leading to Australian expatriate staff being evacuated, while local staff and asylum seekers remained.[14] On 5 May 2014, it was reported that several Salvation Army staffers had alleged that refugees were regularly subjected to beatings, racist slurs, and sexual assaults within the facility.[15]

In March 2002, Irene Khan, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, said:

It is obvious that the prolonged periods of detention, characterised by frustration and insecurity, are doing further damage to individuals who have fled grave human rights abuses. The detention policy has failed as a deterrent and succeeded only as punishment.
How much longer will children and their families be punished for seeking safety from persecution?[16]