Over the past few months I've been attending a weekly vigil at the Darwin Airport Lodge Detention Centre.
The Darwin Airport Lodge is listed as an 'Alternative Place of Detention'. There has been a lot of criticism about locking children up in detention centres so the government swapped a few words around and now everyone's happy. The dumb ass Australian public who want to punish people for seeking safety but don't want to be seen to hate children are satisfied that an 'Alternative place of detention' is far more caring and humane than a detention centre. The government invents some crap about creating a deterrent in order to prevent drowning at sea and the Australian public are overjoyed. We get to condemn the evil people smugglers, punish, confuse, condemn and antagonize asylum seekers who risk their lives to find safety simply because the last mode available to them is by sea and continue to feel righteous about ourselves because we are doing all this so that we can assist the refugees who go through the appropriate channels first. What a joke!
Meanwhile there are real human beings who had the misconception that Australia is a safe place with laws that could protect refugees from persecution. When they get here and realize the bitter truth they are crushed! They are completely confused by the lack of humanity in the way they are treated, the lies they are told and the brutal way they are herded up without being told what is happening and shoved around like cattle! We condemn them for not following rules that don't actually exist and then place them in a system that arbitrarily creates and dismantles it's own rules on a whim and expects them to be aware of every policy change being applied to their lives. Reality is continually altered and readjusted by an authority they have very little access to, time is warped by waiting and disappointment, justice is overridden by the incapacity for detention facilities to hold the numbers that are being held for artificially long periods in order to create the illusion of an appropriate length of time one might wait in a queue that never existed and people never know where they will be moved to next. Maybe Melbourne, maybe Sydney maybe Nauro or Manus Island... Maybe sent back to danger because there's no space in the waiting room and nobody wants to asses your claim!
In the midst of all this there are children! My daughter recently asked " If the people that I go to visit love Australia, why doesn't Australia love them? Why don't we adopt them they could do nice things for Australia?"
Over the past few months I have met many lovely people, many people who have far greater respect for our country than most of the citizens I have met but they are broken... first by the horrors they have fled but now even worse their sense of hope for any kind of future is being stolen from the by us! No amount of rationalization can mask the injustices we are perpetrating against these people and the to subject innocent children to these conditions is inexcusable!
Here's a story from Eureka Street... food for thought.
Family drama reveals detention contortions - Eureka Street
"...Ranjini's story is another indictment of a collective failure or refusal to imagine the injustice endured by others. We allow ourselves to be distracted by endless abstractions peddled by politicians and the media because if ever we acknowledge the humanity we share with refugees, then we may be compelled to treat them accordingly.(Author. Fatima Measham)
Still, sometimes, despite our best efforts, a name surfaces, photos of a smiling woman emerge. A baby arrives."