Saturday, February 06, 2016

A Dog's act!

Can't sleep!

Haunted by the image of an old woman I once met.

I met her in a jail (they called it an alternative place of detention). The man I was there to see needed help, he was explaining to me that he thought he could manage his wheelchair with flat tyres but he desperately needed a new wheel, the broken spokes on this one were cutting into his hands and the wheel was warped and becoming impossible to turn.

I looked across the room and met the eyes of a frail elderly woman, she was nursing a doll, which another visitor had brought in to comfort her. She had suffered so much and was missing contact with children, maybe she'd lost a grandchild... maybe she just longed to hold a child, to feel it's youth and promise... to hope. Before my visit ended I watched the guard prise the doll from the old woman's hands and give it back to the visitor. "You can't leave that here! You'll have to take it to property or take it home". The old lady was crying... The doll was a gift, suggested by a psychologist to help her with her grief. In this place no good deed may go unpunished or kindness without ridicule. 

I stopped visiting soon after that, others keep going, maybe they're stronger than me? They manage to go week after week and sit with the forgotten souls who have been imprisoned by our protectors. The  Department who issues it's agents with black uniforms. The barest mention of it's name would guarantee a lifetime of metadata retention of any would be whistle-blowing blogger. The visitors and detainees wait their chance to sit in a tiny prison visitor room, in a mosquito pit 40 km out of town, surrounded by razor-wire, under the watchful eye of poorly trained keepers. Men, women, children, elderly and damaged, wounded by wars and conflict and hate in their own land. They survived many dangers to get here, where they thought they'd be safe and now they languish in a heartless country, tortured and tormented by bullies with uniforms and badges and chips on their shoulder! Managed for their own good.

I couldn't go any longer, yes I had family commitments which made visiting difficult, yes the changes to visiting hours and the lack of available space in the centre had an impact, but these were not the main reason. I stopped going because I couldn't bear to sit with people whose lives I had seen deteriorating to the point of psychological ruin and tell them I was doing all I could to help them, knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do to make anything right at all! I stopped visiting because I was ashamed.

Image from ABC Online (Link HERE)

I thought I'd nearly forgotten the experience of seeing the old woman, until I read this article on the ABC website... Then I knew, I'd never forget! I remember her face, I remember her tears, I remember her need to care and to hold something precious.... a child. She showed me her baby as she sung to it and she held it out for me to touch and to kiss, her eyes beamed. This was not a living child but it held the place of one she was missing, she clung to it, and she stroked it and she rocked and sung to it with such love that felt sure it had life! And they snatched it from her arms. And they broke her heart, again. 
That is what I know about Australia's immigration prisons! That was just one glimpse, one half hour visit, the brutality and indifference goes on night and day, indefinitely and without exception until they all go mad! This is the hell our country has created and our citizens endorse. 

As I sit with one or two others holding up a banner which reads 'Kids Don't Belong in Detention' I see the disgust in people's eyes and wonder if they have any idea who they are hating. Sometimes I feel angry and tempted to fight the tough guys who snarl vicious comments as they pass by... 
"Fuck-em... Send em all over there", I've heard that too many times. Sometimes I have to hold my tongue, sometimes I smile and pray silently to the God who knows this shit well... Sometimes I attempt to speak to them and fail. So many thoughts and fears pass through me. The ugliness.... The horror of who we are!

I remember that old lady. Maybe the lady in this article... maybe another. It's hard to know when people are moved about arbitrarily.
They may soon take this lady away, in the dead of night, along with 266 others. All human beings, all who ask only the most basic of rights and the dignity to conduct their lives as nature and God intended for any living thing. 

They do not want to go to a place that will harm them, I do not want my country to send them. Surely we would all obey the most fundamental commandment, the instinct for survival and self preservation? 'Life's longing for itself' brought them to our shores and we would stamp out that precious jewel! We deny and curse the very spirit that sustains them, we can't understand why our efforts don't break them. Can anybody see the crimes we've committed?

Who will be the ones to escort them to the bus? Who will put them on the plane? Who will drug and shackle these brave Men, women and children?

What award do we present to such individuals?

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