4 September 2015

I am heartbroken

I got asked yesterday why 'somebody like me' wasn't commenting furiously about the European refugee crisis, Cameron's concession to public opinion, Iceland's brilliance and the heartbreaking pictures of Aylan Kurdi, who died along with his mother Rehan and his brother Galip while seeking asylum.

The answer is simple. Because I am heartbroken by this every single day.

We live in a country where we will not put our kids in a car without a car seat, or take birthday cakes to school because of the sugar and yet parents like us, Rehan and Abdullah, felt that the only way to keep their kids safe was to put them in a boat and set out across the ocean in the HOPE, only the HOPE, that they would be safe.

 Tully and Cassidy aged 3 & 5        #kidslikemine       Galip and Aylan aged 3 & 5
And that family is now destroyed. Along with many other nameless, faceless, desperate people fleeing everyday violence and mayhem that is so far beyond our comprehension that people are actually proud to display 'Fuck off we're full' stickers on their cars and well suited middle class people almost spill their Shiraz as they bullshit on about 'economic migrants' as if they actually have a point. Or a clue.

People don't seek asylum for fun or because they need our poorly performing dollar tucked into their wallets.

They seek asylum because they see NO OTHER OPTION if they are to protect their families.

While we are filling our Facebook feeds here in Australia  this week saying let's not see the picture, this is too too too sad, those poor refugees, oh I've been to Bodrum stories - we seem oblivious to the irony that when people come to us over distances much more vast - we lock them up in what are effectively concentration camps.


I am heartbroken about the Kurdi family and their fellow citizens.

I am also heartbroken about 23 year old refugee Reza Berati who was killed 18 months ago by somebody paid by the Australian government  and whose murderer has still not been charged.

I am heartbroken about Ranjini, who was found to be a legitimate refugee in 2011 and who along with her children has been locked up in a detention centre since 2013 with no right of appeal because she doesn't actually know why she is locked up.

I am heartbroken about H**g, a refugee who lives with partial paralysis and profound depression as a result of their extended incarceration in an Australian detention centre, not the horrific violence that caused them to flee.

I am heartbroken about H**z who fled his country to stop them killing him and his family and now lives an isolated life, unable to contribute to the society he lives in because we wont let him get a job because, well actually, I don't rightly understand why not.

I am heartbroken about Mojgan Shamsalipoor, the refugee and Brisbane high school student who was physically dragged away from her husband and re-incarcerated after she spoke to the media.

I am heartbroken about the doctors and nurses who will be charged and jailed for speaking out about the extensive child and sexual abuse atrocities committed in Australia's detention camps.

I am heartbroken that not-for-profits, charities and churches who seek to support people in detention centres on Manus and Nauru have been banned from visiting.

I am heartbroken about the children who are being abused in our name because their parents sought a better life for them.

I am heartbroken that it has taken the picture of a child in shorts and a t-shirt lying dead on a beach for us to realise the common humanity we share with refugees and asylum seekers.

This breaks my heart every single day.

I know people think I'm soft hearted because I have not stopped weeping over the stories I read almost daily about the violence and ugliness we perpetuate in the name of national security against vulnerable people. There are some days when I feel so sad and so helpless about our own approach to refugees and asylum seekers that I feel physically sick.

These are people. People. People so desperate that they risk everything to come to us and we hide behind our shameful, and globally condemned, refugee policies and procedures, pretending it's not our problem.

We're protecting our borders.

Well bullshit. Our little cocoon of righteousness and entitlement is just political and media rhetoric that we buy into because we don't want to rock our own (metaphorical) boat.

My vehement hope is that the saturation of coverage highlighting the humanity of the refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, galvanises us here in Australia to be more proactive and vocal in our opposition to the hideous way we treat the people coming to us seeking safety.

That we demand change the way the UK demanded it of their politicians.

That we accept that our politicians are there to represent us and that if they are not representing us we have nothing but our own apathy and fear of the unknown to blame.

That we can change the way we do it if we have the courage to speak up.

That we can change the way we do this if we can maintain the focus past the lifespan of the headlines.

That we can change the way we do this by remembering that refugees and asylum seekers are people.

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