To those we turn away.

PIN IT

To those we turn away,

I am just like you. We have the same heart and the same mind. We have the same fears and the same joys. We both cry our tears and bleed our blood and pray for the safety of our family. We may pray to different gods. We may speak different tongues. We may come from different lands. But we are still the same.

I am like you.

I am a parent. I am a daughter and a sister and a friend. I have two hands and a beating heart. I have one mind and a will to fight. Sometimes I feel scared and vulnerable. Sometimes my heart aches with love and sometimes it aches wtih saddness. We were both born and one day we will both die.

I am just like you.

Yet somewhere along the way, we were made to be very different.

I have never had to see the things you have seen. I have never had to fear for the safety of my child. I have never gone hungry. I have never been without a warm place to sleep and the comfort of clothes and blankets and safety. I have never had to fear that bombs will fall and end our lives. I have never felt the fear that you have felt. I have never gone to bed wondering if my child will survive the night or had to watch my own child starve and suffer. I am lucky that way.

We are the same, yet we are different.

I, like you want the best for my family. I would move mountains to keep my child from harm. I would fight any man who came between us. I would put her on my back and carry her to the end of the world if I thought it would save her. I would do any thing for her. Like you would do for your children.

The difference is, I don’t have to. But you do.

I was born into a country where we have the privilege to free health care and free education and support in our darkest hours. Where we don’t have to go hungry. Where we have endless oppportunity if only we reach out to grasp it. I was born into privelege.

We are the same, yet we are different.

I have never had to flee my country, my language, my culture in search of safety. But you have. I have never had to call on my strength or my courage or my power to protect the very life of the ones that I love. But you have. I have never had to prove my right to basic human rights… I have never had to live in the confines of a detention centre where my family is continually at risk whilst I try and convince a foreign governemnt that we are worthy of safety. I haven’t had to do these things, but you have.

We are the same, yet we are different.

Why is that?

Luck. I was lucky to be born where I was born. In a country that offers so much I fear it has spoiled us. I look around and I listen to people talk about you with such fear in their eyes. Fear that you will change us. Fear that you will take from us what we already have. Fear that you will come and challenge us with your different dress and your different food and your different beliefs. I look around and I see a sea of people who are afraid of you because of all of the things that make you different… because of all of the things that we don’t understand. I see a sea of people who forget too easily all of the things that make us the same. The most important things. The things that make us human.

We are the same, despite our differences. We are the same.

I am lucky to have a place I call home.  You are subjected to the power and the rules of governments wherever you go. You are constantly afraid and you have put your families life in our hands and we are treating you poorly. I am so unbelievably sorry. I watch as you hold your children and you stand on the edge of a boat terrified that you will die on your journey. But obviously where you have come from is more terryifying than this treacherous journey.

We are the same and my heart is breaking for you.

If I had been born where you were. If I faced the dangers and certain death that you did. If my childs life was threatened, if my country was unsafe, I hope that I would be as brave as you are to do exactly what you have done. I’m sure I too would find the unbelievable courage that you have found to get on a boat and to flee to safety. I would do whatever it took to get my child to safety. If I was met with hostility and discrimination and judgement the way you are, I would surely break. I don’t know how you are as strong as you are. I don’t know how you keep standing without our hands to help keep you up. But you do. I am in awe of you.

We are the same. Our children are the same. We are all people of this earth.

You deserve so much better than this.

Your sister,
Sash.

***

There is a lot of bullshit in our media. There is a lot of fear mongering going on right now about asylum seekers and border protection and election lies that are sweeping over our nation and making us even more racist and judgemental and afraid than we have always been. There are a few facts that I think everyone should know.
  • A person who flees their country with fear in their heart, genuinely seeking asylum, has no home to go back to. An asylum seeker is not an illegal refugee, they are a human being in desperate need.
  • More than 15,000 genuine asylum seekers have arrived in Australia this year alone (this number grows daily)
  • It is not illegal to seek asylum.
  • Australia recieves very few asylum seekers compared to the rest of the world. In 2012 Australia recieved a mere 2.6% of the applications for asylum among developed nations internationally.
  • More than 90% of the asylum seekers who arrived by boat in the March quarter of last financial year were deemed in genuine need of asylum by the Austrlaian government.
  • In most countries that people flee from there is no official process that people can engage in to become an asylum seeker. For most of these people official channels simply do not exist.
  • The PNG solution leaves asylum seekers with less recources, more risk and less protection than we could offer them here on Australian soil and within our own communities.

There is lots you can do to help if you want to. The best place to start is to open your eyes and your hearts. If you believe that what we are doing here in Australia is wrong, use your voice.

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  • August 19, 2013 - 9:09 am

    Lilybett - Just out of curiosity – do you have an idea about what a humane/fair system of administration/processing looks like while determinations are made about who is a refugee and who is not? I do not agree with most of the systems we’ve used so far, but what should happen to all these people when they arrive and while they wait for their applications to be processed? Detention is cruel, especially for children but in the same breath, I think it’s irresponsible to just send everyone out into the community while they wait – because there would be those who just disappeared, there would be those would slip through the cracks of the support system and those who would struggle with a new community so soon after leaving their own.

    Has anyone heard a solution (from politicians or elsewhere) that sounds reasonable yet? How are other countries doing it?ReplyCancel

    • August 19, 2013 - 9:52 am

      Sash - This iarticle by the SMH gives an interesting overview of how some other countries process Asylum seekers http://www.smh.com.au/national/asylum-seekers-what-other-countries-do-20120813-244fs.html it is interesting to see the six month turn around time crop up quite regularaly. I haven’t heard of a solution yet, but I also haven’t heard the “solution” conversation as often as I’ve been witness to the “close the borders” conversation. I’d be very interested to know what other people think and what solutions are out there? I know this issue of inhumane treatment of asylum seekers is not solely an Australian problem and that a lot of countries internationally are dealing with similar issues… I just wonder if the issues that we are *most* concerned with are the right ones?ReplyCancel

    • August 19, 2013 - 9:57 am

      Sash - this is also a pretty interesting document for anyone seeking some more facts about the asylum seeker situation //www.phaa.net.au/documents/int_health_asylum_seekers_2.pdfReplyCancel

  • October 16, 2013 - 2:15 am

    Andrea - Oh my goodness, I believe I have I have found a new blog kindred spirit! You seem to have written with the same level of fury as me at a similar time, however your post is much more on the money- I was just too pissed off to write well… Bloody disgraceful that australias refugee policy is even an issue.ReplyCancel

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