What does it take to care about asylum?

The only horror most of us are prepared to watch is via our movie screens. If we took the time to put ourselves in an asylum seeker’s shoes with one droplet of empathy and a tiny bit of imagination, we’d be mimicking Edvard Munch’s The Scream.


Meanwhile, asylum seekers are taking extreme measures to protest their incarceration. A hunger strike is no small thing.

Yesterday I received word from a friend on the ground. She said the temporary protection visas, the ever-present threat of being rendered stateless or deported back to certain torture and death was so horrendous, case workers and volunteers were in despair.

How much resilience can we expect of people?

For how long do we expect such cruelty to go on?

Every day I read harrowing reports from those in detention centres. I read as well the anguish and desperation in the hearts of those front-line volunteers who visit asylum seekers regularly.

I hear too, the frustration voiced by so many that we as a society are not doing enough. We are failing in the eyes of the world, and we are failing in the eyes of our own people.

Stand up Australia! Pledge support! Do something, anything to let the asylum seekers and their supporters know you care.

Why? Why bother? Because doing nothing makes us little better than those who turned their backs on the concentration camps and pretended they were not there.

Abbott the Abuser?

More than seven hundred asylum seekers on Manus Island continue on hunger strike over resettlement fears, some sewing together their lips, others swallowing razor blades. It’s a dramatic mass act of protest and despair that is gaining global media attention.
150120200222-blurred-manus-island-group-large-16919 Jan 2015
Meanwhile, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre posted a press release on their website stating that, ”the Abbott government is about to become the first government in Australian history to knowingly  and deliberately let an asylum seeker die in their care.
A young Iranian man in a Darwin detention centre has now gone a total of 76 days without food. Days from death. Lost 30 kilos. Lost all hope. Abbott plans to let him die.
Today, he told us that he fled Iran to escape being locked up and tortured – only to suffer the same fate in Australia.

We call on the Abbott government for an Act of Compassion. They can relieve his suffering and save his life by releasing him into Community Detention immediately.”

This could be me, you, anyone in fact born into an unhappy fate. My head hangs in shame of my government, in shame of my country.
I hear some say in the face of domestic violence and child abuse, ”you must forgive, otherwise you will end up bitter.” – What do we do in the face of ongoing violence and abuse meted out to asylum seekers by our abusive government, a scenario in which many of us feel the agony of bearing witness? Am I to forgive? Of course not. Am I too forget, push aside as too damaging to my own psyche? Nope.
Those of us who stand in solidarity are crucified, our flesh weeping blood from so many nails as our friends on the other side of the fence are violated, tortured and oppressed every day.

Acceptance of violence and abuse always happens after the fact. I may not forgive the perpetrator but I can find acceptance in my heart, for I cannot undo time, regret is futile and I would not wish to give the perpetrator the additional satisfaction of ruining my whole life. While the violence and abuse continue however, there is no acceptance. There is only an agony of heart. There is only the awareness that we exist inside a living hell, a hell equal to all the other living hells, from the Inquisition to the Nazi death camps.

There will always be those who condone or even approve of the internment camps, just as there were those who approved of the Inquisitors.

I’m always amazed by how many who choose to stand on the side of the abusers, the perpetrators, those prepared to deny the horrors, the truths. Mothers who blame their daughters for the bruises on their faces, bruises from marital punches. Citizens who vilify victims of terror for fleeing the bombs, the bullets and the blades.

As I hang from the nails embedded in my flesh, my wounds weep all the more knowing this.