Today in the detention centre there was some criticism of the Australian government because they are offering some level of support to the current regime in Myanmar, a regime which is silent about the ongoing persecution and genocide of the Rohingya people in that country. (The Rohingya are known to the UN High Commission for Refugees as some of the most oppressed in the world)
At the time that the comments were made I suggested that maybe the Australian government is uninformed about the genocide, victims of propaganda from Myanmar or that maybe they felt there was a greater chance of positively influencing the situation if we had a good diplomatic relationship. I was howled down in a torrent of jeering laughter but I clung tightly to my line that there is way too much cynicism in the system and we all need to give the benefit of the doubt more often.
My generosity was short lived though when I came home to a cynicism inducing discovery:
I happened to read a magazine article about an organisation doing humanitarian work in Nauru, the new off-shore processing hell hole which said that somebody (our government, maybe?) has declared that there are to be no cameras, including phone cameras on the island. Not only that but I quote from the article:
Here, language is important. The asylum seekers are not to be known or talked about as such. They are "residents" of their new home, not a "camp" but simply "Topside"
So, just to make sure I have this straight, we are denying through our language that these people are seeking asylum ie.looking for protection. We are equally, through our language, denying that these people are living in a hot, dusty and by some reports, unsanitary tent city and we are not allowing photographic documentation.
I believe in Australians as a people. I believe that we are generous, humanitarian and abide by our obligations under international laws and agreements.
Or maybe we overestimate ourselves. Just maybe we are quietly and communally tarred with the same oppressive brush as the regimes these people are trying to escape from.
AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE?
Shame, Shame, Shame