Friday, 9 November 2012

Proud to be An Aussie? Not today

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.


Shame, Shame, Shame


  1. On the subject of asylum seekers I have been ashamed to be Australian for a good many years and several changes of government as well. Very ashamed.
    I so admire you for the support you are offering.

  2. And we never believed that any American Administration would resort to the torture of captives. Indignation we found out is righteous but it is also powerless, action is good but then we found out that even the purest of intent now has it's price.

    Wall street bankers are now running TV commercials inviting people to "Occupy Wall Street" with investments so they can become one of the 1%.

    Idealism is always co-opted in order to turn it on itself. then when it feeds it will eat it's own offspring.

    I am sure part of the deal to release Sun Ky was to leave them be about the rest of their human rights abuses and of course no one wants to document the refugee camps...there is a recession going on and a camera might show you the open pit latrines and fouled water sources.

    Kylie, be angry, be indignant but until 99% of your countrymen are the same then they have done you as ours has done to us--divided us to apathy.

  3. EC,
    thanks so much for your support. my blogging friends never fail to affirm me when pretty much all seems lost

    walking man!
    funny you should say that because i actually had an uncomfortable exchange with a friend about this very post and said to her that in our discomfort "they" had achieved their aim.
    the original version of the post was harder hitting and talked about censorship and though i have chosen to remove it i do not back away from my estimation of the powers that be.
    i know that not too many care but i would hope that in my very small way i can help to lead the tiniest percentage to a point of caring.

  4. Censorship is the right word, I think, Kylie. Banning words like asylum seeker and camp? Not allowing any photos? In other words, trying to pretend these are just ordinary people like you and me, and there's nothing at all to complain about. It's a disgrace. Does Julia really think this is okay?

  5. nick,
    i think there is so much crazy fear mongering on the subject of "boat people" that she feels that she is forced to do this thing. the populace are leading the leader, which i know is a part of democracy but i think there could be a little more leadership and a bit less polling.
    ultimately, if it is like this she must think it is ok and unfortunately there is no alternative at this point

  6. Always plenty to learn here. I didn't know about no mobile phones whiich seems rather cruel. I'm so sickk of this detention shit and double standards let alone the lack of information. This week a Pakistani cricketer was given full residency after originally being knocked back. Why? Because he's skilled enough to play for Australia and cricket Australia made a personal plea to the Minister. Perhaps more refugees should polish up on their sports skills.

  7. "I believe in Australians as a people. I believe that we are generous, humanitarian and abide by our obligations..."

    I think that most people are too preoccupied with their own lives to worry for more than a few seconds about people they don't know, especially when those people are out of sight and of a different culture. It's easier to pretend that the problem either doesn't exist or that one is powerless to do anything about it, and we treat other species pretty much as we treat other people. I wouldn't say that I'm better than average this way except that I don't eat meat, and I try to buy happy chicken eggs.


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