On a day when human rights are at the forefront of our minds – with Australia voting YES to marriage equality – it is a day to note and respect the POWER OF WORDS, the power of communication.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has acknowledged the overwhelming majority of Australians who support marriage equality and yet it seems that he has chosen to ignore a public request by New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern to have a “substantive” discussion on her offer to resettle 150 refugees from Manus Island.
When open communication can be the best tool to resolve issues and avoid the deterioration of crisis situations into catastrophe, it is more than disappointing that our LEADERS choose to
a) avoid such important opportunities or
b) capitalise on situations by using words to distort reality for their own ends e.g.
The translation of George Brandis’ comment that Nick McKim went to Manus Island with the “explicit purpose of fomenting violence” into plain language is as follows:
Consigning asylum seekers to offshore detention is purely a political game
We know this because, apart from the fact that it has become widely known that the language used by the majority of politicians is a strategic element of their ongoing manoeuvrings to retain/regain power, the FACTS of the situation on Manus and of the broader offshore detention policy PROVE UNEQUIVOCALLY that this government – and large sections of numerous preceding ones – does not care one iota about VIOLENCE. IF they did
they would have
- welcomed people who arrived on our shores seeking refuge from harm (encompassing oppression, discrimination and VIOLENCE)
they would NEVER have
- paid huge amounts of taxpayers’ money to build prisons (on other territories) to hold innocent people for years without any indication of processing their claims of refugee status;
- deprived those innocent people of the proper healthcare and support that are the basic needs of any human being but especially for those who have already experienced severe trauma;
- created an environment where innocent people detained against their will were open to physical VIOLENCE from local people, military and security personnel to the point of murder;
- put a time deadline on the closure of the prison when forced to comply with the local (and international) laws that do not allow human rights violations ~ instead of finding humane and appropriate solutions to relocate innocent people before the closure of an empty facility could be undertaken;
- left innocent people to live within small traditional communities where there is no place for hundreds of foreign men thereby creating local fear and anger to the point of VIOLENCE;
- informed innocent people that if they did not move to reside in the local community that the only other option was to be incarcerated in another prison on the same island (which was still being built) or a prison on another territory
- terminated power, water, food and medical aid when hundreds of innocent people remained resident and reliant on those basic services and demolished structures providing protection or support including secure fencing thereby exposing them to danger and VIOLENCE;
- refused offers from other countries e.g. New Zealand to resettle 150 of the stranded asylum seekers based on reasons with no basis whatsoever in fact; and
- perpetuated myths repeatedly whose chief outcome is to incite fear and division (and potentially VIOLENCE) instead of providing accurate information that would create understanding and foster peaceful, collaborative communities.
ALSO, AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, …
accusing a member of the only Australian political party to consistently oppose the policy of offshore detention (who do so on the grounds of the obvious harm that it inflicts on innocent people) of “fomenting violence” diminishes those human beings who have had the courage, tenacity and intelligence to survive war, oppression and years of torture in detention to entities with no capacity for thought, decision-making nor the restraint and foresight necessary to sustain peaceful action to oppose circumstances unfairly inflicted upon them. When, in reality, those innocent people can logically, eloquently and NON-violently state for themselves that:
On the day that Australia has voted YES to equality, fairness and human rights
On the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer, we pay tribute to Behrouz Boochani (who wrote the article linked to above) and to all his fellow imprisoned writers who have deftly utilised their skill with words:
to inform and educate,
to spread greater understanding and compassion,
to paint vivid portraits of human beings immersed in dire circumstances but still demonstrating empathy, resilience and ingenuity AND, the characteristic with probably most relevance to this post,
the pure and enriching clarity of honesty.
(N.B. Please excuse the frequency of posts at the moment. The Manus crisis had dictated that more regular updating and communication may assist in the resources you have to encourage greater numbers of people to take action. Obviously we hope that this particular aspect of Australian policy regarding refugees/asylum seekers will be favourably resolved ASAP and that a turnaround on offshore detention will also occur so that ultimately this website will no longer be required. However the intention will always be to post only when necessary and that once a crisis is over, posts will be considerably less frequent. Thank you so much for your support and patience.)