In Australia, criminals convicted of murder and rape know the length of their sentence.
It’s the law.
In Australia, victims of oppressive regimes who arrive seeking help are never told the length of their detention.
It has been 4 years since Reza Barati was killed in the ‘regional processing centre’ he was detained in by the Australian government for wanting to finish his architectural studies somewhere other than Iran (where his life was in danger). Yesterday, his fellow detainee Behrouz Boochani remembered the man thought of by all who met him as a ‘gentle giant’ with an illuminating piece of writing. There is much to learn in the article about the reality of being imprisoned on an island under the policies espoused by all the major parties in Australia’s parliament – the behaviour of immigration officials, G4S guards and local people before and during the rioting on 16 and 17 February 2014; the prosecution (and lack thereof) of those responsible for Reza Barati’s murder … and much more.
However, this post aims to emphasise one thing from that article, one key thing that is the emphasis of the lives of all those detained by Australia for seeking asylum:
Incarcerated asylum seekers want an answer to the question–
HOW LONG WILL WE BE IN PRISON?
The riots on Manus Island were provoked by the failure of immigration officials to give any kind of answer to that question.
A maximum length of time?
An average duration?
Before … ???
At least …?????
INDEFINITE DETENTION is a significant factor in the serious mental health issues that so many detainees suffer.
People living in circumstances with little/no information on progress of their claims/applications and, therefore, no sense of their future experience anxiety, constant frustration and hopelessness that is so destabilising that mental health issues often torment sufferers long after their release (Australian Human Rights Commission 2017). Studies of mandatory detention in Australia (click here to read one) have concluded that the endless emptiness of daily life in detention “feeds despair” and has an detrimental impact on physical health as well.
The Australian government gives murderers and rapists a sense of time enabling them to look ahead. So they can count down the days and plan a future.
But people who were born in the middle of a war or irrationally persecuted by a militant regime do not have that privilege. And so they suffer. And some of them die. And others wish for death every day.
FREEDOM IS A PRECIOUS THING.
IF YOU HAVE IT, USE IT …
Please do what you can to prevent the irreversible harm being done by these policies that serve no one but the politicians who use fear mongering to stay in power.
They are not saving lives.
They are not saving money.
They are not saving jobs for Australian citizens.
They are not protecting Australians from harm.
They are ruining the world’s most vulnerable people.
Tell the Australian government that mandatory detention and offshore processing are criminal (and those who know about such things believe that applies in both senses of the word) …