Seeking Asylum is a Human Right

The immigration department says that moralising on the issue of children being sent back to Nauru is “not helpful”.  They quibble about how old a rape victim was (not, apparently 5 years old – he was over 10. Oh. Well. I mean. That’s ok then, right?). They say we can’t possibly open our borders, we have no conception of the consequences of open borders.

Well, I see no-one in the #letthemstay protest talking about open borders. I see nothing in the Greens policy on asylum seekers that says “open the borders, let them all in – let’s have a giant free for all pot party!” (go read it! See where it says “open the borders”? Nope. Nor do I.)

It is a wholly false dichotomy to say the choice is between torturing asylum seekers with unfathomably horrific conditions and opening our borders willy nilly. There are worlds of options that don’t involve torture and also don’t involve letting the whole world come here. But even if there weren’t, if the choice were between letting the world in and choosing to torture people to persuade everyone else to stay away, I could never choose torture.

Ask yourself: could you?

This is, fundamentally, inherently, a moral issue. It is time for a whole lot of moralising.

I admit, I don’t have all the facts. If you want facts, go read anything Julian Burnside wrote.

But above all, before you believe anything said by the government, consider this: journalists are not allowed to visit Nauru or Manus, with one, very significant pro-LNP exception. What kind of activities are so nefarious that we can’t allow them to be openly scrutinized by the public?

What do we know?

We know that people independent of the government, of political parties, of anything they stand to gain, including doctors, have stated loudly and clearly that people are being horribly traumatised on Nauru and Manus, and indeed in our own on-shore detention centres.

We know that laws have been passed making the reporting of child abuse A CRIME – What the actual fuck? Not reporting child abuse of nice, white, middle class Australian children is a crime. But REPORTING CHILD ABUSE ON MANUS and NAURU is illegal and carries a jail term. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that both our major political parties collaborated to pass this utterly unconscionable piece of legislation.

We know that in many countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, and Myanmar, people are being persecuted and escaping in an attempt to protect their families – to save their lives, to escape unending horror, to live in peace. And we are punishing these people and denying them all forms of humanity and human comfort – including, bizarrely, not allowing them mail. (Presumably because at all costs we must not allow them to think that anyone cares about them.)

What we are doing to these people makes me ill. They are people. Good people. Bad people. Children. Adults. Old people. Just people. People like you. People like me. People caught up in unending trauma. And we are treating them like vermin.

Look, I’m not saying that immigration policy is a simple thing, or easily fixed. I’m not saying we can help everyone in the world who is in need, although I would dearly love to.

But I am saying that what Australia is doing is NOT OK. It is NOT IN MY NAME. And it must stop. Just, please, make it stop.


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