And Still They Come!
Thank you to those who have signed and supported my petition asking politicians to stop demonising asylum seekers. The response has been slow, and some feedback has been interesting. There are some people who are fearful of signing a petition that is critical of the current government, for fear of consequences. There are others who are somewhat sympathetic to the plight of some individuals, but still believe that there are “queues” that they should wait patiently in, and yet others who are convinced we need to stop people smuggling as the most important issue, regardless of the effects on asylum seekers. I suspect that last view is the prominent view within the Australian government at the moment.
Since I started this petition, the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia has not improved.
Doctors are reporting that up to 50% of people held in detention centres are being seen in hospital emergency services with self harm injuries and psychiatric problems.
The Federal Government has, however, just disbanded the independent Health Advisory Group which had been set up to advise the government on the physical and mental health needs of people in detention centres.
The Australian Medical Association has expressed it shock and concern at the sudden disbanding of the advisory body, which occurred immediately, without warning or discussion, and has restated its urgent call for better understanding of the impact of detention without any rights and timetable for release.
Also without any public announcement, a special code of conduct has been established for all refugees, and failure to comply could result in removal of rights and support, and transfer to an offshore processing centre. These requirements include obeying directions of public servants, such as a medical officer, and not breaking rules of the road, or acting in any way that is disturbing to others.
And yet the boats continue to arrive, but now under the cover of media bans, because there are desperate people fleeing oppression and death, hoping that Australia will live up to its image of being a place where “a fair go for everyone” is the attitude of the average Australian.
It is becoming even more apparent, that the current government’s intention is to make life difficult and oppressive for those asylum seekers who are already here, as their method of stopping people smugglers.
It is a strategy of “punish the innocent and vulnerable (asylum seekers), to stop the guilty people with all the power (the people smugglers). I can’t think of any other circumstances where such a policy has worked, or would be allowed under laws of human rights and fairness.
This petition is becoming even more important, so I am asking for your assistance in once more sharing it with your contacts, and encouraging them to join with you in letting our politicians know that we do care, and this is not how we want asylum seekers to be treated.
Meanwhile, in Italy where thousands are arriving by boat every year, a dying village has been re-vitalised because it opened its hearts and homes to waves of refugees. It is a heart warming story, and so different from the current Australian approach. We could learn so much from their story. Here’s the link to give you heart. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/12/italian-village-migrants-sea
If politicians are not representing your feelings on the treatment of asylum seekers, I urge you to sign the petition, and recommend it to others.
Thank you for caring, and being prepared to stand up and be counted.