My little sister has just been arrested for taking part in a peaceful sit-in at Zed Seselja’s office here in Canberra. She and several others stayed in his office, refusing to leave until they were given an answer to one question: “When will the 789 children and their families be released from immigration detention?”
Here in Australia, both sides of the government have been mistreating and demonising asylum seekers for decades, keeping them in camps indefinitely and without trial (often in other countries in a transparent effort to avoid legal responsibility – even when those countries have appalling human rights records), and breaking international human rights law in the process.
Australians are fundamentally decent, so the government also blocks the media from reporting on what is actually happening (especially anything individualising, such as names and photos). I supported today’s protest via social media, and used images of my own children to stand in for those who are deliberately hidden from our sight.
I thought about explaining the situation to Louisette and videoing her response – but I realised that just TALKING to her about kids in immigration detention would be harmful to her. There are mothers in detention right now who were desperate enough to leave everything they knew in order to protect their children. Now they have to answer questions like these:
Mummy, are we safe now?
Mummy, is this Australia?
Mummy, when can we get out?
Mummy, they won’t send us back. . . will they? Mummy?