An Open Letter about Manus

I’ve been struggling to come up with things to write about since my last post. This blog was supposed to be a blog of passion but it has been breaking my heart to do more and more research into the atrocities that are occurring in Australia and all over the world.

However I cannot sit idly by and continue to watch the suffering that my own Government is putting 600 men through on Manus island. Seeking asylum is a human right, not a crime. Illegally detaining someone is a crime, but here we are. The Australian Government portrays their ability to have strong borders and a stop the boat policy more important than the quality of human life. We cannot forget these men, we cannot abandon them and we can never forget what the Australian Government has done to these 600 men but also every other man, woman and child in illegal detention.

This tweet is what sparked my need to finally write a new post. A man trapped in the Manus island detention centre who is suffering conditions not suitable for animals. This man is suffering because My Government, My Prime Minister and My Country fails to accept these refugees. We are country built on boat people and refugees, yet we deny these men for what reason?

I have a friend who is in her late 70s, she is in an aged care facility and grew up in rural country Queensland, whenever I see her she always reminds me how important it is that this country continues to accept migrants, refugees and asylum seekers because they make Australia so vibrant and wonderful. This woman spent 40 years in the same job from 1960 to 2000. She worked in the same job for two of my lifetimes, building up Australia through her work in her own little way. She is so wise and has seen so much of the world, that I feel like Our Prime Minister could learn a lot from her, that Our Government could learn so much from its Australians Young and Old.

Then again, in a way I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the way this Government is behaving; between having to have a $122million postal survey on whether or not two consenting adults who love each other should be able to get married, tightening laws on Medicare and Tertiary education grants, and to lowering taxes for the rich. Is it a real surprise that this Liberal Government struggles to see right from wrong? Is it really a surprise that all they see is the bottom line and the money that lines their pockets?

The responsibility for refugees and asylum seekers in Australia has fallen to private organisations all over Australia; refugee centres, asylum seeker centres, pro bono lawyers, legal aids, food banks, and so many organisations have been forced to pick up the slack and do the right thing. Many of these organisations are run by volunteers or purely by donations because the Government does not support them. Thus is shown in a cartoon by Golding

The harsh sad truth is that this cartoon is so real and so true that it hurts. The right thing to do has fallen into the hands of the people because our representatives and our Government has fallen well short of their responsibilities.

In saying all of this, there is so many things that we as the people of Australia and the world can do; for the people of Australia contact your local member – send letters, emails, make phone calls, do whatever you can so that they can hear you. If you are from anywhere around the world and have money to spare; donate it to organisations like the Asylum Seeking Resource Centre and help them to make a difference. If you have time – volunteer your time to an organisation that needs it, help the people of this world and make it a brighter place. If you have a loud voice – attend a protest, they’re all over Australia (and the world) and maybe if we all unite as one we will be heard.

In the end it comes down to two things;

1. These men on Manus and all the people locked up in detention centres are suffering, how long can we continue to allow human beings to suffer at our own hand?

2. What side of history do you want to be on? The side that stood by and silently allowed Our Government, the Australian Government to cause in-human suffering and illegally detained them? Or the side that did as much as they could to stop this suffering, the side that did the right thing.

Do you want Your Grandchildren to ask you why You didn’t help and why You allowed innocent people to suffer or do you want them to ask what You did to help?

The choice is Yours.

Manus Humanitarian Crisis

I live in a country of egalitarianism. I live in a country of mateship, in the country of a fair go. I live in the country of the Australian dream, the country built on the blood, sweat and tears of criminals, convicts and migrants. I live in a country where one of our national heroes was a bush ranger and a criminal, where one of the most recognised songs known by Australians is about a swag man, ultimately a backpacker.

I also live in a country where it’s citizens seem to have forgotten who built this great nation. They seem to have forgotten that the majority of the population originally came here by boat.

I am a 7th Generation Australian. I am the relative of Convicts, of a Light horse man, of soldiers, and of farmers. I am also a 2nd Generation Australian, the Granddaughter of two migrated English men. I grew up in a Country Victorian Town, and I was born in Northern Queensland.

I am also a strong believer in equality and the egalitarian beliefs that this nation has thrived on. I am a young woman that will sing my national anthem with pride and hopes that my home, my country can follow through with its core ideals.

To simply start

In a Manus Island Detention Centre controlled by the Australian Government 606 men have been left with no power, no running water and no food. Which the United Nations has declared as Humanitarian Crisis. These men were originally taken to this detention centre unlawfully and have ultimately been treated worse than animals.

Manus Island is situated in Papua New Guinea, The high court of PNG demanded that the detention centre be closed as the UN had declared it unlawful, and in breach of human rights. I’m not sure if you know too much about the PNG, But in simple terms it is not a safe place, foriegners can be gravely unsafe and crime rates are high. So in great Australian fashion the detention centre has been closed and the 606 men were given the option to be placed in an alternative facility in Lorengau which is believed to be unsafe, and would put these refugees at a higher risk of danger and harm.

To make matters worse, our neighbouring nation New Zealand offered to take 150 of the Manus island refugees and the Australian Government denied that offer.

This makes it seem as though it is a stand off between the Australian Government and the Refugees fighting for their right to life, safety and to seek asylum and the Government’s policy to ‘stop the boats.’

The part I always find most ironic about this is that the Australian anthem, the song that is supposed to represent my country has these lyrics:

‘For those who’ve come across the seas 

We’ve boundless plains to share; 

With courage let us all combine

To Advance Australia Fair.’

Does no one else see the irony in that? My Government is doing absolutely EVERYTHING in its power to stop people coming by boat entering this country, yet the anthem, the Country’s National anthem literally states that they are welcome. How far from Australian ideals can you get if you are walking away from the song that brings our nation together.

Furthermore, you have the parts of Australia that have low levels of immigrants and high levels of intolerance. I grew up in a town full of refugees and it was successful. I was surrounded by refugees from so many African and Middle Eastern Nations; as well as immigrants from Italy, Greece, China, India, and who knows where else. We all lived together, we all went to school together, we laughed together, we ate together and we grew together. We didn’t see the skin colour or the heritage that made up our pasts, we saw the individuals who had their quirks, their own sense of humour, their own way of showing love and kindness.

We were kids that didn’t talk about the atrocities that some of my beloved friends had gone through, we enjoyed the fads of Gangnam style and listened to One Direction like any teenagers of my time. I honestly believe that that’s what the world should be like. It shouldn’t be about where you were born, or what horrible things you have had to face. It should be about giving people the chance to be their best selves, about letting kids be kids, about giving every person the same chances, and hoping beyond anything else that as a Nation we can grant safety to at least a few people that honestly and truely need it.

Call me biast if you like. God knows I am, I have experienced what I have experienced and I have seen a successful multicultural community thrive. I have seen people come together, I have seen families accept other families and the true harmony and love of a community that didn’t just judge people by their skin colour, but rather by their character.

That was one community that I lived in, that I grew up in, and if what was so successful why can’t more be? Why can’t more communities in Australia allow refugees and asylum seekers to settle there. We have the room, and not only that we have an AGING POPULATION, which means to be able to support our aging population we need more young people to be educated, working and paying taxes to support the ever growing number of older (and elderly) people who cannot support themselves.

I will not apologise for how I feel and I will not stop talking about how poorly our Government has handled the international refugee crisis. All I can say is that I stand with the men on Manus, I stand with the people on Nauru and I hope that some day soon we all wake up and realise that we are all human and these poor souls seeking asylum deserve every opportunity we have been granted in our wonderful country that is Australia.

Offshore Detention in Australia

As a global community we are suffering from a refugee crisis. That is the simple reality. While some countries are doing their part and accepting as many as they can handle, and other communities have come together and embraced multiculturalism. Others have not.

Some countries have decided that it is easier to hide the people that are seeking refuge and asylum in distant places and honestly it’s an out of sight and out of mind technique. Australia has taken this approach, going a step further by placing innocent people in unlawful imprisonment, in unsafe foreign lands.

The two destinations in question at this present moment are Manus Island and Nauru. Both of these foreign lands are responsible for housing the innocent souls seeking refuge and asylum in Australia.

So now that I have given you a brief (and not even close to complete) introduction. Lets now discuss the real issues at hand; The Australian Government knowingly putting innocent vulnerable people in dangerous circumstances.

Earlier this year 1,923 former and current detainees that had been illegally imprisoned and neglected on Manus Island were awarded $70 million in a class action against the Commonwealth (finalised in a settlement out of Court).  This illegal detainment and neglect had been occurring since November 2012 and the detention centre is still open. Although to at least to slightly rectify the issue, it has been set to close by the end of October.

So with the closure of Manus island looming, refugees have been invited to opt-in to a transfer to the detention centre in Nauru as the Australian Government is seemingly running out of options to where they want to imprison these innocent people.

So, now we start the topic of Nauru. It can’t be as bad as Manus right? However, the fact is that offshore detention is offshore detention and between Nauru and Manus, there is little to no difference between them. The Australian Human Rights Commission found in 2014 that offshore processing puts asylum seekers and refugees at a high risk of being forcibly returned to a country where they would be subjected to persecution. As well as the rates of self-harm and detrimental mental health being quite high in these detention centres. See more here.

At least to some extent, offshore detention does not discriminate. Men, women, and children are all sent to detention. The educated, the non-educated, the young, the old, the healthy and the sick can all be sent to offshore detention. The Australian Government has placed these people in unlawful detention because they are desperate and they need our help. Honestly, what Government could imprison innocent vulnerable people? 

So to talk about what Human Rights are being breached by offshore detention by the Australian Government;

Firstly Article 5 ‘The right to not be tortured, or treated cruelly, inhumanly, or degraded as a form of punishment.’ Australia has inhumanly treated and degraded human beings due to the simple fact that they needed a safe place to go.

Article 9 is the next human right breached with offshore detention; ‘The right to not be arbitrarily arrested, detained or exiled unfairly,’ with thousands of innocent people being detained every day, do I need to say anymore?

Article 14 ‘The right to seek asylum,’ do I need to add anything to that? Australia is not allowing human beings their human right to seek asylum for what reason? For what cause?

Article 25 ‘The right to adequate living standards and social protections,’

Article 28 ‘The right to a free and fair world’

And lastly Article 30 ‘The right to Human Rights that nobody can take away’

At least 6 human rights are breached with the Australian Government’s Offshore Detention Centres and yet they are still open, and yet people are unlawfully imprisoned. How in anyone’s mind is this okay, and why hasn’t it changed.

 

In The Aftermath of Las Vegas

For the past two weeks, I have been trying to think of what to post. I feel passionate about human rights, about the state of the world, about people’s happiness and safety. I just didn’t know where to start.

So I will start with this, I am a girl from Australia, I am almost certain that I can walk out of my house and spend hours in a shopping centre, in the city or at any event and I will not see a gun. If I go visit my friends in the country, on property; I may see a gun – used for hunting or clay disc shooting or even to fend off dingoes and foxes. In Australia we are lucky enough to be ensured the safety of not being gunned down in the street, to not be common victims to gun violence, however, we still have a strong gun culture.

I know that America has the second amendment, I know that people hold this amendment close to their hearts, but in my Australian opinion, it is outdated. This amendment was passed in 1791, Yes, almost 226 years ago. Every year so many Americans are dying from Gun violence and this blood keeps being shed because of a bill passed 226 years ago. Legislation needs to be passed so that innocent people don’t have to keep dying. The argument that I know comes after this is ‘but mass shootings are performed with illegal guns, tightening laws won’t do anything.’

The argument that I know comes after this is ‘but mass shootings are performed with illegal guns, tightening laws won’t do anything.’ This, however, is a blatant lie. In 1996 there was a mass shooting in Australia which killed 35 people and in the 18 years prior to/and including 1996, there were 13 mass shootings where 5 or more people were killed in each shooting, with a total of 104 deaths. That is a lot of death and a lot of bloodshed. Australia knew this, a law was enacted that banned fully automatic and semi-automatic guns nationally. As well as having a gun amnesty, in which people could hand in un-registered, or illegal guns; no questions asked. There has not been a mass shooting since. I’ll repeat that; There has not been a mass shooting since. Furthermore, all gun violence, including suicide has decreased since these laws were put into place. See the study Here in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

So after reading this, you may be thinking; what does this have to do with human rights? That’s a fair question. So let us turn to the third article ‘The right to life, liberty and personal security,’ and article twenty ‘The right to Peace.’

If people are threatened every day by gun violence how in the world can they have personal security?

What about the 58+ people who lost their lives at the shooting in Las Vegas, where is their right to life?

Where is the peace for the 500+ injured victims of the shooting and the hundreds, if not thousands of people who had to flee for their lives from a concert?

How can the United States not allow American citizens all of the Human Rights given to human beings when they are the ‘leaders of the free world.’

For the Victims and their families of the Las Vegas Shooting, my thoughts and condolences are with all of you, and I hope that one day we can wake up and see a little less of this.

All in all; Something needs to change, before this happens again.

The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights

As many of us know, the United Nations (or UN) formed in 1945 after the atrocities of World War 2 and the Holocaust. This organisation came together to prevent such crimes against humanity occurring again and to be a Governing body of International Law. They are peacekeepers, humanitarians, educators, Lawmakers, and leaders in action against climate change.

However, in my opinion; one of the most important actions that the UN has performed was the creation and implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This important document has 30 articles (30 human rights) and declares the rights of every man, woman and child on planet earth. The articles cover a broad range of topics from slavery, to education, to religion and even living standards. Basically stating that every human being has the same rights and should be treated equally. A simplified list of these Human rights are below

  1. Freedom and Equality for all
  2. The right to be Free from discrimination
  3. The right to life, liberty and personal security
  4. The right to be free from slavery
  5. The right to not be tortured, or treated cruelly, inhumanly, or degraded as a form of punishment
  6. The right to be recognised as a person before the law
  7. The right to be seen equally in the eyes of the law
  8. The right to an effective national tribunal
  9. The right to not be arbitrarily arrested, detained or exiled unfairly
  10. The right to a fair public trial
  11. The right to be innocent until proven guilty
  12. The right to privacy
  13. The right to move freely in and out of each Country
  14. The right to seek asylum
  15. The right to a nationality
  16. The right to marriage
  17. The right to own property
  18. Freedom of religion and thought.
  19. Freedom of opinion and information
  20. The right to Peace
  21. The right to be a participate in Free Elections and Government
  22. The right to social security
  23. The right to do desirable work and to join trade unions
  24. The right to rest and leisure
  25. The right to adequate living standards and social protections
  26. The right to an education
  27. The right to culture of community
  28. The right to a free and fair world
  29. Freedom to complete Community Duties
  30. The right to Human Rights that nobody can take away

See the full document for The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Here:

It may (or may not) be hard to believe that many Western countries are in breach of at least a few of these 30 Human rights, and in their defence, some are easier to follow than others. However, as broad as the topics are that these Human Rights seem to cover, I personally believe that they are all important and should be met.

Furthermore, I think it is important that people have a better understanding of these Human Rights, why they are in place to protect all of us and to ensure that every human being is given enough to live a substantial life.