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How loud do we have to scream?

By Kathryn Crosby - posted Tuesday, 9 September 2014

This past week Hamid Kehazaei, an Iranian refugee, died  because our Government locked him up in an immigration detention centre on Manus Island and he cut his foot.

Who do I see about that?

Who do I scream at that this is so amazingly wrong that I am yet again ashamed to be an Australian?


I thought the little trick of refoulement - returning 41 desperate fleeing people to their persecutors and certain imprisonment in Sri Lanka - was the lowest it could get... I was physically ill that day. But it appears to have become the norm, with all kinds of refoulement going on thanks to people being forced to choose the devil they know over certain imprisonment in our immigration detention centres. The extent the department is going to in order to return people to Syria for example was gobsmacking.

The human rights violations and breaches of international law being done by this government seem to be a dime a dozen. Are we becoming desensitised? Do Abbott, Morrison, and (forgive me Julie and the other rare women doing a great job) their merry men actually believe this catalogue of inhumane monstrosities is what the people want?

Even if the wedge politics, dog whistles and spin have resulted in some vaguely supportive polling and focus groups (and I’ve seen enough to make a solid argument to the contrary), does that justify actions so fundamentally, ethically, and morally wrong?

We let more than half a million people in to this country every year on permanent and long stay visas – locking such a small and irrelevant number up in veritable concentration camps and saying “you’ll never settle in Australia” like a Seinfeld immigration Nazi is ideological craziness; ideological craziness that does real and lasting physical and psychological damage to already traumatised people fleeing war and persecution.  We could let those 30,000 people currently locked up in to our community right now and it wouldn’t hurt one bit.

We will never stop the flow of asylum seekers, because we will never stop war, persecution, and strife. We could grow up and deal with the issue like adults rather than sticking fingers in ears and yelling "STOP THE BOATS!" like two year olds, but that would require leadership.

There are ways to help refugees find a new life in Australia without encouraging people smuggling. There are ways to deal with people smuggling and boat arrivals and stop people drowning without being unnecessarily punitive to needy people. There are ways to deal with issues without creating new ones which are much worse.


And there is no need or justification for the way we are currently treating those who arrive by boat, or currently live - if we can call it living - in the facilities on Nauru, Manus Island, and Christmas Island, or in indefinite detention on mainland facilities because of bureaucratic snafus. Not to mention the hideous waste of taxpayers money on these hell holes.

What do we have to do to stop this? How loud do we have to scream?

This is me screaming now. Close all the offshore centres. Process asylum seekers quickly and efficiently on shore with good quality services. Let all these genuine refugees begin their journey to becoming great Australians. Bloody do it now.

I’ve had enough of being ashamed to be Australian.

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About the Author

Kathryn Crosby is a political and communication strategist with experience on the left, right, and centre including 14 months as the principal strategist for the Australian Democrats. A member of the International Association of Political Consultants when actively consulting, she is currently on sabbatical working on a book and splitting her time between Sydney and Jerusalem. Find her on twitter at @ktxby.

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