Contributed by Ben Wilson
Thousands of people across Australia joined over the weekend, in marches calling for the end of detaining asylum seekers on remote off shore camps.
This policy has now been going on for five years. Since then thousands have been sent to Manus, which is part of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, disregarding calls by many Australian citizens, human rights groups and the United Nations Refugee Agency not to do so.
The policy is criticised as an open violation of basic human rights, and the conditions of detention have caused widespread harm, and in some cases death.
Marchers called for those in the camps to be resettled in Australia.
A message from Kurdish-Iranian refugee and acclaimed journalist Behrouz Boochani, held on Manus Island since 2013, was read out at some of the marches.
He wrote: “Those of us who remain continue to experience this suffering, wondering if we will ever be free to make our lives somewhere in peace and security, and free to see our families again,” and, “as you know, many innocent people on Manus and Nauru are still suffering,”
For too long, the boat people issue has been used as a political ploy to divide Australia and turn attention form important domestic issues. Human beings desperately trying to escape war and repression have been turned into a false threat to the Australian way of life.
This farce is made all the more reprehensible, because in many cases, Australia has been involved in the conflicts creating the refugees.
Setting up a straw man to create fear is not something Australian governments have invented.Rulers have long used this means to maintain their control over populations, through dehumanising of a group of people. Once this has been done, any treatment, no matter how cruel, is legitimised, and sold as a necessity to keep them from undermining society.
The Australia community loses form the asylum seeker detention policy, which has been a significant factor in the rise of the divisive politics of hate in this country, and the damage it causes any sense of empathy and the core value that human beings help each other to make this a better world to live in.
By either encouraging or failing to stand against the cruel detention policy and the politics of hate, many of our political leaders wear the responsibility.
At least there is a counter current in the growing number of Australian citizens joining their voice to the call for an end to it.