Please note that the following images are extremely confronting. We encourage you to read on though, we can’t ignore the reality anymore.
Yesterday, when I saw this picture I gasped. I then howled and held my baby close to me while sitting in my cosy home in this safe country that I was lucky enough to be born into. Luck is the key word.
This is a 3-year-old Syrian refugee. A little boy lying face down in the sand on a Turkish beach. He was one of 12 Syrian refugees trying to escape a war torn country and he drowned. He is 3-years-old. THREE years old. Just a baby who should be playing in a park with his friends, learning to use a toilet, getting ready to go to kinder. Instead he is lying face down on a beach…dead. How can we see these images and not make a stand for immediate change.
It is too late to save this little boy but we can help the people locked up in our country. The people who have fled from places so far from our reality that our minds can’t even conjure up just how horrific the circumstances are.
So many of us seem to turn a blind eye, feel that the problem is too big or not ours to tackle. I have two young daughters. I would do ANYTHING it took to have my girls live a safe life. It is difficult to comprehend that for some, seeking a safer life means risking everything. This picture speaks louder than any words or examples can give.
The United Nations has said that Australia’s treatment of refugees violates the convention against torture but instead of changing the way we treat refugees in our country we threaten the doctors that treat them with jail if they repeat what they see.
Our government has even paid people smugglers to take asylum seekers back to Indonesia so that they are some-one else’s responsibility. Some-one else’s problem. Children, pregnant women, desperate and scared people.
When Gillian Triggs, the President of the Human Rights Commission, expressed concern over the number of children detained in Australian detention centres, she was slammed for making the issue political and personally attacked for giving up her daughter. Her resignation was called for because she was doing her job.
Yes, there is a process that is required to resettle refugees, but ours is long, cruel and secretive. The United Nations has said Australia’s treatment of refugees was “cruel, inhuman and degrading and it violates international law”.
Noam Chomsky, a well known American Philospher and Cognitive Scientist spoke out on Australia’s treatment of refugees:
The true measure of the moral level of a society is how it treats the most vulnerable people. Few are as vulnerable as those who have fled to Australia in terror and are locked away without charge, their terrible fate veiled in secrecy. We may not be able to do much, beyond lamenting, about North Korean prisons. But we can do a great deal about severe human rights violations right within reach.
Here are some ways you can help:
1. Demand Answers
We must continually ask this government why.
Write a letter to your local MP. You can find your local MP by putting in your postcode here
2. Get Active
Attend rallies to show your support.
Become a volunteer with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
3. Be Social
Talk about what’s happening on social media or with your friends. Keep the issue in the public eye.
There several places you can donate your time or money to help asylum seekers, such as Refugee Council of Australia, The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre or various places in your state.
We need to get in touch with our humanity, and see that these people are exactly that. People, with hopes and dreams and families. People who love their children as much as we love ours and just want a place to put them to sleep that’s safe and secure every night. We need to realise how lucky we are to be living in a safe place, where the threat of violence and war is not a continual reality in our lives, and that we are lucky to be safe and NOT more deserving.
That little 3-year-old boy certainly deserved more. Today I am ashamed to be Australian, and I do not say that lightly.
Enough is enough.