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What is wrong with us?

Trigger warning: Drowned Child from Syria ahead.

Fair warning, this is not going to be a happy post; this going to be a sad, angry, and impassioned rant. This is going to be an expose’ on the giant bucket of sand people seem to have been collectively burying their heads in for nigh on fifteen years.

During the week, the world’s eye’s were opened by the release of this picture.

The image of this innocent child who’s life had been tragically cut short shocked the world into realising just how dire the situation in the middle east is. Eastern European Nations are buckling under the pressure of refugee’s fleeing violence in Syria. Transport networks are being shut down to stem the flow and camps are being set-up to house the thousands upon thousands of people crossing the borders of Europe. Tens of thousands of displaced people are beginning the literal long walk to safety as they travel westward from countries like Hungary and Greece.

In response, the people of Western European nations have come forward to tell their governments that they want action, and a few of them have listened. Germany expects to take in 800,000 refugee’s this year, nearly 1000 refugee’s for every 100,000 Germans. Sweden, a nation of only ten million, took in over 300 refugee’s per 100,000 last year, before the crisis even hit full steam. Countries like Malta and Switzerland already take in around 200 refugee’s per 100,000 citizens and this number will surely grow as the figures for 2015 start to trickle in.

 So what am I so mad about?

Surely this outpouring of support and compassion is a wonderful thing to behold. Nation’s opening their doors and welcoming those most in need should be an uplifting sight to witness and it is.

But it presents a stark and depressing contrast…

Do you want to know how many refugee’s we settle per 100,000 citizens?

60…

We should be ashamed of ourselves…

 But that’s not even the worst part.

Do you want to know what is? In Australia, we’ve seen that photo before. We saw it here, we saw it here, oh yeah and we saw it here all the way back in 2001 with the Children Overboard fiasco.

So what’s our excuse?

We turn these people away or we lock them up in prison’s. We abuse them and take away their basic human rights. We even break international law and engage in the same people smuggling activities that our Government Claims to be so vehemently against.

And all in the bullshit name of keeping these people ‘safe from people smugglers’.

 We think we know better, but we don’t.

Our government claims that our tough border stance is to keep refugee’s safe. We play along with the collective delusion that the people we literally turn away from our door are somehow being taken advantage of by people smugglers. We buy into this bullshit narrative that these people are being forced or tricked onto these rickety old boats that were never designed to make the kind of voyage they face. When faced with an image like the one we saw earlier, our politicians cry out about how that would never have happened if Europe had adopted Australian style border protection.

And do you know what, technically they’re right… but the kid would still be in Syria.

You know, this fucking place!

These people that are coming to our country by whatever means available are not stupid people. Most of them are well educated, relatively wealthy, and hard working. They throw away literally everything; their entire lives, every scrap of every worldly possession they have ever worked for, just for a chance to start it all again in a country like Australia.

         "You have to understand, no one puts their children in a boat, unless the water is safer than the land"

This verse from British-Somali poet Warsan Shire nails it.

They know EXACTLY what they’re getting themselves into. They know when they make the run for the Syrian border that they might get caught and killed. They know when they meet with the dodgy people-smugglers in some back alley of Jakarta that they can’t trust them. They know when they see the fifty-year-old boat bobbing up and down at the pier that it might not make the trip to Australia.

But they still climb aboard, they still strap their kids into life-jackets and they still tell them that “everything will be ok, we’re going to Australia”.

Because they believe even a chance to get away from this,

To start a new life with this,

Is worth the risk.

And who the hell are we to tell them it isn’t?


I am making a particularly strong plea today to anyone who reads this to share this post. If you’ve never shared one of our posts before and you never share one again that’s fine… but please share this one. These people need our help and we need to change the attitude of this country towards them. Please support the Light the Dark rallies being held in your local capital city.

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This post first appeared on The Sensible Centre, please read the originial post: here

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