I have been visiting people detained in Villawood Immigration Centre for the last two years. Every fortnight, I take the hour long trip out on Sydney’s dodgy train system, because my government has re-instituted Concentration Camps, and I simply cannot be like those in pre-War Nazi Germany who were silent or complicit. (Not that Hitler invented the concentration camp; that was Lord Kitchener, who rounded up the “undesirables” in South Africa a century ago.)
Just what on Earth do we get out of turning away desperate refugees? What do we get from locking them up on sinking islands or sending them back to countries they have already had to flee in terror of their lives? Just what do we get out of a few hundred sick people suffering indefinite immigration detention in our very own concentration camps?
Australia easily (and necessarily) absorbs tens of thousands of immigrants every year? Why do we persecute the few who have overstayed a visa or worked one hour too many while on student visa? They are such a tiny proportion, less than one percent, of our annual immigration. What on Earth do we get out of torturing a token few, wrecking the lives of them and their families, with the taxpayer paying about a hundred and fifty dollars a day per detainee to the private company with the rather Orwellian name, Global Security Limited?
Wouldn’t you want your children to believe in the values of hospitality and offering help to those who need it? Wouldn’t you want your children to believe in and value the mutual support and friendship of the whole family of humanity?
Things are always desperate in there, but there’s currently a hunger strike that has lasted over two weeks, with Chinese asylum seekers terrified of being taken away forcibly in the middle of the night (as one was last week), and handed over to the Communist regime which harvests organs from live prisoners.
Tell your MP that you want to see some family values that actually value families, not just an excuse to attack people who bonk without breeding. Tell Howard that you want Australia to honour the commitment it made in 1951, when we did “decide who comes to this country and the circumstances under which they come”, when we signed the UN International Refugee Convention. Tell Howard we want some real 1950’s values, not his hypocritical collaboration with a Communist dictatorship.
I’ll be going back to Villawood in a couple of weeks. When a young woman isolated from her family asks me why she has been locked up indefinitely in the name of the Australian people, what would you like me to tell her?