I am writing with tears streaming down my face as I have just read that ‘authorities’ have decided it is not a priority to retrieve the 60 bodies of men, women and children who have drowned off Christmas island.
How much more inhumane can this country become?
Do you not have a mother, a brother or sister, a partner or dear friend? Do you not recognise in these people – so desperate for safety that they will try to endure a petrifying trip by sea to Australia – a humanness? Do you not recognise that they could be your family, your loved ones but for their ‘luck’ of being born into a different place and circumstance.
Can you sleep at night listening to the screams of the mothers desperate as their children are ripped from their arms, or drift away as their arms lose all strength to hold, to the screams of men as they watch their brothers fall into the unknown depths of the sea.
When you speak of these people, of asylum seekers, how do you live with your manipulative incriminations that you must know are not true, and are borne out of a desire to gain some imagined credit from those in this country who would not care, love or even allow themselves to imagine that these people seeking asylum are human. You yourself have watched over a government that has taken away their human rights. It is not only their humanity you deny but also your own – and ours.
Tell me, Ms Gillard, how is it that it took days before there was any attempt to find this boat of people when ‘authorities’ knew they were due days before – had even seen the boat lolling just off Christmas island, saw it wasn’t moving? How is it that these people are not afforded the dignity you would afford your family? Even those in this country who have committed incredibly violent acts have been allowed dignity in death.
How is it that your government’s approach to those most traumatised in this world is to inflict more trauma through a policy that imprisons them, punishes them for their vulnerability and their courageous attempts to survive. How has it come to this? On your watch Ms Gillard. On your watch.
You could choose to be tough, to really stand up, to show the strength of leadership so desperately needed in this country. You could choose to say ENOUGH. You could choose to place respect, integrity, strength, compassion and ‘fairness’ at the forefront of this country’s agenda. It is you who can make this choice and in doing so, save many lives, create a caring rather than violent society. It is your choice whether you lead or not. We all know you have nothing to lose – and, Ms Gillard, if you made this choice, there may be a chance that you might be re-elected. So many of us will no longer vote for a labour party with such disregard for basic human rights, a party focused on dividing communities and further marginalising the vulnerable; a party that has most definitely fallen into ill-repute and of which many are deeply ashamed.
Ms Gillard, you have taken on a heavy load in your acceptance of the role as this nation’s leader. Look into your heart, your gut and mind and LEAD. And remember, it is your choice whether we once again have blood on our hands.
Sincerely, Janet Galbraith
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