Week 1, vigil 20th June 2013

Tonight there was a larger group of us sitting in vigil. Quiet conversations creating connections and growing the courage of people’s determination to act and to speak what they know, what they feel. There were a number of people who came by to sign the petition and others who came to thank us and express their distress at the cruelty being done to refugees at the moment.

Early in the vigil some of us spoke of recognising that these ‘Detention Centres’ are not new to Australia – that this nation has a long history of imprisoning groups of people on missions, in children’s homes, internment camps and gaols and that it is important to remember this connection.

Remembering this connection allows us to recognise that this will to incarcerate specific groups of people has nothing to do with the actual people who are incarcerated. But it does have everything to do with the those who develop and enact such policies and practices, and those who support – actively or passively – the denial of human rights and the incarceration of some of the most vulnerable people in the world. It is about the growing of power at the expense of others’ lives. This says more than we recognise about Australian identity, about who ‘we’ are.

But Australia is not one. This land mass, this continent was never one nation but made up of many nations, and it still is. Within the many different Aboriginal Nations, there are many communities, histories, peoples who make up this place now called Australia. Recognising this gives hope, as ‘we’ are not defined by one notion of Australia.

Each of us can stand against dehumanisation and make it known that those in power, those who would produce an Australia of hatred, insularity and fear do not stand for all of us. We can raise our voices, become louder and louder, make a noise, stamp our feet, write to politicians, contact media, produce art work, visit those in detention, donate material goods or money, sit in vigil and make it known that we are creating something, a community, a nation of love and compassion.

I will be sitting on the steps of the Castlemaine market Building from 5pm -6.30pm tonight. Join me or pop in to sign a petition.
Janet Galbraith

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