Vigil update september 25 2013

Setting up the vigil this evening I felt sad.  Knowing that people are being forcibly deported from detention centres to certain death or political imprisonment or some other form of disappearance.  Knowing that this has been going on for a while and that these disappearances enacted by the Australian Government will not only continue but increase. And done in secret. And knowing that over the past weeks – since the election it seems – fewer and fewer people are stopping at the vigil, fewer people seem to be engaging. I may be wrong – this is only an observation from where i sit on the Castlemaine Market Building Steps – but it worries me.

THe ABC reported that in Darwin Vietnamese Police were allowed into the Detention Centre and it has been reported that a group of Asylum Seekers ‘ was questioned by Vietnamese police for several hours last month, and some were accused of treason.  DASSAN spokesman Rohan Thwaites said they had now been told by Immigration that they were not allowed to apply for asylum.’

‘”Several people from the Wickham Point Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin have indicated that the Department of Immigration has told them that they can be returned to Vietnam against their will with 72 hours’ notice,” Mr Thwaites said.

“And they believe that 72 hours may start today.” ‘


Sri Lanka surged ahead to become the top country of origin for those referred to Freedom from Torture (UK) for clinical services in 2012.

Sri Lanka also accounted for 80% of the backlog of UN Working group on disappearances cases and the Sri Lankan government refuses to allow the UN working group on disappearances into the country to make any investigations relating to these cases.

Australia has forcibly deported over 1000 Sri Lankan asylum seekers, mostly Tamil, back to danger in Sri Lanka in just a year without allowing them to seek asylum.
Sri Lanka is hosting CHOGM 2013 (Commonwealth Heads of government meeting) and Human rights watch has released a statement asking Commonwealth heads of government not to attend the meeting. Australian Prime minister Tony Abbott has said he will be attending this meeting.

I fear what it seems is becoming acceptable, or has already become acceptable, in Australia in terms of the withdrawal of human rights for particular groups of people;  the outright collaboration of the Australian Government with the war criminals of other countries; their active support of the genocide of certain groups from countries other than Australia who have fled  to try to find safety here; and the furthering of genocidal practices and policies toward Australia’s First Peoples. These too are war crimes. For me this brings with it not only horror but a deep deep sadness.

I wonder whether people are engaging less because of a sense of despair and helplessness, of sadness, or whether it is something else? And today i wondered whether the vigil is contributing anything…. I thought ‘maybe I’ll ask people to let me know what they think – whether they see any point in the vigil or not’? I did come up with something though and that is that of course the vigil is important – and more and more important as information is kept from the public, as refugees are kept further from view – as forgetting and denial are actively cultivated. THe vigil at least keeps us from forgetting.

But yes I’d like to know what others think in terms of the value of the vigil…. Would appreciate some feedback.

And finally – As I was packing up the vigil tonight Zeph came along. He asked how I was? And i told him … ‘Sad’. And he gave me some words that went something like this: ‘Allow your sadness, try to be with it, just touching it gently as if with a feather’. These are not his exact words and his held something i don’t feel i have captured here but nonetheless i left tonight with a sense not only of sadness but of tenderness and the gentle touch of a feather. Thank you Zeph.

I send out tenderness, tears and the touch of a feather to all those who are suffering, who are afraid, despairing, hurting, alone, imprisoned, and being deported.

Janet Galbraith

3 thoughts on “Vigil update september 25 2013

  1. Pingback: Vigil update september 25 2013 | Castlemaine Vigil in Recognition of Aboriginal Sovereignty & in Solidarity with Refugees

  2. I join you in the sadness I feel each day as we seem powerless to protect people from the horror of our government. I seem to feel what I guess people in Nazi Germany would have felt, what can I do. You are doing someone with the vigil and I encourage you to continue. I do love to read the beauty and gentleness of your thought and words. Please take heart that there are people who care. Best regards John Regan

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