Tribute: Nelson Mandela…

Thank you to Erica Violet Lee for posting this on facebook.

Remember that Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist by many during his lifetime, as someone who fought against
– apartheid – white supremacy – racism – colonialism – forced relocation of South African Natives from their own homelands – laws restricting South African Natives to reserves encompassing only 7% of the agricultural land – a pass system for blacks going into “white areas” of South Africa – the extreme underfunding of the education of black children compared to that of white children by the South African government
and someone who believed in
– the self-determination of African nations – the necessity of civil disobedience and armed resistance against the violent oppression of a people when other avenues have failed
Never ignore the reality or deny the legitimacy of how oppressed people are forced to fight for their basic human dignity against colonial governments, historically and presently.
Remember that Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist by many during his lifetime, as someone who fought against</p>
<p>- apartheid<br />
- white supremacy<br />
- racism<br />
- colonialism<br />
- forced relocation of South African Natives from their own homelands<br />
- laws restricting South African Natives to reserves encompassing only 7% of the agricultural land<br />
- a pass system for blacks going into “white areas” of South Africa<br />
- the extreme underfunding of the education of black children compared to that of white children by the South African government</p>
<p>and someone who believed in</p>
<p>- the self-determination of African nations<br />
- the necessity of civil disobedience and armed resistance against the violent oppression of a people when other avenues have failed</p>
<p>Never ignore the reality or deny the legitimacy of how oppressed people are forced to fight for their basic human dignity against colonial governments, historically and presently.</p>

Food banks, English classes, politics: a day with two refugee organisations

Food banks, English classes, politics: a day with two refugee organisations

In Melbourne, I visited two advocacy groups working around the clock to help refugees. They do big things with little resources in a hostile political environment, and we should listen to them

Anthony Lowenstein

Wednesday 2 October 2013 11.41 AEST

Blind compassion is killing the asylum seeker debate. While Tony Abbott entangles his new government in megaphone diplomacy with Indonesia, upsetting our biggest neighbour in the process, refugees are struggling to survive closer to home.

Vast swaths of the Australian public remain hostile towards asylum seekers, and the advocacy groups supporting them need to ask if the strategy they employed over the last decade is partly responsible for it. Accusing the bulk of Australians of racism and discrimination, a common catch-cry of the left, has done nothing except harden hearts and allow media and political elites to ramp up cruel policies towards the most vulnerable souls landing on our shores.

The previous Labor government instituted a harsh regime of dumping asylum seekers out of detention without work rights, and the Coalition is set to deepen the problem. As a result of these policies, asylum seekers require community support. But according to Sri Lanka-born Ramesh Fernandez, CEO and founder of NGO Rise: refugee survivors and ex-detainees, this is not happening nearly enough. I met him last week at his organisation’s office, a small, bustling space in the heart of Melbourne.
refugees centre Ramesh Fernandez and Nazeem Hussain. Photograph: Antony Loewenstein
As new arrivals visit Rise for legal advice on their refugee status, mass persecution continues in Fernandez’s birth country – despite the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, claiming otherwise. The Australian ran a fawning profile of Bishop last week. In it, she stated that on a trip to Sri Lanka this year she neither saw nor heard any evidence of persecution against Tamils, although statements by human rights group around the world proves the fallacy of this allegation.

Fernandez was released from mandatory detention in 2004 after spending time on Christmas Island and at the Baxter detention centre in South Australia. He says that he’s proud of the fact that Rise is the first asylum seeker organisation to be run by ex-detainees and people of non-white background. Rise is not funded by the federal government, and routinely refuses offers by the department of immigration to apply for grants.

Fernandez is outspoken and unforgiving towards the vast bulk of asylum seeker support services. Just this week, he sent out a press release damning the Uniting Church and human rights lawyer Julian Burnside for pushing for temporary mandatory detention. “Will the Uniting Church or any other organisations or community groups ever have the courage,” he wrote, “to call for humanitarian reception centres and hostels used in the past in Australia that assist in the rehabilitation of a group of people who are fleeing from situations of extreme trauma and cruelty, rather than advocating for the detention and security industry and stop compromising the lives and wellbeing of the refugee community for the sake of PR?”

The group has released a list of the companies making a fortune from privatised detention, and also didn’t spare community groups receiving federal government money, such as Anglicare, Wesley Mission and the Salvation Army.

“All human rights groups in Australia use unhealthy emotional attachment to refugees,” Fernandez tells me. “I’m against the stereotyping of refugees with sad and crying faces. White guilt is rampant, which often causes people to act to make themselves feel better rather than empowering asylum seekers. I want refugees to have a voice in this debate. I hate how refugees are often told at refugee rallies, by asylum seeker groups, “thanks for coming”, which is patronising and crazy when it’s white people saying that to brown and black people. Australia is one of the most racist nations in the world. Australia has never accepted that it has a racist past.”

Rise hosts a food bank, hip-hop concerts by asylum seekers, English classes, legal advice, publishes art and writing by refugee survivors, has a library featuring books by primarily non-white authors and a drop-in centre for children and adults. There are now 1,060 registered refugees with the group, and the need for such services has never been higher.

One of Rise’s volunteers is Nazeem Hussain, a Muslim comedian with a Sri Lankan background who performs with the group Fear of a Brown Planet and is the star of the SBS skit-show Legally Brown. Hussain tells me, “I grew up in a community of refugees and Rise is the only group I know that has the understanding of what they’re going through. Too many people are involved in the asylum seeker movement to feel good about themselves instead of helping refugees. Australia has a huge problem with racism, affirmed by both major sides of politics. The intervention against Indigenous people in the Northern Territory is mostly ignored because the racism is accepted.”

Over in west Melbourne, I visit the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). Community team leader Jana Favero shows me around the three story office building. She fears the coming three to six months under the Abbott government will tighten the noose around refugee rights and reduces their ability to source legal and community care. ASRC’s funding is mostly from private donations and philanthropy, with only 5% from the Victorian government, which ensures they’re not at Canberra’s mercy.

Favero worries that the “Abbott government could put pressure on the immigration department to discontinue our mostly good relationship between us and them, helping individual refugee cases.” ASRC never has enough money for the daily assistance in food, legal advice, housing, english and children’s classes and job hunting (for refugees allowed to work). Thousands of asylum seekers remain in limbo, on visas that don’t allow them full rights and unsure when that status will change, if ever.

Every day, volunteers cook up a lunch meal for up to 150 asylum seekers with donated food. Refugees have access to a large storage room for food, soap and healthcare products thanks to a needs-based points system. Refugee families are also given assistance in cooking healthy meals. During my visit, I meet Hazara men and women, African asylum seekers and, since it was during school holidays, a few rampaging kids. ASRC becomes an unofficial child care centre at various times during the day, and its office now opens into the night a few times a week to cope with the huge demand for services.

The ASRC’s Pamela Curr worries that the new federal government will only increase the secrecy around asylum seekers, a policy ably challenged by the Australian’s Mark Day this week. “I know of government-backed contractors signing confidentiality agreements and NGOs forcing staff with poor english to sign agreements with no legal standing”, Curr says. “They claim that speaking out in the media is not the way forward, private engagement with the immigration department is better, but it’s not born out by the facts.” One year after the re-introduction of off-shore processing, she despairs as she still hears stories of young men being raped and abused on Manus Island.

Resistance to the Coalition’s policies, coupled with outlining viable alternatives, is surely the best way to reform Australia’s dysfunctional relationship with asylum seekers.

Out of the Scar: Diaspora and the Cultural Politics of Reconiliation

An important article relevent too to Australia

Out of the Scar: Memory, Diaspora and the Cultural Politics of Reconciliation (via Ground Views)

Photo courtesy INSI Notes of a talk at the Sydney Reconciliation Forum, August 17, 2013 there is an unexploded land mine heart in us under every breast chest waiting for breath tears a moan to crack the land open and let the stories come walking out…

Continue reading

A Gungalidda grassroots perspective on refugees

borderlandse-journal Volume 1 Number 1, 2002


A Gungalidda grassroots perspective on refugees
and the recent events in the US

Gungalidda Elder

1. Not all Aboriginal people agree with the views on asylum-seekers expressed by ATSIC bureaucrat Marion Hansen (C/T, 22/9/01). I wonder if working for the Government has affected her views. People working for the Government have a job to do, but maybe she is just saying what the government wants to hear. Maybe she is talking about the views of those Aboriginal people who have believed the myths the government has put out about the asylum seekers.

2. But we know that what the Government says about Aboriginal Peoples is wrong, so we are not going to believe similar statements like “the asylum seekers will take Australian’s jobs.” These are just myths to turn the public against refugees in the same way that public sentiment has been whipped up against Aboriginal people and their rights.
If we as Aboriginal people are true to our culture and spiritual beliefs, we should be telling the government that what they are doing to refugees is wrong! Our Aboriginal cultures do not allow us to treat people this way.

3. I am a grassroots Gungalidda Elder and I happened to be up in the Gulf of Carpentaria attending a funeral when it came over the radio that the Tampa people had arrived at Christmas Island. It was very disturbing to hear what was happening to those refugees. All of us old people were so sad about the refugees on the Tampa. We have our own issues to deal with but the refugees are fleeing hunger, deprivation, persecution and war. And now they are caught up in a situation with the Australian Government in which they are powerless.

4. The refugees were coming here, to OUR country, which we as Aboriginal people have a spiritual connection to. Our culture teaches us that we are all connected, to the land and to everybody else. Our Spirit Creator and our ancient law and culture would not stand for how these refugees are being treated. But no-one will listen to us. (Except the Greens. They realise what’s happening to this land.)

5. So it saddens me when I hear any Aboriginal person stand up and talk about money before human need. Ms Hansen is talking about the “money side” of the asylum seekers arriving, but my Gungalidda people were talking about the human side. We should be talking about human need first and realise we have a roof over our heads, we know where food’s coming from. Those people were out on the water. The old women where I come from said “Look at this big river, where we’re fishing, look at this big land.”
There’s room for all of us, if we learn to live simply, within our country’s means. This land is crying out for us to stop being so materialistic. We should be learning our lesson. Cutting down on the way we live, saving the land and embracing others in need. Giving them refuge. This is a spiritual country and we are a spiritual people, we are ready to embrace other people in their need. We should only be using the things we need to survive, and not keeping everything for ourselves, and living well at other people’s expense.

6. Before Europeans came here, (illegally), in the Aboriginal world, we were all different, speaking different languages, but we all had the same kinship system for all human beings, in a spiritual way. Our religion and cultural beliefs teaches us that everyone is a part of us and we should care about them. We can’t separate ourselves from other human beings – it’s a duty.

7. The first thing we have to stand by is our belief of caring for each other. People can come here, if they respect our land, and treat our land as it should be treated. And if they don’t interfere with us, and if they respect our differences, because we’ve been interfered with enough!

8. I am appalled that even as I write this, laws are being made in theParliament, to keep refugees away from this land. I always wanted to believe that the majority of people in Australia weren’t racist, but the polls supporting John Howard’s actions against the refugees have showed me that I was sadly mistaken. John Howard’s popularity jumped, but I can see that he is doing to the refugees the same things that have been done to
Aboriginal Peoples. I can identify with what is happening to the refugees, especially to the Moslems.

9. As a black woman I recognise the racism and arrogance that is projected against the refugees – because that same racism and arrogance has been directed against us for over 200 years. We know what it’s like to suffer religious persecution, because we have not had freedom since we were invaded.

10. I believe we are all from the human race and we should take heed of the great evil that happened in New York and Washington and let it be a global warning to all of us. I see the hungry children of the Middle East and Africa (and the people dying of preventable and treatable diseases), on television; they are starving, living in 3rd and 4th world conditions, sick and dying slowly. There is little difference between sudden death (even
though I don’t condone what happened at the WTC for a minute) and the slow deaths of the children of Afghanistan, Iraq and other poor countries. In fact, if anything, a sudden death is a kinder death than living a life of hell on earth, and wondering when the powerful of the world will recognise the humanity of those suffering people.

11. Many nations live on this planet, some have enormous might and others feel powerless in the face of that might. But the wealthy countries like the US, the UK and Australia, they became rich in the first place from either taking someone else’s country, or from what they took from the poor countries, and now they have to take stock. Instead of being just all out for themselves, and causing so much suffering in the world, they need to be honest and admit what they are doing to other human beings. Then we can turn this great evil into something good.

12. I see this as an Elder from the Gungalidda Nation. The wealthy countries have to start respecting everybody, even if they are different and start treating everybody as a human being. This journey, from the cradle to the grave is too short not to embrace other people in need. We shouldn’t be turning people away, on the high seas, putting their lives in danger and the lives of their children. We should feel ashamed at what has happened to those refugees. They came from war-torn countries, and had to flee through no fault of their own. They are different to us, with different languages, different religions and different cultures. But they should be accepted as equally important to us because they are human beings.

13. And Bush, he is a loose cannon. Australia is a little country mindlessly playing “follow the leader”. If we follow the US we will destroy ourselves as surely as the US is destroying itself. Bush thinks he can reach to the sky with his missiles but he can’t even see hungry children right in front of his eyes. He is disconnected to other people’s suffering.

14. Remember, Bush is the world “leader” who had the arrogance to refuse to sign the Kyoto protocol. He said he was going to put the US economy before the global environment. But his words are the words of a fool, because if he destroys the planet, where is he going to get jobs for the people of the US?

15. What will happen to the economy of the US then? And remember, the US recently walked out of the UN World Conference Against Racism and refused to listen to any criticism of US foreign policies.

16. In regards to the people who did the bombing in the US, we have to think about what could have made them so angry and desperate. Desperate people can be driven to desperate acts when they are not treated equally and their needs are not taken into consideration by the wealthy countries of the world.

17. I can understand their feelings because Aboriginal Peoples have never been accepted in this land, even though it is OUR land. We have never been treated as equals. I will finish by reminding everyone that this is not John Howard’s country, it has been stolen. It was taken over by the first fleet of illegal boat people. We need to remind the world that the Aboriginal people who have stayed true to themselves, to their land and to their spiritual beliefs do not have the same views about refugees, about the US or about a war of retribution that John Howard does.

The URL for this document is:

Open Letter to K Rudd from Ray Jackson ISJA



Social Justice

1303/200 Pitt Street
Waterloo NSW 2017 Phone: (02) 9318 0947
Mobile: 0450 651 063

Indigenous Social Justice Association


Kevin Rudd August 5, 2013
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2601



Your personal act, but on behalf of the Federal ALP, to abrogate our Human Rights responsibilities relative to the UN Declaration on Refugees has now pushed this Country and its Society over the top and we stand bare and alone in shedding our collective decency as the now apocryphal “Land of the Fair Go.” Well, at least for some it was. It has never been for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Preamble History

The invasion of the Aboriginal Nations that began in January, 1788 continues to this day but after time it also allowed, under statute, a xenophobic and racist Law that was used against my peoples and immigrants/refugees, especially if they were not white in a social understanding. This was, of course, known as the ‘White Australia Policy.’

If you were Asian, Negroid or Muslim, like the Aborigines you were not to be trusted or favoured with any humanity. On some occasions however they were treated somewhat better as they did not own the Traditional Lands of this country known as Australia.

History shows us that such a Policy caused basic problems for the Governments of the time as such a large land mass required populations to fill it but the major source of desired immigrants, from the UK or the USA, were too minimal to make the country ‘safe’ from the hordes to the north of us. Post WW2, the then-ALP Government trawled through the refugee camps in Europe to boost our numbers. No Asians, Negroids, or even Jews were to be accepted in an attempt to keep the Nation as Christian and just off- white as possible.

I well remember the ‘fair-go’ Aussies, with a smile as false as a political promise, waving to the crowd of immigrants looking over the ship’s side as it docked at Woolloomooloo whilst calling them “balts, reffoes, dagoes, wogs, all with an expletive deleted. The immigrants waved back at the welcoming Australians. We still had the WAP very much in practice.

Gradually over the intervening years these immigrants, in the main, semi-integrated, but kept their own culture much to the chagrin of those lucky enough to be born here. Milk bars generally became Greek owned and run but cooked and served only Australian-type meals whilst the fruit and veggie shops seemed to be owned and run by our Italian families. Selling only Australian fruit and vegetables of course. We seemed to have always had the feast of Chinese restaurants dotting our towns and suburbs but they had been here for many many years and were suffered in some culinary silence.

Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders were no longer perceived as dying out so assimilation continued by the taking of, mainly, those kids considered to be half-castes and the continuation of the Missions.

The next need to populate this country with non-Aboriginals was again raised when we were force-fed the propagandism of the ‘Red Peril’ that consisted of Russia, China and Vietnam and the Destroyer of all Democracy, the Domino Theory, that placed our pitiful population numbers at a very distinct disadvantage to the Asian billions who, we were told, lusted for “our white women, our land and all its riches.’ Perhaps even more so when the Dutch were thrown out of Indonesia and millions and millions of Muslim-practicing people also became tagged as a part of the Domino. All that ethnic and religious weight pressing down upon White Australia! What to do?

Then, blessedly, came 1972 and after 26 years of an all-smothering conservatism we nearly became a Nation we could be proud of. Gough Whitlam ceased our shameful involvement in the Vietnam War and brought the troops home. Like the Korean War, also known as the Forgotten War, there was none of the jingoism raised after the First and Second World Wars. They had been for King and Country whilst Korea and Vietnam were Asian Wars in Asia that allowed PM Bob Menzies twice to blame the Red Menace that would imperil Australia if we did not enjoin our soldiers to die there, defending us.

The Vietnam War was brought to an inglorious finale by the victory of the Ho Chi Minh northern forces. That subsequently placed Australia in a difficult situation as a second wave of boats came here with people looking for a better and quieter life. The first was from 1788 until aircraft also became possible. No boats had arrived from Korea so it was with great consternation by the Governments when literally thousands of mostly South Vietnamese but some Cambodians also who had assisted the foreign armed forces began hitting our shores. The Refugee Convention, as you would be well aware, was published in 1951 and Australia signed it in 1954 along with added updates.

By the time of these immigrants or refugees or asylum seekers our PM of the time was one Malcolm Fraser. The arguments from those who still believed that we were a ‘White and Christian country’ were many. Newspaper Editors and Columnists thundered their racial beliefs and doomsday prophecies of the end of life and the world as they knew it. Fraser however was made of a more humane make-up. Whilst he was a Conservative he also showed rare flashes of being truly liberal-minded and accepted the asylum seekers for what they really were despite the racism and discrimination shown to them.

Fraser’s main concern was to stop the accidents at sea and the threat of pirates in the China Sea. To do that he ordered his Department of Immigration to go to the Asian camps and take over 50 000 legitimate refugees from those camps. Once a working and more humane solution was found the boats trickled to virtually nothing. I am fairly sure that the term ‘people smuggler’ was rarely, if ever, used. They were, after all fleeing from one of our assisted wars. All he done really was to honour Australia’s signing of the Refugee Convention and put it into practice but he had the fortitude to do it. They survived and added well to the multiculturalism of this country.

I make no apologies for the length of the Preamble History but the true history of the ‘Boat People’ needed to be put.

And now to a more relevant and modern colonialist history.

I could spend hours typing out the human rights abuses of the Howard Government, especially, followed by both Labor and Coalition Governments straining every fibre of their immorality to outdo Howard in his historic struggle to maintain a ‘white-anglo-saxon-protestant’ Australia. You have heard all the arguments, the dialectics, the pleas of compassion that merely fall on stony ground. How two such ‘Christian’ Leaders such as you profess to be and Tony Abbot can act in such a non-ethical and anti-human manner to people seeking legal asylum is beyond my logic or credibility. People, Kevin, not ‘boat-people.’ Do either of you ‘pray’ for the drowned? The Muslim, the Buddhists, the Others? I truly wonder.

To do so would be to purposefully enter into a fool’s mission and I do not consider myself to be such. Nor do I think for one nano-second that the views I am about to put to you will make any difference to the views of Governments and those whose views are concreted in to their racist and xenophobic minds.

The Aboriginal Nations were invaded and then colonized over some 225 years but the colonisation is still very much on foot. Colonial actions and deeds have for most of that time been directly aimed at the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders to authorize and legalise the theft of Land and resources. Among many other Human Rights criminal acts that I will not allude to. You, Kevin, also alluded to them a few years ago.

The Colonialism of Race was initially epitomized by the White Australia Policy that was not only used as a faux-legal argument against Aborigines but also against those immigrants who most certainly did not meet the strict ethnic cleansing that was required to keep out Asians, Afghani, Pacific Islanders (who were the original slaves of Queensland’s sugar plantations, among other areas), and mostly from those countries that had been invaded and subjugated by England. WASP’s yes but others no!

It was of course Gough Whitlam who ended that Policy but only on paper. No one can legislate against racism and discrimination. Even with all our good Laws against racism, discrimination and hate crimes it still continues to the present day. One cannot expect the Policy to just disappear just because Gough said so. It had been in place for about 184 years and still remains to this day. Governments at all levels still continue with enacting such legal trickery as is required to maintain their assumed powers of the Stolen Lands.

When one looks with an unjaundiced eye, it becomes quite clear that cruel and crass acts of Colonialism also manifest themselves when Governments, in an ethnic and racial panic, look to such acts to address what they see as an explosion of asylum seekers from the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka and the many wars in Africa. Refugees are fleeing Iran, Pakistan, Burma, because of the Human Rights abuses happening in those countries, among others.

Religious persecution continues apace between different believers, even down to the bloody genocide between different sects within religions. I trust you and Abbot pray for them.

When John Howard came to power in 1996 he took special interest in the asylum seeker issue. He recognised that the people seeking refuge were not ones that would easily assimilate into ‘the Australian way’ so special processes needed to be put into place to attempt to decrease the number of arrivals. Australia attempted to put its Colonial mindset to the problem and began to badger and bully Indonesia to take “their’ responsibility seriously and save Australia from its racial dilemma.

Over the years as Australia pleaded, begged and bought what they could, Indonesia stayed totally unstirred by what Australia expected of them. Yes, the boats were Indonesian, crewed by Indonesians (some as young as 12 from poverty stricken coastal villagers who are locked up in adult gaols in Australia), supported by the endemic corruption that swamps Indonesia but there are also what are to the Indonesian Government and people other good and sound reasons to not give entry to Australia’s asylum seekers.

It would be most presumptuous of me to lecture you on Indonesia, its Government and people. I believe however that part of the reason your Colonial bullying has failed is quite plain to see. Compared to Australia with its large land mass and a population of some 23 million, Indonesia is a tiny, tiny country made up of lots of islands and would fit into Australia many times over. Besides that Australia with its small population has a demographic density that Indonesia can only dream of. History shows their attempts to play Colonial Master in their own right by forcing both Irian Jaya or West Papua and East Timor into their archipelago so as to have more land and resources.

Indonesia is a country of some 238 million people that includes about 300 different ethnic groups but is 87.2% Muslim. As we know there is already too much ethnic and religious tension in Indonesia without them volunteering to have our asylum seekers as well. Again those with an historical mind within Indonesia do not accept Australian Government views as being to their advantage. Consider the post-WW2 struggle for independence whereby our Government of the day favoured the Dutch to remain. Another impost, among many slights and insults, as seen by them was our turning our backs on Indonesia whilst supporting the freedom call of Timor Leste, especially as Australia had agreed that East Timor should be Indonesian. Fair-weather friends indeed.

Another hypocritical tactic was to argue their humanity in wanting to stop asylum seekers coming by boat due to the ever-present risk of drownings. I believe that tragic number is now in the thousands. Australia has cried foul of Indonesia that they do not have enough boats, if any, in their southern waters to do search and rescue. That may in fact be true but they want the Indonesian Navy there to pick up the boats that Australia intends to turn back. Reports show that both Australia and Indonesia have allowed boats to sink, both arguing and apologizing that the boats are in the wrong area of their individual responsibility. I refer you to the Senate Submissions made by Tony Kevin to “A Certain Maritime Incident.”

Indonesia, because of the above statistics and their knowledge that the asylum seekers are Australia-bound asylum seekers and not Indonesia-bound asylum seekers, has made their national choice that they will do nothing to save Australia from its xenophobic embarrassment. Australia for many years has donated billions of dollars to Indonesia in aid; we have trained their armed forces to quell any civil unrest; and pushed the area as a great tourist spot. This time however the Indonesian Government and its army could not be bought. Colonialism had failed drastically.

What to do? Why go and bully-boy some other nation states, of course.

When Christmas Island and other excisions failed to stop the asylum seekers seeking legitimate refuge then Government eyes turned to Nauru, a Pacific atoll that had been mostly destroyed for its guano, and Manus Island, north of Papua New Guinea.

Nauru has no economy to speak of and was used for some 6 years to house asylum seekers, their main economy. When the detention camp was shut down about 2006 the Nauru Government complained bitterly of the economic cesspool they had been dumped in. Nauru is a fly-speck in the Pacific being only 21 square kilometers with a population of only roughly 10 000. Troubles have monstered the asylum seekers sent there and there is no need to list them as you have decided to place some 5 000 more refugees on the island. The ecological, economic and cultural damage that this will cause seems to matter not, not only to you but to any future Australian Government.

When, and if, the boats do stop what political and moral stance will be taken to assist Nauru in its future population problems? Or do we propose to assist Nauru until it sinks out of sight due to the economic whirlpool put in place by your Government, or it sinks, literally, out of sight due to climate change and rising sea levels? Not unlike the sinking of the asylum boats, will we just brace ourselves and move on by doing nothing? Your problems and that of the Opposition will have been solved. Move on, nothing to see here, move on.

Manus Island then became the next far far from Australia dumping ground. Refugees began being dumped here in 2001 until 2004 when, infamously, only one refugee remained for some 12 months before he joined the others in Australia. Money is no object, it seems, when Governments need to pay for purity of purpose. Manus is another very small island with a population of about 50 thousand on a land mass of some 2 100 square kilometers. You have stated that you wish to hide, out of sight – out of (legal) mind, some 10 000 more refugees in Papua New Guinea, somewhere. Some on Manus, some wherever in Papua New Guinea but definitely not Australia.

Both Nauru and PNG are countries very susceptible to the rattling of the bags of silver proffered by Australian Governments to allow us to dump what we see as ‘undesirables’ or ‘queue jumpers’ or ‘illegal’s’. They, of course, are none of these. Under the UN Declaration on Refugees they have every International Human Right to seek comfort and refuge here in Australia. In our name, apparently, you and the Gillard Government have made sickening submissions to the UN to either change the Declaration to allow Australia to abrogate its responsibilities in this refugee area, or worse perhaps, to water down the Human Rights that are integral to the Declaration to allow all Nations to participate in these Colonialist politics. Shame! And not in my name, Kevin!

The bags of silver, and now gold, were rattled at other Nations but to their eternal credit Timor Leste said an emphatic no. Like Indonesia, they too have long memories of the absolute fickleness of Australian Governments due more to oil rather than Human Rights.

In total desperation we even approached Malaysia, another Muslim country, to allow us to enter into a mathematical conundrum of major proportions. We would take 2 000 of their legitimate refugees from their camps if they would accept 800 of our unwanted refugees in return! Just incredible! But even this scheme was open to mutation and interpretation in its actual process. Both countries would choose the make-up of the numbers and no real time frame was put in place. Legally this numeric abomination was knocked back and could not go forward. Malaysia was preferred by the Gillard Government (it is after all easy to get around pesky High Court Decisions by legislating for what you want. A la Howard and his Ten Point plan.)

The Opposition wanted Nauru and Manus and very restrictive visas and so, as the boats continued to sink, both sides stood obstinate that only their draconian answers were the right ones. Children, women and men drowned whilst our legislators played out some macabre nightmare of each calling the other as being more responsible for those deaths than they were. Months of such disgusting and demeaning behavior continued, each side sinking lower in their attempts to stop legitimate refugees from seeking asylum in this country.

Those truly lucky to reach this country then found themselves to be labeled as criminals for fleeing persecution and death, for attempting to save their family members and themselves from persecution and death, for reaching out for a new and better life in what yourself and Abbott continue to call ‘the country of the fair go.’ My stomach churns each time such terms, including ‘the Australian way’, becomes a platitudinous sop as a form of moral balm to stop the racist and Colonialist itch.

It was Invasion and the consequent Colonialism that has created for most Australians what I term, the white-blindfold-view of the real history of this country. As Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders we continue to struggle with that enforced legacy but I fail to see how History will deal with the Politicians of Australia, with some too few exceptions, on their collective actions when dealing with their Colonialism, racism and xenophobia. Other than to place you with other War Criminals for their Human Rights Crimes, even to Hate Crimes.

I do not expect an answer to this open letter from you. I do not expect that your policies, or the Opposition policies, in the refugee area will change at all. So why write it then? I do so Kevin because although I believe in no god I do believe in a higher innate human power and you and others have trashed that for far too long. I am further insulted and denigrated that you Politicians even believe you have any moral right to say who can and who cannot come to this country, to the Aboriginal Lands of the Aboriginal Nations. Always was, always will be Aboriginal Land. Your disgusting premise is built on theft and Genocide so perhaps it should not come as too much of a surprise that you wish to force it upon others outside of your ethnic and religious kind.

To me, and to many others, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, we have one very clear and simple message to give to ‘our representatives’ in Canberra and that is to loudly confirm that Refugees are welcome here. From whence ever they come.

You Parliamentarians do not speak in my name!


Ray Jackson