Not in my name!

The mother of refugee rooftop protester Mehdi weeps outside the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney. Photo by Peter Boyle.

As some three hundred protestors outside the Villawood detention centre, listened to Majid Parhizkar (an Iranian asylum seeker on his sixth day of roof top protest) speak to us through a mobile phone, the  mother of another of the Villawood rooftop protestors, Kurdish asylum seeker Mehdi Darabi, stood weeping quietly in the crowd. The terrible pain on her face was there see but few Australians saw it.

Even fewer heard the words of 24-year-old Majid.

“I am very tired from everything I’ve been through at the detention centre…

“The reason why I am protesting on the roof is that I want to be free to live with my family, like any human being…

“We are human beings.

“I ask the people of Australia to support us and to support all the refugees in the detention centres.

“This is inhuman. We have been here for six days under the sun and under the rain. It has been cold and it has been hot. Without food and without toilet and no one has come to talk to us from the immigration authorities.”

It was Anzac Day, a day Australians are told when we remember those who died in war and we reaffirm “Australian values” like mateship and love for freedom.

But where were the expressions of “mateship” and solidarity for Majid, Mehdi, their families, and the thousands of asylum seekers locked up indefinitely in growing number of detention camps around Australia?

When they were not ignored, they were condemned, threatened with violence and deportation and demonised. Activists who showed there solidarity for these asylum seekers by marching on several detention camps around the country were accused of being disrespectful and “unAustralian”. Talkback radio and the comments columns of the tabloid press were awash with messages of hate for the asylum seekers and calls for even more draconian measures.

Where is the empathy and solidarity? Why is there so much hate for the small proportion of  desperate refugees from persecution and protracted wars (some of which Australia is helping wage) who have managed to come to our shores?

This hate is incited and manufactured by the big business media, the Labor government and the Liberal-National opposition. They have combined to take Australian to another moral low-point, another Tampa moment where conscience and humanity are thrown overboard.

These manufacturers of hate and heartlessness think they have the wind in their sails today. But it stinks and there are some of us who say: Not in my name. We’ll be marching the detention camps, again and again, until they are closed and all the refugees are set free.

At times like this, our duty at Green Left is clear: To keep giving voice to the voiceless, to the oppresssed and to those, like Majid and Mehdi, who are bravely protesting against gross injustice.

We need your help to play our part in this struggle. Please support our Fighting Fund by making a donation online today.

Direct deposits can be made to Green Left Weekly, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992.

Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or phone in a donation on the toll-free line, 1800 634 206 (within Australia).

YouTube video below taken by Kate Ausburn:

One Comment to “Not in my name!”

  1. It is very difficult to counteract misconceptions in the community while we live in a climate of secrecy. The Minister’s Office, DIAC and SERCO party lines are all we hear. There is zero information about life inside detention centres and nothing about the human stories of the asylum seekers locked up. The Minister says that all children are in community care. He means APODS (Alternate Places of Detention) which are little other than IDC’s with another name. No-one would agree that this is community care but he is not called to account.
    When did we become a nation that hides behind commercial in confidence agreements that do not allow free speech? Why do we put up with this?

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