Asylum seekers arriving by boat have been subject to a great deal of controversy over the last decade, people call us queue jumpers, they call us economic migrants, they call us liars, terrorists, and many other less polite things. People have suggested that we be sent to Malaysia or Indonesia, places where we are likely to receive worse treatment and suffer human rights abuses as great as those we fled in our homelands. People also say that if we have money to pay our way to Australia, then we must be lying about the persecution we faced. People have said that the boats we are fleeing on should be blown up and all of us killed, that way “we will learn” not to come to Australia. I wonder though, if you were in my shoes, what would you have done?
I urge you to walk in someone else’s footsteps for a while and imagine what you would do if your life, or the life of someone in your family was in great danger.
Imagine you are on your way to university one day, and you are grabbed by masked men and thrown into the back of a van. You arms are bound, you are blind folded, spat on and raped. After three days you are ‘released’. You are dumped by the side of the road, and left for dead. Purely by chance you are found by a kindly old woman, who tends your wounds, and helps you find your way home.
These attacks had become common in your city. There is no point going to the police. Your friend went to the police when she was raped six months earlier, they laughed at her and called her a prostitute.
When members of the majority religious group, persecute members of the minority religious group, the police will never assist. The minority group aren’t legally allowed to live in the country, although they have no other place to go. They have no rights, no access to medical assistance or anything really…. There was a time when they did, but that was before the new government seized power. Ever since that happened it has become harder and harder for members of the minority group to live normal lives, they are slowly being intimidated out of the country, they are being harassed, beaten, and deprived of medical treatment. They are being fired from jobs they have held for years, and laws have been passed forbidding anyone from hiring them. Members of this group can no longer apply to attend university and those who were enrolled before the change of government were allowed to remain at the university if they converted.
You pretended to convert, because becoming a doctor means everything to you. Someone must have known that you pretended to convert… that was why you were attacked, and why you had been receiving anonymous phone calls, and death threats leading up to the attack.
You knew that if you stay here you will be attacked again, next time you will be raped again, imprisoned, possibly tortured and definitely murdered.
If you apply to leave the country legally, the authorities, will arrest you for being a member of the minority group. Your passport had long ago been cancelled. The only way to leave was by paying someone to secret you out of the country. This would cost $7000. As a university student, who was not legally allowed to work, you did not have a great deal of money. You looked around your small flat… This is what you leave:
Samsung Galaxy S2 Phone = $600
Sony Laptop = $1800
Car = $3000
TV = $800
Sofa set = $1000
DVD player = $100
Ipod = $268
Your grandmothers jewellery = $1000
You can sell all some of your property and make $7568
You sell your property and pay the man the money you need to pay in order to save your life…
You risk your life on a boat.
You come to Australia.
You are put in an immigration detention facility and feel like a criminal.
A person you have never met, who knows nothing of your background, your religion, your suffering, your intelligence, your desire to be a doctor and help humanity. A person who has never had to consider the lengths they would go to in order to preserve their own life says “Blow up the boats, stop refugees for coming here. They are dirty, uneducated, and rich.”
How would you feel??
Asylum seekers are not “rich, con artists” they are people like us.
Asylum seekers are not “economic migrants” they are people like us.
Asylum seekers are not “queue jumpers” they are people like us.
A refugee is a person is forced to flee their home because they have been persecuted and suffered harm on the basis of their religion, race, gender, political opinion, or membership of a particular social group (a member of a PSG could be = a homosexual, or a minor targeted by rebel forces to be a child soldier).
The content of their bank accounts is irrelevant.