Tag Archive: accountability


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A hollow grief, a hallow grief

We light candles in defiance of the darkness
raising our lights high to honour those voices silenced and stories untold
mine goes out.
A small enough gesture and mine is snuffed out before
it can transmit its’, however fragile, beacon of hope.
Discouraged, I lower my arm and my head but
a hand, bearing a lighter, comes into my view.
We each have that power – to share the light we have.
I had forgotten but this stranger reminds me:
the fellowship isn’t only with the Other but each other too.
Touched by grief, I don’t immediately move away following the vigil
a Chinese international student approaches to ask in broken English:
“Why do these people gather here this way?”
I try to explain but realise asylum “seeker” evokes Potteresque imagery
I let it lie – elusive to gain, as much to do with luck as skill,
glittering just out of reach… there are worse metaphors.
“You all show much courage”, she says.
“How’s that?” I ask.
“In China, this would never be allowed.”
What seems little enough… not nearly enough…
is to this person unthinkable
and I am confronted by my privilege to be here.
She moves off and a man joins me on the library lawn
“The powers you must overcome…
they would keep you from expanding.”
He lights a cigarette.
“They are going backwards, except,
it seemed backward even the first time”
he sighs looking around, “It is little enough”.
It is little enough.

Tonight on the anniversary of the “Regional Resettlement” initiative 55 vigils are taking place across Australia. It is little enough. It is something…

 

Messages from Manus

Timeline: Four years of abuse

19 July 2013: Then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announces a new “Regional Resettlement Arrangement” with Papua New Guinea (PNG) so Australia can buy its way out of its ethical responsibilities. From this day forward anyone seeking protection and safety in Australia who arrive by boat will be forcibly transferred to PNG for processing and, if they are found to be refugees, be permanently settled there.
19 July 2013: The announcement causes distress amongst the people warehoused in detention in Nauru with peaceful protests escalating into violence.
3 August 2013: The Australian Government signs a new memorandum of understanding with Nauru similar to its Regional Resettlement Arrangement with Papua New Guinea.
17 February 2014: 23-year-old Reza Berati is murdered, and over 60 others injured, some of them seriously, on Manus Island. Numerous witness reports state Reza Berati was attacked by a group of G4S staff and at least one local staff member employed by The Salvation Army. Several eyewitnesses reported that one attacker picked up a large rock and hit Reza Berati on the head with it several times.
5September 2014: Hamid Khazaei, who was only 24 years old dies from a sepsis infection three weeks after he cut his foot at the detention centre on Manus Island. Inadequate medical care and delayed medical evacuation were later reported to have let to to Mr Khazaei’s death.
26 September 2014: The Australian and Cambodian governments sign a deal under which people on Nauru who are found to be refugees are to be resettled in Cambodia.  This second deal again allows Australia to buy its way out of its ethical responsibilities.
18 November 2014: Then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announces that asylum seekers who have registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Indonesia after 1 July 2014 will no longer be able to be resettled under Australia’s humanitarian program.
5 December 2014: bill passes both Houses providing the Immigration Minister with the power to detain people at sea (including outside Australia’s jurisdiction) and send them to other countries or vessels, even without the permission or knowledge of those countries.
20 March 2015: The report from independent review into allegations of sexual abuse on Nauru is released detailing reports of women being raped and allegations of children being sexually assaulted.
20 March 2015: A boat carrying 46 Vietnamese asylum seekers is intercepted by Australia. Its passengers are held at sea for nearly a month and undergo “enhanced screening” before being returned to Vietnam on 18 April.
28 May 2015: Thousands of men, women and children seeking protection are abandoned at sea in what is now known as the Andaman Sea ‘boat crisis’. Regional governments eventually agree to allow the boats to land but then Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s callous response to Australia offering safety is “nope, nope, nope”.
4 June 2015: Nine months after the $55 million Cambodia deal, four refugeesarrive in Phnom Penh from Nauru. All of these people subsequently choose to return to their countries of origin, despite the fact that all four were found to have well-founded fears of persecution.
1 July 2015: The Australian Border Force Act takes effect making it a crime punishable by two years’ imprisonment for medical professionals, educators and others contracted by the Australian Government to speak about what they see in offshore detention.
5 October 2015: The Nauruan Government announces that the Regional Processing Centre will operate under an open centre arrangement.
29 October 2015: Amnesty International Australia publishes a report revealing evidence that Australian officials paid boat crews to return peopleseeking asylum to Indonesia.
8 November 2015: Fazel Chegeni, an Iranian refugee detained in Christmas Island Detention Centre, is found dead after escaping the centre.
19 February 2016: Australia again rejects the standing offer from New Zealand to accept 150 people from Nauru or Manus Island, failing to provide sensible, durable solutions for the people trapped there.
21 February 2016: Baby Asha, a one-year old who was transferred along with her family from Nauru to Brisbane Lady Cilento Children’s hospital for medical treatment is released into community detention. This came after the doctors at the hospital refused to discharge Asha after the completion of her treatment, fearing she would be transferred back to Nauru.
23 March 2016: At the Ministerial Bali Process meeting a declaration was released (the Bali Declaration) which for the first time identified the need toprovide protection to refugees in the region.
15 April 2016: A refugee in Nauru is convicted of attempted suicide, which was recognised as a crime in Nauru at the time.
26 April 2016: PNG’s Supreme Court rules that the transfer and detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal.
26 April 2016: Omid Masoumali, a refugee living in Nauru for three years sets himself on fire. After more than 24 hours he is medically evacuated to Australia where he dies in a hospital in Brisbane on Friday 29 April 2016.
2 May 2016: A young Somali refugee living in Nauru sets herself on fire. She is later flown to Australia by air ambulance suffering burns to 70% of her body.
5 May 2016: A boat with 12 Sri Lankan people seeking asylum who were intercepted by Australian authorities earlier in the week are screened at sea before being returned to Sri Lanka. They were reportedly arrested on arrival at Colombo airport.
10 May 2016: The Federal Court rules the Government must provide a woman,raped on Nauru, access to a safe and legal termination.
July 2016: Amnesty International’s Senior Director for research visits Nauru where she finds a system of deliberate abuse hidden behind wall of secrecy.
10 August 2016: The Guardian releases the Nauru files – thousands of leaked incident reports from Nauru detail assaults, sexual abuse and child abuse.
19 September: UN Global Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York misses opportunity to find solutions to the global refugee crisis.
17 October 2016: In a new report Island of Despair’: Australia’s “processing” of refugees on Nauru Amnesty International find that the conditions to which refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru are subjected amounts to torture.
30 October 2016: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton tries to introduce legislation to ensure anyone taken to Nauru and Manus and then resettled anywhere in the world, would never be able to come to Australia.
13 November 2016: The Government takes an extreme step in shirking responsibility byannouncing an agreement with the United States for some of the refugees in offshore detention to be settled in the US via a process administered by the UNHCR.
25 November 2016: Malaysia begins work on a pilot scheme to allow refugees from Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya minority to work in the country, which in turn reduces number of people forced to take dangerous journeys in search for a safe place to rebuild their lives.
24 December 2016: Faysal Ishak Ahmed collapses at the Manus detention centre. He dies on Christmas Eve.
31 December 2016: The Indonesian President issues a Presidential Decree for refugees which for the first time provides people seeking asylum and refugees in Indonesia with a more formal legal status.
14 April 2017: PNG Soldiers fire directly into the Manus Island detention centre putting lives at risk. 9 people are injured. No one is held accountable.  

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Per my previous post, I delayed longer than I usually might to write this up because I’ve struggled to digest and know how to respond to all I heard… I still don’t really know how to respond I think I need to trust to that unfolding, and in the meantime, for whatever it’s worth, this is some of what was in my head and heart as I left the forum…

 

I walk away cognisant of all the ways I get to walk away… the river waters’ shimmer seems more beautiful, the air more sweet, the clouds and sky more open – I see and see again the freedom that I have like a fish coming to awareness of water and knowing it for what sustains me.  If freedom is like oxygen then we are suffocating these people.

We know. Australians know. The nurses know. The guards know. The psychiatrists know. The teachers know. The politicians know. The High Court knows. The UN knows… and the asylum seekers ask: how can they know but nothing has changed? 

 

risky journey in the deep water
carried lots of dream seeds with me
but now, dream seeds I have none

replaced my name with a number
please, please, call my name

risky journey in the deep water
save their life in the deep water
but killing them on arid land

replaced my name with a number
please, please, call my name

risky journey in the deep water

call us we are your neighbours
call us we are your friends
please, call us by our names

don’t want to leave our country
if we can but live free
please, call us by our names


 

“What can I do?” asks the nurse
“What can I do?” asks the doctor
“What can I do?” asks the teacher
First do no harm.

“What can I do second?” asks the nurse
“What can I do second?” asks the doctor
“What can I do second?” asks the teacher
Take a second.
What agency, what power, what strength do you have?
Use it.

Talitha Fraser

 

What can I do?

petition ~ direct contact ~ Refugee Action Collective ~ advocacy ~ financial support ~ actions – personal/political/liturgical ~ letter(s) to politicians ~ song ~
existing campaigns e.g. GetUp or LMAW ~ use your forums and voice e.g. blog

 

 

Faysal Ishak Ahmed

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We gathered today to acknowledge and show respect to Faysal Ishak Ahmed.

We gather knowing we will do this again. We will do this again because there will be more deaths. They are preventable. This is unacceptable.  We know this will happen again because it has happened and is still happening with 23 deaths in the last two years (Australian Border Deaths Database).  Perhaps it’s feeling like there’s too many vigils, we had one just last month… to this we say “Yes. There are too many vigils.”

The origin of the word “vigil” is to do with being awake and keeping watch. We want to acknowledge the sorrow, grief and anger of Faysal’s friends and family. The other survivors of Dafur who know how few survivors there were wondering whether they might ever feel at home here. Those yet in camps on Nauru or Manus who wonder what help, what hope, might yet come for them.

Faysal, refugee – yes, and also a son, a husband, a father, a human died at 27 years of age. Today we say his name, hold his picture up – we say not only that your death meant something, but your life meant something even though we did not know you.

I imagine Jesus on his knees praying in the garden of Gethsemane wondering what help, what hope, might yet come but having some sense of inevitability about his situation asking of his companions: “Can you not stay awake and watch with me for even an hour?”.   To those waiting in the camps it must seem as though we are asleep for surely if we knew they were sick, surely if we knew they were being hurt, surely if we knew they were hungry this would not be a situation we would let continue… I hold my goddaughter in my lap, she is just starting out at school – learning to read – I imagine her asking me in years to come when this is a social studies project at school “Where were you while this was happening? Why didn’t you do something? Why did it take so long to change?” and trying to explain how it could be that some of us, so many of us, should be “asleep”. Yes he had refugee status – that didn’t seem to make a difference. The PNG government declared the camps illegal – that didn’t seem to make a difference.   The UN said aspects of Australia’s asylum seeker policies violate the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – that didn’t seem to make a difference… What will make a difference?  I overhear one woman say to another: “What people don’t understand is that to do nothing is to do something.”

 

We have met today on the Princes Bridge, I don’t know why. I look around while I wait for the formalities to begin and notice that all along the bridge is the Latin motto Vires Acquirit Eundo (the coat of arms of Melbourne) meaning ‘she gathers strength as she goes’ referring to the Roman goddess Fama or rumour personified. Following the speakers and a moment of silence, those holding flowers are invited to throw them from the bridge into the Yarra river and I realise my hope is that these vigils might gather strength as they go.

Those who are on their knees praying are asking us if we can be awake.
Those crying alone in the darkness are asking if we can stay awake with them.

Unbidden some of those at the vigil move out onto the road and block traffic on the bridge. They are asking us: “Are you awake?”

The next action calling for the camps to be closed, for the refugees seeking our protection to be given their mandated human rights, will be held on Sunday 9 April (Palm Sunday) – this is a question for people of all faiths and none: “Are you awake?”

 

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Consider looking into the Love Makes A Way movement or Refugee Action Collective for other ways to be involved and further details for the Palm Sunday event as it draws closer. I’ve drawn on inspiration from many of tonight’s vigil speakers above, thanks for your voice and advocacy.

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We are running a fortnightly bible study following our community dinner looking at the exegesis (interpretation) of the bible passages that underpin each of our community values. You can read the list of Values here so you know what’s coming up next.

These values can be relevant whatever context you live and work in just make the Word you own.


 

Value 6: Being honest about who we are

We value the humility and forgiveness required to live transparent lives in community.  We want to submit to each other in accountability and honesty, allowing Christ to use our weaknesses and failings.

Biblical basis: 2 Cor 12:9-10, 2 Cor 3:18



Let’s read the value together. What stands out?

All of those words – humility, forgiveness, transparency, submission, accountability, honesty elicit an emotional reaction – they’re strong words, they’re challenging words.

Not only are we often not rewarded  for being honest ,  we can be penalised for speaking up.  

It often requires vulnerability in the first place ‘weaknesses and failings’  are on display so then you’re open to a “hit”.

Once you start hating people it keeps going. Sometimes you have to forgive people and walk away.


 

 

2 Cor 12: 9-10

…there is no reason to think I’d end up with egg on my face if I did talk big about my own experiences. It would be the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but don’t get me started! I’d rather let my actions do the talking for me. Let me be judged simply by the value of what I teach and what I do. Any spectacular revelations I may have experienced in the past should not inflate your opinion of me.

……..And believe me, God has seen to it that they haven’t given me an over inflated opinion of myself. To balance them out and keep my feet firmly on the ground, I have been given a special gift — a real thorn in the flesh, a condition that torments me and causes great anguish in my body. Satan used it to try to derail me, but it is probably what has kept me on track. Of course I couldn’t see that at first. Three times I put everything else aside and gave all my time and energy to seeking the Lord for healing and deliverance. But the Lord said to me, “My generous love is enough for you. Your weakness clears the deck and opens you to my strength.”

……..So then, if it means that Christ’s strength will be all the more active in me, I will gladly wear my weaknesses like a badge of honour. Indeed, given the opportunity to talk about them, you can’t shut me up! So nowadays, whatever comes my way — failure, bad-mouthing, tough times, harassment, tragedy —I take it all in my stride and just allow Christ to come to the fore. You see, it is when I am at my weakest that I find the greatest strength.

 

2 Cor 3.10-4.3

The people back then were as thick-headed as the people of our own day — they could hear the words of God’s law read out, but it never seemed to penetrate their hearts and minds. It’s as though the scarf has stayed in place ever since to prevent anyone from catching sight of the glory revealed by the words. Only Christ can uncover what is hidden. It’s the same for anyone who reads the scriptures without opening themselves to the Lord for insight: it is as though the wool has been pulled over their eyes and nothing gets through but the bare words. It all changes when we turn to the Lord, though, because the Lord is a real eye-opener. The Lord and the Spirit are one and the same, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the freedom to see clearly. The wool is pulled away from our eyes and we come face to face with the glory of God. This experience is truly transfiguring! We are set ablaze by the Spirit — lit up like the Lord — so that more and more we become like mirrors reflecting the glory of God.

……..We have nothing to hide then, and no reason to lose our nerve, for God has been incredibly generous in trusting us with a share of this work. We have sworn off any methods that we’d be ashamed to have brought to light. We don’t hide behind masks; we don’t do anything shifty or manipulative; and we don’t twist God’s word to promote our own agendas. Instead, we simply lay all our cards on the table and let our integrity speak for itself. By stating it plainly and living it openly in the sight of God, we give everyone the opportunity to make up their own minds about the truth.

 

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


 

Read the bible. What words/ideas stand out?  What can we learn from the bible about living the Value: Being honest about who we are?

“We have nothing to hide then, and no reason to lose our nerve. for Go has been incredibly generous in trusting us with a share of this work…” in our current situation this feels like an important reminder – encouraging, challenging and comforting.

“To balance them out and keep my feet firmly on the ground, I have been given a special gift – a real thorn in the flesh…”  radical idea to reach for, being grateful for the thing that gives you pain and seeing it as a gift. Thanks… thanks SO much for this pain.

“…failure, bad-mouthing, tough times, harassment, tragedy – I take it all in my stride and just allow Christ to come to the fore” Paul was a bit smug wasn’t he?

Sometimes to try to please people we can try to be something we aren’t but we have to be true to ourselves.

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The reference in the passage to the scarf/wool being over our eyes and nothing being able to get through felt like a good excuse to pull out the veil I made – “…wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the freedom to see clearly. The wool is pulled away from our eyes and we come face to face with the glory of God… we are set ablaze… lit up… we become like mirrors reflecting the glory of God.

These layers of the veil represent some of what I need to peel back (expectations, tradition, learned/taught behaviour, fear…) to be living as I was made to be.

What stops us from being able to be transparent?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity: The People’s Mike

Drawing on the idea of being one body – what holds you back is what holds me back. The People’s Mike is an exercise in naming and holding together.  As people call out words (anyone can have a go), the rest of the people in the crowd repeat the word in chorus affirming the speakers truth (perhaps our own) and confessing our own culpability because what harms you harms me – what is holding us back from being honest about who we are? What are we afraid of? One person calls it out and then we all repeat it together in chorus.

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Similarly, what leads one of us to wholeness might lead us all,  what makes it easier to be transparent? What helps us to feel ok about being honest about who we are? One person calls it out and then we all repeat it together in chorus affirming the speakers truth (perhaps our own) and calling ourselves into the community we seek to create.

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Closing prayer

Dear God, we’re waiting

Let us wait with hope

We’re waiting for things to seem clearer

Let us wait with peace

We’re waiting for the world to feel safer

Let us wait with joy

We’re waiting for the love our hearts cry out for

Let us wait with love

May we be kind to one another.

May we strive to be the answers to some of our own questions.

Amen

 

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N.B. This post may be a negative trigger for survivors of physical and sexual abuse.

This morning we held a peaceful Love Makes a Way vigil outside Tim Watts office in Footscray as part of a bigger movement in response to the heart-wrenching incident reports leaked last week to The Guardian known as the Nauru Files. LMAW members and friends from a wide range of asylum seeker advocacy groups converged on over 45 MP offices and Immigration Dept offices across Australia in proIMG_0648test.

Armed with paper dolls to symbolise the men, women and children
who have been abused and traumatised by offshore detention, these small groups read from the incident reports, heard poetry from former refugees and demanded the Government ‪#‎CloseTheCamps‬ and ‪#‎BringThemHere‬

Welcome. We acknowledge that we gather today, to sing and pray, on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.  

I’m sure most of you here are already across the Love Makes A Way movement and what it’s about, we don’t really have words to respond to these leaked Nauru Files. These dolls that you see here, we will be leaving them up and the reason for that is that it will mean someone here at Tim Watts office will have to physically engage in the act of taking them down. The lives of these children, or these people are in their hands. Written on some of these images are the words of case workers and people in detention centres – stories of sexual and physical abuse. We put these images here as a symbol of these people that are entrusted to our care, to our politicians care, and we don’t think they’re doing a very good job with the responsibility that has been entrusted to them.  In the tradition of the civil rights movement we want to sing some songs that inspire and speak to the world we want to live in and welcome these people to join us in.

 


There is room

There is room at the table (x3)
Bring them here, let them stay.

There is room at the border (x3)
Bring them here, let them stay.

There is room in our hearts (x3)
Bring them here, let them stay.

There is hope for a new tomorrow (x3)
Bring them here, let them stay.

We say love makes a way (x3)
Bring them here, let them stay.

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Hold on (Love Makes A Way)
(tune: Keep your hand to the plough/Keep your eyes on the prize)

They are coming across the sea,
From their homes they have had to flee,
We say, love will bring them here, hold on.

We are here to sing and shout,
Why you keeping God’s children out?
We say love will let them stay, hold on.

Chorus
Hold on, hold on,
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We say welcome the refugee
We say set all the people free
We say, love will bring them here, hold on.

We have room in our hearts to care
We have plenty enough to share
We say, love will let them stay, hold on.


 

We shall bring them here
(words adapted from We shall overcome)

We shall bring them here, we shall bring them here
We shall bring them here some day
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall bring them here some day

We will not keep silent, we will not keep silent
We will not keep silent today
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe
We will not keep silent today

The truth shall make us free, the truth shall make us free
The truth shall make us free some day
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe
The truth shall make us free some day

We are not afraid, we are not afraid
We are not afraid today
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe
We are not afraid today

We shall let them stay, we shall let them stay
We shall let them stay some day
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall let them stay some day


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As I went down to Tims office to pray
(words adapted from As I went down to the river to pray)

1) As I went down to Tim’s office to pray
Welcome the refugee, let them stay
And who shall help us bring them here?
Good Lord show me the way!

O sisters let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O sisters let’s go down
Down to Tim’s office to pray

2) As I went down to Tim’s office to pray
Welcome the refugee, let them stay
And who shall call for a change of heart?
Good Lord show me the way!

O brothers let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O brothers, let’s go down
Down to Tim’s office to pray

3) As I went down to Tim’s office to pray
Welcome the refugee, let them stay
And who shall raise their voices here?
Good Lord show me the way

O mothers let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O mothers let’s go down
Down to Tim’s office to pray

4) As I went down to Tim’s office to pray
Welcome the refugee, let them stay
And who shall work for a better plan?
Good Lord show me the way

O fathers let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O fathers, let’s go down
Down to Tim’s office to pray

5) As I went down to Tim’s office to pray
Welcome the refugee, let them stay
And who shall share these boundless plains?
Good Lord show me the way

O people, let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O people, let’s go down
Down to Tim’s office to pray

6) As I went down to Tim’s office to pray
Welcome the refugee, let them stay
And who shall help us bring them here?
Good Lord show me the way


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READING — ‘HOME’ (Warsan Shire)

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as
well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin
factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases
you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of
doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem
under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport
toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going
back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the
stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles
travelled
means something more than journey.

no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they
want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.

i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a
sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i don’t know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.


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Were you there?

Were you there when they turned the boats away?
Were you there when they turned the boats away?
Ohhh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble,
Were you there when they turned the boats away?

Were you there when our nation turned its face?….

Were you there when the child was locked away?….

Were you there when the abuses came to light?…..

We will pray until love can make a way…..


 

Our hearts’ song is to close the camps and bring them here and we’ll keep singing, praying and turning up until love makes a way…

 

berrigan blog(photo credit: chedmyers.org)

(to the Plowshares 8, with love)

by Daniel Berrigan

Some stood up once, and sat down.
Some walked a mile, and walked away.

Some stood up twice, then sat down.
“It’s too much,” they cried.
Some walked two miles, then walked away.
“I’ve had it,” they cried,

Some stood and stood and stood.
They were taken for fools,
they were taken for being taken in.

Some walked and walked and walked –
they walked the earth,
they walked the waters,
they walked the air.

“Why do you stand?” they were asked, and
“Why do you walk?”

“Because of the children,” they said, and
“Because of the heart, and
“Because of the bread,”

“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

 

Reflecting these past weeks on the life and works of Daniel Berrigan who died 30 April 2016, he is now among that cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1) that ask us to ask of ourselves: “On what will you spend your life?”. I think it is fair to say that he knew something of endurance, on the cost of that he commented: “I think it’s kind of the price you pay for the bus ride”.

In his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey suggests writing your own eulogy – what do you imagine you want to hear said about you by family, friends, colleagues… are you making the choices now… living the life now… that will lead you where you want to go? …that will see you develop and grow up to be the best you can imagine? I don’t imagine Daniel Berrigan did this exercise but I do not doubt he was effective. Why did he live as he did? Make the choices that he did?

“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

What will you live for?

What makes your life meaningful will give you a meaningful life.
Do not wait until you are dying to start.

#LetThemStay

4 FEB – BREAKING: The High Court has just ruled in favour of the Government over the legality of offshore detention centres.

Right now, Peter Dutton is planning to deport 267 people seeking asylum – including 38 babies born right here in Australia – to Nauru and Manus Island: sites of scores of assaults, sexual assaults, self-harm and suicide attempts, and constant despair.

Love Makes a Way and a bunch of other refugee advocacy groups are campaigning together in response to the recent High Court decision that says that it is not illegal to send people off shore, making it more likely that the 267 on the mainland at the moment will be sent to Nauru. LMAW are inviting people to run their own non-arrestable actions in whatever way they like, using the slogan #LetThemStay.

sanctuary

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Let them in and let them stay.

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Last night I participated in a graveyard shift with the Walking for Freedom crew who were walking for 30 hours for the 30 ASIO negatively assessed refugees who are still indefinitely detained in Australia.  Largely this is awareness raising, while we will willingly acknowledge the rights and responsibilities of the ASIO to protect the local populace we are interested in what this looks like in the light of that little piece of paper called The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  People are being held, uncharged, indefinitely, without any opportunity to defend themselves. Is that OK?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has 30 Articles – here’s the first 14… apart from Article 4 (slavery)… can we honestly say that these refugees are being treated fairly and with just consideration of their human rights?  Let’s talk about it as we walk along the way… 

Article 1.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

  • No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

  • Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

  • All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

  • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

  • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

  • (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  • (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  • (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  • (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

— About the ASIO Negatively Assessed Refugees —

Australia has found these 30 people to be refugees fleeing war and persecution. However, ASIO have given these people negative clearance assessments- claiming that they may be a security threat to Australia. ASIO do not have to inform the people of why they think they are a threat. The refugees are not given any chance to dispute or explain the claims against them.

As they were granted refugee status, Australia cannot deport them to their home countries and because of their negative assessments from ASIO, they cannot be released into the Australian community.

For some it is now the beginning of their sixth year in detention. Six years of their lives have been taken from them. No one knows when they will be released.

Lest We Forget

black diggers

 

I went to see Black Diggers at the Arts Centre with a friend last night who had free tickets – profoundly moving – literally telling the story of Aboriginal people who signed up to fight in the World Wars, painting their names high, drawing on postcards and letters home and journals.  The performances were authentic because the stories were true.  Mindful of how the other entertainments we consume – TV, reality TV, Facebook, Twitter… are shallow.  I click “like” on my housemates posts but I don’t see her for meals or ask her about her day.  This is the year of the ANZAC centenary… on one hand we might imagine there aren’t many around anymore to share their stories but there are the children who might remember… as, as the play pointed out, war is still being fought – for recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander (ATSI) peoples and on foreign soil.  What are you fighting for?

A lot of us might say we’re peaceable people, not fighting for anything, but there’s a difference between conscientious objection and unconscious apathy.  You think because you are inactive you are inert but you are not.  If your ass is where your hope is an your ass is in front of the TV or the Playstation then your hope is in people and places and stories of people who do not exist… hoping another Stark doesn’t die in Game of Thrones or hoping a child doesn’t spend time in detention…

You might think, “It’s not MY problem” about the treatment of: ATSI peoples; refugees; those on Centrelink – pull one string and you will find the rest of the world attached but TV doesn’t come with any strings right? …except those that tie you to your seat immobile – bind your legs from walking in solidarity, bind your hands from helping, bind your lips from speaking out.  You have a choice to make it personal.  You are not friends with one refugee?  with one Aboriginal person?  with anyone who receives Centrelink?  …what does this say about you?  Do you spend any time with anyone who isn’t just like you?  It’s easy to be fair, inclusive, generous hey… when it’s to people just like you.  Of course you’re a good person.  You’re a good person to people just like you.

Songs and stories and names and voices… we are called to love one another.  How can you love who you do not know?  I am not unreasonable…

Move.

You heard me.  Move from your sofa at least… maybe even from your street… or your neighbourhood.  We are told the poor will always be with us and thank God for that because there is much we need to learn from them.

…Fifty years on the shrapnel works its way to the surface.  The pain will come out eventually – that needs to happen before wounds can fully heal.

How can we heal pain faster?

How can we reduce how much pain is felt?

How can we eliminate pain being afflicted in the first place?

But you aren’t in any pain are you… there in front of your TV… we should probably cut the funding to the public health care system.  No one I know needs it.  What a waste of my tax paying dollars.

Love Makes A Way

#LoveMakesAWay is a movement of Christians 10559953_648730211878959_441484897271009707_nseeking an end to Australia’s inhumane asylum seeker policies through prayer and nonviolent love in action.

A Christian movement based in seeking God, actions
are the last resort after other channels have been attempted and failed.  Invite the mainstream to engage.  Don’t care who knows we’re doing it, work behind the scenes, care whether the people who need it are being reached. Gospel tells us about the vision for the community that God envisions.  We want to find God in the eyes of those who are suffering.  In March 2014 1,138 children held in detention.  Non-violent direct action that creates tension, where people say “No way!” we want to present the opposing voice that “Love makes a way” in the civil disobedience traditions of Ghandi and Martin Luther King. We want to bring attention to how serious an issue is and communicate that the church is serious about it.  Encourage others to be bold and advocate in a stronger voice. 23 actions in 2014 – all agree children shouldn’t be in detention; care for them when they come out; rising up/mobilise church for policy change;  dialogue with faithful Christian conservative leaders.

The power, the glory are Yours – mean it.

Witness  of Christian faith.
Until we have a humane refugee/asylum seeker policy the LMAW campaign will continue.