Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What would you do?

In early 2012 I got a job as an Independent Observer working within the Immigration Detention Centres with UnAccompanied Minors (UAMs).

I sat in on over 100 different interviews, with different kids.

There were many kids who identified as coming from Pakistan and they mostly had similar stories. Fear of the Taliban, of the police, of young men reaching a certain age (about 15) and being identified as targets - you are either with us or against us.

Some of the stories were very worrying, older male relatives had gone missing but often I found myself thinking - 'what else happened? who died? Is just being scared a strong or valid enough reason for being granted asylum into Australia?'

It made me question my own ethical beliefs - how bad did it have to get before it's determined that someones life is in enough danger? Who has to die to enable you permission to come here? How many terrible things have to occur before it's acceptable for you to be called a refugee?

I know we can't accept everyone, but how can we say no - when these children have risked so much? When their parents were desperate enough to let them try? Can you imagine? Where is a safe place? Where is the future?

Then today we hear of the terrible atrocities occurring at Peshawar. A school attacked by extremists, killing so many children.

After 100 interviews I know that that the one thing these kids had in common was their desire to be safe and to get an education. EVERY kid said it. I just want an education. It is not safe in my country.

My heart burns tonight.
It burns for the mother of 3, Katrina Dawson, who could have been me, in Sydney.
It burns for the 132 students gunned down by these fucking extremists, who somehow sleep tonight, but I can only think their heads are filled with pain for they have gone beyond all that we know as humanity.
It burns for the Australians who instead of feeling compassion feel hatred, because there is no easy way back from that.
It burns for those boys that I met from Pakistan, who made it here, safely, to safety in Australia and who are now faced with such uncertainty - who dares send them back to that? The same judge who allowed the madman to walk free on bail and into the Lindt cafe? Who dares make these decisions?

What would you do? Will you ride with them? Or will you feed the hate?