Tonight, I’m catching up on the episodes of the three-part series broadcast by SBS here in Australia, called “Go Back To Where You Came From”. Basically, they’ve got six Australians with varying opinions and backgrounds, and are pushing them to challenge their views regarding asylum seekers by sending them to meet with refugees, sending them to refugee camps etc. It should be fascinating to watch, and this post will be my opinions, summarised during and at the end of each episode.
To start with, I’m a huge supporter of asylum seekers/refugees’ rights. I’ve attended events organised by the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, I’ve petitioned, and recently, to learn more about the legal aspects, I did an HSC legal studies assignment on asylum seekers. Last year, I went on the Make Poverty History Roadtrip that was organised by various NGOs as a way to campaign for the government to keep their promise regarding the aid budget. To me, it’s not a case of border control – it’s a case of acknowledging and respecting the rights that all humans deserve. These people are only arriving on boats because they do not have the finances or paperwork to arrive by plane – and the number of asylum seekers who arrive by boat is so small already. These people don’t have time to ‘join the queue’, aka take the more bureaucratic route – they are fleeing for their lives, and I do not understand how people cannot empathise with those who have to do this. Politicians in Australia like to appear ‘tough’ on issues such as these, so their political rhetoric plays on the racism and hatred within the public, whether the public is aware of this or not. This pathetic notion of ‘stopping the boats’ is truly shameful – the right to asylum is one acknowledged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the Convention on the Status of Refugees – both of which Australia has signed and ratified.
To then take these poor souls into our country, and lock them away indefinitely (which the High Court ruled lawful in the early 90s) is, in my eyes, a disgusting act. Human beings do not deserve this sort of treatment – to endure an excruciating and life-threatening journey, in the hopes of making a better life for themselves in Australia, only to be locked away while their claims are looked into. The fact that these actions are considered not enough by a large portion of the public really frightens me – and that’s where shows like this come in. From personal experience (watching a similar documentary in legal studies), I’ve found that personalising the refugee experience for people really brings out their empathetic side – girls in my class who previously would have swallowed the ‘stop the boats’ rhetoric were now crying along with the refugees on the video – they felt for them, they had a face to put on all of this political brouhaha. Personalising something that is otherwise presented by politicians and the media as a statistics-related issue is definitely one effective way to reach out to the Australian people.
For anyone who’s interested, you can read more or watch the episodes here: http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/goback/
On to the episodes….