Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 17, 2011

Wednesday, 16th February 2011 – the old problem of refugees and bullied opinions.

A sister’s birthday today, but as Jill suggested on the phone this morning, she was feeling a little too exhausted in body & mind to really enjoy the occasion with problems of another sibling taking a bit of precedence at present.  Anyway, greetings were exchanged, and a very lengthy update on current situation discussed in our early morning phone conversation. It was to be hoped that plans for the coming weekend would go part of the way to solving some of the issues of concern.

Another concern, on a more national front, relates to one of my principal topics of interest in these pages, situations concerning our refugees. I made a brief comment on Facebook this morning which created a bit of response, as it justifiably should. I had this to say.

  • ‘Our Prime Minister recently showed a lot of compassion for the survivors of the Queensland floods who lost family members, as did most Australians, I’m sure. I wonder if we could extend that compassion a little further?  So an 8 year traumatised boy, whose parents drowned and he almost drowned in the recent Christmas Island boat tragedy, has been returned to detention on Christmas Island, despite having existing family in Sydney. This boy must be a terrible  threat to our society!!!  Terrible decision, Mr Immigration Minister.  Other detained children report that Seena runs to the fence when new boat arrivals come to the camp in buses. He tells the other kids that his Mum and Dad will be on that bus. When they do not get off he says they will be on the next bus.  Why do we need to keep this boy locked up? ‘  My attention was drawn to this situation by an organisation called  ChilOut – Children Out of Immigration Detention, and I found myself wondering later, just how accurate and perhaps ‘unbiased’ their reporting was. It seems to have been confirmed by later news reports I came across such as the following from the Nine Network:

“A nine-year-old boy traumatised after losing both his parents in the Christmas Island shipwreck will return to detention despite have relatives willing to care for him in Sydney.  Relatives fear the Iranian-born Seena will return to his daily ritual in detention of staring blankly at the gate waiting for new arrivals, in the hope his mother will be among them, The Age reports.  The only child will be returned to Christmas Island’s detention centre today after the funeral of his parents in Sydney on Tuesday, even though he has around 10 relatives living in Sydney.  Seena’s father was buried on Tuesday, but his mother’s body has not been recovered.  Seena’s extended family have expressed concern about the state of the boy, who insisted that he be buried with his father at the funeral.  An aunt who is in detention with Seena is reportedly too traumatised by December’s Christmas Island boat crash to comfort him, cousin Jaffar Ali Alghban said.  ”We are more than happy to take responsibility for him,” he said.  The federal government has refused pleas from survivors of the boat crash to be allowed to stay in Sydney while their asylum claims are being processed’.   ChilOut had been asking readers to write to the Prime Minister, and the Immigration Minister asking that the child be released immediately to his family in Sydney, with the hope that the Prime Minister’s compassion for Queensland flood victims could be extended to this little orphan of another tragic drowning.  Interesting, though not optimistic of seeing a favourable to that request, but if there is enough public ‘outcry’, well, from little things, bit things grow, as they say.

  • Some interesting responses to my original Facebook entry. For example, Greg wrote that:-  I agree Bill, but when you look at the comments in the Herald Sun then the dog whistling becomes an issue – especially for a minority government. Scott Morrison – where did he come from? And of course Kevin Andrews is still there!!! Joe Hockey stood up – but the others have acted in a rather awful way.Where are the leaders we need? Joe Hockey stood up, – but the others have acted in a rather awful way. Where are the leaders we need?  Jane [from the UK] wrote: Bill that is so sad x x I feel most MP s all around the world only tend to display compassion when their actions will be a benefit to them. Usually at election times !!!  From Christine, came Like Greg’s “Where are the leaders we need?” Seems since “political correctness” became correct, no-one is willing to go against criticism etc & lead.  Sad to read of that boy Bill…no easy solution but human compassion would think he should be with his relatives L…
  • I responded to those comments with some more of my own:-  I guess that was partially the point of my reference to the situation re your last point Christine, where young children are alone, and there are family available, surely some flexibility in the rules can  be applied! I still think many of our ‘leaders’ continue to adapt the approaches to this question [of refugees] that they ‘assume’ what the rest of the population thinks – there are votes in going the perceived way of the people.our ‘leaders’ continue to adapt the approaches to this question [of refugees] – but is it really what the average citizen thinks – or are some of these politicians who are starting to speak up against the political trend a truer indication  of the way we want these refugees to be treated.  Spin and scare campaigns by both sides over the past decade have tended to bully public opinion – but I think perhaps that public opinion is becoming tired  of being bullied or pressured – that red headed woman from the fish and chip shop up north tried it a few years ago, and where is she now? Gone, where she belonged!  I didn’t see the Herald-Sun comments, sorry Greg, but I’ve had a quick look at the web site you mentioned, and the above points seem to be borne out in respect  to, not just refugees, but Muslims and other groups as well – we do need more Joe Hockeys and others  in parliament to start speaking out more against the rednecked attitudes and comments that the public often seems to willing to believe.  And Jane, yes, in many ways, I think you are right too 🙂

 I  finished my Wednesday at a Family History Group general meeting – was good to see a reasonable turn up of members, willing to keep the group operational and active, after last year’s concerns that ‘things’ were falling apart, and disbandment looked likely

Postscript to refugee issue   ‘Mr Bowen [Immigration Minister] says he will apply the new laws allowing children out of detention.”It will apply to him [the young boy from Iran] urgently because he has been through a very traumatic situation,” he said.

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