Posted by: jkirkby8712 | August 8, 2011

Sunday, 7 August 2011 – a campaign I support


I received correspondence from the GetUp organisation today, and had to agree that this particular cause deserved to be supported. Quite often, I find the GetUp campaigns to be a little too far to the extreme of the direction I want to go, but in the case of the latest government action on refugees, it is right in tune with my feelings. Not in my name!!   GetUp describes itself is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group who use technology to empower Australians to have their say in important national issues. They receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign they run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. I like to keep in tune with what they are campaigning for from one week to the next, and while as indicated, I don’t always agree with their particular directional push on a matter, it is important to have such an organisation bringing to our attention, matters that we all should have some viewpoint on, and to provide the opportunity, should we so feel inclined, to support that view.  

So, as GetUp pointed out in their latest communication, in the papers this week there was a picture of a little boy – a boy who has just arrived in Australian waters, in a boat powered by hope for a better future. Aged about ten years, he looked worried and confused. And he is right to be. Right now, our Government is weighing up whether to deport children like him to Malaysia, despite the ordeal he’s already endured on his precarious journey to Australia.  With reports that the execution of the Malaysia Deal could begin within the next day or so,  it is necessary to make sure that our Government knows that they do not have our support to treat vulnerable children in this way.  As a response, this week, the GETUP organisation plans to put full-page ads in newspapers across Australia, with the headline “Not In Our Name” – and the names of as many Australians as possible printed below. The more names they have to squeeze in, it is considered, the more powerful will be their message.

The advice from GetUp also noted, that the iconic image in the papers of a little boy standing in front of a customs official reminds us that each and every human being arriving in Australia as an asylum seeker is full of hope and potential – two things that can be crushed by our immigration system. We may never know this little boy’s full story, but here are some things we do know: someone thought his prospects were bleak enough that risking a frightening journey and an uncertain future in a scary new country was better than his alternatives. That same person cared about him enough to spend a significant portion of their life savings trying to get him here. And after a long, arduous, dangerous journey, he made it here alive.

In a democracy, the government speaks for us, the people. But when those we elect act so far outside the bounds of moral decency as to even consider putting innocent children in harm’s way, we have a duty to speak up. As Australians, we must say: ‘If you do this, it is not in our name’.

The “Not In Our Name” ad campaign is different. Its power doesn’t come from wit or impressive design. Its power comes from our names. As the Immigration Minister finalises arrangements on Monday, let’s make sure he knows that tens of thousands of Australians demand respect for the rights of children.  Many of us feel helpless as we watch the images of children arriving here. We know enough about what awaits many of them, and enough about what they have already survived, to wish we could do something, anything to help. Today we can all do something – by not being silent when we should speak, and  with hope and conviction,  While it’s understandable that the Minister cannot offer a blanket exemption to any class of asylum seekers, for fear that people smugglers will exploit it to their advantage, the most vulnerable children and their families shouldn’t be used as pawns in a political debate. It’s time that humanity and reason overrule fear and xenophobia.

That is, as mentioned on earlier occasions, my principal concern about this whole situation – that our two major parties are over focused on this scare campaign tactic of concentrating on stopping the people smugglers – and in the process of which, the real victims of this refugee situation have been forgotten!!  That attitude has to change.

Meanwhile, on the home front, quite a cold day after our ‘Spring-like’ weather, and I seem to notice it more as the day wore on, after this morning’s program at the radio station. Had some beautiful music included in this morning’s listing including a number of tracks from one of Benjamin Britten’s ‘orchestral song cycles’, and a very lively and inspiring 9th Symphony from the Russian composer, Dmitri Shostakovich – composed in 1945, and at the time, a piece of music that was much maligned and criticised by the Russian authorities who did not consider the work to be patriotic enough in praise of Stalin and the Red Army!!  Personally, had I been a Russian citizen at the time, I would have been suitably pleased and inspired!!





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