On Being the Absolute Worst

Imagine you are the government of a large developed country. You are a member of a variety of international conventions protecting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. But you hate them. You hate them SO much. You want to put them in a sack and toss the sack in a river and hurl the river into space.

And yet, for some reason, asylum seekers keep trying to come to your country.Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 1.55.31 PM

You put up jerky billboards in their home communities telling them that they are absolutely, positively, definitely not welcome. You send your navy out to intercept the boats of desperate people making their way toward your shores. The ones you catch, you promptly (and illegally) hand over to the abusive governments they were fleeing. You give equipment and money to those same abusive governments to help them make sure no one escapes.

But still they come.

You lock them up in a network of grim camps, insisting that your citizens’ security depends on proper “screening” of these new arrivals. You keep them there indefinitely. Some of them die.

Reports begin to trickle out of horrors – disease and malnutrition, a blind eye turned toward sexual violence and torture among the inmates, a climbing suicide rate. And worse: children separated from their parents and raped by the guards.

Human rights groups have run out of adjectives with which to deplore your treatment of these vulnerable people. Your international reputation is suffering. So you do the only thing you can: You make it a crime for detention center staff to talk about the conditions there, with a penalty of two years in prison.

Because obviously, you’d rather prosecute doctors and humanitarian workers who speak out about abuses than crack down on child rapists or meet your obligations under international law. Let alone reflecting for one goddamn minute about how bad things must be back home for someone to abandon everyone and everything they’ve ever known for the uncertain chance of surviving the perilous ocean voyage, evading the patrol boats you gave to their abusers, and landing in your grotesque excuse for a detention facility.

Kate Cronin-Furman

6 Comments

  1. I’m an Australian, and you’re right – the treatment of Asylum Seekers is beyond horrifying. The government and media are very big on the “fear” factor, trying to convince us at these desperate people looking for safety are in some way a threat to our lives.

    It’s the most heartbreaking, frustrating and horrendous thing and it makes me ashamed of my country.

  2. and sadly you could be describing either government on offer here, and it’s compulsory to vote by way of ‘preference’ for one of them.

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