Saturday, April 09, 2011

Visit your local boat person, but don't force feed them any bibles.

I don't know if I told you before, but I actually went to Xmas Island at one point with a charity organization called ALIV for one month back in April. Oh wait, I actually wrote about it.
Well yeah, it was an amazing experience, It helped me to engage with people on a personal level, and for once in my life it lifted this cursed shia/sunni divide that's hovering over my head all the time. I was just visiting people. It was awesome.

That was a year ago, since then I thought all or at least most of the assylum seekers there would eventually get their humanitarian refugee visa or returned to their home countries.

Through the ALIV network it turns out that some of them are still languishing in detention centers around Australia. Some in Curtin, some in Darwin, others in Villawood etc...

Well I also found out Villawood is actually 10 minutes drive from Fairfield. So I went there with Abs, the Robin to my Batman, to visit the guys we knew from CI (ALIV speak for Xmas Island).

It was great to see the guys again, sad and great. They were happy to see us as well. Some of them were smiley and kept brave faces on. Others could not and we could see the depression on their faces as they told us they'd been in detention for at least a year (in months and days). They'd also tell us about others who'd committed suicide, which for me as a Muslim is devastating.

In any case, I enjoyed talking to them again and just trying to alleviate their moods. The fact they were so much closer meant I could actually visit them regularly. Some of the other CI Volunteers were already visiting every weekend. It was also great catching up with them. CI Volunteers are amazing people.

One of the Iraqi guys I met with was feeling especially down, he was an artist and would sketch all those images of dried cut down trees, it was sad to see. He was stressing about his next interview. He couldn't speak english so the only person he could speak to was us or Egyptian Evangelical christians.

Now I don't mind people of other religions of course, but it was upsetting to me when he was telling me that those guys would visit all the arabs for the sole purpose of trying to convert them to Christianity, which is as F'ed up a thing as you can do. I mean why would you go to people to desperate distressed people to bash them with bibles ? It was exploitative and wicked. I mean you can preach whatever religion you like to anyone NOT in a detention center. There are people who hold bibles and stand on fruit boxes and preach all day and all night at the City, and that's cool because if you don't want to listen to him, you can just walk away. But to play such dirty tactics as visiting people stuck in a detention center is retarded. I'm sorry, it is.
He was upset because they weren't just trying to convert him, they were insulting Islam in the process. There must be some law or something that stops them from doing that. I'll have to check with someone. I should actually approach them next time I see them.

I could actually some of the Iranians now wearing gold cross necklaces. I mean it is their choice in the end, but is it really a game of numbers that you stoop to such low tactics to "gain" more numbers for your team ?

In any case, If you are reading this and you live somewhere where there is a detention center. Do yourself a visit. Go visit the people there. They don't have to be the same culture or religion as you. Just desperate human beings in need for contact from the outside. You may think your visit would not change anything, you would be surprised. One visit even would make such a difference for them and for you.

What's that you say ? They shouldn't be here because they're queue jumpers ? OK let's say they are. They are still human beings with families and livelihoods and certain death if they are sent back home. If you visit them you wouldn't be changing any political process, especially not Labor or Libs policies.

contact me or ALIV if you want to know how to visit within Australia.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice.