Monday, 26 November 2012

The final principle

My final principle is that we should stop playing detention centre games. It is difficult to look back at the last decade and see that the names of detention centres conjure up images of anything other than chaos, failure, cruelty and inadequacy.
Villawood, Baxter, Nauru, Christmas Island .
There are others which fly under the radar.

Some would suggest , I am sure, that this is the nature of the problem. I wonder if that needs to be challenged. Inadequate solutions to a larger and more complex problem.
Amnesty International's recent visit to Nauru exposed something of what that inadequate solution is all about (I have blogged about it a couple of times before here)
A simplistic, short-term response. Out of sight, out of mind. Satisfies our naiveté, disregards natural justice and provokes extremist attention-seeking behaviour.
It satisfies our naiveté: We don't actually have to think much about what Nauru is really like. We assume it is a tropical air-conditioned paradise. Perhaps a bit rough around the edges, but we "can't expect 5 star luxury". In reality the Amnesty investigation says it is "cruel and degrading" and creates a "climate of anguish".
But if we don't think about it...maybe it will go away!

It disregards natural justice: we are partners to a refugee convention that says that attempting to seek asylum because of genuine fear of not illegal. But it does seem as though we are imprisoning people. In fact we often seem to be using the language of illegality...and, I have suggested, this could be deliberate. It is deliberate I suppose because the politicians are frightened of the bigoted and the prejudiced. Those, in fact, who might vote against them out ignorance and or fear.
Would not some of the vast expenditure on 'solving' the refugee issue be better spent on deliberately combatting the bigotry and ignorance? What would an advertising campaign look like that actually suggests (as would seem to be the experience of this country from the last 60 years) that refugees have added to this country's wealth, diversity, and culture. ...

It provokes extremist attention-seeking behaviour. If we insist on ignoring people's pain, and creating a climate where they can do little or nothing to peacefully influence the process of resolving their dilemmas; then don't be surprised if they are driven to trying to get attention in inappropriate ways.

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