Your Silence on Manus and Nauru Is Your Complicity

ASIA--PACIFIC, 20 Nov 2017

Lauren Bull – New Matilda

What Australia has done to people seeking asylum is the responsibility of all Australians.

Children locked up in immigration detention on Nauru, August 2016.
This image is courtesy of Mums 4 Refugees.

15 Nov 2017 – If you don’t exercise your democracy, you’ll lose it. It’s as simple as that. What is happening on Manus right now is the direct result of decades of silent acquiescence, of politicians being emboldened by a public who don’t hold them to account, and of the normalisation of cruelty.

We have known about the realities of mandatory detention for decades. We have seen how mandatory detention unfairly punishes people, causes deterioration in people’s mental and physical health and in some cases, results in death.

We knew so intensely that offshore processing was brutal that for a brief period a decade ago, these centres were actually closed.

But we have normalised cruelty. We have normalised it to a point where it has become a given that both of our major political parties – and most of the minor ones – would not even think to stand up and demand policy change. They ignore hundreds of investigations, inquiries, testimonies, photos and videos which clearly show that Australia has contributed to the illness and death of thousands of people since the 1990s.

Despite knowing all of this, Australians continue to vote for politicians who uphold these systems. And after they are voted in, Australians click their tongues over articles about what happens on Manus or Nauru, maybe share one on Facebook or Twitter, and then go about their day.

The Nauru files – a cache of 2,000 documents containing accounts of horrific conditions should have brought masses of people to the streets. Every single death in offshore detention should have brought masses of people to the streets.

The same can be said of Gillard’s ‘Malaysia Solution’, the re-opening of the centres on Manus Island and Nauru, the ‘No Advantage’ policy, and everything our current Government has done to people who seek safety in Australia since 2013. But it hasn’t.

These events should have resulted in real, tangible anger and in solutions and change. They didn’t.

Not paying attention, not standing up, not demanding change has created this catastrophe. You may not want this happening in your name, but at this point, silence is complicity.

So rally today, and as often as you can until these men are brought here, to safety. Call your elected representatives, demand change, keep the pressure up, talk about it everywhere.

If you’re not annoying your relatives, you’re not doing your job.

From now on – do not let politicians get away with this. Do not let cruelty become the norm. Watch, listen, hold them to account and use whatever you have.

You elect the Government to represent you. If they’re not doing that, then do something about it.


Lauren Bull is a volunteer co-ordinator at Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project and a broadcaster on 3CR’s Tuesday Breakfast program.



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