Over the last three years I have become in increasingly aware of the dreadful treatment by Australia of refugees and asylum seekers who try to reach its shores. These are refugees who have fled wars in their lands, from dictatorships persecuting their ethnic group. Or they might be asylum seekers who might have known too much about improper Government activities, and fled because of an ominous threat.
As a New Zealander who believes in universal human rights, I find it truly horrifying that a country who has been New Zealands most loyal ally is sanctioning the abominal conduct mentioned later in this article. Australians fought and died with immense courage and bravery in two world wars so that our nation’s could be free, but also because we were justifiably outraged at the treatment being meted out to other nations in those wars. Some might have seen the hellish concentration and death camps that Nazi era Germany established. Millions fled to get away from them. And when the war finished, many millions left Europe or relocated within the continent – Poles, Dutch, Gemans, Belgians, Italians, Danes among others all left. Nation’s took them in. Including New Zealand.
There is nothing proper, decent or legal about the conduct of Australian authorities with regard to Manus Island and the 600 refugee men there whose most basic needs are being cut off. The Australian Government knows that it is in very significant breach of these needs and that despite assurances to the contrary, its replacement facility for the Manus Island Detention Centre is not finished. It is under equipped for even a relatively small number of detainees whose health is normal. The health of a large of a large number detainees is anything but normal, including and especially their mental health.
New Zealand can afford to take in refugees. These people are immensely grateful for being offered a second chance at life. The ones we have successfully resettled here have gone on to become small business owners, have better English language skill than some New Zealanders and also become Members of Parliament. But not only that, their fear of botching their right to be here and the knowledge of what would happen to them should New Zealand issue deportation orders, make many of them among our best new citizens.
So, it is with sadness and some disgust, that I have to report finding New Zealanders on Facebook who attack me for calling out their xenophobic crap. Maybe they are people who have not met refugees and go by the media. Maybe they just do not want to know.
Whatever one believes, the situation on Manus Island is an abomination unbecoming of Australia. If the Australian Government of the farcical Malcolm Turnbull falls because of the current citizenship row, every genuine refugee will benefit.
And New Zealand. And Australia.