The world has forcibly displaced over 57 million people, the highest number since World War II. Most of the displaced refugees are hosted by non-signatory refugee countries, yet most people who celebrate Refugee week are signatories of the refugee convention. There has been no coordinated effort to create more places for resettlement nor other long-term humanitarian solutions for refugees other than lucrative “border security” that feeds the military industrial and detention industrial complex at the expense of our lives. Presently, most refugee signatory countries are trying to block borders and decrease refugee intake, so what is left for us to celebrate here? The death and torture of refugees? Thus far, we have not witnessed safe passage for asylum seekers and refugees across borders.
While Australia marks its third year implementing one of the most racist refugee policies (the “no advantage” refugee policy), it continues to involuntarily keep our community members in offshore detention. This is not something we take lightly. This cruel discriminating policy has impacted and will continue to impact our lives physically and psychologically . Every day, the effects of detention haunts us. Where is the rehabilitation process?
In Australia, detention warehouses still exist and custodial deaths still occur regularly. In detention centres, harassment and sexual abuse has become rampant and the government is trying to impose a new “Border force” bill which permits guards in detention centres to use excessive force with limited accountability. We cannot celebrate anything until our arrival is treated humanely.
In 2015, there are few places left in this world for our people to be safe. Rohingya refugees fleeing genocide are left to drown in the middle of the ocean and mass graves have been discovered on land, not just in Myanmar but also in transitional countries like Thailand. In Kenya, the largest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab, has cut food supplies to its inhabitants. The Yarmouk refugee camp (situated in Damascus city, Syria) has also been subjected to a blockade for over 2 years with no access to food or water. More than 75% of Gaza’s inhabitants are refugees who have suffered from a blockade for over 8 years. Fortress Europe builds walls that block safe routes by land, forcing more refugees to traverse and ultimately drown in the Mediterranean sea.
Taking all that into consideration, as part of refugee week RISE received many requests from various organisations, media outlets and campaigners to participate in “storytelling, dancing, poetry and cultural diversity” events, allowing for the callous deviation of public focus from the continuous violation of human rights occurring to this day in Australia’s mandatory detention centres. Which then undermines the work that should be put into a coordinated global effort to rescue fleeing refugees and to provide them with a permanent humanitarian solution. Basically we are remembered once a year as entertainers, visible once a year but voiceless and too incompetent to provide solutions to address our own community’s needs for the rest of the year. This is exemplified by the fact that almost all international and local refugee welfare and advocacy organisations in Australia are headed by non-refugees.
Even the UNHCR, an international body that was created to assist refugees (also headed by non-refugees) has implemented a racist policy in Turkey last year where the processing of Afghan refugees was frozen indefinitely. We cannot see how we could be a party to this international farce at the expense of our communities
On Refugee Day 20th of June
RISE will hold a social media blackout to mourn for refugees facing death while crossing borders by land, sea and air, entering countries where they are imprisoned indefinitely while governments and international NGOs controlled by OECD countries reduce refugee week into a PR stunt.
If refugee week is about US, it should be about OUR freedom, OUR voices, OUR lives and OUR future and OUR self-determination.
Nothing About Us, Without Us – RISE: Refugees, Survivors and ex-detainees