Monthly Archives: July 2015

“Go back to where you came from: The coloniser’s story”

Like its previous season, this show encourages latte sipping lefties to feel good about themselves by watching rednecks on a leaky boat with paramedics trying to ‘recreate’ the ‘refugee experience’ – without the reality of being locked away indefinitely in offshore, in Australian run detention centres.

“Go Back to Where You Came From” is a cynical exploitation of my story, and thousands of others, under the guise of being progressive.  Role-playing survival scenarios on a reality television show makes entertainment out of the tragedy of the refugee experience.   Seeking asylum is not an episode of The Amazing Race.

The details of how we managed to survive across borders on the way to Australia is incredibly traumatic.  We have had to live and relive these experiences over and over to sceptical bureaucrats and law enforcement; now we must re-live them for the sake of SBS ratings.

Having gone through the horrific  journey of leaving family and surviving on a boat only to be locked up in detention for three years and tortured in Australian run detention centres by the people who are supposedly there to ‘help’ and ‘protect’ you, watching a reality television show about someone imitating my refugee journey adds more trauma to my experience.

I’m not sure that the producers and participants on this show understand the harm they are doing or the complexities of being a refugee.  The entire refugee struggle is simply an exciting, exotic foreign backdrop against which we are invited to witness the emotional journeys of the participants; it is really their stories that are centred here, not the actual refugees who simply feature as realistic extras.

I’m not interested in watching people volunteer for an experience that imitates our struggles in seeking asylum for entertainment. This show will not highlight the deep-rooted & multifaceted problems faced by my peers – all it does is give SBS a hook for a new season of ‘poverty porn.’

This show will make people at home feel good about themselves while sitting on their couches, proclaiming “not in my name” and not realising that seeking entertainment out of our lived journeys is a privileged position. It also raises questions about what type of necessary actions you are taking to end mandatory detention and the turn back policy, rather than being a keyboard warrior.

Go back to where you came from TV show is not an exercise in compassion it is a crude form of racist theatre that shows total disregard for us as human beings. We are not here for your entertainment.

Ramesh Fernandez – ex-detainee & boat person.

RISE Exclusive Media Release : Bill Shorten-ing the lives of Asylum Seekers : Get killed in your lands, Not on our shores (24/07/2015)

Bill Shorten-ing the lives of Asylum Seekers : Get killed in your lands, Not on our shores

RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees, condemns the leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP), Bill Shorten, for his support of the Abbott government’s policy of pushing back refugee boats. Bill Shorten has made disingenuous claims that such a policy is required to “stop deaths at sea”.

If Mr. Shorten was genuinely concerned about deaths at sea, why was he silent when hundreds of Rohingya refugees lost their lives in the Asia Pacific region during the last few months? They were left floating in the middle of the ocean in leaky boats for several weeks while countries, including Australia and Malaysia, pushed them back into the sea.

Meanwhile, Bill Shorten and his advisors continue to peddle the dodgy Malaysian “refugee resettlement” deal pushed by the Gillard government back in 2011 as a “safe” option.  This deal involved the deportation of refugees who came to Australia by boat to Malaysia, a country that has not signed the UN torture convention let alone the UN refugee convention. Stateless Rohingya refugees could not be included in the resettlement quota that was part of this deal due to a bureaucratic technicality that places them in a separate UNHCR category.

It is in Malaysia that more than 300 bodies of suspected Rohingya human trafficking victims were discovered in mass graves this year. ALP policy makers also ignore the fact that, in addition to hosting over 100,000 refugees, Malaysia also has about 90,000 stateless people in the island of Borneo; their struggle for Malaysian citizenship rights remains unresolved.

As Australian politicians trumpet their white supremacist “Stop the Boats” mantra cloaked in faux compassion for refugee deaths, they conveniently ignore Australia’s hand in the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, one of the largest sources of forcibly displaced people in the world. This rhetoric from our politicians shroud refugee deaths on land and sea due to increasing militarisation of borders, such as Australia’s own “Operation Sovereign borders”, while weakening already inadequate humanitarian safeguards.

Australian politicians have also misappropriated the narratives of the Vietnamese refugee community by claiming that Australia’s offshore resettlement policy for Vietnamese refugees was a success because it stopped deaths at sea.  However, if we look at the statistics of those fleeing Vietnam in the 1970s, many more perished fleeing over land than by boat. Vietnamese Australian author Cat Thao Nguyen who launched her memoir, “We Are Here, with RISE this month, has stated that “about 50% of the Vietnamese refugees who fled by boat in the 1970s died, while researchers estimated that only 10% of those who fled by land survived”.