This is the sixth year in a row that RISE: Refugees, Survivors and eX-detainees, the first eX-detainee-led, self-determined, advocacy and welfare organisation in Australia continues to call for a boycott of Refugee Week. Meanwhile, as the numbers of Refugees displaced globally continues to increase, almost every agency across the world states they “help” or advocate for Refugees and expends significant resources calling on us to “celebrate” Refugee week and World Refugee Day.
In the context of refugee week and refugee day in Australia, detainee and eX-detainee refugee voices must be centred, not the ones who have never been detained by this racist state. During this time, Refugees in this country are compelled and coerced into presenting to the public that we are “good”, “contributing” Australian citizens. We also need to address that some refugees personally choose to educate privileged and middle-class elite society speaking about their “experiences” while undermining the resistance against injustice, by detainees and eX-detainee refugees in Australia over the last 27 years. How many non-eX-detainee Refugees, let alone non-Refugees have supported eX-detainee Day on the 14th of September – a day that is not run by the UN, a privileged organisation headed mostly by non-Refugees.
So far, since the reopening of offshore detention camps on the Pacific islands of Manus and Nauru there have been 12 deaths. Meanwhile, the oppressors who established one of the most notorious immigration detention centres in the world are left out without any accountability. Hundreds of unaccountable incidents of sexual abuse and torture of Asylum seekers and Refugees under the Australian government’s watch, is not something unfamiliar. Is this how non-detainees are going to address systemic oppression and calculated discrimination during Refugee week against refugees who are coming to Australia by boat to seek protection?
Listening, reading and watching happy and sad refugee stories and running panel discussions will not address the root of refugee global displacement and persecution. There are over 60 million refugees who are displaced at the moment – how does running a panel discussion and sharing stories of trauma solve the current persecution faced by people from places like Sudan, Burma, Yemen, Syria etc? Do you still think listening to our stories is going to solve the ongoing discrimination against refugees?
There are global efforts by both governments and NGOs during “World Refugee Day” to make us sing, dance and perform for them as they momentarily “celebrate” our existence. However, these efforts have not even reduced forced displacement and the deadly expansion of the “border security” and military industrial complex. Where is the safe passage and sanctuary for Refugees crossing borders?
RISE eX-detainee Team