Our hearts are heavy with grief and guilt for two people. Hodan, a Somali refugee, set herself alight on Nauru. She is 21. Omid, who self-immolated last week and later died, was 23. His family is being billed $17000 to fly his body to Iran.
Our Immigration Minister said this was the fault of activists and advocates encouraging refugees to self-harm, demonstrating a lack of self-awareness and empathy. The environments of despair created by Australia’s policies are, instead, the impetus for self-harm.
Don’t just sit there, mired in the knowledge that our country is deplorable and unforgiveable. If you can, come do some things.
You can know what is happening: follow the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre or Rise (or both!). Check out the Refugee Council of Australia, which has a lot of great links and info. Canberra Refugee Action Committee.
Write to your local MP. (Liz did! And Steph is about to!) The Refugee Council has advice on what to say. While you’re at it, write to the Immigration Minister as well. Remember, because letters require more effort than an email or tweet, they will get more attention from the recipient.
Donate money to an awesome organisation or three: ASeTTS (Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Services) is an amazing organisation in Perth; CARAD (Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees) is also pretty great, though caveat it’s affiliated with the Uniting Church; the ASRC (Asylum Seeker Resource Centre) is currently running a winter appeal.
Support companies and businesses and initiatives that are about growing refugee skills and resources. The Social Studio, a Collingwood fashion label and shop that supports refugees in growing design, fashion and hospo skills. The Sorghum Sisters, an African catering company started by three refugee women from the Horn of Africa, and started to support the Carlton Housing Estate community. (And their food is so great. So great.) (You could also get your catering from ASRC Catering, ALSO magnificent.)
If you’re in Sydney, there’s a snap rally today (Wednesday) at the Town Hall.
You can share things / resources with us in the comments – we’re sorry we’re so Perth and Melbourne heavy.
If you’re tweeting things, remember to use hashtags. Things should always be findable, trendable, documentable.
You can remember that, for all Stephanie’s family have passports and identification papers now, they didn’t always. Bless her Apoh, who swam from the Chinese mainland to Hong Kong when she was seven, and got on a boat, and never saw her family (but for a single aunt, who left with her) again. She was a force, and she sacrificed so much, and Steph would have personally, casually, without regret, have decimated any person who thought her Apoh should have been sent back to a place she left through despair and desperation.
Further reading, may your deity damn our country:
A friend of Omid’s, who was present when set himself on fire, said Omid’s purpose was not a “fake demonstration”.
“He really decided to kill himself, sacrifice himself to finally prove it to Australians that he is suffering,” he said.
Who amongst us thinks that setting oneself on fire is a fake demonstration? Come forth that I can FIGHT YOU.
Second refugee sets herself on fire (has an autoplay video)
At Foreign Policy: The Intolerable Cruelty of Australia’s Refugee Deterrence Strategy
If you need it, as always, Lifeline is available to anyone actually in Australia; their crisis number is 13 11 14 or you can access their 24/7 chat service.