Okay, so this looks all awesome and blurry!
So recently, a mate of mine posted a link on Facebook detailing the
fucking revolting uncivilised manner in which we treat asylum seekers ‘awaiting’ processing* in our offshore processing centres. (*A phrase used VERY loosely, there is a lot of waiting and not a whole lot of processing.)
Needless to say, as this topic usually provokes in this country, a ‘oh but fucking boat people’ variety of shit fight ensued and I had to unsubscribe from the thread in fear of my sanity and the welfare of my major arteries.
One of the guys commenting stated (in reply to concerns about refugees and international law) that ‘the only concerns you have in life are yourself, your family and your friends, nothing else matters’, which at first strikes me with a monumentally craptastic level of cognitive dissonance that this man must be experiencing - he enjoys democratic society and the privileges associated with it, but the international bedrock of this ‘doesn’t matter’, only your ‘mates’ do. And on the other hand, it speaks from a place reeking with privilege, security and naivety. It struck me that very few of the people in this country know what it is like to be displaced, to be faced with deprivation, starvation, violence, abuse, a complete loss of independence and determination and also potential death, as millions were with the major conflicts of the 20th century, particularly, World War Two. I’m not saying I know that level of trauma, but having studied it, I am all the more appreciative and determined that no human being should have to experience it as well.
I’m sure I don’t need to outline the history of the UN, created after WW2 in humanities darkest hour. The UN set forth statutes, laws, conventions - Human Rights Law, The Convention on Refugees, The Convent on Civil and Political Rights and as well as these, the Geneva Conventions under International Humanitarian Law (the rules of conflict) were updated to reflect the traumatising ordeal humanity had just been through.
With these laws originating from such a thought provoking place, a place of dire hardship, heartbreak and mourning, a generation dead and a continent ravaged, one can furthermore see their importance and the place they have on this earth. Namely, so that
fuck head Mr Entitled can continue to live in peace or if a major conflict strikes and the particular enemy military is compliant, without the burden of murder/abuse/rape.
Here is the problem though - that complacent attitude and the ‘I don’t give a shit, it will never effect me’ mentality. It is an issue because this type of law relies on countries upholding it, and as Australia in particular is democratic (as many others are), the extent to which a country upholds this law can understandably be attributed to keeping our politicians accountable and how well informed the public is. If the debacle of the last 6 months hasn’t rubbed it in more, we, as a country, are really
fucking terrible at doing that. And if we have a large population of voting people like Mr Entitled, we are well and truly fucked. Whilst International Humanitarian Law and UN laws are different, I am going to refer specifically to IHL from now on to illustrate my point.
I leave you with this hypothetical, directed at Mr Entitled, who does not care for international regulations and thinks that his small mediocre place in the world is safe from the
refugees perils that lurk outside:
Australia is in the process of being invaded (I know it wouldn’t likely happen, 70% desert isn’t exactly prime real estate). Now, with your small mediocre part of the world, your family and your friends and yourself, how are you going to defend them when a
probably more advanced and highly equipped military is gaining traction on the land and heading towards you? How? What are you going to do? In your little section of the world, what are you going to do? With the fact that you had never cared about international law in mind, might I point out that if your dwelling was raided to the fucking nines with M4 Carbines and the invading force decided they didn’t give two fucks for international law or your existence, you would literally be fucked to hell and back. Fucked. FUCKED. With a fucking capital F.
Here is the alternative: would you be sitting there, your small mind taking a break from crippling mediocrity as you pray to your mother-fucking-God that the invading force, who you do not stand a chance against with their M4 Carbines, recognise international law and decide not to attack civilian dwellings? Or your pathetic self, for that matter?
Just, take it a little bit more seriously. To a marauding mass,
and to myself for a split second as I digested your stupidity, your existence is expendable. This law sees to it that you are not. All of these laws see that your experience as a human, your quality of life and your treatment are not alterable and expendable concepts. They are the bedrock of your rights in this country, and of the fact that you have pretty good public healthcare, so please, be a little more fucking grateful and try not to say stupid shit.
Project for my Social Psych class last semester. This poster series was created to 1) challenge these internalized stereotypes by bringing them to the viewer’s attention and 2) expand the range of role models by including a diverse group of women. Each poster follows the same basic pattern: a woman who has demonstrated her competency in a particular area refutes the stereotype that appears above her in the form of “Girls can’t …”. While the posters target girls ranging from children to young adults, I expect the message would also cause people outside that demographic to question their own beliefs about women and power. I designed each aspect of the posters with several principles of social psychology in mind:
World War II has proven its self to be the bloodiest and most horrifying conflict humanity has ever seen. The consequences of this conflict have been stamped on the conscious of every human on this earth, and we will not forget it. Over sixty million people were killed, millions more were injured, entire populations of people were displaced, whole states were destroyed with their boundaries redrawn and women suffered unprecedented levels of sexual violence at the hands of marauding armies. With the liberation of the concentration camps, the complete impact of economic and political destruction across Europe realized and not to mention the millions of displaced people the post-war era recognized, the full and damaging effects of this conflict were illustrated. These effects were not only political and economic, but also psychological, with populations of people reeling from persecution or attempting to repress the crimes their fellow man committed. World War II is something hard to forget.
In many ways, World War II has become a defining moment for Western culture and democratic values that emerged in the post-imperial era. The ideological plight against Nazism and the spread of empire threatened these premises. As General Eisenhower stated in his address to American troops on D-Day, World War II was an ideological crusade, a crusade to restore democratic values and civilisation in the known world in face of this monstrosity and threat.
With humanity wounded and reeling from this traumatic stain on human memory, the establishment of the United Nations in the ensuing years, an amped-up model of the failed League of Nations, reflected this greater hope for humanity. It reflected humanities attempt not only deal with the horrors of this great conflict, but to prevent such abuses from ever occurring again.
The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, The Convention on Refugees (signed by Australia in 1951), The Convention on the Rights of the Child, The Geneva Conventions under the broader banner of International Humanitarian Law (parts altered in the post-WW2 period) all exist as a result of this conflict and are an attempt on behalf of civilisation to set standards for the treatment of human beings.
Yet, this is something the Australian government has decided it is exempt from. Since the Howard-era, we have continually violated not only the Convention on Refugees, but also the Rights of the Child, The Declaration on Human Rights and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We have done this (and I say we, because as an electorate we are truly pathetic at keeping our politicians accountable) by the incarceration of refugees, asylum seekers, ‘boat people’ or ‘illegals’ if you want to get wanky about it - in concentration camp-like facilities, commonly referred to as offshore processing centres. With routine and regular patrolling of these centres, the UNHCR has concluded repeatedly that none of these processing centres have ever reached the standards ratified in the Convention on Refugees. Adjectives with harsh connotations such as ‘gulag’ or ‘concentration camp’ are used to describe these places – these pits on this earth with poor sanitation, poor access to mental and physical healthcare, food, education, the added bonus of vulnerability to sexual and physical violence and the cumulative physiological and psychological problems these vulnerable people have, all paint a very grim picture of not only their day to day living conditions, but what Western civilisation has fallen to and the inherent irony in calling ones self ‘civilised’ or a propagator of Western hegemonic power.
This all becomes more so relevant if we take into account the recent news coverage about Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his questioning of Australia’s commitment to the Convention on Refugees ever since elements of his ‘boarder protection policy’ were rebuffed by the Senate. Our Prime Minister also had the nerve to suggest that Australia has the upmost respect for the Convention. This is where I would like to call bullshit. As demonstrated above and by EVERY UNHCR report EVER, Australia had more respect for the Convention in the 1950s (awkward, I know), even when our racial policy left a lot to be desired we were better at ADHERING TO INTERNATIONAL LAW. Government action since the Howard era in relation to refugees has not only succeeded in creating a xenophobic, uninformed, complacent and dare I say inherently racist attitude toward refugees in the community, they have also managed to thoroughly violate the Convention on Refugees, time and time again, with little to no accountability. You can say what you want about the Greens as a ‘fringe’ party, but they have a more sophisticated attitude towards the treatment of human beings as opposed to our two majority parties, which, you could argue, are left in a shit fight to the bottom in the post Howard-era political climate of ‘we have to stop the evil refugees from fucking up Straya’s way of life’!
It is here that I offer a solid ‘fuck you’ to Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and every other vile individual involved in the Ministry for Immigration or the Prime Ministerial position that indulges it – Regardless of their ‘illegal’ status, of their method of coming to this country or your throbbing desire to break the traffickers model, you have no right to treat people in this manner. You have no right to avoid due process, you have no right to subject individuals to sexual assault and you have no right to treat monsters in Australian society to a better standard than these people, whose only apparent crime is threatening your chances with the empathy-lacking dregs of Australian society. You do not get to suggest on election eve, that you will restore Australia to a ‘great nation’, when your continual abuses of basic rights will most probably continue. You do not get to scream your respect for international law or your conviction for your solid Roman Catholic faith when your actions differ so tremendously from your words. You do not get to suggest we are a civilized or developed nation when our Minister for Immigration was recently accused by the Australian Medical Association of child abuse.
He had the nerve to suggest that when Labor continually blocked government proposals in the most recent sitting of Parliament, that it was a ‘two-fingered gesture’ to the Australian people. I would argue differently. I would argue that the clusterfuck that is our Minister for Education did that when he attempted to repeal the Gonski reforms. I would argue that our Minister for Foreign Affairs did that when she managed to simultaneously piss China off AND failed to heal the rift with Indonesia. I would also argue that Abbott has also done this with his questioning of international law, which will not only damage Australia’s relationship with other countries, but also our prospects of functioning within the United Nations. This ‘two-fingered gesture’ has been given to some of the most vulnerable people on this earth, more so testament to the fact that many people in this country cannot see past the privilege that Western society has endowed upon them. To have the benefits of civilization, we have the duty to enforce these ideals as well, and we have failed monumentally at it.
Mr Abbott, your government, and past governments, have given the biggest ‘two-fingered gesture’ of them all to the Australian people. You have dragged our name through the mud. You have connected our name to some of the most heinous violations of international law our generation will ever see. I’m not Christian, but I do sincerely hope that there is a special circle of hell reserved especially for people like you.