Monday, February 8, 2016

Let Them Stay

Let Them Stay in Picton - Photo Cath Taylor
We held a small gathering in Picton protesting against the potential return of over 250 asylum seekers to Nauru.
Doctors, churches, writers, State Premiers and many many people around Australia have joined together to protest this, and you'll have seen me talk about this on Twitter.

But what do children think? After all, those being returned are the same age and younger than our children. Imogen, our eldest, has written before on this issue, and is genuinely upset and angry about what we are doing.
She wrote to Malcolm Turnbull after our gathering today. This is her letter.

Dear Mr Turnbull,

Right now, I am at a candle vigil with my church and members of my community. We are sitting in the town square, peacefully showing our support for the asylum seekers currently being faced with returning to Nauru, peacefully showing that we do not agree.

I can’t help but feel slightly useless. Children younger than me are being sent back to the place of their nightmares, women back to the very people they have been abused by, families going to live and grow up in a hell hole. And I am lighting candles.

I mean, is this the best I can do? What can I do? In my own perfect little world, such a contrast to the life that these asylum seekers have and are going to live, I am lighting candles. I feel powerless.
I have heard many stories from these people online. Stories of children younger than me giving up any hope. Stories of seven year olds who want to end their lives. Of children playing with cockroaches and women being abused and families broken apart. And I am lighting candles.

Right now, I feel very little pride in my country. Very little hope in our government. What kind of country are we? A country where babies who have been born here are sent to live in the place of nightmares. Where people who only hope to do good are sent to a place where no good exists? Where traumatised women are sent to their very abusers, hidden from the law, shown that no one cares? And I am lighting candles.

And yet, right now, people all around Australia, just like me, are showing their support for these asylum seekers. And this is beautiful. This is the Australia I am proud of. This is the Australia I have hope in. This is the beginning of a new and kinder, more generous, compassionate Australia. People are starting to realise what Australia is about. And that is not a country where we lock up children, it is a country of love. And I am lighting candles.

I am lighting candles with the rest of Australia, connecting with others I have never met. We are showing Australia’s true side. One I can be proud of.

Maybe it is the lighting of these candles that will change our world. The lighting of these candles that will shine a light on every injustice. The lighting of these candled that will let everyone have a voice, everyone be proud of the Australia we have. This light will let us see sense. The power of peace. The power of a compassionate nation.

Thank you,

Imogen Senior, Age 14