Australia. The place where people disappear.

Does anyone know how many refugees have arrived by boat since September? Does anyone know their names? Does anyone know where they are? No. They no longer exist in any traceable form. They have disappeared. Australia is now a black hole where refugees can disappear without trace.

What surprises me is how easily Australians have accepted that refugees disappear without trace and have accepted that we have a government that will decide what it will and will not tell us without being held to account. Australians have the cricket, the tennis, BBQs at the weekend and what we don’t know will not harm us. Wrong. If we do not act when people disappear who will act when we disappear. So these are only a few refugees fleeing some war or repression a long way off. Nothing to do with us; who cares if they rot forever in some concentration camp in some distant land?

This is how it begins. History tells us this how it always begins. First a small minority is vilified. Then they begin disappearing. Then the circle of vilification gets bigger and the net gets wider and more people disappear.

Many of the refugees reaching our shores are minorities who belong to groups who ‘disappear’ in the countries they are fleeing. They arrive in Australian waters and the Australian Navy rounds them up and they disappear more completely than if they stayed at home. Does it not worry Australians the we are holding refugees incognito without any records that can be traced by legal representatives and for all we no have no record anywhere of them arriving? How many are there? Who are they? Were are they from? Are they being held in indefinite detention with access to any representation?

Mr Morrison had better remember that being a refugee is unfortunate but not illegal. It is the right of refugees to seek help and shelter wherever and whenever they can find it. The policy of making the result of refugees seeking help from Australia worse than the evil they are fleeing is the most abhorrent that could be invented.  Mr Morrison, when you are held to account please don’t say you were just following orders.

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