Sunday, 7 February 2016

I am not sure where to start this

because I know there is a very high probability I will be misunderstood.
Let me make it quite clear from the start that I do not approve of children being kept in immigration detention.
But I have a problem. I also don't approve of children being used as some of these children are being used. They are being used in multiple ways.
Adults use them in an attempt to get asylum. Yes, they do. The argument of course is "why would you put children at risk unless there was a greater danger somewhere else?"
Parents do, rightly, want to get them as far as possible from  those things. I'd want to do it too.
But to put children in harm's way after they have reached a place of safety simply because it is not the place where you want to be? 
For a while the policy of the Australian government was to move not just an injured or ill person from an off-shore detention centre to the mainland but their family with them. The result of that policy was almost predictable. People would self-harm in the hope of being moved and taking their families with them - or they would harm other family members in the hope of the family being moved. It was a perfectly understandable thing to do.  Once the policy was stopped and just the individual was brought then the level of self-harm dropped to almost nothing.
Now new ways have to be found by those looking for entry into Australia and by those who support them. We now have reports of "highly traumatised" children. I don't doubt for a moment that there are highly traumatised children in detention and they most certainly should not be there. I do question some of the means being  used to try and get them out.
There are claims of sexual abuse and bullying and more. On Nauru the claims are that it is the local people who are guilty of these things. There is never any suggestion that there is any trouble among the asylum seekers. 
 Those seeking asylum come from a wide range of backgrounds. In their home countries some of them are fighting one another. I doubt it is all peace and harmony in the centre. 
Yes, some of them are severely traumatised individuals - but does that really excuse all wrongdoing? I think not. Women and children are treated differently in some cultures and some of the men will continue to treat them that way wherever they are. This is not a result of people being in detention. It's a result of where they come from and the undeniable fact that some of those seeking asylum are individuals who are fleeing punishment for crimes committed in their home countries. 
And then there are the drawings we are being shown, drawing allegedly done by children in asylum. Along with those drawings are the pleas for help. More than one highly experienced person has questioned whether all those drawings and pleas come from children. How many have been done without any prompting?
Of course children will draw their experiences, even without being asked to do so. Some of the pictures I have seen and others have seen have however almost certainly not been drawn by children. They have been drawn by adults who are attempting to make them look like drawings from children. Some of the messages have been written by adults. Sometimes some of those messages have been copied by children. 
Again, children are being used. They are being used by "family" and "friends"  and also by advocates. It is all being done with an aim of getting the adults into Australia and then keeping them there.
I don't blame them for an instant. In their circumstances I would probably try the same thing myself.  It still doesn't make it right to use children in this way. It is also wrong to try and garner public sympathy on the basis of lies. 
Perhaps I am just too cynical. Perhaps I am too ready to believe that it would be politically inconvenient for too many people on all sides if the facts were to be reported in a calm and compassionate manner.
I just wish everyone would stop using children. Children are people. Children are younger human  beings. They are not the property of their parents or advocates or governments or anyone else. Treating them that way is doing great harm.

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