Australia’s lack of human rights calls for a cup of AmnesTEA

I feel like I live in a country that has gone mad.

Our prime minister, Tony Abbott, is at the United Nations telling them we have the money and resources to be able to support any war effort they deem necessary.

Yet, back home, in the country that he leads, he is sending asylum-seeking children without their parents to detention centres, refusing to acknowledge that our domestic violence and suicide rates are out of control, denying that a climate change issue exists, cutting funding to science programs, refusing to address the aboriginal issues of health and lower mortality rates, and, frankly, acting like a fascist dictator declaring we are under an international terror threat, when anyone with any modicum of intelligence can see we aren’t.

As a nation, we are shocked almost to the point of paralysis.

As a nation, with further anti-terrorism anti-freedom laws having just been passed that declares that our internet can now be fully monitored and any whistle blower who leaks classified documents can now be jailed for up to 10 years, we are more afraid of our own prime minister than we are of the ‘terror’ five thousand miles away.

To a large proportion of us, it feels like it must have felt when Hitler started making all his subtle, liberty-robbing changes to the laws back before world war II.  Those laws got passed and by the time the people of Germany realised that in fact they were living under a dictatorship, it was just too late.  And, as they say, the rest is history.

Whilst Abbott is telling the UN we have all this money to give to the war effort (whose war it actually is has not really been determined as yet), our delightful Minister of Immigration, Scott Morrison has just negotiated with Cambodia to take what have been termed as the Boat People, in what can only be described as a horrible hand-ball of responsibility.  These are people who, under great persecution from governments or wars in their own countries, flee by paying a people smuggler to transport them, on boats that can often best be called floating rafts, to bring them to Australia to seek asylum.

We reward these scared frightened people who have left everything they know and love behind by throwing them in detention centres, located off-shore on islands that once used to be under our sovereign, but we excised so that no-one on these islands could claim any rights to be an Australian.  These detention centres are fenced in, with barbed wire fences and guarded with armed guards (jail anyone?).

The legally asylum-seeking people are given a lovely sparse room cell, with nothing more than a bed and a sink to call home, for an indefinite period of time whilst they are “processed”  (pretty sure that was the term used for the Jews when they were sent to concentration camps).  Many have been there for five years or more.  They are not allowed any rights – no legal representation, very little medical care, no education.  We treat them like dogs.  In fact, our dogs get far better treatment.

Such is the distress caused to these people that the suicide rate is extremely high.  Those who grasp on to some form of hope sew their lips together as a means of protest.  Can you even imagine that?  Sewing your lips together to get some form of attention to your plight.

Since Abbott has come into power, the situation has become even more dire.  Much like what happened in Germany when Jews started going missing, there has been a media lock down.  No medical staff or legal staff is allowed into the compound and a video recording was leaked showing Morrison telling these frightened, persecuted human beings that they made the journey for nothing, since they would never EVER be allowed to set foot on Australian soil.  It has been recently revealed that staff entering the detention centres were bullied so much to ensure their silence, that they experienced extreme mental duress.

I could go into the illegal activity of our government contravening about 20-odd international human rights laws.  I could highlight the fact that in the UNHCR has slammed Australia for its treatment of its asylum seekers and that the Cambodia deal is an appalling indictment.  I could highlight that the human rights atrocities are not only restricted to those off-shore, but on-shore as well, with our own indigenous population.

Instead, I will say that there are people who care.  There are those of us who care so much that come polling day we will be damn sure that the worst prime minister in Australia’s history will NOT get re-elected, despite his desperate attempts at fear mongering us into submission.

In the mean time, there are things we can do.  We can support organisations that work tirelessly to support those who are the victims of human rights atrocities.

Organisations like Amnesty International.

On the 24th October 2014, Amesty International is holding an AmnesTEA.  They are calling for people to hold an event – a morning or afternoon tea, to raise money to help those who are subject to these human rights violations.  That I live in a country who is a major perpetrator of these violations sickens me, but by way of some compensation, I am holding an AmnesTEA and hope that you will join me.  You can find out how to run your own AmnesTEA here.

It is a great opportunity to invite your friends, in solidarity for the basic rights of being human, to chat, to laugh, to make a difference.

If you are unable to hold one yourself, please feel free to donate here.  Any small amount will do.

The news is filled with the indignation of a terror threat, that is going to cost millions, nay billions, to ‘combat’, yet there are over a billion people in the world right now who will not eat tonight, or don’t have running water, or who will die from preventable diseases and are fleeing persecution.  All of these constitute human right violations that can be prevented.

That, my friends, surely has to be worth a cup of tea.

If you do hold an AmnesTEA, please do let me know about it, or if you can think of other ways we can make a difference, do share.

Until next time,

SHW Signature






8 thoughts on “Australia’s lack of human rights calls for a cup of AmnesTEA

  1. Love your writing on these issues Sarah. You write with such passion and intelligence. And of course I agree with your stance one hundred percent. Thank-you for continuing to champion these incredibly important causes – and thanks for promoting the AmnesTEA, I hadn’t heard about it, but will be looking into it now. x


  2. Another passionate post Sarah! When you summarise all that Tony has done or wants to do, he really does sound like a dictator. I still can’t believe he got elected. It feels like the world has gone mad. Good on you for promoting this cause. x


  3. Great stuff Sarah! I worry though that people like you and I are in the minority. It concerns me so much that a lot of our population are either stupid, hiding their heads or don’t care about the threat this government presents to our country. I really hope beyond hope that Australians can prove me wrong when we got to the polls. Still it’s a way off and a lot of damage can be done in that time. I love this idea that Amnesty has come up with. I will be running a morning tea and will let you know how it goes.


  4. Great post once again Sarah. Have you read Anna Funders All That I Am. It’s a wonderfully written book that is set In the early days of Hitlers reign and how pervasive the propaganda machine was in Nazi Germany. Some days lately, I can’t help but think of that book.


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