10 February 2014
The experience led me to again reflect and try to understand how we humans can be capable of perpetrating so much cruelty towards one another. The holocaust is not an isolated event – Cambodia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and now Syria, to name but a few, are further examples of ongoing acts of horrifying barbarity that have taken place since then.
And yet an extermination camp such as Auschwitz did not suddenly appear. Rather it was the culmination of many small intermediate steps that began with the singling out and demonizing of a minority group, continued with the unchecked proliferation of hate speech, that was even encouraged by those in power, acts of discrimination, the denial of human rights and accompanied progressively by an increasing level of violence.
In Germany it is claimed most ordinary people did not know of the worst excesses of the Nazis. Maybe so, but all would have been aware of the initial steps that were to eventually lead to the ‘final solution’, but most failed to act. Eventually it was too late.
Without equating the Jewish holocaust to Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers – although prior to its occurence Germans would never have believed that their civilised nation would be capable of perpetrating the horrors that later took place - there are nevertheless some disturbing parallels with what is happening now with what happened in Nazi Germany.
A group of people are being denied their fundamental human right to enter another country to seek asylum. Worse, they are constantly and wrongfully being described as ‘illegals’, ‘terrorists’, ‘queue jumpers’ etc, are held in remote locations in inhumane conditions with no indication of when they might be freed.
It is difficult to know the exact conditions under which people are being held due to the secrecy of the Australian government, the insistence on confidentiality clauses in employment contracts for those employed in places such as Manus Island and Nauru, and the effective banning of the media from visiting. Visa fees for journalists wishing to visit Nauru were recently increased from $200 to $8000 which leads to the question ‘What is being hidden?’
It was the Irish Statesman Edmund Burke who said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing". Perhaps it is time for more good men and women in Australia to raise their voices against the evil being perpetrated in their name.
More information, including suggestions for writing a letter and the contact details of your member of parliament can be found at the A Just Australia website.