Growing up in a Kurdish family in the Ilam Province of Iran, I never expected my life to be affected by Australia’s history of white supremacy and settler colonialism. I had little awareness of Australia, a faraway country founded as a penal colony, and built on the massacres of its Indigenous people and on European migration. It was to be decades before I would hear about the White Australia policy, an official state immigration policy, in effect between 1901 and 1973, barring nonwhite people from immigrating to the country and intent on making Australia a white nation.
Yet the xenophobic legacy of the White Australia policy had a significant impact on the trajectory of my life and choked the lives of thousands of asylum-seekers and migrants who were held by Australia in offshore detention centers in its former colony Papua New Guinea and on the island of Nauru, a former protectorate.… Seguir leyendo »
Years ago, during one of those hot Manus Island days, a few Australian guards entered the refugee prison camp. They snatched a broken guitar from the hands of a young musician and exited with an air of invincibility and sense of victory. The young man followed them for a whole 100m stretch in the prison and begged them to return his guitar. But every time he asked one of the officers they replied in absolute terms that he should forget about his guitar. In response to the question of why the guard was taking his guitar, he received the reply: “Having a musical instrument in prison is prohibited because you might hang yourself by using the strings.”… Seguir leyendo »
“They’re trying to kill me, if they kill me take care of my son.”
These were the last words of Faysal Ishak Ahmad before his death on Christmas Eve. The Sudanese refugee uttered these words during his last visit to his friend Walid Sandal. This is not a scene from a tragic film or novel. This is the reality of the prison on Manus Island, hundreds of kilometres from Australia and in the middle of a silent ocean.
Faysal was born in Darfur, Sudan – a region associated with war, genocide and displacement. A symbol of affliction in western media. In other words, Faysal was born into war.… Seguir leyendo »