The Quenda Files: Episode 1

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Welcome to our first attempt at a weekly podcast discussing the last week of news and politics. Troy and I sat down to ramble on but both of us had been watching too much Olympics to provide any well thought out opinions. Next week will be better researched we promise. Also apologies over the sound quality, expect a few glitches, we’re very new to this.

Leave feedback and suggestions, positive and negative, in the comments. Anyone who wants to design a Quenda Files logo is welcome to do so.

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Show notes

The Word ‘Freedom’

The following is an extract from an interview with Murdoch student, Jamila Jafari, who fled Afghanistan when she was just five.  This piece was originally published on Behind The Wire.  Behind the Wire is an oral history project documenting the stories of men, women and children who have experienced Australian mandatory detention over the past 23 years. It seeks to bring a new perspective on mandatory detention by sharing the reality of the people who have lived it. If you want to tell your story, or volunteer with Behind the Wire, please contact them and get involved. Go ahead and check out their website to read the full story.

We had the initial interview, and it was in a lovely, clean, air-conditioned building – really different from the donga [demountable buildings]. There was a desk, an interviewer, an interpreter, and a chair. Mum sat on the chair as she was being interviewed, and my brother and I had to sit on the floor. I think they gave us a piece of paper and a few coloured pencils to occupy us with. And, I mean, it should have been something enjoyable to do but what was I supposed to draw? Razor wire all around me? That’s all I’d seen ever since I’d arrived here.

So, once you’ve been initially interviewed, they transfer you over, make room for the other new arrivals. The other donga we were moved to was much bigger and it had a small living area, a corridor and three bedrooms on each side. Each bedroom had two bunk beds. So we took one of the rooms there, there were other Hazara families in the other rooms. And these other Hazara families, they were, I think, the epitome of what detention does to children. The psychological effects detention has. The lady, she had quite a few children. She had two older boys: one was 14 and the other was 12. She had lots of girls as well. When I think of detention, what I saw with them are a big part of the memories I have.

“They were, I think, the epitome of what detention does to children”

Woomera was the most notorious detention centre in Australia. There were lots of protests and riots and that sort of thing while we were in Woomera. I saw adults and children with their lips sewn, bruised and all this stuff. The 14-year-old and the 12-year-old, they both had their lips sewn. The mother too.

During one of the riots on January 26, I was standing there and there was arguing going on. There was screaming, people screaming out, “Freedom! Freedom!” It was the middle of the desert during the really hot season and the conditions were just unbearable. I remember the 14-year-old, he had some kind of blade. He’d written out the word ‘freedom’, he cut that into his skin, his left forearm – I’m sorry this is so graphic – his skin’s ripped open, his blood’s dripping, and he’s screaming out, “We want freedom!”

I could never remove that image from my head. It’s so vivid. And his voice is… it’s shaking, there’s so much pain in his voice. Like, a 14-year-old! Doing that to himself! And all the other adults, older children, protesting and screaming out, “Freedom, freedom, freedom.” When I think of my childhood, that is one of the main words that I remember, like it’s been engraved in me, and I have never… I wish I could, I wish I could remove those images from my head. But, I can’t. It’s impossible.

“His skin’s ripped open, his blood’s dripping, and he’s screaming out, “We want freedom!”

After the boy cuts himself, next thing I hear are people screaming and crying out because a man has climbed right to the top of the fence and then he just jumps off the fence. He lands on a coil of razor wire and people are shrieking, they’re crying out. Everyone is so surprised. As he lands, his weight causes the coil to bounce, so he bounces a few times like a heartbeat. His arms are all cut up because of the razor and he’s bleeding. There’s a documentary about him, called ‘The Man Who Jumped’. He didn’t die, but the conditions in the detention centre drove him off the edge, literally. You wouldn’t do that if you were completely sane, you know?

And those boys, they were so damaged, honestly. They did a lot of hectic things but I just admired them so much for their fearlessness, their boldness and their bravery. It’s not an easy task to sew your lips together, to go on a hunger strike, to then resort to cutting into your own flesh. You couldn’t help but admire them for having those personality traits in the face of such hopeless times. I think there were other people who felt the same way about them, even people older than them.

Uni in freedom spat

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Fremantle Herald Interactive

A MURDOCH UNIVERSITY academic has complained to her union that she was told to remove a tweet supporting refugees because it doesn’t align with the university’s “brand”.

Murdoch is strongly denying the claim, stating through an anonymous spokesperson it has a “long and proud history of academic freedom of expression”.

But the spokesperson adds the university also expects its academics to “make it clear they are posting in a personal capacity when participating on any public platform”.

On Tuesday, Dr Kate Fitch tweeted to her private Twitter account a photo of the university’s Students for Refugees group, in front of a banner saying #LetThemStay. There was no commentary in the tweet.

05. 9NEWS

She later complained to the National Tertiary Education Union she’d been ordered to remove the tweet, an order she refused to comply with. NTEU WA secretary Gabe Gooding was “frankly appalled” by the order, which had allegedly come from…

View original post 161 more words

Practical ways you can help with the refugee crisis

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by Caris Horton

Most of us have now seen the images of the Syrian refugees trying to cross the Hungarian border as they plead for freedom and help.

I’m also sure that most of us have seen the articles documenting the numerous refugee boats that have capsized off our shores including the infamous and heart-breaking photo of a young refugee washed up on a Turkish beach.

Often we see these images and stories online, on TV and in print but we may feel that we are powerless to help or to make any real changes.

Fortunately, there are some practical ways we can all help with the current refugee crisis, regardless of budget or time, so here are some of the most obvious but perhaps best ways to do so.

  1. DONATE

Donating is an easy way to give money quickly in times of emergency as a lot of charities have monthly and one-off donation models so you can give according to your finances at the time.

Charity donations over $2 are always tax deductible too for those who haven’t got around to putting their taxes in yet.

Often people worry how much of their donation will actually go towards the cause, which is a fair concern, so I’ve compiled a handy chart here so you can tell just what percentage of your money is going directly to the cause. The remaining percentage of donations usually goes to further fundraising efforts and towards administration costs, according to the charities’ websites.

Here are just a few fantastic charities working to help refugees in Syria and all over the world.

This charity works within Syria and in countries that host Syrian refugees, like Jordan and Egypt, to provide support to children and their families.

Save the Children also work to help children who are faced with poverty and families that are badly affected by natural disasters.

The UN Refugee Agency’s branch in Australia currently have appeals going the emergency refugee situations in Syria and elsewhere where money donated will go towards things like medicine, clothing, shelter and education for parents and children to give them new start and help with the emergency assistance they need.

This organisation works to send out medical assistance to many third world countries, like Jordan, Cambodia and Afghanistan.

They are currently working in Syria to start up health facilities in refugee transit camps and run mobile clinics across the Syrian border.

This centre, based in Footscray, offers multiple services for newly arrived refugees including help with accessing legal aid and health services.

You can donate to keep the centre running or you can buy much needed groceries online and get it delivered to them which goes towards the Foodbank that the centre provides for refugees who have just arrived and need a helping hand.

ASRC'S Food Justice Truck where refugees can get groceries at a 75% discount. Source: ASRC

ASRC’S Food Justice Truck where refugees can get groceries at a 75% discount. Source: ASRC

2. VOLUNTEER

If you have more time on your hands but your budget is tight then volunteering is still a great option.

Volunteering can also be great thing to put on your resume  if you don’t have any work experience in your field.

You can also tailor the volunteering role you choose to your expertise. For example, the Red Cross is currently looking for an English Tutor Volunteer to teach english to newly arrived migrants which can be a very rewarding experience if you are studying to become a teacher.

Other organisations like The Humanitarian Group work on giving legal aid and getting visa protection for refugees as well as working to reunite families, which is perfect for the aspiring human rights lawyer.

   3.  SIGN PETITIONS

A lot of people may think signing a petition won’t amount to anything but, if enough people can get together, it can produce real change. Signing a petition only takes a few seconds too.

From getting domestic violence education into NSW schools to saving an autistic boy from being deported, petitions can at least help influence government decisions.

Various petitions for refugee issues exist including Oxfam’s petition to get our intake of refugees up from 12,000 to 30,000 as well as a call to increase peace agreements efforts to end the Syrian conflict.

GetUp’s plea to shut down the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres is another petition that may stir our government to make changes to our current asylum seeker policies.

Websites like GetUp and Change.org always have great petitions for every type of social issue and, in the case of refugee issues, they can hopefully make politicians sit up and pay attention if enough people sign.

GetUp Australia has lots of great petitions that only take a few minutes to sign. Source: GetUp

4. TAKE ACTION LOCALLY

For something closer to home, there are plenty of  groups in Perth that are dedicated to improving the lives of refugees and fighting for policy changes.

The Refugee Rights Action Network WA is a group dedicated to bringing attention to the issues with mandatory detention. From organising bus trips to detention centers to sending multi-lingual dictionaries to incarcerated aslyum seekers, this group is a great option if you really want to get involved and create change. The group meets every Monday at 6:30pm at the Activist Center in the CBD so swing by if you are interested.

There is also an Amnesty International Group on campus too if you would like to join in with like-minded students to discuss social justice issues and campaign for change. Amnesty International also urge our  federal government to change their increasingly negative social issue policies with rallying, letter-writing campaigns, and petitions.

If you want to stay informed, the Refugee Council of Australia also has great fact sheets on refugee issues as well as research papers on asylum seeker policies and federal budget summaries focusing on refugee-related spending.

No matter what you decide to do, any action will help.