Imagine you are an asylum seeker, having just been forced into a detention center. You imagine what you left behind - your family and friends. It was painful to leave them, but you had to escape, for you were surrounded by rape, torture, injustice, war, starvation... Months pass and you still haven’t been let out of detention, and by now you’re feeling an intense hatred towards your life. Slit wrists, deliberate starvation, drug overdose and suicide attempts are all common practice, and you understand why. You’ve been here for two years now, telling your story yet they don’t believe you. You’re traumatized by your time in the cell, always feeling hopeless and depressed, and you’ve given up on the idea of freedom.
How does this life compare to your real life, where all you want is the newest iphone, not safety? Where you move through life effortlessly, ungrateful of the things that some refugees die for. How can you endure the torture they feel being locked up?
We, Australians boast values of being a humane and free nation. But how can we, when we lock up innocent refugees, and their imprisonment traumatizes them? How can we say we are humane, or a free country? Asylum seekers come to us looking for a better life, and trying to forget their terrible pasts. We should welcome them with compassion and grant them a hopeful future, but instead we lock them away in our detention centers. They stay there for countless months and years, and with no end in sight the experience breaks them. It is time that the detention system is brought to an end, for they leak of mental illness, they solve nothing, and as a wealthy country it is our duty to help those in need. We need to start treating refugees humanely – and begin this by ending their imprisonment. Our detention centers house true horrors. A boy locked up in Darwin so traumatized by his imprisonment slashed his wrists after complaining his “brain was exploding”. Another boy, age 12, attempted to end his life. Many other detainees have succeeded. Every day more than 3 cases of self harm just like these cases will take place. Refugees will come into our detention centers slightly wounded from their pasts, but it is the traumatic months of imprisonment that mentally breaks them. Government statistics show that the average sentence for a refugee is 12 months, while 1 out of 20 will spend more than 2 years in detention. These statistics are shameful, for how would those stolen years affect you. How would you feel to be a child, losing 3 years of your life in detention? After suffering a fate similar to this, a child drew a man cutting his wrists – from memory. The ruined lives of refugees need to end. The depression, the traumatic scars, the self harm and the suicides all need to end.
A medical doctor with first hand experience at the northern immigration detention centre has revealed the terrible situation for refugees, “There is a sense of hopelessness in the centers,” he says, “A lot of them say ‘I'm depressed. I can't sleep, I can't eat.’” Detention has terrible effects on people seeking asylum from us. The doctor reveals that “after six to twelve months most people have attempted some sort of self harm. That at least once a week someone attempts to end their life”, and many of his patients have asked him to end theirs. These are terrible figures, for at most the center holds 116 detainees, yet every week at least one of those detainees tries to kill their self. At least once a week someone proves their mental state has already reached breaking point. Our detention centers traumatize many, yet their imprisonment is completely pointless.
Imprisoning “boat people” does not solve anything, but only ever results negatively. Our detention centres are a terrible waste of our money. Each asylum seeker’s imprisonment ends up, on average, costing $113,000. Many people complain that Australia’s economy can’t handle asylum seekers. If so,…