Saturday, August 02, 2008

Human Rights in Australia - Adele Horin: 'An era of shame we can ill afford to forgive or forget'

Following is an excerpt from Adele Horin's article in today's online SMH:

"A shameful era is over in Australian politics. The Minister for Immigration, Chris Evans, has announced fundamental changes to a detention regime that was the cruellest in the Western world.

It is cause for celebration, but it would be a terrible waste if Australians failed to learn the lessons of that time. It should never be forgotten that Australian politicians, with mass support, locked thousands of children and adults behind razor wire in desert camps, demonised them, stripped them of their names, turned the water cannon on them and drove many of them insane. This treatment broke their spirits and damaged their minds in ways Saddam Hussein and the Taliban never did. The vast majority were eventually found to be genuine refugees.

It would do a disservice to the refugees if their ordeal taught us nothing. What is the lesson? It is, as I see it, for a country never to allow the ends to justify its means, especially when the means involve cruelty to children. Second, to respect the rule of law and the human rights that underpin a civilised society. Innocent people are destroyed when a government jettisons basic legal principles and betrays time-honoured values."

What a shame! Not enough people were listening when they should have been. As a collective, we averted our gaze. Hopefully, never again!

No comments: