Saturday, August 4, 2007

Day 16 - 22: Christmas Island

It feels like we are on a strange, macabre odyssey. We have just returned from Christmas Island and, as well as meeting some fantastic people - thanks Robyn, Lyn, Margaret and Charlene - we visited some of what I think are and will become sacred sites for Australians. This is a frontline of Australia’s response to asylum seekers and refugees. Before the excision laws of 2001, thousands of asylum seekers passed through Christmas Island before being brought to the mainland where they were detained until they were granted protection or removed from the country.

It was here that the Tampa came and sought to offload the asylum seekers it had rescued at Australia’s request. It was off these shores that the children were not thrown overboard and that the SIEV X sunk.

The waters here are remarkable. They are a deep blue; they seem to absorb the light from the sun, and reflect it back, becoming luminous. We paddled and snorkeled in excised waters; waters that asylum seekers and refugees who have sought protection in Australia have sailed in, swum in, and in some instances, died in. (The photo here is us paddling in Flying Fish Cove.) We heard the stories of the asylum seekers who had passed through here and of the ways in which the local community has supported them. We saw the new, multi-million dollar, high security detention centre that is being built here. The government, having commissioned the new facility clearly endorses it. The Australian Labor Party has said that it will scrap the Pacific Solution, but will maintain excision. It will process asylum seekers caught in the excised zone on Christmas Island. This is a place of extraordinary beauty, great people, but which is being used by our political leaders as a place in which the nation’s dirty work can be done out of sight.


katherine said...

finally got around to reading your blog after seeing you off at warrnambool - interesting reading and photos - well done - will follow with interest

Leonie Dillon said...

Hi Dave,
Hopefully those days of paddling at Gully Beach are paying off.
We are thinking of you and are grateful to your tenacity and willingness to continue to push for change and bring awareness to the Australian public.
Regards to all the support crew.
Love Leonie, David, Lucinda and Nicola.
PS Sandi is missing Frog!

PPS - Hi Dave. Leonie wouldn't add it under "her" name, but I thought you'd be keen to know that the Dogs got rolled by the Demons last night. Also tell Nadine that the School Council has decided NOT to send the grade 5 & 6 years to Lorne next year! Trust you're all well - keep up the good work, and look forward to seeing you when you return. David

Simon Keenan & David Corlett said...

Hi Katherine and Leonie, David, Lucinda and Nicola.

Thanks for your messages. It's always great to have some feedback on the blog. We're all going well although travelling along at a faster pace than we would probably is a beautiful country!

All the best to you all.

BASP said...

Best wishes. Thinking of you. Had a great day for remembrance of Tampa yesterday. There seems a certain amount of interest from media in refugee and asylum seeker issues/stories at present.
I hope the paddling is not too hard. Was very interested to read your relections on Christmas Is.
Brigid Arthur

rensie said...

just looked at your website. it's amazing the places you have visited and the people you've met. looks like you have left a wake of inspiration. you guys are doing great work and love reading your stories. we may well become paddling for refugees addicts! look forward to hearing more stories from your journey.
wishing you the best of luck
kerensa and tim @ ewb.