This Valentine’s Day I’m standing up for love. I work with Greenpeace and by the time you’re reading this, I’ll be driving a boat in Sydney Harbour, showing my support for the #LetThemStay movement.
There is a group of 267 people seeking refuge in Australia and our government is trying to send them to detention camps in Nauru. That group includes 37 babies.
I think that’s cruel and goes against the values I hold dear as an Australian. Our mates in the global community need our help. Throughout history, Australians have given help when they can. Today, we can help them.
Fortunately, many people share this view and have been taking action around the country, like these brave climbers in Melbourne:
— 7 News Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) February 10, 2016
And on Bondi beach on Friday, GetUp! and Amnesty International organised this dramatic stunt:
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) February 11, 2016
Today is associated with being close to loved ones. People fleeing conflict or human rights abuses in their home countries have nearly always had to leave their loved ones behind.
Today is about showing them they’re not alone. That we want them to stay in safety in Australia, and not be treated like prisoners on Nauru.
It reminds me of this heart-wrenching poem called Home, by Warsan Shire:
no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
The call for a humane approach to people seeking asylum in our country is getting stronger. Doctors at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane are refusing to let authorities take away baby Asha (not her real name). They have taken a stand, and hundreds of people from the community have come out to support them.
My friend is taking a picture of us as we drive our boat protesting this latest human rights abuse. He’s standing on one of Sydney’s iconic tourist spots, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. It’s a famous location, where the story goes the wife of a European governor sat watching ships of people arrive to Sydney.
It’s also one of the many beautiful spots that makes Sydney a great city in this friendly and multicultural country. The Australia I know is a welcoming place.
Most of us are also taking personal action. For instance, many of us joined the protest at the Town Hall last week:
— Mariam Veiszadeh (@MariamVeiszadeh) February 8, 2016
Our mission at Greenpeace is to protect the environment and promote peace and social justice. The peace part of our name is never forgotten by us. And we will not forget the people seeking refuge in our country.
We will not be silent while our government breaches international human rights law.
I hope you’ll stand with us.
Please share this in solidarity with the 267 adults and children that are being treated like prisoners for exercising their right to seek refuge.