Monday, April 04, 2005

David Penberthy on asylum seekers.

Here's the story that Penberthy wrote in the Telegraph 18 months ago. As I said it is very un-Murdoch like in it's subject matter. One wonders if David will "sing from the same song book" as many of his fellow News Corp editors seem to do? Or will he follow his conscience as he did with the article.

BACKGROUND: Penberthy wrote an article "Five star asylums", which one would assume was based on a press kit/release put out by the spin doctors at the Australian Department of Immigration. This was more to counter the "concentration camp" tag placed on the asylum centres for refugees awaiting residency status. (Some have been waiting up to six years.) The "The five star asylum" article was a beat-up based on the press kit which desribed facilities at the detention centres.

He was invited to take a look at an actual detention centre by an advocate and from what one reads was moved by the whole deal. And he didn't just visit once, he went back ten times.

Anyway the link is here:

Here's a brief snip

"I tell them it mean I am going to die," the man says, as his wife looks at
the ground. "Death threat. They kill me." For every chatty conversation you
have, look over your shoulder and there is some poor bastard who you have never
met, never seen talking to anybody, staring into space as if they have been
clubbed over the head.

Pharmaceutically, they may well have been clubbed over the head. In the
course of two visits, you can see the same person twice and it's like meeting
two people.

"I am taking 12 pills a day," says Kristina, a Russian mother who has been in detention for 18 months, separated from her baby son, who was born here and is an Australian citizen. She is estranged from the father and hasn't seen her boy for several weeks. If she wasn't so dosed up she'd be totally hysterical. Read this, from about six pages of notes:

"I am taking valium, Panadeine Forte, another one for my stomach ... I don't remember. I can't eat. They give me pills to level me out. If they didn't I probably would hang myself by now. Mothers can't go a day without seeing their child and I haven't seen my little boy for six weeks. Six weeks. Six weeks, what is that in days? 42 days.
"Where is my baby? I only have to look at him to know what's wrong with him. We are one person. I know when he is thirsty and I know that if I give him a box of apple juice he does not like to drink from a straw, only from a bottle. Nobody else knows that. I am his mother."


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