Human rights

Human rights abuses and our accountability

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Drawing by child in detention (via

Daemon Singer of the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties discusses our complicity in human rights abuses such as the NT Don Dale scandal and asks us to step up.

A COUPLE of weeks ago, as reported in the media, Australia was alerted to a horror in the Northern Territory called Don Dale

We witnessed how that particular effort at protecting the good burghers of Darwin helped children from 10 to 17 years of age "correct" their behavioural issues.

In fact, that wasn't news. It was actually just putting out there what many of us have known for quite a while. That is, that within Australia there reside a group of "people" who behave in the manner we witnessed on Four Corners, naturally. Their behaviour was not different to how they would normally behave at home. In this particular instance, they are called "juvenile justice workers".

We are all running through this process of gasping, "hand to face" looks of shock and so on but we, Australia, are their paymasters. We are the ones who, each fortnight, put money into their bank accounts, pay for their groceries, fuel to drive to work and the approval to carry on.

And we can no longer hide behind a veil of ignorance of the factthat we are the human rights abusers, as reflected via the skill-set these people take to work each and every day.

So, the decision to ask Professor Gillian Triggs, Human Rights Commissioner, to speak to us on the thorny subject of human rights abuse, had its birth around a table discussing what we are also doing to refugees. Don Dale merely adds another nuance to an open, weeping, sore. We can no longer feign ignorance of the issues here.

Politicians do exactly to other people what they hear us telling them – or allowing them – to do. The Pacific Solution for example, was the result of multiple focus groups based in Western Sydney asking about "boat people".

It's time to begin a different conversation. One where all of us accept responsibility for the people we elect as our "representatives"; the people we elect as our "leaders" — those who then take office and become our "rulers". We are the ones who hold ultimate responsibility.

This is particularly true when they have proven themselves, time after time, to be liars and self-interested seekers of high office, with no responsibility to anyone that doesn't contribute to their pay-cheque. These are the developers, the miners, the big businesses, the multinationals, the companies who have no vote. The companies who pay no tax (and still ask for further reductions). The enviro-rapists like the Adani Group – whose Carmichael mine will impact the Great Barrier Reef beyond repair – and everyone else mining coal for no reason other than their own enrichment: the one per cent.

On 31 August, you can have a place to be seen by those who rule. You can help start the conversation calling for change. You can make a difference, simply by being there to hear Professor Triggs talk about this crisis called the refugee "problem". You can accept your part in the winds of change which have begun.

We are not the people they say we are. Be part of the 200 people in this state who believe that enough really is enough.

21 days and counting.

Daemon Singer is secretary of the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL). More information about the QCCL including the event featuring Professor Triggs is available here.

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Human rights abuses and our accountability

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