Culture //

What if they were White?

Surabi Alauddin wants you re-examine our treatment of asylum seekers.

What if a civil war broke out in New Zealand? What if White families from New Zealand faced persecution, human rights abuses, violence and uncertainty? What if their safety could not be assured if they stayed put? What if these families felt that they did not have a viable future in their home country?

What if these White families decided that they wanted to seek peace, safety and security? What if they decided to jump on boats and travel to Tasmania seeking asylum? What if in the chaos, violence and fear some did not bring their identity documents with them?

What if these White asylum seekers were Christian, spoke perfect English and had blonde hair and blue eyes?

Would these White, Christian asylum seekers be accused of being economic migrants, criminals, illegals or queue-jumpers?

Would these White Christian men, women and children be locked up

in offshore detention centres to be ‘processed’?

Would they be detained indefinitely for years and years in unbearable conditions without adequate shelter, healthcare, water, sanitation or access to legal representation?

Would Australia expect White people to live in tents on Manus Island and Nauru in stifling heat and overcrowded conditions?

Would Australia send White people to a place where health services are so insufficient that a cut can lead to death?

Would Australia make White children and pregnant women queue for hours for food under the hot sun?

Would Australia give White asylum seekers less than 500ml of water to drink per person per day?

Would these White people have to struggle to gain telephone access so they can contact their families back in New Zealand?

Would Australia send White LGBT people to places where they will be persecuted for their sexuality?

Would Australia be OK with White men and women sewing their lips up? Going on hunger strikes?

Would the images of pretty blonde, blue-eyed children behind bars produce apathy among the Australian population?

Would Australia accept White children being told by guards they must expose their bodies in order to be allowed to shower for longer than two minutes?

If boat people were like ‘us’ and not ‘different’ would there even be an issue?

What if the ‘issue’ is as simple as a matter of race and religion?

If boat people were White and Christian, rather than people of colour and Muslim, would they be treated like they are now?

What if Australia’s refugee policy is actually based on racism, prejudice and fear; rather than reasoned policy designed to save lives?

What if we are too afraid to admit that this is the case?