I don’t often write about politics. I don’t know enough about it to commentate or try and inform anyone else’s opinion. And today is no different – I’m not writing this post about politics, I am writing this post about being human. About having a conscience and treating other people with respect, with compassion.
Today Fairfax reports
An asylum seeker who was moved off Nauru to give birth is being locked up for 18 hours a day in a detention centre in Brisbane while her week-old baby remains in hospital.
The case of Latifa, a 31-year-old woman of the persecuted Rohingya people of Myanmar, has shocked churches and refugee advocates. She was separated from her baby on Sunday, four days after a caesarean delivery, and has since been allowed to visit him only between 10am and 4pm in Brisbane’s Mater Hospital.
The boy, named Farus, has respiratory problems and needs constant medical care.
Latifa is confined to the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation, 20 minutes away, where her husband and two children, four and seven, are being held.
Latifa’s husband, Niza, is not allowed to visit the child at all, according to people in daily contact with the family.
I am not even going to attempt to put myself in Latifa’s shoes. I listened to a story about her on the radio the other day and I was so appalled at her conditions I know there is no similarity between her life and mine.
Latifa has spent nearly 10 years in a refugee camp in Malaysia, she was transferred from Nauru to give birth to her baby. I heard her speak, through an interpreter, about the terrible conditions she was experiencing there. About the heat, about her children being fed food that was uncooked and could make them very ill. The awful conditions of a life that she never chose.
Latifa is a mother. A woman trying to find a place for her family to live. I was born privileged, I have never had to run for my life. I have never had to worry about whether my child would die from heat, malaria or eating raw food.
But like Latifa my son was in the neo-natal intensive care unit. Unlike Latifa I sat by his side day in and day out. I left his crib to sleep at around midnight but snuck back in at around 5am because being without him felt like my heart was being torn out of my body. He was my baby and he was sick and I needed to be with him. His father spent every minute he could with him, he spoke to him, sang to him, read to him through the perspex sides of the humidcrib. He had spoken to my pregnant stomach for seven months and our tiny little baby responded to his father’s voice. It was not just the amazing nursing staff, brilliant doctors and 24 hour care that nursed my son back to health – it was the love he received from his parents at his bedside.
I am appalled by Scott Morrison’s decision. I am frightened about people in power having no compassion and no heart. I feel sick for the thousands of people who don’t have the right to safety, the right to asylum, the right to be with their children. I feel ashamed by our government’s stance on asylum seekers.