Hope, Solidarity and Death at the Australian Border: Christmas Island and Asylum Seekers
Forced displacement affects millions annually, as they search for safety, yet how many of us take the time to truly understand the asylum seeker experience? Not only confronted with the risks of irregular migration, asylum seekers must navigate border politics imposed by countries seeking to deter and punish those in need. Nameless bodies who wash up on the shores globally have become a contemporary norm. As humans are all deeply connected, a moral responsibility exists to comprehend why asylum seekers seek refuge even if the stakes of death are high. When understanding prevails, compassion and welcome often follow. However, policies of deterrence, signalling to refugees that they are “not welcome” have overshadowed an appreciation to understand.
Despite asylum seeker deaths being well-publicised, government policies that focus on preventing “illegal immigration” often resonate with the populous. The question arises as to why a lack of understanding and hospitality is the dominant discourse. Possible clues are found on faraway Christmas Island, an Australian outpost located in the Indian Ocean, situated much closer to Indonesia than Australia.
This book, the result of extensive research, reveals how Australia’s asylum seeker policy plays out at the Australian border. It examines how Christmas Islanders responded to asylum seekers and provides insights into why humans respond to strangers in need or turn them away. It opens the aperture for future discussions around the global complexities of welcoming asylum seekers, host communities and immigration border policies, and encourages replacing asylum seeker border deaths with hope and solidarity.
For over a decade, Dr Michelle Jasmin Dimasi, PhD, has promoted and published on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors and women. She has advocated for the economic empowerment of women, with her work focusing on Afghanistan and the Middle East.
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