Australia: ‘Like a fish out of water, dying every moment,’ life in detention

Australia: 'Like a fish out of water, dying every moment,' life in detention

One of Australia’s Immigration Detention Centres

I thought Australia would care about us and we would be able to live a peaceful life without discrimination, but it has not happened.

Australia, 20 June, 2011 – Jaffa has been detained in one of Australia’s Immigration Detention Centres since his arrival as an asylum seeker six months ago. In acknowledgment of World Refugee Day, he wished to share his thoughts and the thoughts of other Afghan people living in detention.

We thank you all in the world who for remembering us, noticing us, for becoming our voice and raising it to the world outside of immigration detention and imprisonment.

We all left our countries for the fear of being killed. I personally left my country of Afghanistan almost 18 years ago. Since then I have been seeking protection and asylum in different countries. Australia is the fourth country I have entered for the sake of protection but I have yet to get it.

Is not this 18 years of homelessness and neglect enough to show how desperately needy we are for protection? If someone’s life is not in danger, why would he choose to live like a gypsy, just moving here and there like a stranger in unknown place?
I understand that we are physically safe here in this detention centre. But being physically safe is not enough. Mentally we are disturbed and isolated. We all left someone behind in an unstable environment – our siblings, our pregnant wives, our parents and families. We wonder every day if the people we knew are still safe. Here we are just like scentless flowers who are alive but without fragrance and smell. We are like living corpses.

We are not criminals; we do not know what are we guilty for. Is it for being human or for being Afghan? Even the real criminals are luckier than us — at least they know what are they guilty for and how long they will be held in prison for their crimes. But we are innocent people, being held behind bars, and we do not know how long we will have to stay here. Fifteen precious months of my life have been taken away from me in this detention centre. The right to live with dignity has been taken away.

Here we are depressed, upset and restless. Just like a fish which is taken out of the water, we are dying every minute, every second, and every moment. Some times I feel like we are in a zoo, where animals are fed well, kept well but they are not allowed to live like humans because they are wild and dangerous.

I have not spent a day without thinking of my family. They are still living in such terrible and terrifying conditions. I thought Australia would care about us and we would be able to live a peaceful life without discrimination, but it has not happened.
Who knows if I will ever meet my family again, because the hope I had is going up in smoke.

All occasions: the Eid, Christmas, Easter have passed by and now this new Easter has come and gone but we will be here again unnoticed and ignored. All seasons winter, summer, autumn and spring have gone but the only season remaining in our hearts is autumn and I wonder when the spring will take its place.

JRS supports Jaffa, and many others like him. With your help, we can continue make a world of difference in their lives.

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