the royal what?

I watched The Princess Bride tonight. It was fab.

I love love. It’s really nice. But I made a decision some years ago (and put it on the internets, so it must be true) that I wouldn’t get married if that meant I was going to be a part of a discriminatory institution.

I’m all for other people to go off and have weddings and partake in the Matrimonial Industrial Complex, sure, and I adored being a bridesmaid at one of my best friends’ charming wedding last year, but getting hitched is just not for me.

Given my predilection for not being a fan of it all, the hype around Will & Kate’s nuptials has absolutely made my skin crawl.  The cost, the ostentation, the irrelevant pomp & ceremony — urgh.

I don’t mean to come off as bitter and horrible (while, admittedly, I am a bit of both).  There were a few folks on my twitter stream making comments about ignoring the haters because all weddings are lovely and happy and are beacons of light in a world of suffering.

Guess what? They’re not.

In addition to the fact that same-sex couples can’t proclaim that their love for each other is as valid as a hetero couple, let’s not forget lavender marriages (but we hope these happen less these days…), forced marriages and child brides:

One in seven girls under the age of 15 is married in the developing world. Once a girl becomes trapped in these kinds of marriages, her prospects for educational attainment become severely constrained. That, in turn, has all sorts of negative effects on the health and welfare of her family and the community at large. Breaking that vicious cycle starts with ending child marriage. (UN Foundation)

The other thing that is really vile is the amount of completely unnecessary media coverage over the whole circus.

Congratulations, William and Kate, it is utterly delightful that you found each other, but your lives have absolutely no impact on anything we do and when you get pissed off by the paps chasing you for the rest of your days, you should stop to remember that you had a choice about having a quiet, private ceremony and certainly did not have to let any media organisation broadcast your vows around the world.

And I can’t say anything more about the ridiculous lengths that the media has gone to on this story (did I hear correctly that there were 10,000 people involved in covering this? TEN THOUSAND INTERROBANG) than what Dan Rather said about it:

What bothers me is the hypocrisy. The idea that we can’t afford to throw resources at an important foreign story, but can afford to spend this kind of money on a story like the royal wedding is just plain wrong.

Damn straight.

And now, I shall forever hold my peace. (Or is it ‘piece’? I never know.)

two decades too long #deathsincustody

The report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was released in April 1991.  In the 20 years since the Royal Commission’s 339 recommendations were handed down, 269 of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters have died while incarcerated.

Along with the deaths in Australia’s immigration detention centres, this loss of life strikes at the heart of any claim we have to be a decent, humane society.

The Aboriginal Legal Service of WA and the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of WA are holding a public event in Perth on Friday 15 April to mark the anniversary and to demand change – please see here for details.

Image: Indymedia.

Zimbabwean law lecturer faces death penalty for #Egypt lessons

Munyaradzi Gwisai is a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe who has been charged with treason. The government is saying he showed internet videos about the democracy struggle in Egypt to his students. If convicted he faces the death penalty.

While he has been released on bail pending his next court appearance on 20 April, Gwisai testified at an earlier hearing that he and other accused were brutally tortured after their arrest by state security agents.

An event organised by Adele Carles MLA, Melissa Parke MP and Senator Scott Ludlam at the Fremantle Town Hall this week will call for the rule of law and freedom to be restored in Zimbabwe.

Wednesday, 20 April at 7pm.

#rethinkrefugees

I’m just about to start up fourth week at my Dream Job: I’m in the Civil branch at Legal Aid WA and I’m working on a whole range of things from Legal Advice Bureaus and Criminal Injuries Compensation claims to assisting asylum seekers in detention centres get through the hoops DIAC makes them jump through to ‘prove’ that they are genuine refugees.

Because, you know, people who come here on boats are sneakily trying to slip in through the ‘back door’ and jump those sensible and orderly ‘queues’ that exist in war-torn countries MIGHT ACTUALLY BE NASTY FOLK WHO ENJOY EXTREME ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS RIGHT ZOMFG INTERROBANG

The thing that pisses me off the most about the whole dog-whistle ‘debate’ we’re having is that asylum seekers and refugees are talked about, trollumnised on, statistified.  They are made into unhumans.

DIAC’s motto is “People: our business”.  But it hardly feels like that. My clients each have SEVERAL reference numbers that we need to note on all our correspondence – a client ID, a file number, an application ID, boat ID… Their name (sadly) isn’t enough. The government refers to asylum seekers who arrive by boat as ‘Irregular Maritime Arrivals”.  A friend of mine pointed out that it makes these people sound like packages that have been lost in the post.

Rarely do we talk to them or listen to their stories and see them as real men, women and (sadly) children – with hopes and (sadly) many fears and dreams and families.

In my volunteering work at CASE for Refugees and now with LAWA all I do is listening to real stories from real people who have had experiences our subconsciousness couldn’t even process to turn into nightmares.

When Ruddock said recently that unaccompanied minors are coming here as part of a dodgy immigration racket, I just wanted to jump up and down and point to my high-school-aged client whose father and older brother were murdered before they had to flee their homeland. My client’s mother didn’t come with them on the trip here because she stayed with my client’s younger siblings, who couldn’t make such a journey.

If helping that kid to avoid growing up in a war-zone and letting him have a chance to go to school and is a racket, I am damn proud to call myself a gangster.

As Omar Little wisely said on The Wire:

“I’ll do what I can to help y’all. But, the game’s out there, and it’s play or get played. That simple.”

Now. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they’re totally wishing that they could help, but bemoaning that they can’t because they are not human rights lawyers like me.  (OMFG. I really am a human rights lawyer now, aren’t I? SQUEE-EFFING-SQUEE, MUTHAZ!!! I MADE IT!!!)

OK: NEWSFLASH! Human rights lawyers only do a teeny-tiny part of this game. We’re just like, the little hoppers on them corners, yo.

The best thing about this here game, is that it’s really easy to play and all’a y’all can be soldiers, aight?

Everyone, every single one of us, all of you peeps at the other end of the internets, no matter what your job, your income, your age, WHAT THE EFF EVER, can take part in supporting asylum-seekers and helping to change a conversation that has been trolling our “lucky” country for far too long.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Talk to your friends about asylum seekers. Request your own “Change the conversation” booklet from Amnesty by emailing your name and postal address to rethinkrefugees@amnesty.org.au or check out ASRC’s factsheets (summary; big booklet).

Check out ASCI for info on how you can be involved in the Christmas Island Letter Writing Project.

Donate to Dictionaries for DetaineesRefugee Rights Action Network‘s TOTES ORSM project getting bilingual dictionaries into detention centres to help asylum-seekers and refugees learn  English while they’re waiting for their applications to get processed.

Get involved with ChilOut – a not-for-profit community group of Australians who are concerned with the plight of children held in immigration detention.

Perth Peeps can:

In Melbourne and Victoria, the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre does a PHENOMENAL amount of amazing things. Also, their CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM has got a show on at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival called ‘The Hateful Humanitarian’ and all proceeds are going to ASRC. Check them out on the Twitters, too, they tweet good and stuff.

And lastly — for the wanna-be hoppers out there: lawyers and law-student types can volunteer with

NB: If there are more you know of that I don’t (I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING YOU KNOW!) please leave a note in the comments and I will update this list.

Awesome tweep Tony Thorpe reminded us the other night:

“None of us can do everything. All of us can do something. Together we can do a lot.”

And a quick message to all them haters out there: GAME ON, MOLES – we’re coming to talk to you politely and sensibly about Teh Boats and stuff over a cuppa. If you’re nice, we might even give you an ANZAC biccie.

xoxo
Sunili

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