Letters to
the editor

Tears for Hamed

One of the saddest pictures I have ever seen was on the front page of The Saturday Paper at the weekend (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “Driven to death on Manus Island”, August 12-18). A sort of altar with a few pink flowers, candles and dishes of chocolate Bourbon biscuits stand in front of photos of Mr Hamed Shamshiripour, the latest refugee to die on Manus. Rolls of toilet paper are provided for attendees to wipe away their tears. Mine haven’t stopped. Every time I think about it I start weeping again, for him and his family so far away, and for the prisoners who remain there. We all share the responsibility for this disgrace, for both sides of government devising this diabolical plan, for being unable to stop it no matter how reasonable our many protests. So many lives and dreams wasted, so many possibilities gone forever. In another place, they could be our sons.

– Dr Julie Shaw, Glen Iris, Vic

A mental health failure

I write with great distress, frustration and anger after reading Martin McKenzie-Murray’s story of Hamed Shamshiripour’s declining mental health and eventual death on Manus Island. This is not the first article that has elicited such a response in me – for so many reasons – and sadly won’t be the last. What makes this story all the more galling is that this man was clearly experiencing a mental health crisis. The Australian mental health system is by no means perfect, but could and should have ensured he received appropriate care and treatment, instead of beatings, further incarceration and death.

– Andrew Bock, Euroa, Vic

Trade boycott may be the answer

The Saturday Paper deserves every praise for the reporting on Hamed Shamshiripour. I would have published the last terrible picture of Hamed, but that would have been wrong. You respected the family’s wishes, and described the terrible image in your editorial (“The killing of Hamed”, August 12-18). It does indeed resemble a lynching, one perpetrated by the government, with “opposition” complicity. Whenever I write abroad, to the New Statesman or to New Internationalist, I mention that we must have pressure from outside to stop the violation of human rights of refugees here. Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten may not understand human rights, but they do understand money. I think we need an overseas boycott of Australian goods and services. I ask overseas readers to think carefully before buying Australian, and if they decide not to, to tell everyone why. I have also written to Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party, asking that he demand that there are human rights conditions attached to any “free-trade agreement” between Britain and Australia. Despite your best efforts, and those of the Refugee Action Coalition and others, we do not have a strong human rights culture. Despite phone calls from myself and others, the ABC is a human rights free zone. Let’s not mention the commercial stations.

– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW

Send the government a message

While the plebiscite is an attempt to kick change into the long grass, everyone can make a difference by giving the government a clear message about contemporary inclusive Australia and shaming politicians into doing their job and legislating for change (Karen Middleton, “Ballot boxing”, August 12-18). This is an opportunity for community education to help our legislators and other leaders catch up with human rights ideas already embraced by the rest of the civilised world. For Australian society these are growing pains, but for the church, opposition to marriage equality will likely be its death rattle. Tony Abbott, Lyle Shelton and other conservative Christian voices are using the church as a haven from which to fire missiles previously aimed at the abolition of slavery, discrimination on the basis of culture or religion, gender equality, votes for women and investigation of abuse. Faith-based hatred dressed up as freedom of speech is like the tobacco smoke that until recently was choking our community. Destructive intolerance will be publicly outed and conservative religion will not be allowed even near the entrance to community policy conversations because the plebiscite will help to put the “warning on the packet”.

– Peter MacLeod-Miller, Archdeacon of Albury and the Hume, NSW

A job well done

Your article (Mike Seccombe, “Triggs’s station”, August 12-18) following the end of Gillian Triggs’s presidency of the Human Rights Commission brings to mind Scott Morrison’s contemptuous treatment of her during the children in detention inquiry. Her composure in the face of his rude and boorish behaviour remains as a lasting reminder of her professional approach, as well as the dignity with which she carried out that role on behalf of those she represented, despite the treatment from her employers. One can only wish her every success and thank her for continuing her commitment to human rights.

– Vicky Marquis, Glebe, NSW

Moore on Sydney’s housing crisis

Thank goodness Clover Moore has the humanity to insist Sydney needs to be a city for everyone (“Tense city”, August 12-18). Her article during national Homelessness Week came after a tent camp of homeless people at the rich end of town was rebuffed by representatives of the NSW government. That an independent lord mayor can have the opportunity to write longform journalism while in public office, making the case for permanent, affordable housing in the less than accommodating Emerald City, is heartening. More articles like this please.

– Sally Denshire, Albury, NSW

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 19, 2017.

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