merry christmas island and a traumatic new year

I bet nobody told them that freedom this Christmas would feel like this.

The corridors are so empty that the loneliness echoes back pitch-perfectly, little kindred flesh to absorb the grief. Tears pool on the linoleum, slide coldly down cement-rendered walls. They can’t stall the ghosts that will soon walk these halls: the shredded crimson scream of roof-flung bodies slit by perimeter razor-wire, the sedated dreamscape of war-torn memories, black-purple bruises from the steel-tipped truncheons of frustrated guards.

In months to come, nobody will speak to those who use the cafeteria: they will be an affront to freedom. Escape will mean the deep belly-rumble and dry chafe of hunger-striking lips. Head-count every hour, they will have to go slowly: starving out an exit, body devouring organs from the inside out.

The Age reports this morning that one of the Howard Government’s most appalling legacies, the new Detention Facility on Christmas Island, is about to open it’s doors.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
– Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 1.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
– Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 5.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
– Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 9.

Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
– Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 13.

Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
– Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 14

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
– Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 28.

Please support an Australian Bill of Rights.

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *