22 September 2010 Main Posts RIP Josefa Rauluni Michael Brull Two days ago, Josefa Rauluni, a Fijian asylum seeker, was killed. The newspapers reported he ‘fell’ from a roof, before quoting those who knew it was a suicide. Josefa pleaded with the government not to deport him. They didn’t listen. He jumped from the roof a few hours before they were going to expel him to Fiji. We shouldn’t just blame the bureaucrats who callously made and stuck to their decision. We should blame the mainstream political spectrum. Labor and Liberals agreed that refugees are a problem, and this problem should be solved by preventing them coming here. They did not stand for the basic proposition that refugees are human beings, the persecution they suffer is awful and we should be proud and eager to help out those who think Australia should treat them better. Obviously, Labor and the Coalition don’t think Australia should be a refuge for those suffering persecution in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq and so on. And we shouldn’t just blame the politicians. We should also blame the media, for its incessant demonisation of asylum seekers. Depicting them as problems and threats, urging us to look at them as dangers to us, seeking to harden our hearts against their humanity. The casual response to Josefa’s death should not surprise us. Sending a refugee back to be jailed or killed does not cause offence to our crusading zealots of hysteria against asylum seekers. Paul Sheehan urged the asylum seekers on the Oceanic Viking be sent back to Sri Lanka. Who cares if they were genuine refugees? Who cares if they would be killed? Just a few days ago, Piers Akerman warned readers (again) that Gillard left a ‘welcome sign for asylum seekers’. Obviously, the message he – and Andrew Bolt, and Tony Abbot, and Julia Gillard et al – wants to send is that they are not welcome. If they had a megaphone, they would call out something like this: You are not welcome here. You are not wanted here. We want you to leave, and we will make your life miserable until you do. We don’t care how miserable you are. We don’t care how desperate you are. We don’t care if you’ll be executed if we send you to your home country.* You are different, and you will never be one of us. I don’t know why Australians find it so hard to relate to asylum seekers and refugees as human beings. A major part of the story must be the constant hatred and fear peddled in the Murdoch and Fairfax media. Josefa died because he thought he was going to be sent back to Fiji. Another human being has been destroyed by our hardheartedness. RIP. *Though this doesn’t affect the sincerity of our passion for fighting for liberty in Afghanistan. Michael Brull Michael Brull is a columnist at New Matilda. He’s written for other publications including Fairfax, the Guardian, Crikey, Tracker and the Indigenous Law Bulletin. More by Michael Brull 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 First published in Overland Issue 228 24 February 202317 March 2023 Main Posts Final Results of the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry Prize Editorial Team Overland, the judges and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are thrilled to announce the final results of the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. First published in Overland Issue 228 24 February 202317 March 2023 Main Posts Final Results of the 2022 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize Editorial Team Overland, the judges and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are thrilled to announce the final results of the 2022 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize.