Last night I felt like I wanted to get together with some like-minded people in London and plot some considered, effective actions we could take to register and vocalise our frustration, anger, heart-break, etc. at the state of our nation.
Today, talking about action didn’t seem like enough. I woke up this morning and read about the violence against asylum seekers on Manus Island and I decided today was the day. I facebooked some people. I emailed some people. Essentially, what I said was, ‘This is not ok with me and I’m going to do something different about it to what I usually do. Today. I’m going to do that today. Join me.’
So, armed with, quite literally, an umbrella, some candles, a lighter, some jelly snakes (essential), some textas and a note pad, I went to Australia House.
I stood outside the big black gates and I lit my candle. Mostly I stood. I also used my notebook (handy) to write to the Australian High Commissioner. I said:
A fire burns at Australia House
Dear Mr Rann,
I stopped by the Commission today. I lit a candle and stood on the front steps. I wanted to let you, and London, know that the news today about the death and violence at Manus Island is abhorrent to me.
I hope that, in your capacity as Australia’s representative here, you would be able to reflect my views – those of an Australian citizen – back to Australia.
I am outraged that my government has overseen the death of this man, who came to us to ask for refuge.
Please know and convey my disappointment and horror that this atrocity has occurred in my name.
I question this Parliament’s ability to govern our nation if it cannot keep safe the wold’s most vulnerable people when explicitly requested to do so.
There are many other things auspiced under this Government against which I stand in protest – this is but one. As such, and in the hope that you can help, you may well find me on your doorstep again.
Please feel free to contact me should you wish to discuss this further.Sincerely, Amber Hammill
My friend Kate came down to vent her frustrations with (an apple, some cheese* and) some masking tape so I could stick my letter on the front door (no letterbox – oversight Australia). I’ll let you know if I hear from him.
So I went. I stood. I felt a lot of feelings and wrote a letter and lit a candle. So what?
So I felt like taking my rage and sorrow to the streets was, at the very least, a change from doing it on the sofa. I felt like, in a small way, I was able to honour, to bear witness, to the loss of that life at our hands.
In recent months I have, many times, felt uncomfortable that I am sat idly by watching my homeland sink into a mire of ruinous, hateful social and political shambles. There are, no doubt, more inspired, co-ordinated ways for us to feel mad and sad and try to address this. I couldn’t think of any of those today, so I just went.
I’m going to go back. I’m going to go back next Tuesday. And the Tuesday after that, and the Tuesday after that, until someone is listening and helps us overcome these many not insignificant attacks on our nation by its own leaders.
If you’re looking for me, or for a place to vent your tears (and/or have a picnic), I’ll be on the front steps of Australia House at 5.30pm on Tuesdays until further notice.
The sound of one fist pumping!
*Ok, so it sounds like we had a picnic. So? Snacking and being outraged aren’t mutually exclusive – I’m here to tell you.