This is Tomi, an eleven year old superstar from country Victoria.
Tomi has sent us the amazing letter below, and we were blown away! Read for yourselves….
I should also mention that Tomi refused to let her mother edit it, and I haven’t touched it either – this is exactly what Tomi sent us – and it’s incredible.
“To the citizens of Australia:
In the past couple of weeks heaps of people have wished me “A Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year” which I suppose is the polite thing to do, but it made me cranky.
Because each time someone said it, or we pulled another card out of the letterbox, I had to think about the many people that are locked up, for no reason at all, in one of our horrible detention centres.
I knew that in many of the detention centres, Christmas parties were being organised by regular visitors, to make sure asylum seekers and refugees didn’t feel left out. But it made me wonder if this didn’t actually make them feel worse. Christmas IS THE TIME when families around the world get together to celebrate, share gifts and food.
The detainees didn’t get a chance to do that! The families of the refugees and asylum seekers didn’t get a chance to celebrate together. Even if in their culture they don’t celebrate Christmas, everyone around them doing so would have reminded them even more just how much they miss their loved ones.
I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas or New Year, because I just didn’t feel right about it.
How can we be happy, while so many other people around us are so very lonely and unhappy? How can we be happy, while so many people are locked up in these horrible places for absolutely no reason?
Mum, dad and I didn’t celebrate, we didn’t give each other gifts, and we didn’t prepare heaps of unnecessary food. We decided to spend the days thinking and talking about all the refugees and asylum seekers that are locked up in Australia’s refugee prisons.
We talked about Raja, Abdul, John, Muhammad and all the others at Broadmeadows. We talked about Ayatullah, Ravi, Mahdi and all the others in Nauru. We talked about Germany’s refugees in the old ‘illegally occupied’ houses, trying to stay out of the snow and freezing cold. We talked about the young asylum seeker boys in Greece, locked up in cramped and dirty prison cells. We talked about the children living in shipping containers on Manus Island…and we talked about Ranjini and her two little boys in Villawood.
I first heard about Ranjini from Safdar Ahmed who is the Co-founder of The Refugee Art Project. He spoke of her and her two boys when Mum and I went to the ‘Life in Limbo’ exhibition in Melbourne last year. He told us how the police had come to her home in Melbourne one day, where she was living with her new husband, picked her and the two boys up and took them to the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney. Ranjini and her boys have been in indefinite detention since May last year. She was taken away from her home and husband, the boys from their father, school and friends, yet no-one seems to know why. Someone said that Ranjini’s former husband was a driver for some Tamil Tiger guy. SO WHAT! Her former husband is dead, and she left the troubles of her country behind, to bring some peace to her live and that of her children. Who cares what her former husband did, if he did anything at all?
Does that mean we now also jail the children and wives of Australian criminals? If not, why not? Shouldn’t we at least be fair about it?
Ranjini is going to give birth to a baby on Sunday. She and the boys should be at home in Melbourne, having their family and friends over to celebrate the birth of their newborn baby, as my neighbours and their two little boys did when their baby girl arrived a few months ago.
Citizens of Australia – what we are doing to refugees and asylum seekers is WRONG! It is CRUEL! It is INHUMANE! It makes me feel ashamed about being Australian.
My wish for Year 2013 is that ALL OF THIS NASTY STUFF WILL STOP, because I want to be proud of my people and I want to be proud of my country.