Letter #2 from family members of some of the Muslims currently being held at Goulburn. Despite the attempts of media and politicians to dehumanise Muslims, the suffering resulting from the exceptional treatment of Muslim prisoners is real. As you read the letter we ask you to ponder over the exceptionally unjust treatment of Muslim prisoners, and the exceptional treatment of Muslims more broadly. Where is this all heading? What does the future hold? From Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Palestine to local #AntiMuslimLaws, harassment at the airports, audio and visual surveillance, pressuring Imams, targeting our youth in schools, abuse in the streets, control orders, passport cancellations, welfare cancellations, revoking citizenship, the list is as long as it is confronting.
The exceptional treatment should be of concern to us all, inhumane treatment is being justified on the back of dubious accusations and narratives. We must never allow ourselves to accept such a lowering of human treatment, ever.
I used to think it only happened ‘overseas’ in prisons many miles from our ‘civil’ Australia, places where there was no social justice, only cruel dictatorships that ruled by force and would imprison, torture and make missing anyone who opposed them at any level.
But now, after having experienced the injustice done to my dear brother, and to the other men in a similar situation as my brother, I realise oppression does not escape a system such as that in Australia, and that while there is one law for all of Australia, there seems to be a different, very fluid law that is imposed on Muslims.
My phone would ring, showing a private number at least once and sometimes twice if I was lucky per week or fortnight. When I would see the call as a private number I would always feel excited and happy, because my big brother who always makes me laugh and smile would most likely be the caller. When I would hear the pre-recorded message saying you are about to receive a phone call from an inmate at Goulburn Correctional Centre, if you do not wish to receive this call, please hang up now, this would evoke a familiar suspense in my day which would see me turning off the stove, passing an activity to the kids, or walking outside to have my very very brief 6 min heart to heart with my loved one. I am sure this is familiar to many other women and family members who also have loved ones in prison.
But since the new classification has stripped my brother and many like him with the very little they had to begin with, my phone no longer rings with a private number and I miss hearing his voice so much. Guaranteed, no matter how much heartache he is going through, or troubles on his mind or anxiety in his system, he would always ask me the same question, “have I caught you at a bad time,?” and every time my heart would quiver with sadness like as if sparing 6 minutes out of my day to talk to someone I love could ever be a bad time. Somedays, he would call and it was like an angel sent him to cheer me up because I was having a rough day.
Winter is approaching, and as I prepare the wardrobes for the family, I cannot but think of how on earth my dear brother is going to keep warm this winter, because the $13 he is limited to now will not be enough to afford him new socks, a jumper and other necessities. We can no longer send him money to cover these things. Why I ask the Australian Government, why? Is the fact that he is imprisoned for what is nearly a life sentence not enough pain to inflict on a person??
Till this day I stand firm to the belief my brother and many like him have unfortunately been the target of an unjust political agenda, backed by unscrupulous media hounds foaming at the mouth when it comes to media stories, or should I say media lies pertaining to the unprecedented war on terror.
The new classification placed on the inmates at Goulburn correctional centre are disgusting to say the least.
When I read the lies told in the newspapers leading up to the implementation of the new restrictions, I could smell the false propaganda right from the title. I know my brother, and that is all the criteria I need to know that all the accusations and statements made in the media articles were simply untrue, misleading and hyped up so as to pave the way for the law enforcement agencies unjust and oppressive new rules.
It is very hard to go about your day knowing that a vast majority of the population actually believe the lies they read in the paper, particularly when it relates to someone so close to home. There is a strange paranoia and vibe that circles me whenever I go out in public because of the twisted game the media and law enforcement agencies play with my life and the lives of so many in my community.
It is hard to walk out every day with confidence knowing that a vast majority of the public think they all know something about you. It is hard to stay positive sometimes. But I have to keep my head up and stay strong for my brother and for the other brothers who are victims of this targeted abuse of human rights. I need to have hope that someday the truth will be told about their stories, and awareness will grow about the injustice done to them.
I ask all people who stand for justice and basic human rights to join in the struggle against the targeted oppression of Muslims in prison. I ask you all to pray for justice for all of those who are oppressed everywhere in the world.
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