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8 Things A Boat Person Wants You To Know – Jamila’s Story

In All, Stories, Tell Us A Story by Aware2 Comments

I know you’ve heard a lot of things about me, but please allow me to speak for myself for a change.

1. If the Taliban hate your guts, then you’re probably doing something right, right? When I was 5, my Mum, younger brother and I fled Afghanistan, arrived here and were imprisoned in a detention centre for 7 months.

2. The difference between your rights and asylum seeker rights. None. The human rights you’re entitled to are the same rights I’m entitled to. So when I got here on a boat, I hadn’t broken any laws. No if’s or but’s. I am not ‘illegal’.

3. Multi-purpose Centres Along with processing asylum claims, detention centres are really good at making people develop mental health problems, resulting in self-harm and suicide. I would know, I saw it all.

4. “You’re out of detention now, so what?” I know I’m out, and I’m so grateful. But it irritates me that a lot of people still support cruel immigration policies that abuse basic human rights.

5. For Those Who’ve come across the seas We’ve boundless plains to share. I used to sing this at every Friday Assembly back in primary school. I was also confused by anti-refugee sentiments contradicting an anthem people so proudly sang.

6. Boat People Burn Book If such a thing existed, politicians and the media could easily make contributions to the Boat People Burn Book by using all the lies they spread about people seeking refuge. Regina George would be impressed!

7. My presence became politicised to harmful extremes Because of all the shade thrown at me in Australia, I grew up with a sense of guilt, shame and self-hatred. My low self-esteem resulted in me trying to white wash myself, which is a whole other can of worms.

8. I’m no one strange or special. I’m the person you see reading a book on the bus. I’m the person in your class working on the group assignment with you. I’m the person at your local supermarket raiding the chocolate shelf.

Do you look at me and go, “Oh God NO! Another bloody refugee invading the supermarket!!”?

No, of course you don’t. You’re probably like, “There goes another chocolate lover, stocking up on her supplies.”

This is how ordinary I am.

But the government, media and your opinionated family member (who proudly retorts how they support politicians who managed to ‘stop the boats’) will have you believe otherwise.

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Image by Melanie Adams


  1. Ali

    Thanks for sharing your story, that is great and wonderful, best wishes the rest of your life.

  2. Si incula sorellina

    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little reseqrch on that.
    Andd he actually bought mee lunch since I found it ffor himm smile Therefore let me rephrase that:
    Thanks for lunch!

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