SIEV-X: for you who are sleeping

Issue 

Their names sink down in the nation's history.
SIEV X. The strange name of a shameful story.
353 children and adults gently sought out our compassion,
We could hear them from behind the fences
While we saw their souls float away.
They are asleep. Peaceful. Forever.

They died before they were punished.
Would they still be in detention,
If they had set their weary feet on Australian shores?
They were devoured by the beasts of the sea,
Instead of the beasts of our land.
Politicians, who fight not for freedom,
but to be the gatekeepers of our dusty desert hell.

146 children silently float on the ocean,
Like beautiful water lilies that do not grow.
They are asleep. Peaceful. Forever.

I journeyed out to sea in my mind last night
and I wondered...
I wondered if humans are worth as much as animals
I wondered if people could feel the emotion of the cage
I wondered, if we had come here as unwanted livestock,
if there had been just one sheep on the SIEV-X,
would people see the truth about asylum seekers?
I wondered if they could imagine children as lambs,
would they then shed tears?
If only the press had cared as much for them as those sheep ...
I wish we had been born sheep instead of scapegoats.
I wish it was not better to be a dumb animal than to be human here.

@authpoem = Mohsen Soltani

[Soltani is an Iranian refugee who spent four years in detention before being granted refugee status. This poem, spoken by author Tony Kevin and Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, is one of 27 poems by Soltani on the double CD Australian Dream, available for $30 from <http://www.stickylabel.com.au>.]

From Green Left Weekly, January 25, 2006.
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