Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Should we question things?

I woke in the biggest, bluest, deepest funk this morning ... 'escalation day 3', I thought to myself.

So I went back to bed ... as has become my habit during this period of ... of what ... purposeless as I wait to be legal and work again?

Well, that was the question.
Clearly I have problems with being 'in process', but 'get on with it Di', I thought to myself.

I couldn't.

It was only when I went web-wandering and popped in at a new website I've been visiting, that any sense of intellectual stimulation occured. Harvey Molloy writes a superb site on NZ writing and writers Harvey Molloy>

Today's blog mentioned Ahmed Zaoui, an Algerian who sought political asylum in New Zealand back in 2002. In that friendly welcoming way we Kiwis have, our government promptly threw him in jail, and there he stayed for 24 months.

Harvey wrote that Ahmed had just published a book titled Migrant Birds. I went searching and found this description: Ahmed Zaoui is an Algerian refugee, who spent two years in a New Zealand prison after seeking asylum there in late 2002. His imprisonment is widely seen as an abuse of justice, the result of a secret 'Security Risk Certificate' issued by the SIS, which the Government continues to uphold, despite the findings of the internationally respected New Zealand Refugee Status Appeals Authority, who concluded that he was a genuine refugee and a passionate advocate of peace and democracy.

The 24 contemplations in Migrant Birds are Ahmed Zaoui's response to his two years in prison, one for each month he was locked up. These poems provide a moving insight into his plight, as he reflects on suffering and the universal struggle to find meaning from it. Ultimately they reveal Ahmed Zaoui to be a man of great faith, humanity and compassion.

Immigration is a sensitive topic for me ... and has very little to do with the fact that I might be considered an immigrant. In 'Di World' life is quite simple, I merely wish to move countries because of the Belgian ...

My interest in immigration stems from another source, and that is recognition of the growing fear and intolerance I see developing in the world. Recently, a very dear friend of mine, someone I respect immensely, tried to come over and visit Gert and I here.

She is fluent in three languages ... English, Italian and yes ... Turkish, has a university degree, dresses like a beautiful Italian and has one of the warmest hearts I know. However, once you've lived in Turkey a while, or if you become friends with a Turk, you quickly discover that they are unable to travel freely in this world, and the process of visa application is demeaning to all.

Her and her American husband wrote ... they were terribly embarassed but 'was it possible, Gert needed to send her a letter of invitation to his country, as well as details of his income' ... she had to take this information to the Belgian Consulate, along with her visa application, just to prove ... well, I don't know, I didn't have to do it.

He did it immediately. She went to the Consulate, they were open for visa applications between 9 and 11.30am on particular days of the week. There was a queue, but no, not inside the gates ... no one could enter, people had to wait out on the street until their number was called.

My friend walked away after a while, she learned you could wait the entire time and still not get in the gates.

Wouldn't you...?

We know so little about how countries treat each other, and I suspect people would be ashamed if they met my friend and then learned what their Consulate was doing in their name. In Turkey, my friend had opened her home to me, and later to Gert, as well as my American and Dutch guests on previous occasions. Her parents had fed me and had to me stay, and perhaps most touchingly, they approved of Gert, in lieu of my parents being able to meet him. They were my family there.

Another highly-educated, multi-lingual, exquisitely-dressed Turkish friend, had to be signed for at the local district house (council office I guess)when she visited the Netherlands. Her host had to agree to be responsible if she disappeared while under his .. what do I write here ... supervision?

Reading of Ahmed Zaoui again, reminded me of how fortunate I am ... but so many countries are pursuing these policies against certain countries for reasons that really need to be publicly scrutinised ... how many of those trying to enter our countries truly have sinister purposes? And how is it, we forget that our great great grandparents ... came from the other side of world and moved in. I have to smile as I write that, just think what they did to the natives ... perhaps in our hypocrisy, memory of times of past is at play.

I don't know much ... but to me, it feels wrong to treat individuals as a mass, and to pass judgement based on race, religion or country of origin when each person is an individual.

Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself ...
It seems not.


harvey molloy said...

Thanks for your kind comments.

woman wandering said...

A pleasure, anyway they're true. Your site is a nice way to keep up with New Zealand literary stuff. :)