A weekend of National Mourning
Mary Dagmar Davies
16 October 2002
Project Safecom newsletter

Australia faces a WEEKEND OF NATIONAL MOURNING. As we come to terms with our shock of the terrible events in Bali it is also the the first anniversary of the sinking of SIEVX on Saturday October 19, 2002.

There are no boundaries to human compassion as clearly shown by the moving message of condolence from the detainees at the Woomera Detention Centre and Tony Kevin's article which has just been put up on sievx.com.

Both the Woomera detainees and Tony Kevin show clearly that in our caring about one particular tragedy we do not and should not turn away from others. There is more that unites us than ever divides us within the human family.

It is sad to see in the wake of the shocking and painful tragedy in Bali how people in positions of power or influence behave. The generalisation and vilification promoted in regard to people who care about human rights now has a sharper edge and carries menacing innuendo.

When our leaders seek to protect our boundaries or wage war, innocent people are placed in harm's way. When division is fostered or condoned within our community, decent and caring people suffer and our beliefs are compromised. Those who demand the truth must themselves be without deception. It has to be remembered terrorists are not representative of Islam anymore than the Ku Klux Klan is representative of Christian values. When Muslims turn to Mecca and kneel to pray and Speakers of the House of Representatives and the Senate lead the prayer on every sitting day in the Parliament of Australia, they address the same God. Before decisions are made in either house it would be well to look inward and ask one question '...if these laws were applied to me or my loved ones what would happen and how would I feel?' Laws and decisions that could not be tolerated by an Australian family should not be visited on those whose birthplace was elsewhere.

Basic human needs are universal. Hearing the words of the bereaved of Lockerbie, New York, Washington, Bali or a tiny fishing boat without a name that later was called SIEVX one thing is evident. There is a universality in grief. Those who grieve do not attack, they do not condemn, they are bewildered and beset by a multitude of overpowering emotions and they need to be heard. Vengeance is not what they seek. They ask what happened and why it happened and they deserve the truth. The basic human need to be heard and to be understood should not be disregarded or dismissed. To deter the bereaved from speaking and to deny them the truth compounds the tragedy.

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