PASSAPORT, a poem by Antoine Cassar

Launched in Malta in 2009 and since then at several venues in Europe, Asia and North America, PASSPORT is a protest poem denouncing a long, non-exhaustive list of border absurdities and atrocities, nested inside a love poem to humanity as a naturally migrating species.

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  Yours

  this passport

  for all peoples,

  with a rainbow flag, and the emblem of a migratory goose encircling the globe,

  in all the languages you want, official or dialect,

  in ocean blue, or dried blood red, or coal black ready for burning, the choice is yours,

  take it where you will, your passage is safe and unobstructed, the door unscrewed from the jambs,

  you can enter and leave without fear, there is no one to stop you,

  no one to jump you in the queue, or send you to the back, there’s no need to wait,

  no one to say Ihre Papiere Bitte!, quickening your heartbeat with the pallour of his finger,

  no one to squint or glare at you according to the gross domestic product per capita of the nation you’ve left behind,

  no one to brand you stranger, alien, criminal, illegal immigrant, or extra-communautaire, nobody is extra, …

 

(from the English version of Passport,

adapted by Albert Gatt & Antoine Cassar)

Refugees are humans, not statistics

Moale James

Buddies member and local Year 12 student

25 January 2016

 

Statistics ...

Numbers ...

How do you humanize numbers?

How can you classify a human being as a number?

Stand in front of them.

Look them in the eye and tell them.

“YOU are merely a number.

I will categorise you, place you along with other numbers.

I don’t care for your name, history, or situation.

You are a number.

You are illegal. ”

 

60 million men, women and children forced to leave their homes

because of the risk of death.

2,026 innocent human beings punished and imprisoned in detention centres.

They chose to run from people driven by the goal of murder.

These innocent people float to our shores.

We turn them back.

We imprisoned innocent children asking for a second chance at life.

Women searching for peace for their family.

Men who dreamt of safety for their families.

A place with no fear of the dark.

We imprisoned families.

To us they look like numbers, illegals, nameless.

 

Statistics ...

How do you humanize numbers?

How can a human being – who bleeds, breathes from their lungs, sheds tears the same way you do – Be a number?

Be so complicated that we can’t risk anything to help them.

 

Go Back To Where You Came From

But sometimes these people can’t go back.

Where once stood their home, now stands rubble, blood and bones.

Death lingers in the air, memories become haunted, cloaked in grief.

Where do you go, when there is no home?

Where do you lie, when there is no bed?

What do you eat, when there is no food?

Where do you learn, when your school has been blown to the sky and its bricks lie spread across the four blocks that you once called home.

Where do you go to find peace, when there is no peace, safety when the only place that is safe, turns you around and shouts.

You Will Never Be Settled In This Country!

 

Don’t we have a moral duty to our fellow human beings?

As Christians, aren’t we called to help the ones who plead for our help?

Who collapse to the ground on their knees and beg and pray for your acceptance.

Acceptance of them as people; acceptance of their names, to reject the image of them as a statistic, a number, an expense…

Acceptance of their humanity. Or will you continue to see

Statistics ...?

Numbers ...?

Expenses ...?

 

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Home

Warsan Shire, British-Somali poet

 

You have to understand

that no one puts their children in a boat

unless the water is safer than the land.

No one burns their palms

under trains

beneath carriages,

no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck

feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled

mean something more than journey.

No one crawls under fences,

no one wants to be beaten,

pitied

No one chooses refugee camps

or strip searches where your

body is left aching.

Or prison,

because prison is safer

than a city of fire

and one prison guard

in the night

is better than a truckload

of men who look like your father.

No one could take it

No one could stomach it

No one skin would be tough enough.

 

Contributed by Falu and Michael Eyre

 

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VU AHIN ZOL IKH GEYN?, by Igor Sl Korntayer

Written in the 1930s by Polish Yiddish actor Korntayer, this plaintive Yiddish ballad describes in stark terms the dilemma faced by German Jews desperate to escape from their homeland after Hitler came to power.

   Suffering through a worldwide economic depression, Western nations, including the United States and Canada, imposed stringent immigration laws and rigid quotas and were unwilling to accept large numbers of refugees. In order to better identify German Jews who tried to enter the country, the Swiss government asked the German government to stamp a large red “J,” for “Jude,” in the passports of all German Jewish citizens.

   Thwarted from emigrating to the West, thousands of German Jews fled eastward by sea and land routes seeking refuge in Asia and the Far East, especially the open city of Shanghai.

Vu Ahin Zol Ikh Geyn?

Tell me where shall I go,

Who can answer my plea?

Tell me where shall I go,

Every door is locked to me?

Though the world’s large enough,

There’s no room for me I know,

What I see is not for me,

Each road is closed, I am not free—

Tell me where shall I go.

Crying together

Behrouz Bouchani,

Kurdish journalist incarcerated on Manus Island

9 November 2015

 

Fazel’s village is near Reza Barati’s. Their villages are beside a river and a high high mountain. My home is near their homes. There is only a mountain between us. A mountain and a river between our homes.

My mother climbed up the mountain today and went to Fazel’s mother’s home.

My mother, Reza’s mother and Fazel’s mother are crying together.

I heard Seymare river is crying with them.

Under Fazel’s village is one of the most ancient and oldest cities in the world. It is called Sirwan. They are crying on the oldest city for Reza and Fazel.

I heard that all of Kurdistan’s beautiful mountain’s are crying. All of Sirwan is crying – mountain, river, wild flowers… All of Sirwan is crying with our mothers.

I hear the oldest songs the mothers are singing in Ilam city, Sirwan and Kurdistan. I hear their voices crying from this Manus prison.

I hear the oldest song from the mothers. It is called Moor.

Moor is the oldest song the Kurdish mothers sing for their boys and warriors who lose their lives fighting with enemies that attack Kurdistan land. It is a song for brave sons.

Fazel and Reza were brave sons. They fought for their lives with the Australian government and the dark ocean.

When I was in Kurdistan, many times I climbed up that highest mountain. There are the oldest oak trees there. I hear the oak trees are crying too.

My heart is so heavy because I heard the deepest sorrow Moor from my mother today.

I have never heard a Moor like this Moor that Reza’s, Fazel’s and my mother are singing.

This is Kurdish culture. We are born by song, live by song, fight by song and die by song.

I feel deepest sorrow because of Fazel’s death.

He deserves the deepest Moor song.

My heart is heavy because I am crying and listening to Moor for my best friend in a prison on the remotest island in the world.

I never thought I would hear Moor for the bravest of Kurdish sons in a remote island in the heart of a big ocean.

I always think about the Moor my mother will sing for me when I die.

I thought that song would be sung in beautiful Kurdistan. I am sure Reza and Fazel thought like me but their lives were taken in remote places, not in Kurdistan.

They lost their lives because of injustice.

They lost their lives in a foreign land.

Who was there when their lives were taken?

My mother, Reza’s mother and Fazel’s mother are together singing the deepest Moor.

 

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Impossible dream

Behrouz Bouchani (Kurdish journalist incarcerated on Manus Island)

 

Over Manus Island, a black kite flies.

A few youths, still with energy to bear the difficulties of this prison camp, made it.

The black kite flies, a messenger of freedom for us, the forgotten prisoners.

It circles higher and higher above the camp, above the beautiful coconuts.

Our eyes follow its flight, it seems to want to tear its rope.

It breaks free, dances towards the ocean, flies far and again farther until no one can see it.

The youths stare into the empty sky after their impossible dream.

 

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Safe harbour

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an award-winning Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent.

 

Would that my country could be what you set your compass for. Freedom. Life truly lived.

 

Open arms for the persecuted. In the evilest of hours, safe harbour.

 

I – like so many here – think about you often. Not in five-minute evening-newscast first-world flash-guilt. Not through click-like hit-send temporary-hash-tag love. But un-fleetingly. Inescapably. Like the history of this land. Like truth. Like honesty. Like being.

 

You are both this country’s potential for greatness and compassion, and our piteous first-world shame.

 

I am sorry that you came to us for help, and we could not find it in ourselves to be what both of us needed. Strong. Rational. Compassionate. Brave. Kind. Generous. Smart.

 

I’m sorry we have not found, and are not searching hard enough, for a more just way. And I am sorry we have not demanded this of those who run our country – effectively at least.

 

I am sorry we have voted into office the heartless and the hopeless, time and again.

 

I am sorry we have incarcerated you and your kin, for hundreds upon hundreds of no-end-in-sight days.

 

I am sorry for your hell-on-earth. Both here, and that which you fled.

 

I am sorry the cries of we who care so much are not loud enough; not insistent enough; often go unheard. I am sorry for our fight-tiredness, which by comparison is not any kind of tiredness at all.

 

I know not what you’ve run from, nor how the journey has been. But I choose to believe there is hope for you, in this beautiful, ancient black land. This land, scorched and song-lined and stolen. Still bitter with hatred, and misunderstanding. Wide, and rich, and bounteous. But unequal, unjust and afraid. This warm, wise multi-culture: haphazard and eager and bright. This bloody-historied homeland. We will somehow put things right.

 

I – and so many – we are the country you set your compass for.

 

We are freedom. Life truly lived. Open arms, for the persecuted. And in the evilest of hours, safe harbour.

 

Unedited version here

 

2018 Buddies Refugee Support Group

Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

POSTAL ADDRESS

 PO BOX 367, Buderim 4556

CONTACT US

 0412 673 028 or by email