As the government controversially continues to send asylum seekers to offshore detention centres, prompting riots and deaths, a little website aims to make a small statement.
Sorry Asylum Seekers is a site where ordinary Australians can express their regret regarding the treatment of Australia’s growing asylum seeker population.
Creator, journalist and media commentator Ryan Sheales, says the idea came not from a place of protest or anger but rather a growing feeling of helplessness.
“I’m just so sorry for these people and what they’re going through,” Sheales says, “I thought others might be too.”
Turns out he was right. Since its inception on Friday, the site has received over 100 submissions from every state, as well as some entries from overseas.
The site aims to highlight the emotion behind the issue, rather than the politics.
“There’s a valid debate to be had here,” Sheales says of the issue, “But there should be a bedrock of compassion before we have the discussion. It often becomes an issue of political parties or left versus right but it should be about humanity.”
— Fi ~~ (@MissyFizzy) February 23, 2014
Submissions have ranged from photos of pets and babies apologising to people who have been refugees or asylum seekers in the past offering their own unique personal viewpoints.
Sorry Asylum Seekers is particularly timely given the recent riots at the offshore detention centre on Manus Island, resulting in the death of Iranian detainee Reza Berati and calls for changes to government policy.
Similar initiative Light the Dark – a series of candlelit vigils across the country – has also received an overwhelming response in its efforts to commemorate the death of Berati.
— Olivia Hill (@ohill8) February 23, 2014
While Sheales is grateful that his website is “organically” gaining traction, he believes that this is not the end point.
“It’s been a lovely start but ultimately the real challenge for me will be taking this beautiful growing site to the asylum seekers themselves.”