Wagga man’s ‘small gesture of solidarity’ with asylum seekers
How good is this?
SHIVERING in freezing conditions for five hours on Wollundry Lagoon on Saturday, Wagga man Scott Howie took a stand against perceived insensitivity over the plight of asylum seekers.
Mr Howie took to the lagoon in an inflatable dinghy, armed with not much more than a couple of sandwiches, to make a “small gesture of solidarity” with those travelling to Australia by boat in search of a new life.
“We’ve been dealing with the government’s treatment of asylum seekers for 15 years and nothing seems to change,” he said.
“The only thing I thought I could do is try and understand what it’s like and get out in the lagoon, away from all the news and reports, and just sit there in solidarity.”
Mr Howie was keen to stress he was acting independently in his protest and they held no affiliation with any political party.
His voyage around the lagoon was prompted by recent comments by Prime Minister Tony Abbott labelling the actions of asylum seekers on Christmas Island last week “moral blackmail” following reports some had attempted suicide.
“I just felt the response was completely lacking in compassion and we weren’t seeing them as people,” Mr Howie said.
Mr Howie was forced to pull the pin on his protest at about 3pm on Saturday as the cold got the better of him, but said his discomfort paled in comparison to what asylum seekers are forced to put up with.
“I was a little cold and uncomfortable for a couple of hours – I don’t think that’s anything compared to the bravery of asylum seekers and the hell our government is forcing them to endure,” he said.