Mary meets Mohammad is a stunning and very timely contribution to a very toxic public discourse, and a presentation of issues which many people will find easy to follow. It speaks to the heart and the head. If you care about social justice, and are confused by the current poisonous politics, this is a must see.
Island people like Tasmanians have an innate respect for the perils of the sea. In a beautifully crafted documentary Mary meets Mohammad, film maker Heather Kirkpatrick captures the conversion of ordinary Tasmanians from the fearful negative stereotypes of asylum seekers as heathen and illegal arrivals who must be stopped, to a compassionate human understanding of their humanity and the tragic events which drove them to leave loved ones to find a safe country, somewhere. Mary and Joy are articulate and emotionally intelligent senior citizens, beanie knitters who represent real hope that most Australians can be enlightened about the human tragedy behind every refugee life.
Mohammad is the Hazara voice of the asylum seekers who came seeking freedom, but lost their personal liberty in our harsh, unnecessary immigration detention—not just for months but for years. You hear his pain, marvel at his resilience and admire his philosophy. You wish him well and thank him for not being bitter or angry. Pontville is the on-again, off-again place of detention which hosted the Kosovar refugees in 1999, held hundreds of men including Mohammad from September 2010 until the following March, and today locks up 335 children under 18 who came seeking asylum alone.
We meet Emily and Clarissa, remarkable organisers of the friendly visitors to the Pontville Detention Centre who share their professional insight into the travesty that is indefinite detention of innocent people. Their response is heart-warming and revealing, their frustration told without rancour. The facts presented throughout the documentary make it an excellent tutorial on Australia's asylum seeker policy and it succeeds in humanising those who come seeking protection from persecution.
It is a most important positive contribution to the public discussion of this great social justice issue.
Screenings of the documentary can be arranged with the film maker for a small fee.
Frederika Steen is a Brisbane human rights advocate was an immigration officer from 1984–2001.
Photo : Mary meets Mohammad. Directed by Heather Kirkpatrick