This is an open letter to the people of Australia and the rest of the Western World,
I’m writing to you today because I am angry. In fact I am positively furious, and I have been for the better part of a year. Finally I have found the words to say it aloud!
I have a brother, he’s not the brother you would define, but a brother all the same because we are one and the same. Both he and I share an ancestral connection, and though this may seem trivial to some, not 400 years ago our ancestors called the same place home. Intercontinental genetic comparisons confirmed that I am 1.4% African and my grandfather is 1.5%, a deep connection I will never ignore. I have an African brother, his name is Fousseny. Let me tell you the story of my brother, Fousseny Traoré.
It is 3am, my heart is pounding, tears are flowing down my cheeks and I am crying because I feel so helpless. I receive a message – the 10th message I have gotten from him in the space of a few hours and I am crying, because now 9 months on I have no answers for him yet again. “My sister, I am not credible”. “They will not listen-it has to be you sister”. “You are white and you are from The West, I do not have a voice, for you see I am not from The West”. “Please, they do not hear me, I can’t do this anymore, they ignore me. “You must understand they will always only ignore me”.
[“My sister, I am not credible”. “They will not listen-it has to be you sister”. “You are white and you are from The West, I do not have a voice, for you see I am not from The West”.
“Please, they do not hear me, I can’t do this anymore, they ignore me. “You must understand they will always only ignore me”]
I wipe my tears away as I read the message and red hot guilt flows through my body, and I try to formulate a sentence. I want to explain that people do care, but I know that’s a lie and he also knows that’s a lie. I know everything he is saying is none other than the truth. The West doesn’t see Africa, the west doesn’t hear AFRICA, and the west barely acknowledges its existence. In the words of my brother: “They care not, Africa is the garbage dump of the West”.
[“They care not, Africa is the garbage dump of the West”]
I am exhausted and it is exhausting to write this but the first thing I have to say is this: I’m really angry, and you should be too and this is why. You stood in the streets and you screamed in protest but… there was millions you left out. When you stood in your streets and screamed that ‘BLACKLIVESMATTER’ where were the screams for BLACK AFRICANS? When you stood in the streets and you screamed for human rights, for people of colour; and for the stolen generations, where were the screams for them? When you waved your sign in the air through your masked protection, where were screams for the Mother Land? When you rose up and demanded equality for all, where were the screams for Black Africans? Where were the screams for AFRICA? All that came from the west, was only for the west and nothing more. You went into the streets and you forgot! Where were the screams for your brothers and sisters in AFRICA? You forgot them. When they silently protested on social media, did you even hear them? Did you see them? Can you even name any African protesters? Even one? If you learn one thing today let it be his name: Fousseny Traoré.
To tell you his story we first have to address the African elephant in the room. Somehow between the 80’s and the 90’s the voice for most of Africa fell off the map. Somewhere along the lines, the words: ‘Give Help, Send Help and SOS’, lost all meaning. The very nature of these words have almost become perverse, almost as if human suffering is now a crime and ‘how dare anyone send out a distress signal on my meme scattered newsfeed’. For the first time in history, our African brothers and sisters are right in front of us and they are screaming for our help and we can do nothing but ignore them. During the BlackLivesMatters protests you NEVER amplified their voice! In your anger for the injustice in The West, you forgot Africa; and they watched you through a looking glass as you IGNORED THEM.
Spend 5 minutes on a public forum and you quickly learn of the mirror they hold up to our society; revealing what it truly is, a festering selfish world full of disgusting and filthy inequality. I want to you to ask yourself how many people who ask for help don’t want help? How many people who are suffering, are lying about it? Now I want you to think about this: if you’ve had a social media post that had some or a substantial outreach; go to your posts, go to your messages and I can guarantee someone in a dire situation has desperately tried to communicate with you. They saw you as a beacon and you ignored them, because they don’t know what a scam is, they don’t know how to ask for help, they don’t know the world through your eyes. So through their oppression sending a distress signal on social media is all that they can do. Here’s the thing, it doesn’t take an intellectual to see another human’s pain and suffering, it doesn’t take a genius to verify the authenticity of a story being told, you just need to do one human thing and LISTEN, listen because it doesn’t take a genius to hear a genuine scream.
This is what I heard. Fousseny is from Bamako, Mali West Africa. In 2019 Fousseny Traoré led the FRIDAYSFORFUTURE movement, [well he used to lead the movement but more on that soon] his last protest had an audience of 2,000 Malians – but you’ve never heard of him. Fousseny is an incredibly remarkable young man, he’s kind, generous and would do anything for anyone. He would give anyone the clothes off his back if it meant he could change anything for the better. He started numerous campaigns to fight plastic pollution and has worked for pennies to feed himself and others in his community. With only his smile and determination and with little resources, he has encouraged hundreds to clean up the streets, to plant trees and live sustainably; and caused hundreds more to take to the streets in protest for Climate Action. He’s no Greta Thurnberg, no, but he is deserving of the stature all the same, because he is a deeply oppressed Black African Muslim and it is incredible what he has accomplished so far, but he’s invisible to you.
If he was a Westerner he’d be all over the news, but he’s not and so you don’t even know his name, so I’m saying it again, his name is Fousseny Traoré. I have no words to describe how remarkable he truly is, but do you know what the most remarkable thing about Fousseny is? He’s real and it was profoundly easy to verify the authenticity of his words, PROFOUNDLY EASY, so I helped him. Here’s what I have learned from that: no-body gives a HOOT about Black Africans. Quite frankly I’m sick of it, I’m sick of the excuses, I’m sick of heartless cowards and reacts with no intentions. I’ve had an ocean full of plastic of it. I’ve had so much of a barrel of it that both Fousseny and I feel like we are screaming into a blackened void- but that isn’t even the half of it! Like most people who live in a constant state of war and unrest Fousseny’s circumstances changed, initially we were all so filled with joy for him, but sadly things did not turn out as planned.
Earlier this year Fousseny won a scholarship from a French organisation for his efforts with the FRIDAYSFORFUTURE movements, and he flew all the way to Tunisia in North Africa for a month long workshop to learn how to become a future leader in climate activism. He would take these skills back home to Mali to lead the Climate Justice movement. Sadly Fousseny never made it home and now he can’t go home. Since both COVID-19 and the military coup in Mali, we can’t get him home and out of Tunisia. Exhaustingly, I have had to explain this to countless organisations, consuls, government bodies and humanitarian agencies with no or little reply, explicitly dictating that Fousseny can’t go home. There is a war in Mali, Mali is a no fly zone, and there is a high chance he would be held at gun point and forced to do unspeakable things on threat of his life. This isn’t a joke or an embellishment, this is real life. If forced to go home, especially since he is considered a political activist, Fousseny if he goes home will in all likelihood be murdered – that’s just a cold hard fact. Fousseny is thousands of km away from home and he’s never been outside Mali until now, he hasn’t seen his family in almost 9 months and he’s never been this far from them in his entire life. Fousseny was Mali’s only hope for Climate Justice and his efforts have faded into the deep oppression into nothingness. In the space of 2 months Fousseny and his people went from running Climate Action protests to: starving, running for their lives and being murdered- and this was barely before COVID-19 had graced their shores.
Fousseny also speaks 3 languages, and French is his first, he’s an incredibly gifted and talented environmentalist and everything he does is selfless, he is an asset to humanity and any country should be lucky to take him! But none of that matters, because he does not have a right to seek asylum in Tunisia, apparently that’s where his human rights just abruptly end? Fousseny is a refugee. To add to this, I have even had Westerners tell me he should seek asylum in Tunisia, and that he should be grateful that he isn’t in Mali… but you can’t seek asylum in Tunisia, a refugee can’t work nor start a new life in Tunisia! That is why people die in refugee camps in Tunisia. Fortunately he is not at the refugee camp in Tunisia, because even if it comes out of my own pocket, I will not subject to him to such torture, because it is a place of misery and suffering. It is completely inhuman the way they treat refugees in Tunisia. Even in his dark room, from his 1 bedroom flat that he can barely make rent on (from small donations), thousands of kilometres from home, he is still trying to reach out and create awareness for Climate Justice and he would do this until his last breath I’m sure. Fousseny needs urgent refugee protection now! He is getting sick, and his mental health is starting to destroy his mind and body, he also desperately needs treatment for his sickle cell anaemia and left foot disability. Imagine being in a country with not-the-right to seek asylum and being expected to die there, because of a war you didn’t start in a country on a continent the world doesn’t care about. What kind of soulless being do you have to be to believe he does not deserve to seek asylum in a foreign land? Why does he not deserve to seek asylum in Australia? These questions keep me awake at night.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has done nothing for Fousseny – save issuing him a useless card and his refugee status in Tunisia only adds to his invisibility, and with it carries a certain stigma. He is completely ignored by communities that 9 months ago were singing his praises. These are the communities he is supposed to be a part of that have left him for DEAD. This is what makes me angry the most, his distress signals on social media are completely ignored! No matter how much time we spend sharing his campaign, it’s blocked from Climate Activism Groups. The Admins of these groups delete the posts, because apparently a real life black African refugee and FridaysForFuture activist, is not authentic enough to warrant their support? If only they knew his pain and bothered to hear his cries, if only they knew he is very much a victim to the very injustice they are fighting for. They refuse to help someone who has done so much for the FRIDAYSFORFUTURE movement and for Climate Justice – they refuse to help their own. They have completely forgotten him. I am incensed beyond comprehension at this injustice Fousseny is being forced to endure, all the while being completely ignored by communities that he depends on so much. I am disgusted with these groups. So I have a message for those Climate Activists and groups who have deleted his posts. To those who have broken my brother’s spirit: you should BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES, for you know nothing of his sacrifice and NOTHING of his pain! Who do you think you are and why do you ignore his distress signal? Is this not what you are fighting for after all?!
To make things worse it is because of Australian laws, and our utterly useless refugee policies, that Fousseny is not likely to seek protection from Australia. Canada, is where he wants to go because it is French speaking, but mainly because they sponsor refugees, unlike Australia! So I desperately want to fly him to Canada under refugee protection but we haven’t been unable raise enough money, not-with-standing we don’t even know if this is the correct path forward and since his Visa has expired we are afraid of him being detained by the Tunisian government. There are also legal issues as well as Tunisian taxes we can’t seem to get past. Not to mention numerous other barriers and probably many more invisible ones we also can’t seem to get a straight answer for. I want to find him a sponsor from Canada but since I’m not Canadian, this seems an impossible feat and we can’t seem to get a straight answer out of anyone! I am so disgusted with humanity, to the point I don’t even know who to be disgusted with anymore! I am disgusted with Australia for pretending that refugees like Fousseny do not exist and most of all (and I never thought I would say this) I am disgusted with the UNHCR!
My brother is fading into the festering swamp of vast human injustice and inexplicable inequality. The morale for human rights have gone, and I can do nothing but watch from the sidelines because so far no one has been able to help us, and their silence is all we can hear. I am one person and I have never felt more alone and ignored in my life, it’s as if nobody cares at all. Not a single humanitarian organisation or human rights advocacy group has come to this remarkable young man’s aid and I have no words to express my rage. He doesn’t understand why. We both don’t understand why. If people out there do care, WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU? We need you so desperately right now, I need you, Fousseny needs you. My heart aches, because you, the readers of Australian Independent Media, are my last hope to save my brother. I have no idea what is going to happen to him, and his only crime was being born a Black African.
[‘If I die on this journey then so be it’.]
Sadly, Fousseny no longer believes there is help out there and come January or February next year, Fousseny will risk his life and attempt to cross the Mediterranean, in a tiny boat over rough seas. He is so desperate to leave Tunisia he would rather die than stay there, and I quote ‘If I die on this journey, then so be it’. Please don’t let this happen, I beg you. Please don’t let him die. How can it be this hard to get help for someone who needs it most? Is he not human enough? I am failing him and it isn’t even my fault. I am afraid no one will ever come to his aid and with that I am afraid he will die.
FOR GOODNESS SAKE, IF YOU KNOW HOW TO HELP AND YOU’RE READING THIS, DO SOMETHING AND HELP HIM NOW!
Please don’t let him die, I cannot do this on my own, someone do something before for it’s too late. I need legal aid, sponsors, humanitarian and human rights advocates, someone, anyone… just someone other than just me to do something, anything!! Why is he being ignored? Please don’t let this go on. Help me save Fousseny, please help me get him out of Tunisia before he makes this dangerous journey and before it’s too late, help him seek refugee protection. He is all alone, please don’t let him die, BlackAfricanLivesMatter.
Nicole F Clark
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