Remember those two journalists found on-board an asylum-seeker boat off Christmas Island in September?
If you want to know what they were doing there and what they saw and heard, read the phenomenal piece of journalism they produced, published last weekend in the NY Times Magazine. The writing by Luke Mogelson is riveting, and Joel van Houdt's photos are an evocative accompaniment. Their bravery in attempting this journey, which starts in Kabul under false identities and ends at Christmas Island, is truly remarkable.
Although the piece refers at several points to the harshness of Australian policy, that's not really the point of it, and it could just as easily be seen as an eloquent case for doing all we can to stop this incredibly dangerous trade.
Such is the power of the piece, it's surprising that it hasn't made a bigger impression in Australia. Here's a short extract, but please read the whole thing:
The sea was still big when the sun went down, taking with it the warmth. Those of us who had spent the day on our feet now began staking claims on places to try to sleep. The deck became a claustrophobic scrum of tangled limbs. Few could recline or stretch their legs. Each time someone tried to reposition a foot or knee, say, to restore some circulation, the movement would ripple out in a cascade of shifting and grumbling as the surrounding bodies adjusted to the new configuration.
The tarp was unfurled. There was not enough of it to cover everyone. If you found yourself on an edge or corner, someone from the opposite side would invariably pull it away the moment you relaxed your grip. In any case, it was too worn and porous to do much. The water ran down its folds and creases, streaming through the many tears along the way.