Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Hi! I'm Fikaris and I started this project 'Where Do I Belong' back in early 2014.
"It began from seeing some refugee art project zines on a table my friend Sam was sitting.
"After asking Sam on the spot if he would be interested in some kind of collaboration on the subject..."
"... I then wrote to Safdar to see what he thought of doing something together.
"So we came up with this idea & what you are holding is the outcome...
"Comic art & cartoons relating to the idea & question of place, identity & belonging.
"From asking a bunch of people this question whilst helping them to develop the art of storytelling."
That, in a nutshell sums up this eclectic and very worthy anthology work. A combination of distressingly powerful single-page pieces and some longer strips juxtaposing the realities of life for detained refugees in Australia with the lives of comparative luxury enjoyed by Australians themselves.
You'll learn some disturbing facts, such as Australia is the only country in the world to detain refugee children as its very first option, the average length of detention being roughly a year, something which demonstrably has deleterious effects on their mental health.
There are those who presumably feel Australia's draconian policy on illegal immigrants - those actually managing to arrive without the correct papers (assuming they weren't on a boat that was forcibly turned around or towed back to the territorial waters of its country of departure as a matter of course by the Australian navy...) are immediately sent to the likes of Papua New Guinea or The Christmas Islands for processing - is the right way to go about matters, if you want to keep illegal migration to a minimum, regardless of the human cost to those individuals themselves.
However, as I have commented many times, were I in the position many people in the so-called third world find themselves, would I attempt to get into the 'promised land' through illegal economic migration? Of course I would. These, then, are their thoughts, reflections and very moving stories on their successful or otherwise attempts to reach Australia and their subsequent treatment at the hands of the authorities. Don't expect polished, artistic, comic perfection; do expect raw, powerful, emotive, hard-hitting truth.