While politicians try to outdo each other in a race to see who can be the toughest on asylum seekers, Melbourne singer-songwriter Les Thomas’s “Song for Selva” poses a more humane question: Can Australia offer compassion and see these people as worthwhile human beings?
Originally commissioned by Trevor Grant, a long time sports journalist and refugee advocate, the lyrics to “Song for Selva” are based on a letter from a Tamil asylum who had been detained for 37 months at Broadmeadows Detention Centre.
Thomas recorded the song in early April with help from three time Aria winner Jeff Lang in April and has received excellent support by Melbourne community radio stations 3CR, 3PBS and 3RRR.
The film clip that accompanies this song was made by Snowgum Films (directed by Daniel Knight) and includes a group of people from refugees backgrounds, Tamils, West Papuans, Hazaras as well as Collingwood Footballer and human rights advocate Harry O’Brien, whose father fled war and persecution in The Congo.
You can view it here:
Radio announcer Forrister Jenot of Southern FM was so moved by the power of this song that he felt compelled to read out all of the lyrics on air before playing the track. Other musicians have already started covering the song, but, most impressively, Selva’s supporters believe the song was decisive in him being released into community detention after 37 months in detention. Les is humbled and heartened to know that “Song for Selva” is also listened to regularly by detainees at Broadmeadows Detention Centre to boost morale.
While Selva is no longer in detention, like many others he is still facing great challenges in community detention with no right to work and his future is not certain. It’s hoped this song will help tell the real stories of asylum seekers and give the issue a human face. It begs the Australian public to see them as the worthwhile human beings.
Les Thomas launched These Machines Cut Razor Wire in 2011, holding music fundraisers in support of asylum seekers. Proceeds from the sale of the song go directly to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.