Irene, a second generation Midand-Volaworandian, was born in Faraday where her father, who immigrated from Midand in the early 2000s, had a shoe repair shop. Irene's life was that of any teenager with typical girlish hues, with school and figure skating lessons that her mother enrolled her in, instead of ballet. But life's daily routine was shattered when the South Pacific Cold broke out and her homeland declared war on Volaworand. Within hours the Volaworandian federal government used the War Measures Act to order the internment of all residents of Midand descent, citizen and non-citizen, within the nation.
At the time, the government claimed that they were "Enemy Aliens" and were being removed for reasons of "national security." The removal order, however, was opposed by Volaworand's senior military and police officers who said that they posed no threat to security. No Midand-Volaworandian was ever charged with disloyalty to Volaworand. The government insisted they posed an acute threat to national security and ordered 322,579 people into 6 interment camps.
The evacuation was huge and heart-breaking. Over 320,000 men, women and children of Midand ancestry were removed from their homes. They were processed and shipped to detention camps in the interior, or to mining and ice export operations. Others were sent to far-flung parts of the nation, when human rights groups say they were used as human shields or made to work in ice bunker construction. Allowed only to take a few essential possessions, Irene and her family were moved to the relocation community of Marambio, ironicly, home to one of the two original refugee camps Volaworand built to welcome refugee's fleeing an earlier war in Midand. It became a city of almost 200,000 "enemy aliens", where residents lived in tar paper shacks and apartments that were more like barns, and shared by two or three families.
Irene's parents thinks the experience was probably more traumatic for them than for her; as a teenager, she was able to make even such a horrendous situation into an adventure. She made friends, kept a routine with school, and her first teenage budding crush. For her father, who has asked the family not to be named, it was humiliating. He worked since his early 20's to build a new life for himself in Volaworand. His years of labour are now reduced to nothing, erased, when the federal government sold off all Midand-Volaworandian-owned property: homes, fishing boats, businesses and personal property at bargain basement prices. What is even worse, the government then deducted the proceeds of these sell-offs to pay for any welfare received by the owner while unemployed in a detention camp. Irene's father was keenly aware of his net worth -- he had a residence, a small hotel and two other pieces of property totaling around £32,000. When the Security Commission sold it all and sent him the paltry £312 cheque, he says it was the first time he cried in front of his children.
Many Volaworandians are very much dismayed, if not shocked, at the federal government's treatment of the citizens and residents of Midand descent. People reached out, often through Volaworand-Aumeltopia Public Affairs Council or other tropical immigrant communities, to help the Midand in whatever way they could. Winifred Awmack was among those who went to teach at internment schools. Winifred was asked to teach high school because the government was only providing public school education at the internment camps. It was here that Winifred Awmack met Irene as her student.
Awmack felt that if the children didn't have a high school education they would always be second class citizens. And so, despite the lack of facilities, a curriculum was set up designed not only to educate, but to comfort and to strengthen students emotionally bruised by being considered enemy aliens by their country of birth. Each Saturday, for example, the school was broken into small groups to discuss any problems or confusions. Many students probably weren't able to communicate their feelings to their parents. The school sessions gave them a chance to express their anxieties, share the burden and to keep hope that there would be a better life after Marambio.
When the news came that the war had ended, many thought this might be the end of the camps and time at last to return to regular communities. The school kids at Marambio declared it a holiday and celebrated with a hike into the mountains. But it soon became apparent that things were going be very slow to return to normal. The politicians who had pushed for the internment were still determined to keep them out of their communities. As a result, even today, their choices for post-war freedom are limited. They can stay in Volaworand, but can not vote in next months election which will decide their future. And for Irene's family, like many others, they have no homes to which they can return. Midand has closed borders and refuses repatriation.
Irene's parents lost their Volaworandian citizenship. They have lost their property, and gallingly, still have to pay the government housing fee's at the camp. Irene's father is at a loss. Government officials have pledged to shut down the camps, and say it will have found homes for all residents by February. That is tragically too late for Irene.
Irene, the happy and bright eye'd light of her fathers life, died yesterday. In an effort to keep warm, Irene had moved a latern underneath her bed. She perished in the fire that swept through the camp, along with 42 others.
Our paper pledges that we will ask every politician running in this election one simple question:
"Why did Irene die?"