'We're Dehumanizing Them': Game of Thrones Star Speaks Out in Support of Refugees
Winter is coming, and refugees still need help.
Cersei Lannister, one of the main characters in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, is a ruthless, mass-murdering monarch whose distrust of everyone outside of her family (and many of those in it) leads her to care about no one and nothing but the well-being of herself and her children.
If Lannister existed in real life, she’d be one of the greatest causes of the global refugee crisis.
Luckily, Lena Headey, the woman who portrays the character, wants to be part of the solution.
Headey is currently filming a movie called, “The Flood,” in which she plays a British immigration officer named Wendy, who decides the fate of a potentially dangerous Eritrean refugee named Haile (Ivanno Jeremiah). Being part of a movie which is based on real-life refugee experiences has reaffirmed Headey’s support for helping the world’s most vulnerable people.
“I understand there are safety issues, and screenings for security, but it could be so much more human and compassionate,” Heady told the Guardian. “It’s horrendous that after the journeys that these refugees go through, they are then treated immediately with suspicion and fear.”
In addition to the premature condemnation of refugees, Headey criticized how partisanship in government has reduced them to nothing more than talking points, rather than human beings whose lives are at risk.
“I get it, this is a crisis with so many levels, but we have also lost sight of the fact it’s not a ‘problem,’ it’s people, it’s other human beings. And we’re dehumanizing them,” she said.
As Headey indicates, immigrants and refugees are being vilified in countries around the world.
There are currently more than 21 million refugees worldwide, with more than half of them coming from Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Turkey has resettled more than 2.5 million refugees, the most of any country. Italy has also seen a massive influx of migrants, as the nation has become a crossroads in the main migration route from Africa. Greece is experiencing the same.
But many don’t survive the journey – thousands are drowning while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
Germany, in its unwavering commitment to helping refugees, granted asylum to more first-time applicants than any other nation in the European Union, in the final quarter of 2016. Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on other nations, like the United States, to do the same.
In the US, however, the Trump Administration has repeatedly pursued policies to close the nation’s borders and cut foreign aid, though a recent poll by Quinnipiac University found that majority of US citizens want to increase refugee intake from Syria.
Immigration was a focal point in the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” debate. According to Headey, discussions about the refugee crisis in the UK have been moved to the backburner since the referendum. She hopes “The Flood” can reinvigorate support for resettling refugees.
The film is set for release in 2018. When it premieres, it will join the handful of movies that tackle the plight refugees face on daily basis. Though there are many documentaries about the subject, like the Oscar nominated “White Helmets,” “The Flood” will be one of the only fictionalized accounts.
Lannister, Headey’s most well-known role, is a fictional character, and her self-centric world view should be too. Headey is real, though, and she’s speaking out. For any nay-sayers who are sick of hearing celebrities preach about global issues, Headey’s got a message for you too:
“Bollocks, I’m just a human being with a conscience.”