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Friday, October 25, 2013

Dehumanisation, delegitimisation and double-speak

The LNP have become masters of dehumanisation; delegitimising the rights of victims of horrendous human rights abuses, and it starts with the terminology. Asylum seekers are not illegal.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison maintain the line that they don't want to pander to political correctness in relation to asylum seekers. Therefore, asylum seekers arriving by boat will be henceforth be referred to as 'illegal arrivals'.

This is great popularism politics, however, it is incorrect under the UN Refugee Convention to which Australia is a signatory. The Convention states that anyone can enter a signatory country and apply for asylum, no matter how they arrive there. That is not illegal and they are not illegal arrivals.

What we are witnessing, is not political correctness, put political incorrectness. Political popularism appealing to the xenophobes that the Liberal Party has carefully cultivated to secure election victory. After all, one method of gaining political success is to create a bogeyman and then show yourself as the way, the truth and the light to overcoming said bogeyman.

The problem is, that it is baloney. Asylum seekers are not illegal. They are victims of human rights abuses, and the LNP is perpetuating the abuse by referring to them as illegals.

Ironically, Abbott is happy to prance around showing how much of a charity-minded individual he is through volunteer fire-fighting and life-saving (at tax-payers expense, mind), yet his charity disappears when it comes to asylum seekers. It would appear that one form of charity leads to votes and one doesn't.

Asylum seekers now live in fear of being rounded up and shipped off to the Gulags that Australia has created on Manus Island, Nauru and so on. For some, this fear has already come true. Recently, even pregnant women were shipped to Nauru, where there is very limited medical care. So much for charity, Tony.

Since John Howard, the Liberal Party has become masters of dehumanisation; delegitimising the rights of victims of horrendous human rights abuses, and it starts with the terminology. This is coupled with censorship and misinformation which we've seen since the Liberal Party banned the release of information regarding boat arrivals; confining it to the release of cherry-picked data in weekly briefings. The pathetic excuse for this is that it is a military operation. The military-led, regally sounding, jingoistic Operation Sovereign Borders was established by Prime Minister Abbott on the pretense of protecting asylum seekers from drowning. A bit of over-kill if that was his true motive. Rather, Operation Sovereign Borders is sold by the Liberal Party, particularly Tony Abbott and the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison as defending Australia from malice-minded refugees hell-bent on overthrowing this great country and establishing their own nation. Wave the flags, stop the boats.

This Orwellian double-speak needs to stop. Asylum seekers are not illegal. They are not a threat. They don't come with malice on their minds. Asylum seekers are people. Victims in their own country. Victims in ours. They have the right for their claims to be heard.

This disgraceful, deceitful dialogue of hatred and jingoism should cease, otherwise we may as well stop the pretense and remove ourselves from the UN Refugee Convention. We can then be just like every other nation that fails to recognise asylum seekers and has no respect for human rights.

Would it be so bad if Australia set an example of how to treat people humanely, rather than acting like despots, fascists, thugs and bullies to those in need?

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