Sunday, December 14, 2014
Sacrificing innocent lives for political power
The Australian government has shown that it is willing to risk and threaten the lives of innocent people to 'protect' an intolerant Australia. It is willing to return innocent people to imprisonment, torture and possible murder to protect its political position. The government has shown that it is willing to break international laws and withdraw Australia from UN conventions in the name of its ideology.
The Abbott-led government is more than happy to boast that they've 'stopped the boats', yet the harsh reality is that this is incorrect. A recent UN report stated that more people than ever are taking dangerous boat journeys to escape persecution and war (1).
Scott Morrison, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, sugar-coats these brutal policies to make them palatable and appealing to the electorate. He claims to have 'taken the sugar off the table', as if asylum seekers are nothing more than ants hunting a confectionery fix. What seems to escape the Minister is that asylum seekers are escaping persecution and war. If they were 'economic' migrants then would they really risk their futures and their lives by paying off people smugglers in order to take an unsafe ocean voyage in an unseaworthy vessel.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Morrison's own department, states that of the claims processed in 2012-13, 88% were found to be genuine (2). Considering that the ones who are not successful in their applications are returned to places such as Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iraq, there is evidence to suggest that even those whose applications are rejected, are most likely genuine asylum seekers with a genuine fear of persecution in their home country. Also consider that this 88% is down from 100% in 2008-09 and 98.8% in 2009-10. Situations in many of the source countries have not improved to justify this drop given the UN report mentioned earlier that indicates a significant rise in global numbers of people seeking asylum. Instead, the figures are indicative of the harsh nature of the government's policies.
With most Australians in support of the government's callous policies and willing to believe its lies, the question has to be asked, where has the compassion gone?
Discussions with those who favour these policies will usually go along the lines of them saying that boat arrivals are taking the place of genuine asylum seekers or that they are jumping the queue. Yet asylum seekers are genuine as can be seen by the Department of Immigration's statistics. As for the jumping the queue? This is a 'queue' that was created by the government. There was a time when Australia had quotas for on-shore and off-shore applicants. The on-shore ones were those who arrived by boat. This was in keeping with the UN Refugee Convention that stated that people should not be prosecuted for arriving in a country by a means that would normally be illegal. It was Prime Minister John Howard who removed the on-shore quotas and thereby artificially creating a queue.
Morrison claims he is saving lives but this is a complete fabrication. He is allowing people to languish for years in his gulags before returning them to situations where they face almost certain persecution, torture, abuse or death.
The only protection that Morrison is interested in is protecting Australia from a threat that his government manufactured for political expediency. Asylum seekers are not a threat to Australia. Many have gone on to study, start businesses and become productive citizens of this nation. Some of the more well known ones include comedian Anh Do and South Australia's governor Hieu Van Le. Both of whom fled war-ravaged Vietnam and arrived in Australia by boat.
Instead of brutalising and demonising asylum seekers we should be welcoming them and facilitating their settlement into Australia. Embracing brutality as a means of defence is only hardening Australia, making it more intolerant, fearful and violent. There has been an increase in hate crimes against Muslims (3). It isn't asylum seekers that are creating the rise in hate crimes in Australia. These crimes are a direct result of Australians embracing brutal, intolerant policies that persecute and risk the lives of innocent people.
Some claim that asylum seekers don't respect Australian values. What values would those be? The values in which innocent people are sacrificed for the sake of ignorance, fear, bigotry and xenophobia?
Free the refugees and we'll see a better, more compassionate and welcoming Australia.
1. 'Scott Morrison may gloat but asylum seekers' boats haven't really stopped', Sunili Govinnage, The Guardian, 11 December 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/11/scott-morrison-may-gloat-but-asylum-seekers-take-more-boats-than-ever. Accessed 14 December 2014.
2. 'Asylum Trends - Australia', 2012-13 Publication. Department of Immigration and Border Protection. https://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/immigration-update/asylum-trends-aus-2012-13.pdf. Accessed 14 December 2014.
3. 'Rise in attacks against Aussie Muslims', WA Today, http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/rise-in-attacks-against-aussie-muslims-20140924-10lhl9.html. Accessed 14 December 2014.