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Let us not forget

As we are dragged kicking and screaming into interminable weeks of sickening electioneering that will, yet again, have asylum seekers and refugees as one of its core bones of contention, let us not forget these facts.

Australia is a signatory to the UNHCR Refugee Convention.

This is an invitation to asylum seekers to request sanctuary in this country. They are not breaking any law by responding to an invitation we extend.

The manner of their arrival is irrelevant. There is nothing in the Convention stating that those seeking asylum in this country or any other, must not be waterborne.

The UNHCR requires that signatories to the Convention ensure domestic legislation is compatible with the undertakings of the Convention.

Successive governments have justified the indefinite and off-shore detention of asylum seekers and refugees by claiming that refusing them sanctuary in Australia breaks a “people smuggling business model” in which those seeking to exploit asylum seekers take their money, in return for the false promise of resettlement in Australia.

Allegedly with the objective of discouraging asylum seekers from embarking on perilous journeys and so preventing them drowning at sea, successive Australian governments have accepted the physical, mental and emotional assault of asylum seekers and refugees, the rape of asylum seekers and refugees, including the raping, assault and complex deprivation of their children; the destruction of the mental health of children, the murder of asylum seekers and refugees, their indefinite detention, their self-harm, their severe mental deterioration, and their refoulement.

In short, successive Australian governments have justified torture by claiming it will prevent death.

The subjects of this ongoing legitimised human experimentation performed by successive Australian governments are people who have legally sought sanctuary in this country. Many of them have been assessed as refugees.

As the PNG Supreme Court has now decided, off-shore detention of refugees on Manus Island is illegal. This means that successive Australian governments have committed illegal acts against innocent people. We’ve always known this. It’s taken the PNG Supreme Court to articulate our criminality.

And let us not forget that on top of the billions already spent on detaining legal seekers of asylum, we face a possible $1billion in claims for false imprisonment now the Manus deal has so spectacularly collapsed.

It’s difficult to feel anything other than the most profound contempt for the politicians who are responsible for this situation. As we endure the endless weeks of their ghastly clamourings for our vote, let us not forget that they have brought us to this.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. paul walter

    Here is a very straightforward article from New Matilda that elaborates on the basis for Jennifer Wilson’s approach, which is a fair if unpalatable one for many Australians.

    But she is right, as is the NM writer. We have to get real, we have to get over ourselves and free ourselves of our self imposed tutelage.

    EXPLAINER: What The PNG Supreme Court Decision Can Teach Us About Law And Justice

  2. Kaye Lee

    Here we go again – another election campaign full of “Stop the boats”.

  3. Terry2

    Every time a solution to resettling these unfortunate people is put forward, Dutton comes up with his fixation about ‘sending messages to people smugglers’ but he has no solutions and is even now saying that the problem is one for PNG to sort out : that will certainly encourage a strong and productive relationship with our neighbour, won’t it ?

    The problem is with Peter Dutton and he has to be removed if we are to resolve this intractable problem.

  4. Kaye Lee

    The Immigration Minister said the government had “restored integrity to our borders” in the face of national security risks.

    “We are not going to step back from that position, we are going to make sure, particularly in this day and age with national security is such an important issue, we are going to make sure that our borders remain secure so that we can keep our community in Australia as safe as possible,” he said.

    Since when did asylum seekers threaten our national security?

  5. Kaye Lee

    Labor must come up with a credible solution to this problem. A government has to think on its feet, be able to respond to situations – if Shorten can make a suggestion here, it would show he is capable of doing that.

    Those people who have been found to be refugees must be brought to Australia and allowed to live in the community.

    Those who are awaiting processing must be taken to Christmas Island and have their claims dealt with in a specified time frame. Employ more people to do that if necessary. If there are too many to accommodate on Christmas Island then reopen the immigration centres here.

    Having dealt with Manus and Nauru, increase the humanitarian intake to 25,000, open processing offices in Indonesia and Malaysia, deal with applications efficiently keeping applicants informed of progress, and start flying people here. Those who come by boat should be detained onshore and informed that their applications go to the end of the queue but you will only stop people smugglers if you make it easier and quicker for asylum seekers to get here by safer/legitimate means.

  6. Denis

    New Zealand, I believe has offered to take many of the refugees, but the bastard Australian politicians will not let them even re-settle in New Zealand.

  7. Terry2

    Accepting that this current stand off is a political construct , the first side to ‘blink’ will pay a heavy political penalty particularly if that’s Labor as News Corp have plenty of deceptive front pages and hordes of zombie columnists ready to spread excrement.

    I think labor should assess what can reasonably be done in the short term without political damage. The offer by John Key PM of New Zealand should be considered as a circuit breaker and a first step.

    In reality I feel what is going to happen next week is that Dutton will bribe the PNG government and, as we expect that the government will go into caretaker mode from this time next week, nothing else will happen until after the election.

    I think we, on this site, agree that the long term solution starts with getting rid of this government.

  8. paul walter

    Just woken up to a story that has Dutton telling PNG they are now responsible for the refugees on Manus Island we dumped on them.

    This is lunacy, surely?

  9. OzFenric

    Peter Dutton is not the problem, he’s just (unfortunately) the face on the problem. Scott Morrison was just as bad, and so would any other minister in charge of immigration, be they Coalition or Labor. Peter Dutton just does what the government tells him, and the government does what the polling tells them.

    The problem is the Australian people. Both the Coalition and Labor support these contentious and illegal offshore processing policies, and at least in the case of Labor it’s not because of a moral imperative, it’s sheer political pragmatism. There are voices in the community that are trying to argue that the numbers of arriving asylum seekers are minuscule, that our processes are effective at weeding out diseases and terrorists, that these people are doing nothing wrong and that they’re fleeing environments that would undoubtedly kill them if they stayed. But these voices are drowned out by the echo chamber of the conservative press and the right of politics.

    Tony Abbott was too effective at selling “boat people = people dying at sea”, and at pushing the lie that says that forcing people to stay in refugee camps for the rest of their lives, or to die at home, is preferable to them taking the chance of drowning on our shores. Unless the left can come up with a more direct solution to the “problem” of people smugglers than claiming that people smuggling will reduce when you make it easier to come here, we will be stuck with the “solution” of offshore processing in some form or another.

  10. townsvilleblog

    I don’t know about anyone else here but I for one are all Islam’ed out. I don’t want any more Muslim immigrants, I believe Islam is not compatible with our society, especially following the attempt to murder Aussies at our ANZAC Day commemorations.

  11. Michael Taylor

    No Muslim has ever bothered me. None of them have tried pushing their religion down my throat or come knocking on my door with attempts to convert me. None have ever tried to harm me or my family or tried to steal anything from me.

    Have you checked if there were any murders in Australia on ANZAC Day and who committed them? Were they Christians by any chance?

    I’m not sticking up for Muslims, I just don’t care for religion.

  12. OzFenric

    Townsville, I sympathise, but you need to get over it. Islam is, I believe, the largest and fastest-growing religion in the world. A large proportion of asylum seekers are thus going to be Muslim. The vast, vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, law-abiding, hospitable and friendly. Violent extremists exist, but we have systems in place that identify and weed out these elements before “attempts to murder Aussies at ANZAC Day commemorations” are able to occur. Most of the information that reaches the authorities and leads to this identification, by the way, comes from within their own Muslim community, so before you start insulting the religion, remember that if you make enemies of them we will lose our ability to coexist with them.

    Like Christianity, a large proportion of the beliefs and writings of Islam that we in the west find unappealing are rooted in social expectations, not religious truth. The treatment of women, the general violent language, the us-and-them rhetoric, it all springs from the context in which it grew. Christianity has largely gotten past its own historical shackles (we’re still working on some elements of it – gay marriage and women in leadership are two areas that come to mind). Islam will also, presuming that the West doesn’t declare war on it and encourage the more extreme, us-and-them elements.

  13. Michael Faulkner

    You express my sentiments precisely Jennifer.

    It is worth noting that for the last 15 years, Australian governments have been at war.

    This war has been declared against ‘ people smugglers ‘ , an amorphous group of ‘foreigners’ , who evoke fear of invasion of our country in the hearts of conservative politicians from both large political parties. The sustained efforts by both major parties, to characterise ‘ people smugglers ‘ as among the most evil folks imaginable, evokes memories of the way Australian-born Germans and Italians were vilified during WW2. Similarly, this evocation can be seen in the WW1 government posters of 100 years ago, extolling young Australians to go to Europe and fight ‘the evil Hun’ .

    So even though the deeper historical reaches of 18th and 19th century laissez-faire capitalism from whose roots the Liberal Party has sprung, have more in common with the people slave trade smuggling to the USA in that era, than do other political movements in Australia, the Liberal government stridently, sanctimoniously and deceitfully proclaims itself to be a noble and generous government which saves lives, and prevents, asylum seeker deaths, at sea. Simultaneously, it has imprisoned thousands of asylum seekers in off-shore de-humanising gulags for years at a time, with no plan for their release. Sadly, the Labor Party has aligned itself similarly on these matters. The purpose of this long term ware-housing of would be refugees is profoundly political. Due to their association with ‘ people smugglers’ asylum seekers are smeared as deserving of their incarceration, and systematically de-humanised on a day to day basis for indefinite periods of time, in a myriad of ways.

    These are the tactics of a nation ( or national government), that sees itself at war.

    In turn, those of us opposing the national consensus between the two large political parties on asylum seekers need to consider a re-framing of the issues. It is clear the Liberal Party is using detained asylum seekers as political collateral for their own political advantage. Thus, this government’s war extends not just to ‘ people smugglers ‘ but also to people with an Islamic background, and, additionally, to draw on Peter Dutton’s seeming innocent phrase which he uses with sinister political intent ‘, also to asylum seeker advocates’ within the Australian community.

    Because Australia is at war as described, we need to call it as it is.
    Language therefore needs to be re-framed as part of public debate in broadening public perceptions of current policies.

    ‘Off-shore political prisons’ is a more accurate description, rather than the banal term ‘ detention centres’ , those Australian-funded institutions housing custodial practices which violate all U.N. conventions on human rights. ‘ Contracted out persecution centres ‘ might be another suitable and accurate term. ‘ Off-shore prisons for actively promoting severe psychiatric health conditions in people seeking refuge in Australia ‘ is another accurate though long descriptor.

    Furthermore, asylum seekers in the off-shore gulags, should be referred to as ‘Australia’s political hostages’ , Australia’s ‘ asylum seeker prisoners’, or more dramatically, as ‘ asylum seeker prisoners of war.’ ware-housed by wealthy Australia, in poor countries.

    There is never a better time to be misty-eyed about the growing likelihood of getting rid of the appalling national government we have had to endure for the last three years. There has never been a better time to be misty-eyed about the prospect of enabling this country to grow in so many ways from the insularity and the growing inequality this LNP government has foisted on the people.

    To quote Malcolm Turnbull, ‘ there has never been a more exciting time to be Australian’, ….. but the caveat is, only if the LNP are thrown from power.

  14. Margaret McMillan

    “…….. especially following the attempt to murder Aussies at our ANZAC Day commemorations.”

    Although I could take issue with what else you say, I imagine you truly believe it townsvilleblog. However, I would urge you to consider carefully making a statement about planned terrorist attacks on Anzac Day. We often hear of people being arrested on our special days – doesn’t it make you wonder why the authorities didn’t know until that morning? Could there possibly be an ulterior motive to this announcement, notably to make people like you feel more afraid? After all the raids and arrests we have had in the last few years, how many terrorists have actually been found guilty of anything?

    One thing I won’t be at all surprised to see is some dreadful terrorist plot being announced during the election campaign. This government will only have fear left to convince us to vote for them. I’m more scared of this government than I am of a few random terrorists.

  15. ozfenric

    Actually the arrest – and announcements – happened well in advance of Anzac day. IIRC this is the lad who was liaising with a mate in the UK, which was all over our media early in the year. It’s only come up now because the fellow had his chance to make his plea in court. I could be mistaken on this, but I don’t see any conspiracy here. The real conspiracy, as you mentioned, is yet to come: a six week election campaign gives plenty of time for any little terrorist plan, however early in planning, to whip up a National Security emergency. I imagine ASIO and the AFP are all under pressure to find and very visibly put down any such plots any time in the next two months. No need to invent one; somebody will oblige with an email where the words “box cutter” and “police” appear in the same sentence.

  16. Max Gross

    Tragically, there is nobody of integrity – or “common sense” – left to vote for

  17. Max Gross

    What’s more, Turnbull’s apparently foolish decision to have the longest election campaign in history is already revealing its cunning master plan. Have you noticed the return of TV ads sprewking the useless National Security Hotline (Yeah, the one that ignored concerns about the idiot who staged the Sydney siege)? The ads calling on us to poke our noses into other peoples’ bags, bins and – shock! horror! – online browsing? On the ANS website the current “National Terrorism Threat Level” is apparently “PROBABLE”, whatever that means. Jesus wept, are voters still that gullible?

  18. Gangey1959

    “We are not going to step back from that position, we are going to make sure, particularly in this day and age with national security is such an important issue, we are going to make sure that our borders remain secure so that we can keep our community in Australia as safe as possible,”
    Hey mr dudone. IF Australia has a problem with our National Security, it is NOT the refugees seeking a new home.
    Australia’s security is being compromised far too frequently by you and your incompetent moronic colleagues on the Government seats in Canberra.

  19. paul walter

    Kaye Lee, I also fear that the issue is likely used by the conservatives against progressives. If only people like Turnbull and Dutton could behave like human being, not animals.

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