By Tracie Aylmer
Rightly or wrongly, people smugglers have had a really bad rap for several years now with the Australian government and the public. They have been the excuse of governments past and present to persecute refugees and asylum seekers, to the extent that psychological damage has been done to the victim.
People love using the excuse of people smugglers, but no one has wondered why they have been used as the excuse.
What people don’t quite understand is that, even though people smugglers have been known to rip refugees and asylum seekers off, what they also do is get refugees out of dangerous situations.
I remember hearing a story from an asylum seeker who had so many problems in her home country that she would have been ‘honour killed’ if she hadn’t quickly flled. Her story wasn’t a nice one. Another story is of a man who handed out political pamphlets to people on the street during elections. The police in this country are apt to torture those giving political statements to the public that are adverse to the government, which expected to win a clear majority.
People smugglers got these people out of situations so dangerous that many in Australia couldn’t possibly consider just how dangerous it was. While the charges can be very high, the situations are higher.
When Peter Dutton targets people smugglers and claims that the Australian government has destroyed their business model, he couldn’t be more wrong. Who is the Australian government when someone is doing localised business in another country?
By trying to dictates methods of business in another country, Australia is breaching the sovereignty of the other country, as well as the business practices and laws of the other country. Who is Australia to dictate this?
People smuggling hasn’t stopped, nor will it. There’s high demand in other countries for people smuggling due to many complex practices going on in the other countries.
It doesn’t even make sense to blame the victim, or the fact that the victim gets on a boat, or was helped by people smugglers in order to get on a boat and had enough funds to pay for it. When a person flees persecution, they don’t care about the money in their bank account. A life is not about worth. It’s more precious to the person to remain alive than it is to think about their bank account.
I don’t know anyone who could dodge a bomb when it comes, other than to flee from it. Any reasonable, normal person who flees would use a people smuggler to do so if there was no other choice. They would pay every cent to remain alive. It’s reasonable and logical to do so.
By blaming the business practices of people smugglers means that the actual people the Australian government wants to blame are the asylum seekers and refugees.
By blaming people smugglers in public, the Australian government believes they hold more sway over other countries than they actually do. They are telling the Australian people that they have more influence over another country’s sovereignty than the other country does.
And they are destroying their own reputation in the process.