Okay everyone lets talk refugees, boat people, illegal aliens or whatever particular term is the current label for asylum seekers. Here in Australia decency, social justice and democracy itself are being unraveled before our eyes.
This is at the behest of a government headed by a man whose rise to power was achieved by the disintegration of unity amongst the Labor Party, the promise to big business to protect THEM against new taxation and by ramping up fear of asylum seekers to a frenzied state that would have you expecting an invasion similar to that of the barbarian hordes.
However the buck doesn’t stop there, it stops with all who allowed either habit, greed or fear to dictate their vote and now we have the Abbott government dictating [and I mean that quite literally] policy for at least one term. The damage they have done in the first six months of governance is staggering and what is to come I am sure will be worse. But there is one issue that will come back to haunt each and every person who voted that man into power and as the years go by I believe it will haunt Abbott and the members of his government always.
In Australia the contentious issue of asylum seekers has recently come to a head when, in his address at the Lowy Institute, immigration minister Scott Morrison announced the creation of the Australian border force, a “single integrated border protection agency” of customs and immigration’s assets – including detention center management.
A commissioner, to lead the agency, will report directly to Morrison and “pick up where Operation Sovereign Borders leaves off”. The overwrought reaction to what in reality is the movement of a small number of people has in effect created a de-facto “mega department” in Canberra, informal but central to the government’s agenda, and not overly concerned with the rule of law. Refugees legitimately seeking asylum, for that is what they are doing, do not constitute a security threat. Yet Morrison, acting on the hysteria generated by Tony Abbott, has chosen to couch asylum seekers’ legitimate quest for freedom in terms of an invasion. [The Guardian]
Our military is being politicized and our navy is breaking Maritime Law by towing boats back over into Indonesian waters where a secret deal between their government and ours has seen to the detention of all those left there. The immigration department oversees substandard holding camps on Manus and Naura, where they has already been one death in custody and numerous instances of self harm amongst children.
This department is responsible for overseeing and implementing policy which is inhumane and illegal, both in terms of Australian domestic law and international law. Our attorney general’s department has not stepped in and has in fact acquiesced in the indefinite detention of over 50 refugees [mostly Tamils] based on the premise that it is a security issue.
The information from which this decision flowed comes from ASIO and has since proven to be false as it was based on advice from the Sri Lankan government, the victors in a civil war which has seen the defeated and persecuted Tamils seeking to flee the country.
Even more seriously we are now faced with a human rights issue that I believe will leave blood on the hands of this government and all who supported them. Right now immigration officials want to send Syrian asylum seekers, currently being held on Manus Island back into the war-zone without hearing their case AND after revealing their names to the Syrian regime. The Assad regime is known to have abducted, tortured and killed political opponents/protesters and OUR government is proposing to make these asylum seekers a target by revealing their names AND THEN DELIVER THEM DIRECTLY INTO THE HANDS OF THE REGIME.
If we as a country allow this to happen we will be complicit in the murder of those people and whether you wish to face that fact or not it is true. If they are sent back and we don’t even try to stop that happening we have to take part of that weight on ourselves. The link to the Syria Campaign will take you the petition should you wish to protest this move.
Putting aside, for the moment, the politics, the fears be they real or imagined on the part of some of the Australian population and the endless bureaucratic nightmare that has ensued what are we really talking about here?
Australia is one of the richest countries in the world, we do not suffer from overpopulation, severe unemployment or even lack of housing and land. What is it that we fear to lose should we offer shelter and assistance to those fleeing persecution and poverty? I have a question, and it is a very simple one:
If allowing others into our country to find shelter meant that we lowered our standard of living slightly would you allow someone who has nothing to die so that you can have more of what you already own?
Yes OR No – because strip all the extraneous arguments, the pros and the cons, and attendant strategic difficulties away and that is what you are left with and if the answer is NO then what more is there to say, if it is YES then I am sorry for you.
If we do not stop the posturing and greed that has led to treating our environment like a limitless 7/11 and people as commodities we will cease to be human. If I believed in the Devil I would say that until we accept that another’s freedom and safety is more important than money we risk damnation as a species.
Ask yourself what mark you will leave on this world in your passing, when in the chill of night and the dark recesses of your heart you judge yourself. Will it be measured in dollars or compassion, in what you shared or what you hoarded, because believe me it will matter? Regardless of your political leanings, your religious affiliations or you economic status you are part of humanity and if we wish to keep our humanity then it is about damn time we started acting in a humane manner.