dreamer_easy: (darkgod)
ETA: I'm behind the ball on this one: the government has offered to resettle the refugees here, they've accepted, and they've disembarked.

(Cut and pasted from email. Why these don't go up on their Web site puzzles me muchly.)
November 17, 2009

AUSTRALIA CANNOT WATCH IDLY WHILE ASYLUM SEEKERS FACE RETURN TO SRI LANKA

The Australian Government cannot remain a passive bystander while asylum seekers on the Merak boat face the risk of return to Sri Lanka, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) says.

RCOA president John Gibson said the organisation was alarmed by media reports that the Indonesian Government was considering returning asylum seekers whose claims were yet to be examined.

"Given our Prime Minister's much publicised intervention to prevent the boat now in Merak from reaching Australian waters, Australia has a moral responsibility to do everything it can to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers on that boat are not returned to a situation where they may face persecution," Mr Gibson said.

"Australia must now urge the Indonesian Government to allow UNHCR officials full access to the asylum seekers on the Merak boat and consider what actions Australia can take to rebuild trust and goodwill with the government and people of Indonesia.

"Australia is increasingly being regarded as a wealthy nation which has no qualms about shifting its responsibilities for refugee protection to neighbouring countries with fewer resources. Not only is this perception damaging Australia's reputation in the region, it threatens to undermine longer term efforts to build regional cooperation on refugee protection."
Some background, from Kate: HRW recently reported on the tendency of ethnic Tamils to "disappear". The asylum seekers in question say they're fleeing torture, rape, and murder at their government's hands. Some of them have already been verified as genuine refugees by the UNHCR. If Australia forcibly returns these asylum seekers, we may be sending them home to die - and it won't be the first time we've done so.
dreamer_easy: (australia)
But I failed.

Australia Puts Its Refugee Problem on a Remote Island, Behind Razor Wire. New York Times, 5 November 2009

"The arrival of illegal boats filled with Asians evokes a primordial fear here, one that has been instilled over past decades of anti-Asian immigration policies."

(The NYT errs here, of course: seeking refuge in Australia is 100% legal.)
dreamer_easy: (facepalm)
Meanwhile, both sides of Australian politics continue to play games with the lives and wellbeing of refugees. Progress towards decriminalising abortion continues at a snail's pace, while the young Queensland couple facing seven years' jail for using RU-486 had their house firebombed. I think I'll go back to not reading the paper for a bit.
dreamer_easy: (BRIC A BRAC diversion)
Smith defends Malaysia on asylum seekers: "Australia is confident Malaysia will treat asylum seekers appropriately, even though a report says corrupt officials have forced refugees into prostitution and slavery... The two nations agreed to stronger cooperation to combat people smuggling. But a US State Department report released last month put Malaysia on a blacklist of 16 nations judged to be the worst for people trafficking... Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees." (The news item neglects to tell us who "Smith" is - he's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.) I can only hope that Australia's involvement might mean Malaysia improves its treatment of refugees, if only due to outside scrutiny.

Review of Hummer which IMHO gets my good and bad points as a writer spot-on.

Stop Motion With Wolf and Pig

Pre-taped call in show

Stop Motion Drums and Piano

dreamer_easy: (THE HELL)
Casino for asylum housing: "The Federal Government is involved in multimillion-dollar negotiations to use Christmas Island's luxurious casino resort in its battle to house the rapidly growing number of asylum seekers and staff required to care for them."

Missionaries providing lessons for Christmas Island detainees: "Evangelical missionaries whose stated aim is to bring 'non-Western' people to Christianity through such activities as English lessons are teaching asylum seekers at Christmas Island."
dreamer_easy: (australia)
If what the Indonesian authorities say is correct - that 10,000 asylum seekers are waiting for people smugglers to deliver them to Australia - then the solution is to set up an orderly processing program to verify their claims and bring them safely to our shores. It'll save a small fortune in taxpayers' money. Oh, and lives.

SIEV 36

Apr. 21st, 2009 09:41 am
dreamer_easy: (BLUE ROSE)
The Coalition, knowing a nice little vote-earner when they see one, want to reinstate Temporary Protection Visas. These are illegal for more than one reason: they're intended to deter refugees from seeking safety (which they don't), and they discriminate against refugees. In this instance, I don't mean "technically asylum seekers but almost certainly refugees"; I mean people who have been proven to be genuine refugees, fleeing persecution, torture, and death. On a TPV, a refugee can't work, can't use Medicare, can't bring their family to safety - and has no way of knowing whether this really is safety, or whether they'll be sent back to the horrors they tried to escape. As you can imagine, this fucks them up.

At least the bastards aren't proposing throwing another billion dollars down the maw of the Pacific Solution. (And thank heavens for the Coalition members who oppose the return to TPVs.)

ETA: If you read one document about this issue, read the Refugee Council of Australia's press release. It has the facts and also a dose of black humour: "The temporary protection policy was conceived by Pauline Hanson. When she raised the suggestion in 1998, former Coalition Minister for Immigration, Phillip Ruddock, described it in Parliament 'as highly unconscionable in a way that most thinking people would clearly reject'. The Howard government proceeded to introduce it the following year."
dreamer_easy: (BLUE ROSE)
While the current Australian government's response to refugees has been a mixed bag of real progress and failed promises, I'll give Kevin Rudd this: his ire appears to be directed at the people smugglers, rather than at the refugees. The previous government's elaborate policy of deterring people from seeking refuge here - illegal under Australia's international agreements - was not only mind-bogglingly expensive and cruel, it didn't work. For example, the second-rate "Temporary Protection Visa" given to the small number of asylum seekers arriving by boat (most arrive by plane) actually put more women and children into the boats. The Howard government gloated that its Pacific Solution had stopped the flow of asylum seekers - never mind factors such as the fall of the Taliban - but boats continued to arrive. They'll go on arriving until Australia works out some sort of sensible arrangement with its neighbours to manage the refugees who reach them.

(One of yesterday's news stories referred to the poor buggers on the boat as presumed asylum seekers, instead of "suspected" asylum seekers. Hooray.)

ETA: an opinion piece from the SMH gives the background on Australia's treatment of refugees. (Technically, until someone is found to be a refugee, they are an "asylum seeker"; however, since almost every asylum seeker arriving in in Australia without a visa turns out to be a genuine refugee, I'm just going to use the less clumsy term.)
dreamer_easy: (BLUE ROSE)
Oh gods, this is awful. Boat carrying asylum seekers explodes and sinks. Asylum seekers (almost certainly genuine refugees, if past experience is any guide) were killed and seriously injured; some Australian sailors were injured, too.

When you read and hear rumours about exactly what happened, keep in mind the Children Overboard lies, and wait for hard evidence. (If WA Premier Colin Barnett's insistence that the asylum seekers deliberately caused the explosion is false, he should resign.)

The Opposition of course claims that the tragedy is the result of not mistreating refugees in order to illegally dissuade them from attempting the trip. Presumably this is because it's much easier to get hold of and torment people fleeing for their lives than it is to get hold of and punish people smugglers who use overcrowded, unsafe vessels.
dreamer_easy: (CURRENT AFFAIRS)
UN wants urgent action on asylum seekers: "The UN Human Rights Committee says it's concerned by reports Australia has not fully respected the principle of non-refoulement, which states asylum seekers shouldn't be returned to a country if their lives or freedoms are threatened. It's been suggested that up to 20 Afghans were killed by the Taliban after having their claims for asylum rejected by Australia."

All asylum seekers should be given the right to work, rather than relying on charity, sez the International Detention Coalition's submission to a federal inquiry into immigration detention. "If there are no health, character or public interest concerns, then bridging visa release options with community support should be made available as the priority option. Individuals released from detention should be granted the right to work, in order to self-sustain where possible, and which has the connected right to Medicare as a taxpayer."

Despite policy changes, 143 people are currently in detention on Christmas Island, but Australia will no longer be the country in the world which charges them for the privilege.
dreamer_easy: (australia)
Right. Just as a Liberal friend of mine warned could happen, the Rudd guvmint has not followed through on its promises to end mandatory detention of asylum seekers, a policy which is needless, cruel, expensive, and illegal.

Even the Libs stopped detaining children. Right now there are 20 children, without their parents, held on Christmas Island. This violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding agreement that Australia ratified in 1990.

Please take a couple of minutes to email or, better still, write to Immigration Minister Chris Evans, asking him to release the children from immigration detention at once:

Email contact form for Chris Evans

Senator the Hon. Chris Evans
PO Box 1322
West Perth WA 6872


Please drop him a sentence or two even if you're not in Australia - international opinion counts! If there's a mention of it in your local media, please mention that (and leave me a link if possible). Thanks folks!
dreamer_easy: (australia)
Asylum seekers 'in miserable conditions': "The Australian Human Rights Commission's annual report on detention found the Rudd government has not made the changes to detention policy announced last July." Despite some improvements, asylum seekers are still being held indefinitely, including children, and lack access to basic services. Detention is still not subject to judicial review - meaning the bureaucrats can do what they like.

For more information, read the AHRC's press release, their fact sheet summarising the report, and the full report.
dreamer_easy: (australia)
Boost for border patrols as more boat people arrive. More "suspected asylum seekers", according to the SMH, bring this year's total would-be refugee influx to a massive one hundred and twenty. Do you realise that's 0.000006 asylum seekers for every man, woman, and child in this country?! (More seriously, it's about time we worked out some sensible refugee-processing arrangement with Indonesia, putting the people smugglers out of work, and saving us all this money on boats and things.)

Mandatory detention traumatises refugees: report. This only adds to what we've known for years, but here goes: "... levels of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among the group was ten times that of the normal population while the rate of clinical depression was seven times the normal level, which reduced their ability to participate in everyday activities... prolonged detention and harsh living conditions created by temporary protection visas contributed to poor mental health, which improved when refugees were granted permanent visas. Lead researcher Zachary Steel said those who were not detained or were detained only for short periods were much better able to begin building new lives in Australia and contribute to the community."
dreamer_easy: (australia)
7 October: Rickety boat carrying 17 found off WA coast. The SMH described this terrifying horde as "a boatload of suspected Middle Eastern refugees", though it wasn't clear on whether they were suspected of being refugees, or suspected of being Middle Eastern.

23 October: Man brings house to a standstill: ten years in Australia, refused admission, but unable to be deported. Yeesh, just give the bloke and his eldery parents humanitarian visas already.

1 November: Beheaded after trying for asylum in Australia. Instead of saving this Afghan poet from the Taliban, we stuck him on Nauru and eventually sent him home, where they threw him down a well and threw a hand grenade in after him. (In June, a rejected Chinese asylum seeker was tortured by police and committed suicide.) Cases like these are not a tragic-but-unavoidable outcome of an imperfect system: they are the direct result of bad policies.

3 November: Falun Gong followers caught in dangerous immigration Catch-22: "The Immigration Department is endangering failed Falun Gong asylum seekers by forcing them to apply for travel documents from the Chinese consulate in Sydney, exposing their status to authorities and putting them in danger of persecution."

6 November: Fast action on boat people: Refugees' lawyers surprised and pleased by the new government's helpfulness. Said one, "I have to say it took a bit of adjustment."

Finally, today's news: Asylum seekers' fingerprints to go on criminal database. "If you haven't done anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about," say police, apparently with a straight face.
dreamer_easy: (australia)
Lots of refugee news lately, of which more shortly, but first I wanted to quote you a para from the latest Refugee Council of Australia newsletter:
Statistics fail to justify media obsession with boat arrivals

It was ironic that, while representatives of UNHCR, governments and NGOs were at the UNHCR ExCom meeting discussing the forced displacement of millions of people, the Australian media were giving great prominence to the recent arrival in Australian waters of two boatloads carrying 31 asylum seekers. By any measure, the number of people of arriving in Australia by boat to seek asylum is tiny. UNHCR reports that, at the end of 2007, there were 739,986 asylum seekers around the world with claims still pending. Australia had just 1516 people in this category (0.2% of the global total). During 2007, 468,597 asylum seekers were granted refugee status. Of these people, 1702 (or 0.4%) were granted protection in Australia. Of the relatively small numbers of people who seek asylum in Australia, the great majority arrive by air, generally with a valid short-term visa of some description, and have their protection visa application assessed with no public fanfare. Asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat currently make up fewer than 0.01% of the world's asylum seekers.
dreamer_easy: (australia)
More want migrant intake cut (ETA: the abstract of the People and Place journal article is available online, and so is the article itself, if you have $16.)

Land push behind ethnic conflict

Minority faiths rise but fringes sing same psalms

A new book, Human Rights Overboard, documents the testimonies and evidence from the People's Inquiry into Detention.

Utterly unrelated to Australia: my theory about the origin of "Midnight". (SPOILERS for that episode, obviously!)

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