It was just going to be a bit of whimsy, however, another refugee boat has been intercepted off the coast of Australia. The mainstream media, and the leader of the opposition, is beating it up as deluge. An interview on rtrfm the other day with Lawyer and Board Member of the Refugee Council of Australia Liz Biok, stated that the number of boatpeople coming to Australia had not greatly increased, though worldwide there was an increase. The cause of this is the incredible hardships now in Sri Lanka, Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other troublespots, the trouble often exacerbated, or caused by many of the policies that we support (the last is my opinion, Biok did not state this). Not entirely, but this should be considered when we decide if we should accept or reject people. Likewise, we should consider that if our purpose in participating in overseas wars is to bring some form of what we perceive to be a better life to those regions, then we need to accept those who do not have a better life due to the very people, ideas, or belief systems it seems we are officially fighting against. Otherwise we are just hypocrites, and no-one could accuse an Australian of being that, could they?Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the frying pan.
Biok pointed out that, compared to Europe which is far closer to Africa, the Middle East, and Sri Lanka, the asylum seekers who make it to Australia are a smidgen compared to those in Europe. She states that Rudd's decision to dismantle the Pacific Solution has not had any effect on the numbers, though worldwide, they appear to have risen. She said deteriorating conditions is what is pushing people to leave their countries or an intermediary countries. Many from Afghanistan go through to Pakistan, but anyone who has being paying attention to the media, knows that Pakistan is a terribly dangerous place to be at the moment. Opposition backbencher, Judy Moylan (see below) agrees with her.
Again, in my opinion, considering our close allies, the United States, and their close ally, Saudi Arabia, were the ones to first arm the Taliban, or those who became the Taliban, and other dissident groups when Russia was in Afghanistan, and that the United State's close ally, Saudi Arabia, pours money into fundamentalist madrasa in Pakistan (and not all madrasa are fundamentalist) whose members then go into Afghanistan and of course Pakistan, to implement their beliefs, then we need to be somewhat responsible for the chaos we have helped create. We cannot be such close allies without taking some form of responsibility for the actions, and the ultimate consequences of those actions, of our allies, and our allies' allies (which we presumably support). [See Robert Baer, the Devil we Know, and Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman, the Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif for reports on this].(1 May,2009: also here).
Likewise, some of our close allies, or friends of our close allies have provided Sri Lanka with its weapons, so we need to take some form of responsibility for the people who are displaced by and fleeing from the use of such weapons, or fleeing from the policies that such weapons enforce. Of course, weapons are just another item on the free market, but if we deal in them, and operate on the free market as well, then we need to accept some of the fallout, such as deaths, wounding, destruction, mayhem and people fleeing from the same.
Returning to the interview, many countries are not signatories to the Geneva refugee convention. Within Australia's general region, none of the countries on the path are signatories. Australia is a signatory. Malaysia refuses to recognise any rights of or obligations to refugees, though Indonesia is moving towards it. However, Indonesia has its own problems, too, with internally displaced people, and is fragile politically and ethnically, and is also quite corrupt, Biok states. Due to this, refugees there can be vulnerable. Refugees are always vulnerable. Biok also said that refugees generally speaking don't have the ability, resources or knowledge to know the current Australian policies pertaining to asylum seekers, though the people smugglers might. The opposition disagrees with this point of view, and says that the dismantling of the Pacific Solution is why they are now arriving. Even the sound of that, Pacific Solution, is ominous.
The interview stated that asylum seekers want to go somewhere where human rights are recognised, and most Australians are surely thankful that human rights are generally recognised in Australia. All applicants are screened by ASIO, so, if we trust our security services, then those people who are a threat to the country are not being allowed in. Most people are found to be genuine.
Burns victims from the refugee boat reach Royal Darwin Hospital
This article from the Australian of a man who has been waiting eight years to arrive in Australia, going through the process, states that none of the refugees were from Lombok. No-one really knows as yet.
But anyone stuck there, after fleeing from their countries, and then finding themselves somewhere where they are not permitted to work legally (according to the Iraqi asylum seeker, though not the report from the West Australian), would feel despair. Biok feels that politicians should not be trying to make capital out of the asylum seekers' tragedy. Of course, the politicians do not focus on the tragedy part of the story. This was reported about Ihsan Abdulrassoul Hassoun, the Iraqui refugee, of his time in Lombok after the Howard government had turned their boat around.
Then followed seven years of limbo, during which Ishan learned to speak Bahasa Indonesia, but could not work legally or settle down in the local community. "During the past seven years I felt sad when I thought about my future life, even though the people around me were very nice," he said.Another aspect that is not focused on is that many asylum seekers arrive by plane, and are not given the attention by the media that the boats are. I guess the progress of boats can be seen, and when there are the shocking injuries that people sustained after their boat exploded the other day, the story is more sensational, and obviously tragic.
As stated before, the Rudd government dismantled the Pacific Solution which was the Howard government's policy of processing people on islands miles away from Australia's shores. There was mandatory detention for women, men and children. I wrote about it here. Asylum seekers are still being processed at Christmas Island, which is not terribly close to the Australian mainland either, but no children are being held in detention, now, and temporary protection visas have been abolished, which is good news, as they can and do cause terrible mental anguish. Do unto others... it seems the Golden Rule has been lost on a lot of us, and also the fact that we have signed the Geneva refugee convention.Clearing security in Jakarta's airport, refugee Ihsan Abdulrassoul Hassoun is finally on his way to Australia, the country he had dreamed of for so long. © UNHCR/A.Restu
Biok states that the Pacific solution propped up the Nauru government, cost Australia a massive amount of money, considering that most of the refugees were eventually placed in either Australia or New Zealand, and as said before, caused mental anguish, separated families, and didn't really treat people as humans. Certain backbenchers, such as Judy Moylan in the Liberal government did not support it either. As a matter of fact, the wonderful Ms. Moylan (on this issue) has had this reported about her in relation to the media's current concerns about 'boat people'(not in the popular presses):
A Liberal backbencher who strongly opposed parts of the Howard government's asylum seeker stance has backed the Government's claim that global issues are responsible for a recent spike in unauthorised arrivals and not domestic policy.Biok asks that politicians, Mr. Turnbull, Ms. Bishop, stop trying to make political capital out of the situation, and instead look towards their obligations internationally and as human beings.
Her comments come as Opposition Leader Malcom Turnbull has called on the Government to change its asylum seeker policies, saying they are not working.
Western Australian MP Judi Moylan was part of a group of four dissident MPs who was opposed to the Pacific Solution and the mandatory detention of women and children.
The Member for Pearce says she is happy with the Government's current policies and does not believe they are responsible for the rise.