By Ghali Hassan, Axis of Logic
Axis of Logic exclusive
Sunday, Aug 4, 2013
|“We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which
- John Howard, Former Prime Minister of Australia.
Despite the rhetoric of “fair go” for everyone, Australia’s approach to
immigration is biased in favour of people from certain racial and ethnic
groups. This approach also applies to vulnerable refugees who risk
their lives to come to Australia.
After toppling Julia Gillard as prime minister of Australia in a re-run
(in reverse) bloodless coup, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – an extreme
right-wing politician – has moved swiftly to raise his popularity among
the Australian voters by scapegoating a small minority of genuine
refugees for political advantages. Refugees arriving in Australia by
boat are portrayed as “economic refugees” trying “to gain economic
advantages” in Australia and will be sent to concentration camps in
Nauru and Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Both major parties, Labor and Liberal, have made xenophobia and
political extremism their main platforms in the campaign for the
upcoming federal election, and there is no limit to the fascist cruelty
that either Labor or Liberal are prepared to inflict on refugees. Each
Party is going all-out to outdo the other by brutalising refugees. The
so-called “stop-the-boats” policy – a relic of the bigoted John Howard –
is back as the election’s main platform plank for both parties. Kevin
Rudd and his dog-whistling ignorant Foreign Minister (Bob Carr) have
corrupted the governments of Nauru and PNG to agree to process and
settle refugees in their countries. In addition, Rudd wants to change
the 1951 UN Refugee Convention to suit the “White Australia” ideology,
despite the small number of refugees reaching Australia by boats. It
gets worse. The Liberal gang led by the religio-fundamentalist Tony
Abbott revealed that (if elected), they will use the Australian army in
Australia’s on-going war on refugees. A three-star commander will lead
“Operation Sovereign Borders” to defend Australia.
The primary aim of both parties is to scare refugees. The plan is
anti-PNG, because it depicts PNG deterrence in a negative way. As Rudd
warned refugees: “Don't get on the next boat - you won't be settled in
Australia. You will be sent to [ghastly] Nauru or Papua New Guinea for
reprocessing and resettlement.” In truth, the Australian ruling class
and mainstream media consider PNG, in particular, to be a “primitive”
and “uncivilised” nation, good only for exploitation of natural
resources. PNG of course, has one of the most brutal paramilitary police
force in the world, responsible for murders, rapes and many other human
rights abuses. It is lavishly funded by Australian taxpayers to secure
the refugees concentration camp on Manus Island.
Kevin Rudd’s diabolic plan is inhumane, racist and in breach of the
UNHCR's Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.
Indeed, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has
strongly criticised the plan as “inadequate and provid[ing] no security
protection to refugees”. Rudd’s plan stipulates that refugees who arrive
in Australia by boat would be processed and settled in PNG, no matter
what the people in PNG think.
The policy of sending refugees, including women and unaccompanied
children, to concentration camps in PNG and Nauru is outrageous and
racist and should be condemned by civilised nations. Former Prime
Minister Malcolm Fraser rightly described PNG’s Manus Island and Nauru
camps as Australian gulags. “I actually liken it [the situation in
Nauru] to a concentration camp, but the Australians don’t have the guts
to kill these people and put them out of their misery”, said Marianne
Evers, an Australian nurse and a counsellor with more than 40 years
The conditions of these camps are “a huge generator of mental illness”.
According to Mr Rod St George, a former Head of Occupational Health and
Safety with the security firm G4S who worked at the Manus Island
concentration camp in PNG, the camp is not even fit to “serve as a dog
kennel in Australia. Its owners would be jailed.” He added: “I have
never seen human beings so destitute, so helpless and so hopeless”. Mr
St George confirmed that refugees have been abused, sexually assaulted
and raped with the full knowledge of the camp staff (according to SBS's
Dateline program). Both, Nauru and PNG are underdeveloped, poor
countries and are unable to look after their own citizens. They do not
have the capacity, including hospitals, to look after refugees.
Furthermore, the human rights situation in PNG is appalling and many
Papua New Guineans are fleeing PNG to take refuge in Australia. The
Australian Foreign Affairs Department considers PNG a safety risk and
has issued travel warnings about ethnic disputes and a lawlessness that
is so bad they advise Australians to travel in convoys after dark with
car windows up and doors locked. In PNG, deadly diseases like malaria
and cholera are endemic, the murder rate is 14 times higher than in
Australia, and sexual violence and rapes targeting foreign women are
According to the former leader of the Australian Green Party, Bob Brown,
Australia is a fortress. “If you're poor and you don't come from an
English-speaking background or a European background, you have much more
difficulty getting to the country.” In contrast, it is very easy for
people (whites in particular) from certain countries to settle in
Australia. All one needs is a passport and a visa (no matter how
authentic) to enter Australia. Once inside, it is easy to manipulate the
system and stay. Indian nationals are a case in point. According to the
ABC, thousands of Indian (bogus) students, workers and 457 visa holders
have been admitted to Australia on fraudulent passports and work
documents. The fraud rates are approaching 50 per cent. It is not a
coincidence that Australian big cities are swamped by economic migrants,
such as Indians, Chinese, white South Africans, European, including
poor Brits and Irish.
It is impossible for dark-skinned (mostly Muslim) refugees from
Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Palestine and now Syria to obtain an Australian
visa, let alone a passport, to travel to Australia. Hence, refugees
have to risk their lives to come to Australia by boat. In addition, many
refugees are unaware of their rights and are at the mercy of people
smugglers. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of refugees are
stranded in appalling refugee camps in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa
and unable to move freely. They are fleeing Western aggression and
persecution in their homelands.
However, the percentage of refugees arriving in Australia by boat is
between 2 to 4 per cent of all “unauthorised” (without Australian visa)
arrivals. More than 90 per cent of these are found to be genuine
refugees. The majority of refugee applicants (“authorised” arrivals)
arrive by plane, at airports. Even though only a small minority of them
(20 per cent) are found to be genuine refugees, they are allowed to
enter and live freely in Australia. Those who failed in their
applications to gain refugee status remain in the country illegally.
There are more than 60,000 illegal immigrants in Australia. The majority
of them are bogus “professionals”, tourists, failed refugee applicants
and international bogus students. They are living freely in Australia,
taking jobs, housing, using public services and paying no tax. They are
not incarcerated like poor dark-skinned refugees behind razor wire in
isolated detention camps in remote Australia.
The case of international students in Australia is interesting. In
Australia, international students have an ‘automatic’ right to apply for
permanent residency (PR) and continue to live in Australia after they
have paid for their admission to study and enter Australia. “Take that
lure away and the main reason why tens of thousands of [international]
students are prepared to outlay up to AUD$20,000 (US$16,000) every year
disappears”, writes Geoff Maslen, a reporter on education for University
World News. The so-called “education industry” – promoted by the
Anglo-Saxon elites and politicians – provides no benefit to ordinary
Australians. In fact, it has destroyed the education system and is in
the process of destroying the Australian labour market. The number of
international bogus students who remain in the country illegally exceeds
that of refugees arriving by boat in Australia. However, they are left
alone by politicians and the media.
The demonising and scapegoating of vulnerable refugees has become the
politic of the major parties of Labor and Liberal in Australia. As a
result, Australia continues to move to the extreme right and the
Australian society remains very backward in its own way. Most
Australians – with rare exceptions – treat dark-skinned people (refugees
or not) as second-class citizens. New migrants (mostly economic
migrants) from Europe, India, South Africa and China have joined the
racist and hysterical bigots, particularly towards Aboriginal and Muslim
Kevin Rudd’s extremism seems to be reaping dividends in the polls.
However, no matter who wins the upcoming federal elections, a government
that wins by scapegoating vulnerable refugees is absolutely devoid of
moral authority to govern. The belief in a “fair go" value should also
apply to refugees seeking “safety” in Australia. Australia has an
obligation to give every refugee the right to have his or her claim
independently processed in Australia.
Ghali Hassan is an independent researcher and writer living in Australia.
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