One of the things that weighs heavy on my heart is the treatment of asylum seekers by successive Australian Governments.
Currently there are 153 asylum seekers missing – they were last heard from 19 days ago prior to being picked up by Australian Border Protection people. The Minister for Immigration and Border protection refuses to provide any information – however as part of a High Court injunction was forced to admit they were currently on a naval vessel somewhere.
There are women and children as part of this group of Tamil people escaping persecution from the Sri Lankan government. It bothers me that my government is engaged in what amounts to piracy and kidnapping. 50 Tamil asylum seekers were also picked up by the Navy and returned to Sri Lanka after it was determined via a brief video link-up with limited interpretation services and no legal assistance, they were not refugees.
The whole “boat people” issue is contentious, and is dividing our country, largely because so many are completely misinformed – I fully expect to lose support because of this post.
Australia is a signatory to the Refugee Convention, and as a result has legal and moral responsibilities we are currently not upholding. There is every likelihood that at some time in the future the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection will be charged with crimes against humanity and brought before The Hague. What a shameful possibility for any Australian government minister.
These people are human beings, and my belief is that no human being is more valuable than another – no life is more important than another, however our current asylum seeker policies place no value on the lives of the men, women and children who seek refuge from abuse, persecution and possible death.
As a mother, and now grandmother, I can’t imagine what it would take to get on one of those leaky boats, or send my kids on that boat. However, I know in my heart that I would do whatever it takes to ensure my family could live in safety and have a reasonable opportunity to prosper in life, and it is from this place that I draw my empathy for these people. I endeavour to put myself in their shoes, and view the situation from their eyes.
If you are someone who has the “fuck off, we’re full” mentality, or believes that every refugee that comes here is a potential terrorist, or that the Muslims will take over our country you may wish to educate yourself somewhat, and perhaps open your mind and heart a little by reading this article that dispels myths, and presents the truth about seeking asylum, the Refugee Convention and Australia’s responsibilities as a signatory. The history, and subsequent deterioration of Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers in this piece by former chief justice of the Family Court, University of Melbourne law professor and chairman of Children’s Rights International, Alistair Nicholson is certainly worthy of a read if you wish to become better informed.
And those of you who think we should be looking after our own first, your government doesn’t agree with you – and it has nothing to do with refugees taking from the vulnerable here. Your government is quite happy to provide billions and billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks to big mining corporations, who are 80% foreign owned, whilst cutting services and support to the most vulnerable in our community. That is taxpayers dollars going overseas – oh and by the way, did you know that the biggest coal mining company that operates in Australia, Glencore, posted billions of dollars profit, and paid ZERO tax, yep that’s right, not ONE CENT!!!! Yesterday, your government repealed the carbon pricing model that generated billions of government revenue and are about to abolish the “Mining Tax”, another stream of government revenue, again so the mining companies can siphon more of Australia’s wealth overseas….. so if this has been your argument against asylum seekers, you might have to come up with a new one.