A possie in Aussie

April 6, 2010

Abbott grins as asylum seekers are gunned down

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,refugee — Nayano @ 8:10 am
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On Q&A last night Abbott  said that Afghans who left Afghanistan  were no longer persecuted when they reached Pakistan.

Quetta, the city  where most Afghan Hazaras are trying to take shelter, is now the headquarters of the  Taliban who roam the area and shoot Hazaras down in the streets with impunity.

Hazaras have an Asiatic appearance, and so are easily identified. They are Shi’a Muslims, who the Taliban considers to be ‘lower’ even than the Jews, and are therefore ‘fair game’.

As we in the West are only too painfully aware, law and order in Pakistan is virtually non existent.

Basithry  posted this video on May 31, 2009

“A very sad incident that took place in Quetta, on 10th of Muharram 3-3-2004. (Day of Ashura, the most holy day for Shi’a). A group of terrorists (belonging to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi) attacked the procession, killing 57 innocents, including kids. Not only this, but ATF (Anti terrorist force) also unexpectedly killed few innocent mourners of Imam Hussain (A.S).”

Pamela Curr says:

THE QUESTION FOR THE REFUGEE ADVOCACY COMMUNITY is how we respond to the WAR of WORDS which is being conducted in this election year.

April 5, 2010

The asylum seeker TPV: too expensive, too cruel, and it didn’t work

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,refugee — Nayano @ 8:32 am
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Around 4,500 boatpeople have attempted to seek asylum in Australia since the Labor government was elected about 30 months ago.

Asylum seekers in Australian immigration detention, Howard era

The Howard government imposed Temporary Protection Visas, which this government has since revoked, with the intention of deterring boat arrivals, reducing people smuggling, increasing security, and making resettlement places available to ‘more-deserving’ off-shore applicants.

Did it work?

Numbers of arrivals showed no reduction in the two years after the introduction of the TPV

Asylum seekers were given very rigorous security checks and no links with terrorism were found among them, and only a very tiny minority was rejected on other character grounds

The number of resettlement places available for the regular refugee program was indeed reduced by onshore claimants, but it was not necessary for the government to include those claimants in the existing quota, nor was it impossible for the government to increase the number of places overall.

In fact, there were unused places even after both the off-shore and onshore claims were settled.

In addition, the TPV cost the government more than it saved for compliance, processing, and appeals. Although government-funded settlement services did not have TPV holders added to their client load, the burden of settlement services did not disappear, but was shouldered by state governments, volunteers, and NGOs.

As well as having little effect on the numbers of arrivals and increasing the government’s fiscal burden, the TPV caused widespread and extreme suffering among holders, and caused separation of families for many years.

March 31, 2010

Boat people scoop! They buy Home Brand Hawaiian pizza

The Brisbane Sunday Mail had a scoop last Sunday – and honoured it with a front page banner headline:  “THEY’RE HERE”: Refugee crisis hits home! As Christmas Island overflows boat people are enjoying shopping trips in Queensland.

International news agencies have not yet run with the story, but just when I was ready to write, the perfect words on the topic were published by Crikey: They’re here! The racist ham eating muslins have arrived!


March 30, 2010

Canada takes 2,500 more asylum seekers: in Australia Senators worry about ballet classes

The Refugee Council of Australia has recommended that Australia grants an extra 1000 offshore humanitarian visas to refugees from southeast Asia each year, in order to reduce the incentive for people smuggling.

There are more than 150,000 refugees currently registered with the UN in south-east Asia, most in Thailand and Malaysia which are consistently rated among the ”worst in the world” for refugee treatment.

Refugee Council CEO Paul Power said ”Simply saying, ‘Turn back the boats,’ is hardly going to improve the situation for refugees in the region.”

The Canadian Minister for Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism has just announced a commitment to resettle 2,500 more UN-selected refugees living in refugee camps and urban slums once the package is approved.

Minister Kenney said “We know that we can’t help everyone. But what we can do is introduce balanced reforms to our refugee system that will allow us to expand our refugee resettlement programs to provide protection to more people.” Kenney launches refugee reform

‎Meanwhile, Senator Humphries of Australia’s Liberal Party raised this issue in a question on Notice in the Federal Government Additional Estimates Hearing of 9 February 2010:

98) Program 4.3: Offshore Asylum Seeker Management

(1) Is there a ballet teacher at the Christmas Island IDC?

(2) How much did it cost to fly the dance teacher over to Christmas Island and be paid to teach dance classes?

(3) How many classes do they teach per week?

‎(Thanks to Pamela Curr for this heads up)

March 29, 2010

‘Kevin Rudd’s boats’ are looming, and yet some people just don’t care!

The asylum seeker rhetoric is coming out of the closet, after a remarkably slow awakening, and the Australian is paving the rhetorical road with new nasty labels and malevolent metaphors.

Asylum seekers are now ‘Kevin Rudd’s boatpeople’, and the boats are now also ‘Kevin Rudd’s’.  Not only are they flooding us, but now the Australian says, they are ‘looming’ Detainees flee Villawood as Kevin Rudd’s 100th boat looms

Single words and simple phrases are of such importance of in the asylum discourse that Niklaus Steiner used rhetoric as the empirical basis of his book about asylum in Europe, because of ‘the power of language’ to ‘set the political agenda’.

In contrast to our national paper, Al Jazeera has produced an excellent report on asylum in Australia, very balanced, acknowledging both the rights of asylum seekers and of the government to control entry.

There is a remarkable comment from Gordon Thomson, the Christmas Island Shire Council president.

“I think, complaining about a couple of thousand people coming to Australia by boat is just absurd”.

Clearly Gordon Thomson does not perceive the ‘looming threat’ nor is he concerned about being ‘flooded’ by the boat people, who now number about twice the population of his council area.

Here’s the video: enjoy. (And thanks to Jack Smit for the heads up!)

March 25, 2010

Concern that Afghan asylum seekers may stop coming to Australia

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,refugee — Nayano @ 7:48 am
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Afghan asylum seekers may stop coming to Australia because the United Nations is set to downgrade its refugee guidelines for Afghanistan (see Don’t worry about the boats: UNHCR will stop them).

That will mean a loss for both them and for us.

The Afghan Hazaras who began to arrive here from 1999 onwards have settled well in Australia. They are good neighbours, and such good workers that unemployment is almost unheard of among them, and indeed along the Murray, where many workers are being laid off because of water restrictions, the Afghans are being kept on. You don’t find such good workers easily.

The arrival of asylum seekers is a badge of honour. One of the main ways asylum seekers choose their destinations is the state of human rights and democracy in those nations. (See What really deters asylum claims: a REAL change of government)

The Afghans have strengthened our values as a nation. One of the unforeseen consequences of the Howard government’s anti-asylum seeker legislation was that many Australians were so outraged that they rose up in one of the largest spontaneous public actions this country has ever seen. The asylum seekers caused people to rediscover what they believed to be the real Australia: fairness and mateship.

The Afghans helped to regenerate country areas. Afghan Hazaras settled in regional areas that were desperate for residents and workers, and revitalised many centres.

Australia can also be inspired by Riace, a poor rural centre in Italy, which until recently was rapidly becoming a ghost town. Then they began welcoming refugees from around the world. The immigrants get free room and board and are expected to work and learn Italian in return.

The project is proving highly successful, so much so that Wim Wenders has made a film ‘Il Volo’ (‘The Flight’) about it.

When Wenders gave a speech in Berlin, where celebrations to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall had just ended, he said

“The true utopia is not the fall of the Wall, but what has been achieved in Calabria, in Riace”.  (From Der Speigel: Italian Village Welcomes Refugees with Open Arms, with thanks for the heads up to Pamela Curr)

(The following video is in Italian, but shows both Wenders and Riace. If you can find a clip in English, please let me know)

March 22, 2010

Are police racist? A Sudanese view

Filed under: race relations,racism — Nayano @ 7:26 am
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Just as we don’t see our own racism, we don’t see our own culture, and so we learn about these things if at all. (See South Australians know ‘they’ are racist: Racism Survey.)

I have been working with Sudanese for four years, and slowly slowly learn more.

In recent conversations with police and Sudanese new settlers in meetings together I have learnt:

In the Southern Sudanese traditional culture from which the people I know come (there is of course more than one cultural group in South Sudan) there are no institutions such as police and courts and prisons, and order depends on interpersonal respect.

Everyone in a group must show respect to the elder, and when given an order, carry it out. This extends down the hierarchy to individual families.  Respect is also vital between peers, and if someone disrespects another, they will be ostracised.

We protect our police and justice system from politics and to a varying extent from the media, and are expected to show respect to the police and judiciary by obeying their directions and symbolically through silence in court, and obeying the protocols. We do this because they are vital for us to be able to live together.

‘Respect’ has the same place in Sudanese society. So much so that one man told me that it is less offensive to physically attack someone than to verbally abuse them.

So, imagine that a car driven by a Sudanese young man is stopped by the police.

The police officer has been trained to be polite, but also to be on guard. Politeness will not be at the top of their agenda, and will disappear under even a small stress.

The cop expects respect because they are the police. The Sudanese man expects respect, because he has learnt from birth onwards that it is of the utmost importance between all people.

The cop may feel uneasy because this guy is an unknown quantity, and may have fallen for the media beatups that (wrongly) portray Sudanese as gang members.

Add to this mix that fact that the Sudanese accent is very difficult for a native-born Australian to understand.

The mix is explosive. The result confirms things the officer has heard about Sudanese youth. The Sudanese man loses respect for the police force.

Is this racism?

March 20, 2010

South Australians know ‘they’ are racist: Racism Survey

Filed under: race relations,racism — Nayano @ 7:30 am

Where there are people, there is racism.

And, like bullying in schools, the places that don’t acknowledge its existence in their midst are the ones where it is most likely to blossom.

That’s why I think that the finding that South Australians have the highest rate of acknowledgement of racism and Anglo privilege than any other Australian states is something to be proud of and encourage.

The South Australia Racism Survey, a part of the ‘Challenging Racism Project’, a ten year study of the geographic spread of racism in Australia was released last Friday, and found that 88 percent of South Australians recognise that racial prejudice is present in Australia

This suggests that among residents of SA there is the strongest public acceptance of the need for anti-racism.

Less positively, however, only 12% of respondents were willing to identify themselves as being racist. (The great majority of respondents were of Anglo background) suggests that respondents, while recognising racism as a problem, do not attribute that problem to themselves, but see it as being caused by other people.

It is very hard to see one’s own prejudices: for a test of your own see Not a racist? You are a fool or a liar – you will be surprised.

“The findings of the ‘Challenging Racism Project’ indicate that South Australians are generally tolerant people, who are accepting of cultural and racial difference,” says Professor Dunn, who led the project.

Other cross state comparisons found that South Australians are more tolerant of cultural diversity than the residents of the states of Queensland and NSW, though less tolerant than those in the ACT.

Other results:

* 85 percent of South Australian residents believe all races are equal.

* 82 percent are not opposed to people of different races marrying each other (this is a key indicator of acceptance)

* 40 percent believe there are cultural or ethnic groups that do not belong in Australian society.

* 12 percent identify themselves as being racist.

Sports get a thumbs-down from the project:

“Most SA respondents reported mixing with members of other cultural groups, but the least amount of crosscultural mixing occurred in sporting circles, with one in five SA respondents never mixing with members of other cultural groups in their sporting circles”.

March 17, 2010

Sri Lankan asylum seekers in limbo:first video

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Al Jazeera English – Asia-Pacific – S…“, posted with vodpod

This is the first video available of the group of nearly 240 Sri Lankan asylum seekers who have been stranded in an Indonesian port for five months, since their boat was intercepted by the Indonesian navy following a tip-off from Australia.

Refugee advocates are preparing to make submissions to the Senate Inquiry into the Anti-People Smuggling and Other Measures Bill.

Jack Smit of Safecom thinks that the Bill is “superfluous, not necessary, and does not target “people smugglers” any more than the previous Bills”.

“The Anti-People Smuggling and Other Measures Bill 2010 further victimises one of the most powerless citizens’ groups in Indonesia: fishermen who have lost their age-old livelihood following Australia’s re-drafting of its northern maritime boundaries during the Whitlam years. It is the fishermen who consistently find themselves as ‘recruits’ to sail boats to Ashmore Reef and Christmas Island: their fathers, grandfathers and earlier relatives and members of the communities have done so for centuries, as the surrounds of Ashmore Reef have been their favoured fishing grounds since longer than they can remember.

“In almost every case where Australia apprehends and brings before the courts those who are skippers and crew of boats arriving in our waters, the convicted ‘people smugglers’ turn out to be these young, broke, generally illiterate, non-English speaking members of the fishing communities of Roti and surrounding islands.”

Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre points out that the new law could punish people trying to support friends and family in Indonesia.

“What is the difference in money for food, medicine and shelter and money for a boat- who decides? “

If you wish to make a submission to the Inquiry, the deadline is the 16th of April. The report is due 11th of May.

March 15, 2010

Outrage? I condemn it as cheap and nasty

Filed under: humor,humour,media,News — Nayano @ 7:09 am
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I have been having trouble keeping up the momentum for this blog lately. It would be a lot easier for me if I wasn’t trying so hard to present a balanced view (What do you mean, you hadn’t noticed!).

Yes, I try to avoid posting out of outrage.

Larvatus Prodeo made reference to the ubiquity of outrage and condemnation on the web when he recently opened a thread in this way:

“What’s been worthy of condemnation this week so far? Which evil political, cultural, social, musical, religious, and other phenomena need condemnation? (Or loud denunciation?)”

Larry Gellman at the Huffington Post wrote Feeding the Beast–Our Addiction to Anger and Fear:

“If you ask most people what they want the most for themselves–and certainly for their children–the vast majority would say “happiness.” So why do so many people spend every waking moment watching, listening to, and reading things that tell us up front are specifically designed to make us angry or afraid?

“…Millions of Americans have become truly addicted to anger and outrage. Fox News and talk radio figured it out first, and years ago became the crack pipe of the angry Right. They realized early on that there’s no money in real journalism any more but they could get rich feeding our insatiable need for heroes and villains.

Millions of Australians, too.

I am constantly amazed by the volume of posts put out by Andrew Bolt (subscribe to an Andrew Bolt RSS feed – it’s very instructive!)

It’s true that his posts are usually short, but there is another factor that makes posting more efficient for him – outrage. The ‘outrage’ theme is so ubiquitous at his blog that even when an action is stated its bare bones, it is implicit that it is being stated because it is OUTRAGEOUS.

It would be much easier to settle for outrage, instead of considered comments.

For a (unintentionally) cynical take on feeding the hungry ‘beast’ of the media, have a look at Feeding the media beast: an easy recipe for great publicity By Mark Mathis

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