A possie in Aussie

January 29, 2009

Ill-treating asylum seekers

Filed under: asylum — Nayano @ 9:10 am
Tags: , ,

Thailand has been in the news for ill-treating asylum seekers. The Thai authorities have been lining up the Rohingya who have fled Burma where, according to Amnesty International their

“freedom of movement is severely restricted and the vast majority of them have effectively been denied Myanmar citizenship. They are also subjected to various forms of extortion and arbitrary taxation; land confiscation; forced eviction and house destruction; and financial restrictions on marriage. Rohingyas continue to be used as forced labourers on roads and at military camps, although the amount of forced labour in northern Rakhine State has decreased over the last decade.”

Tourists in Thailand have sent photos of Rohingya asylum seekers lined up on beaches at gunpoint. They are then over-leaded into unseaworthy vessels, towed out to open waters and then set adrift, sometimes with no food and water and no engines for the boats.

Shocking? Yes. Should Australia caution Thailand about the hman righhts of asylum seekers? Depends.

Andre Bartlett writes that

For those who think a few hundred asylum seekers a year poses an unacceptable burden for Australia, it is worth noting the acknowledgement by Amnesty of ‘Thailand’s role over the last several decades in providing temporary protection to hundreds of thousands of people who have fled persecution and conflict in Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos’.

If Australia is seen to once again be turning boats of asylum seekers back, detaining refugees for prolonged periods or refusing to allow the proper assessment of asylum claims, it will be sending a clear message to our near neighbours that it is also acceptable for them to mistreat the much larger numbers of asylum seekers in their countries.”

The Rudd government has not turned back any boats, has kept its promise to process asylum claims with alacrity, and abolished the Temporary Protection Visa, which was a punitive ‘immigration outcome’ for people found to be refugees but who had arrived in the country by boat. 

Will the government resist the likely outcry if ‘too many’ boats start appearing?

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