A possie in Aussie

July 6, 2009

Malaysians do Australia’s dirty-work: Rudd goes to encourage them

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is beginning a week-long overseas trip in Malaysia, where he will hold talks on people smuggling with the Malaysian  Department of Home Affairs.

He and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith “will have very serious conversations about the joint efforts on how to stop it”. People smuggling first on PM’s overseas checklist

Just one day before the trip, an article by Tom Allard appeared in the Brisbane Times Tamils’ transit to Australia, ‘land of freedom’, about conditions refugees are living under in Malaysia.

Allard quotes Rameshwaren, a young Tamil asylum seeker:

“‘I feel castrated,’ he says, casting his eyes up from the floor. ‘All of this is unbearable. I am on the edge of a mental breakdown.’

One of an estimated 100,000 refugees living precariously in Malaysia, the Sri Lankan’s helplessness is a frustration felt around the world. Out of every 250 people forced to flee their countries because of war, famine and persecution, only one can expect to be resettled as a refugee this year.

This is why Rameshwaren is prepared to chance his arm and take a boat to Australia. “I can’t return to Sri Lanka but there is no life for me here in Malaysia,” he says. “I cannot work here legally, there is no medical [care], there is no education. I don’t think that the UN will be able to resettle us. So we have to find somewhere else, we have to find some way to get there by ourselves. That is why I want to take a boat to Australia.

‘It is a land of freedom. It is somewhere safe for me, my mother, my sisters and brother.’”


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