A possie in Aussie

February 24, 2010

In which I painfully admit that a Liberal government was better for asylum seekers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nayano @ 3:46 pm

Last weekend some Chinese students studying here and hoping for PR asked me which government is best for migrants. After some painful thought I had to say ‘Liberal’. And followed that with ‘But not that I would ever vote for them!’

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has just released his memoir: Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs (by Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons), and in an interview on the launch said that there ‘maybe’ was a racist culture within the immigration department. Immigration dept is racist: Fraser

I think he’s wrong about the department, but his record gives him some right to criticise.

Fraser blamed the immigration department for policies such as remote detention centres, but it was in fact the Labor government under Paul Keating that introduced mandatory detention.

At the end of the war in Vietnam, the Hawke Labor government accepted Vietnamese refugees but on strict conditions. Prime Minister Whitlam’s personal prejudices played a part in the parsimonious nature of the response. Some of the few who made it to Australia were required, as a condition of their entry, to sign an undertaking that they would not engage in political activity. A recently released departmental file records that Prime Minister Whitlam advised: ‘Do not accept that a person claiming to be a refugee … is entitled to claim residence in Australia’, and warned against repeating the importation of fascists from the Baltic states after the war.

The Fraser government, however, admitted Vietnamese on the sole basis of legitimate claims to refuge, and refugees from Laos and Cambodia were also admitted. The positive stance of the Fraser government continued, and in 1978 Immigration Minister Michael Mackellar announced that it was not illegal to be a refugee, and that the ‘boat people’ were not ‘illegal immigrants’ nor ‘queue jumpers’.

The students I spoke to were probably ‘better off’ under Howard, because they came to Australia under that regime, and now have had the rug pulled from under them in their quest for permanency by the Rudd government’s reforms to student and work visas – but in the end, all international students  will benefit. Those caught in the changeover, however, suffer.

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February 18, 2010

Europe murders the undesirables at the border

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nayano @ 6:18 pm

We are not protected from exploitation and abuse because our fellow citizens are good people – we are protected under the rule of law of our country because we are citizens.

People who leave their countries because they cannot find protection from their own governments, as in Afghanistan, have no protection except for the goodwill of individuals, until they have residence rights in another country.

We have seen a little of what can happen to such unprotected people in Australia, but a report just released by Migreurop: Europe’s murderous borders shows the extent of the persecution that ‘undocumented migrants’ now suffer in the EU. Migreurop calls this the ‘ordeal of the undesirables’.

“While following the example of nationals of rich countries who travel by aeroplane, they could have entered Europe after a flight lasting a few hours, these exiles have spent a lot more to be left in medieval travel conditions.

“Forced to advance step by step, to multiply the use of means of transport that are as dangerous as they are inappropriate (overloaded boats, hiding places in lorries, walking through the most hostile regions…) and to entrust their lives to those who are enriched by the policy of closed borders, in spite of themselves, these adventurers must embark upon a veritable ordeal of the ‘undesirables’.”

The ‘undesirables live in ‘jungles’, unlawful camps in north-western France in which hundreds of Afghan, Eritrean, Iraqi or Sudanese exiles have been surviving for over ten years, in the shantytowns near to the port of Patras in Greece , or in the ‘tranquillos’ in the countryside around Oujda where sub-Saharans waiting to find a way into Europe are forced to survive.

Wherever they are there is the “same concealment, the same makeshift shelters made of plastic and rubbish bags, the same recovered old clothing, the same relegation into a sub-human existence.” The ‘undesirables’ live in fear of refoulements, violence, detention, and harassment.

Extract from an interview in Istanbul on 10/01/2009: “I went to Izmir. From there, we set

off in a small boat. Our boat was so small and there were far too many of us, we were 20. It was in the winter. The waves were very high. The Greek police arrived. Their boat was far larger than ours.

They started creating waves around us. It was dark and very cold. They were going in circles around us and our boat sank. We stayed like that in the water. There was a woman with her little girl, they both died. The water was so cold that I could not feel the blood circulating in my legs. We stayed like that for 12 hours, 12 hours in the water. The others took care of me. I was pregnant at the time, I lost my baby in the water. I was bleeding heavily when they took me out of the water.

We saw a helicopter, I think they were the ones who called the Turkish police. Afterwards, the Turks arrived with a boat and then I fainted. I awoke in hospital”.

Frontex, Poseidon

In the detention facility for migrants in Lesvos, MSF arranges for detained children to see their fathers.

Young would-be asylum seekers wait around on discarded shopping trolleys

February 17, 2010

Refugees prepared to risk death at sea: Fraser’s Cabinet documents

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nayano @ 1:01 pm

The Cabinet records of the Fraser government of 1979 have been released, and throw an interesting light on matters of asylum seekers in Australia.

Some documents relate to the boatloads of asylum seekers from Vietnam that were arriving in Australian waters at the time.

The writer of Memorandum 380, Indo-Chinese refugees [A12390, 380] shows astonishing prescience:

“This new situation has all the ingredients for one of the most controversial and divisive issues in Australia’s history. It could well become the dominant political issue during the remainder of the century.”

Indeed.

The writer identified the following issues to be addressed:

  • How many refugees could Australia accept without creating serious long-term social and economic problems and disruption?
  • How to maintain Australia’s international reputation and standing
  • How to maintain and be seen to maintain control over the entry of people to Australia
  • How to avoid coming to be seen as a natural or inevitable destination
  • And how to do all of the above without producing conflict with countries of transit

As a possible ‘answer’ to the issues, several options are proposed, including ‘Option “D”: deterring arrivals. The assessment of this option?

‘Given the element of compulsion and the fact that Vietnamese domestic policies have made refugees prepared to risk death at sea rather than to remain in Vietnam, this approach is unlikely to be effective.’

Indeed.

There is nothing new under the sun, nor in the sea, it seems.

Some of Australia's earliest boat people

February 13, 2010

Canada looks set to win the brain drain from India with fast track citizenship

Canada is bidding for the ‘brains’ that are now draining out of Australia and Britain.

Australia has made things harder for foreign students to get PR (permanent residency) through their studies by ending rorts that used study simply as a visa opportunity and encouraging the growth of shonky ‘colleges’ and shady ‘education agents’. International students and temporary workers suffer because of Australian immigration mess

This, along with the recent focus on attacks on Indian students, is drastically reducing student visa applications to Australia. The ‘Indian Issue’ is creating racism

Students from Northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal are also now facing a temporary ban on entry to Britain, which feared foul play after it faced an alarming increase in student visa applications.

Taking the opportunity, the province of Quebec is giving out “certificates of selection” to foreign students who graduate from universities there, putting them on a very fast-track to Canadian citizenship. Quebec Fast-Tracks Citizenship for Foreign Students . Any student who secures a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from any university in Quebec will in effect be awarded citizenship after undergoing security and health checks.

The premier of the province, Jean Charest, told Times of India that

“Our vision is that of an open society. Globalisation is not just about economy and numbers; we need to put a human face to it.’’

This ‘globalised human face’ is not just about people, but about exam scores and qualifications.

February 8, 2010

International students and temporary workers suffer because of Australian immigration mess

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nayano @ 6:32 am

The Rudd government is facing up to the disgraceful mess left by the Howard government, which monetised both education and migration through schemes to link training for specific jobs with PR (permanent residency), and by giving students the right to immediately apply for PR once their studies in Australia are finished.

By equating visas and qualifications with cash, the door was wide open to manipulation of the requirements, and corruption.

Minister Chris Evans is cleaning up the mess, but many students now in Australia will be suffering as a consequence.

Fairfax media is speculating that the Federal Government will cut skilled migration numbers by about 7,000 people in next week’s Budget. Budget axe to fall on skilled migration: report

Around 20,000 people who applied for skilled migrant visas before September 2007 will have their applications cancelled and their fees refunded.

Australia’s skilled migration rules will also be changed, scrapping the MODL, the list of jobs that has been used to assess eligibility for PR (permanent residence visas).

The list of jobs will be replaced with one more focused on highly-skilled work.

Jane Corpuz-Brock, spokesperson for an advocacy group mainly for skilled Filipino workers, says the Government should be researching the actual needs of industry to determine the kind of skills they want, and also the numbers.

If the job they are studying for is not on the new list, foreign students will not be able to apply for a permanent residency visa unless an employer will sponsor them.

This means that some overseas students will lose the chance to apply for permanent residency. Migration revamp leaves students in limbo

Once again, the powerless and voiceless in our community – the people on ‘temporary’ migration visas- have to suffer because of government blunders.

January 15, 2010

I’m an Aussie! Aussies are racist! Aussies hate Indians…’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nayano @ 12:02 pm

When there was an increase in the numbers of arrivals of asylum seekers by boat from 1999-2001, the Howard government spoke of ‘floods’ , ‘terrorists’, and ‘wealthy people taking the places of real refugees’. The media jumped on the bandwagon.

The people of Australia were convinced that they would be ‘over-run’ and a moral panic ensued.

While most media were anti the ’boat people’, even the groups and media who were against the government line used the same terms.

‘There is no flood here. Other countries are getting a lot more’.  (This is suppose to comfort???)

‘The latest surge…’

‘The crisis…’

‘There are no terrorists…’

If people did not associate ‘terrorism’, being’ over-run’, and so on with asylum seekers, they sure did after that. Every use reinforced those ideas. And encouraged belief that there was indeed a ‘crisis’.

I know that Australia has both racist behaviours and people with racist beliefs.

But much of this behaviour is motivated by fear or ignorance or both. And people who have mistaken beliefs about other ethnic groups will not be persuaded by people demonising them as racist.

People who are petty criminals are likely to be those who would welcome an ‘excuse’ for bashing someone.

I imagine the process like this:

Feel aggressive – see an ‘Indian’ – thinks ‘I’m an Aussie! Aussies are racist! Aussies hate Indians…’ – aggression justified

We must be vigilant in our choice of words, especially in such a delicate area as inter-ethnic relations.

November 20, 2009

Khan, there’s no asylum seeker panic unless you make one

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nayano @ 8:27 am

Is it something I ate? I am forced to agree once again with Andrew Bolt!

I noted that Amnesty International secretary general Irene Khan says Australia has a ‘panic mentality ‘about asylum seekers.

“There’s a lot of panic here when you think there are 3000 asylum seekers arriving in Australia,” she told SBS. Panic mentality consuming Australians

There is not a panic.  There are some arguing that we are being flooded. There are others arguing that we should take more. The people with most to say on the issue are politicians who are trying to gain political mileage out of the issue.

If someone in Khan’s position says that there is a ‘panic’, however, the comment itself adds to any embers of hysteria.

She has done the voices of reason about asylum seekers a disservice by speaking in this way.

I shall quote a few words of Andrew Bolt’s response-

‘Panic isn’t really the right word, is it, Ms Khan? I’d say we just don’t like having our hospitality abused…’

No Amnesty on Khan’s nonsense

October 16, 2009

The unbearable heaviness of being: Asylum seekers on our conscience

“What they really don’t want is to go through the normal process. They’re fully aware that if they get off the boat and end up in an immigration detention centre they will be there for up to 10 years. That’s what happens. They’ve got 16 million asylum seekers around the world, that’s the queue that they’re trying to jump, it’s a long one and that’s something that they’re trying to avoid through this sort of desperate performance they have on the boat at the moment.”  Geoff Thompson speaks with Mark Colvin on PM about the Sri Lankan’s refusing to leave their boat in Indonesia.   Asylum seekers keeping tabs on their fate

I have been feeling a sense of gloom and despair that has been building in intensity as the number of boat arrivals increase.

I thought that it was worry about a return to the inhuman anti-asylum seeker measures of the Howard era. I supported Hazaras on Temporary Protection Visas then, and their suffering nearly broke my heart.

But after watching the SBS video yesterday  – Malaysia’s Crackdown’ – of the suffering of asylum seekers in Malaysia, I realised that the return of the boats means return to an inescapable awareness of the tragedy of the large majority of human kind.

It is an unbearable heaviness of being.

(Sorry, I couldn’t figure out how to embed the video here, but please click on http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/watch/id/600182/n/Malaysia-s-Crackdown)


August 7, 2009

Remove your hat! It’s the immigration department!

Filed under: citizenship,racism,Uncategorized — Nayano @ 10:18 am
Tags: , , ,

The Sydney Daily Telegraph reports that a female bus passenger was at first denied, and then delayed from boarding while wearing the niqab (a veil that fully covered her face). The driver is alleged to have asked the passenger to take off her “mask” because it was “against the law to wear it on board”. The passenger argued that she was not wearing a “mask” Bus firm accused of thinly-veiled racism

She eventually won the argument and was able to travel.

Blogger Jonathan Ariel at Online Opinion says that, if it is not actually against the law to wear a niqab, ‘it should be’ Veiled threat: separating mosque from mass transit

Ariel argues that bus passes and other photo ID would be rendered useless if the niqab could not be removed for identification purposes.

There is also the question of banks and other premises that ask that headgear that conceals the face, like helmets, be removed.

There is no question for the Department of Immigration – if you want an Australian passport your face must be clearly visible in the photo. Nothing worn on the head is allowed:

No hat, cap, or sunglasses on the head allowed

No hat, cap, or sunglasses on the head allowed

But for religious reasons head coverings are allowed, with provisos:Photo does not show face edgesPhoto with face covered

Allowed Islamic head covering

It may well have been that the niqab just made the driver uncomfortable – or that the driver just doesn’t like Islamic clothing – but in general it is not racist to require anyone to mnake themselves identifiable when there is a legitimate need.

July 31, 2009

ABC Fora- Khalid Koser: Why migrant smuggling pays

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nayano @ 3:16 pm

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