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!

Enjoy!!

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 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 15, 2010

Don’t worry about the boats: UNHCR will stop them

Please pass this post on to your Afghan and Sri Lankan friends

The Herald Sun last week claimed that the United Nations is set to downgrade its refugee guidelines for Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, “in a move that could see the Federal Government deny protection claims for the majority of asylum seekers heading to Australia”. UNHCR refugee guidelines could deny asylum claims in Australia

The great majority of asylum seekers arriving in Australia in recent months have come from Afghanistan, and the next largest group from Sri Lanka.

UNHCR regional representative Richard Towle says the protection guidelines for both Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were under review.

“I don’t want to pre-empt what the guidelines will say but clearly there has been a significant number of people who’ve left the camp population in Sri Lanka and are in the process of returning to their places of origin,” he told ABC Radio.

“There are other countries where we’ve conducted similar exercises (to Sri Lanka), including Afghanistan, and I can tell those conditions are also under review,” Mr Towle said.

The Bureau for Asia and the Pacific Standing Committee Meeting (2-4 March 2010), however, noted that “In the case of Afghanistan the voluntary repatriation and implementation of related activities will depend upon the security situation”.

There is some unrest about what is seen as the privileged place of Afghan refugees on the world stage, however.

In a recent visit to refugees and internally displaced people in the Central African Republic, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said

“It is unfair that all the attention is focused on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan when tens of thousands of civilians are living in dreadful conditions in Central African Republic”. UNHCR chief visits Central African Republic, pledges support for the forcibly displaced

March 1, 2010

What really deters asylum claims: a REAL change of government

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people — Nayano @ 7:39 am
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Last week the UK Daily Mail published an investigative piece called From Kabul to an M1 service station via a dinghy: the Afghans dying to get into Britain

It is well worth reading in its entirety, but a few sections in particular shed some light on what is happening with the boats arriving from Indonesia into Australia.

“There has been a surge of Afghans arriving in Britain.”

In the Australian recently Glenn Milne said:

“Kevin Rudd’s claim that the spike in asylum-seekers arriving illegally in Australia is a shared global problem due to international “push” factors has been contradicted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ own figures.

Milne says that UNHCR  figures show that asylum claims rose by only 5 per cent globally in the nine months to September last year, but in Australia they increased by more than 25 per cent. Ergo: Rudd has opened the door and put out the welcome mat. Global asylum claims drop as Australia’s rises

But the same UNHCR figures show that claims by Afghan asylum seekers rose by a third over the same period – and Afghans form the bulk of Australia’s claims from people who arrive undocumented. (China is the source country for asylum claims from people who have arrived by plane i.e., ‘documented’.)

To illustrate the point that total figures don’t mean much locally, Bernard Keane says that globally there has been a 20% rise in Serbian refugees last year to more than 18,000, but we cut Serbian arrivals by 100%.   Lies, damned lies and asylum seeker statistics)

Which raises the question of why Australia is receiving Afghans. They are a long way from home, further than Serbia for example, and face a life threatening sea journey to get here.

Is it that the journey is easier than that to the UK?  The Daily Mail article notes:

“They’re prepared to hand over their life savings and take huge risks to journey to Europe, where they hope to apply for asylum.

“They take the route from their homes in Afghanistan to Iran, Turkey and Greece, then up through Italy and France to the ultimate goal for so many – the UK. This is no simple, two-week dash across Asia and into Europe. Most of those who set out never reach the UK, and journeys can take months or even years. Along the way, the immigrants are fleeced by traffickers and risk beatings and imprisonment by border guards. Many die trying. After paying up to $15,000 to the smugglers. Mostly raised by families selling up their assets, or going into crippling debt.

Does sound worse than the Australian route.

But one of the very biggest drawcards for asylum seekers is the liberal and democratic nature of their destinations. The Mail quotes an Afghan:

‘No, we will pay for this journey. The UK is a good place. People have a good life there,’ he says.

Australia is known world-wide for its safety, democracy and easy lifestyle. Temporary Protection Visas didn’t deter the boats. (See Andrew Bolt supports the claim that Howard lured boat people to Australia) Perhaps we should get rid of Rudd and install a corrupt dictator? That would have a deterrent effect.

February 22, 2010

Games may be fun for the Australian Navy – but they kill asylum seekers

Australian Customs and Navy procedures for boarding illegal vessels will be reviewed in an ‘effort to make interceptions safer’, as a result of the Siev 36 explosion, in which five asylum seekers died. Boarding of illegal vessels for review

The review will examine changes in the types of boats and technologies used by people smugglers and illegal fishermen, and possible improvements to the equipment used by customs and defence.

But no mention of the most dangerous and nasty practice of all – the game of ‘cat and mouse’. The coronial inquiry into the Siev 36 affair heard that boarding parties ‘tease’ passengers and crew by talking about turning the boat around and back to Indonesia, even when they are fully aware that the boat is in Australian waters, and so they will not be able to do so. It is likely that the Siev 36 was set on fire by desperate asylum seekers who fell for the ‘trick’.

The Inquiry heard that the Chief Petty Officer of HMAS Albany handed one of the crew a notice in English and Bahasa, the last line of which read: “You should now consider immediately returning to Indonesia with your passengers and not enter Australian territory.”

The Commander of the Albany was ‘surprised’ when he heard of the notice. The SIEV 36 had crossed into Australian territorial waters long before. “This guy could see Ashmore Reef. He could see land,” the Commander said. “It was my expectation that a warning notice would not be issued.”

A senior policeman investigating the explosion asked: “Why is this sort of cat and mouse game played and not telling them where they are going?” Cat and mouse; the deadly game on our borders

Pamela Curr says that this sort of ‘game’ has been happening for years:

“I have asked four people from four different boats — rescued by Navy and Customs since the SIEV 36 disaster —   if they were informed about what was happening to them. I asked specifically if they were told that they were being taken to Christmas Island. In each case they said no. The most recent person was rescued in November 2009”. Navy leaving asylum seekers in the dark about their final destination

February 5, 2010

Muslims overwhelmingly support educating girls and boys equally

Filed under: race relations,racism — Nayano @ 9:05 am
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It is a pity that this is a news item. It only is ‘news’ because of stereotyping  of all Muslims that we in the West construct from the behaviour of a few public figures like Bin Laden.

Do your bit to fight the stereotype, and disseminate the following everywhere you can:
Across predominantly Muslim nations, there is little enthusiasm for the extremist Islamic organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, although there are pockets of support for both groups, especially in the Middle East.

A survey conducted May 18 to June 16, 2009 by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project of six predominantly Muslim nations (Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey) and the Palestinian territories, as well as the Muslim population of Nigeria and Israel’s Arab population also finds there is limited enthusiasm for most of the Muslim political figures tested on the survey, with the exception of Saudi King Abdullah, who is easily the most popular.

There is also a widespread perception among Muslims that conflict between Sunnis and Shia is not limited to Iraq’s borders, and many Muslims are also convinced there is a struggle between groups who want to modernize and fundamentalists.

Also of note, Muslim publics overwhelmingly support educating girls and boys equally.

Read the full report at pewglobal.org

January 26, 2010

Mobiles suddenly banned on Christmas Island? How you can help

My friend Michelle who is supporting detainees on Christmas Island sent this email today: (To see how you can help, see end of post).

In recent weeks, detainees been told they are no longer allowed to have mobile phones. As one detainee explained to me, “an immigration officer told me this is the new rule of immigration”. Phones that have been sent to the centre by well-wishers are now being kept in the properties department upon arrival. Detainees are then notified that the phone has arrived but they cannot have it.

Mobile phones inside the detention centre have not been an issue until now. As long as the mobile phones have no camera and are security cleared by Serco when they are sent in, it is not a problem. Several detainees currently have phones that were sent in before the “new
rule”. They have not been confiscated but once those phones leave the centre no more will be allowed in.

Not only is this ban on mobiles unfair to Christmas Island detainees, who have been sent phones from friends, advocates and relatives on the mainland, it symbolises how asylum seekers who arrive by boat in an excised territory and then detained in an island maximum security centre are treated as second class asylum seekers with lesser rights than those
that arrive by air.

Mainland detainees are allowed mobile phones. Why should it be any different on Christmas Island?

I have written to the Department asking the reasoning behind this “new rule” but am yet to receive a response.  Please write to the Department, express your disappointment in this new rule and ask why should the mobile phone policy on Christmas Island be any different to mainland detention centres.
All emails should be sent to Mr Bob Correll who is one of DIACs Deputy Secretaries and deals with Christmas Island detention at:
Bob.Correll@immi.gov.au
All emails should be cc’d to DIAC’s Secretary Mr Andrew Metcalfe at this address:
Andrew.Metcalfe@immi.gov.au
Other ways to help:

There are plenty of asylum seekers who need penfriends. Please contact Lisa Hartley at letters@asylumseekerschristmasisland.com if you would like to be involved.

We are still desperate for reading material and DVDs in Dari, Farsi, Arabic, Indonesian, Tamil, Vietnamese and Burmese.

Feel free to send pens to ACSI or asylum seekers on the island as well seeing Serco is
now making detainees purchase them from the canteen rather than supplying them.

There is a great article in today’s Australian you should all check out by Linda Briskman, Susie Latham and Chris Goddard:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/fine-words-but-no-action-on-christmas-island/story-e6frg6zo-1225823063217

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