A possie in Aussie

November 11, 2009

The Wall: Ex-East German guards patrol new asylum seeker wall

The wall.It’s been in the news a great deal recently, as Berlin and the world commemorate the 20th anniversary of  the falling of the wall that divided East and West Berlin.

The new wall hardly makes it to the news at all – that is, the walls, both physical and virtual, that have been erected all over the world to keep people out.

Not just any people: people too poor to have skills or wealth that nations in the Global North (the ‘Western’ nations’) need, and people fleeing persecution. These are walls that are dividing the Global North and Global South.

Peter Andreas points out that many of the guards who were employed by East Germany to prevent East Germans escaping via the old Wall are now employed to keep people from entering Germany. The wall after the wall

Asylum has been externalised over the pas few decades.

That is, instead of people arriving in safe countries and applying for asylum, they are prevented from arriving at all. Some of these means include aggressive visa regimes, detention and interdiction practices, airline carrier sanctions, off-shore screening of passengers by airline liaison officers and visa restrictions to exclude asylum seekers. (See Asylum seeker crowd control: Australia and Europe hire 3rd world bouncers)

IN the EU there are ‘bilateral readmission agreements’. In order to be accepted into the EU nations such as Poland had to sign such an agreement, which means that Poland must accept any asylum seeker found in the ‘western’ EWU nations who has gained entry to the Union through Poland. Many of the less- western EU nations are signatories to such agreements.

As a consequence, Andreas says, “Poland hired thousands of border guards, built more border stations, purchased new equipment, and implemented tough new laws against unauthorized migration.”

‘Externalisation’ of asylum allows nations not to contravene the requirement of non-refoulement – that is, the obligation not to return asylum seekers or refugees to the situations from which they are fleeing.

Jennifer Hyndman and Alison Mountz have coined the term ‘neo-refoulement’, the geographic exclusion of asylum seekers before they come under the ambit of non-refoulement.

September 14, 2009

Which goods are produced by children and slaves?

Filed under: 457 visas — Nayano @ 8:03 am
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(I am breaking my own rule here, because this item is not about maginalised migrants- but I felt it was too important not to publicise as widely as possible. And, indeed, the Australian 457 visa has come dangerously close to producing forced labour Chinese slave labour in Australia )

Change.org reports that the US Department of Labor has released a document about goods that are produced by slave labour- and more goods were found to be made with child labor than forced labor. List of slave-made goods

The most common goods which have significant incidence of forced and/or child labor are cotton, sugarcane, tobacco, coffee, rice, and cocoa in agriculture; bricks, garments, carpets, and footwear in manufacturing; and gold and coal in mined or quarried goods.

Here are some of the worst offenders for forced labor or slavery:

Bolivia: nuts, cattle, corn, and sugar

Burma: bamboo, beans, bricks, jade, nuts, rice rubber, rubies, sesame, shrimp, sugarcane, sunflowers, and teak

China: artificial flowers, bricks, Christmas decorations, coal, cotton, electronics, garments, footwear, fireworks, nails, and toys

India: bricks, carpets, cottonseed, textiles, and garments

Nepal: bricks, carpets, textiles, and stones

North Korea: bricks, cement, coal, gold, iron, and textiles

Pakistan: bricks, carpet, coal, cotton, sugar, and wheat

Note: This doesn’t mean all goods from that sector in that country were produced with exploitation.

September 10, 2009

Men not protected in new ‘honour killing’ laws

Filed under: human rights,refugee — Nayano @ 8:43 am
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In Australia, some victims of torture or inhumane treatment currently do not qualify for the protections that refugee visas provide.

The government has just announced that the law is set to change.

Under the new protection provisions women at risk of genital mutilation and so-called “honour killing” if returned to their home countries, would be eligible to be considered for a protection visa.

These sorts of cases are now dealt with through ministerial intervention.Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Senator Evans says these ministerial powers were not reviewable, transparent or subject to procedural fairness. Visas to protect ‘honour killing’ refugees

All discussion has so far referred to women at risk, but in hundreds of cases each year in India both men and women are brutally murdered.

Michael Edwards at Off Air explains that these “honour” killings take place when a coupe breaks with the tradition and strictures of India’s caste system, and marries outside their caste.

“And time doesn’t heal old wounds”, Michael says. “Killings have taken place decades after the couple left the village”. Young love and old threats in ‘the darkness’

Will the Minister include men as well as women in the new protection laws?

August 19, 2009

Complaints of racism from Australian Somalis

Filed under: African,race relations,racism,refugee — Nayano @ 8:19 am
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Voice of America (VOA) reports that young Somali immigrants in Australia say they face racism and feel unwanted.

Four men from Somali backgrounds were charged with planning a suicide attack on an Australian army bases earlier this month.

VOA reports that community groups say that Somali refugees often are stuck in a kind of “no-man’s land” between their own culture and mainstream Australia.

The Somali immigrant community suffers high unemployment. Many refugees have problems learning English or experience the lingering effects of torture and trauma. Alienation can leave some vulnerable to the influence of criminals and extremists.

Others complain of racism from mainstream Australia. Somalis Gather to Discuss Racism, Alienation in Australia

This report has been reposted by many Somali sites, including Hiiraan.com and Bartamaha.

By the fault posts this report by World Focus Online about extremism among Somali youth.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Somalia emerges as birthplace of terr…“, posted with vodpod

August 14, 2009

The lawlessness of Immigration Departments: be very scared!

Suaad Hagi Mohamud is a Canadian citizen.  Early this year a Kenyan airport official decided she wasn’t the woman whose photograph appears in her passport. (It had something to do with her lips!)

An official the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi agreed and  was immediately declared an impostor and Kenyan authorities were asked to prosecute her. She produced all kinds of identification – including a driver’s licence, social insurance card and a Canadian citizenship certificate. She even spent time in jail. After three months  DNA tests she was forced to take proved her identity. Is citizenship now defined by the colour of your skin

Have a look at her photo: any guess why she was targeted?

Suuad Hagi Mohamud

Immigration officials have a frightening powers all over the world. No habeas corpus and other niceties of the rule of law for them!

Remember Vivian Solon – the Australian citizen who was deported? VIVIAN SOLON: The Face That Shamed Australia

Cornelia Rau – the Australian citizen who was held for many months in Australian immigration detention – sometimes in solitary confinement? Talking about ‘Anna’ Cornelia

The rights of the child have no place within the Immigration Department:

The Federal Police are now investigating immigration officials for separating a child from her father and flying her to Iran without his permission Australian immigration officials investigated over child abduction

Immigration does not need search warrants, either:

Overseas students have been subject to compliance raids in the middle of the night and had their homes searched by immigration officials.  Failed your exam? Go to jail!

There seem to be no rights, human or civil, that apply when you are in the thrall of immigration departments.

August 13, 2009

Australian immigration officials investigated over child abduction

In March 2001 an Iranian man and his four-year-old daughter arrived in Australia by boat. They were in South Australia’s Baxter detention centre in January 2003 when there were allegations of sexual contact between the man and his daughter.

Those allegations were discredited.

The man was then accused of aggressive and abusive behaviour and then placed in solitary confinement for a lengthy period. While he was in solitary confinement the Department of Immigration sent the daughter to her mother in Iran.

The man says that the detention centre manager asked him whether his daughter could go shopping with him and his wife. He agreed.

They were actually sending his daughter back to Iran.

ABC’s AM program quotes a Baxter Detention Centre file note:

“If she requests to say goodbye to her father, I will advise her that it is not possible as it could stop her from being returned to her mother in Tehran. We will have several toys etc for distraction purposes”. Immigration Department lie misled detainee

The AFP is now, after six years, investigating immigration officials for possible criminal conduct, since it is illegal to remove a child from  South Australia without the parent’s consent.  Officials investigated over child’s removal

The man now has a permanent protection visa and lives in Melbourne.

August 7, 2009

Remove your hat! It’s the immigration department!

Filed under: citizenship,racism,Uncategorized — Nayano @ 10:18 am
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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 24, 2009

Whole lives lost in shoddy, degrading refugee camps

Many refugees spend an entire lifetime in a refugee camp.

The recently released World Refugee Survey shows that millions of refugees spend anywhere from 10 to 60 years in

“shoddy, degrading refugee camps, where they are unable to move freely, work to support their families, or live anything resembling a normal life.

“In some cases children are born, live, and die in a refugee camp.

8,177,800 refugees have been in refugee camps for 10 years or more.

These camps are generally in very poor countries.

Nations with per capita income of less than $2,000 host half of all the refugees in the world.

Médecins Sans Frontières’ will set up a 1000 square-metre replica camp in Adelaide’s Victoria Square from Sunday 20 to Sunday 27 September 2009, 9am to 5pm daily, to give people the chance to walk into a camp site modelled on refugee camps in countries such as Chad and Sudan.

Experienced field staff will be on-hand at the camp to lead the guided tours and tell their stories about refugee camp life and the vulnerability of life for people who have fled their homes.

Field staff will also be available to talk to people interested in working for Médecins Sans Frontières at information nights held in Adelaide on Wednesday 23 September and in Melbourne on Thursday 15 October.

July 23, 2009

Meatworks’ protesters are people, not work units

June 21, 2009

Bashings of Indian students: Does Mr Plod need a new map?

Greg Sheridan wrote an excellent article this week in the Australian Better policing could quell racist attacks

Sheridan says that he has spoken to many Indian students over the past few weeks, and found that

“None I spoke to thinks of Australia as pervasively racist. None has become anti-Australian. But they have real grievances about these attacks and the responses to them, and they overwhelmingly believe there is an element of racism in the attacks. They also report sporadic incidents of racial harassment below assault.”

Sheridan says that the answer is not ’clever diplomacy’ or denials of racism, but much more simple:

Making Melbourne and Sydney’s trains safe to travel on at night.

Sheridan claims that the reason that this is not happening is because

“Our policing practices have been badly warped by the industrial relations dynamics of police unions and the under-investment in police numbers.”

But I think that the reason goes more deeply than that. Since working with new settlers in Australia I have got to know quite a few police, and have been impressed with their efforts to understand their cultures and their determination to be available to them, and to overcome any negative reactions that might be the result of having lived in places where police corruption and violence are usual.

Have you ever tried to be the hand of impartial justice with your children, for example, and also loving and kind?

It takes a rare and highly developed person to be able to do this. Most of us muddle along. Can we expect an institution to do it?

Should the police go back to their old-fashioned roles of cold justice, and let other institutions provide human kindness?

Are the police losing their way because their roadmap is impossible to follow?

See Spicy opinions about Indian bashings Racism? Maybe we need to eat it If you prophesy a race war, will it happen? The debate continues while another Indian bleeds

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