Friday, March 16, 2007
The Christmas Island Detention centre - due to be opened mid 2007. Another out of sight - out of mind stroke of genius by the Liberal Government.
The 82 Sri Lankan asylum seekers (see earlier post) are now to be removed from Christmas Island to Nauru. They have not had any access to legal support or advice. The process of identifying and sorting out their claims will take a much longer period on Nauru. People have been left on Nauru for up to 5 years before their claims have then been recognised. Kevin Andrews, our Immigration Minister, has stated that even if they are assessed as bona fide refugees they will be sent to any other country except Australia.
The history of recent events points out that the majority of asylum seekers who have been placed in these offshore centres have been judged legitimate and have ended up in Australia or New Zealand. Our government takes the view that if we processed these applications humanely and in decent time, it would encourage and reward the people smugglers who manage to bring these desperate people all the way to our shores. And that the people who make it here by such means are queue jumpers, illegal etc etc. I doubt that one of these government boffins has attempted for one minute to put themselves in the shoes of these so called "illegals". They seem to forget that we are not such a desirable or easy to get to target for people who are fleeing. We are a long way away and are surrounded by sea. It seems to me that the process of criminalizing people who have already often suffered is an arse about way of dealing with people in dire need.
Offshore processing began with the Tampa , which conveniently dovetailed into Howard's strategy of creating an atmosphere of fear ("the illegals probably harbour terrorists among them") during an election(2004) campaign. And this year is an election year in Oz!
Just adding that as worrying as the conditions on Christmas Island are, the Asylum Seekers are desperate to stay there and not be shipped to Nauru.
Image below by an asylum seeker at Nauru.
Ali Raza at the fence 2005 Nauru detention Centre - Artist Syed M Ali