Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

Picture generously donated by the brilliant Club Wah.

After a visit to An Onymous Lefty, I happily discovered the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay detention camp are now allowed the right of haebus corpus thanks to the US Supreme Court, and as such can fight against their imprisonment. Sadly for the Bush Regime, suspected terrorism no longer constitutes for indefinite and torturous imprisonment with their usual ‘guilty until not given the chance to be proven innocent’ methods.

Is this a beacon of hope for our own imprisoned peoples, who live in the detention centres after fleeing their previous homelands due to life threatening conditions? People who aren’t even under suspicion for any crime at all, their biggest mistake having chosen Australia as the country of their destination.

The legal definition of a refugee from the 1951 United Nations Convention (and the 1967 Protocol, which Australia is a signatory to also) states that a refugee is :

“Any person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, and owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country.”

Australia takes in on average 13,000-14,000 refugees a year from the total of an estimated 17 million people of concern. Most countries take about a hundred thousand refugees but some countries take in well over a million. Article 31 of the UN Convention on Refugees states:

“Contracting states shall not impose penalties on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, [come]…directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened…provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for illegal entry or presence.”

This is Australia’s loophole. Because many refugees cannot make the trip directly to Australia and must stop off somewhere first (usually to refuel), Australia puts them in detention centres so that it can ‘legally’ settle which are and which aren’t refugees. In 2001 only 17 Afghan refugees were released from their detention centre and classified as legal refugees.

This is a clear breach of international obligations to human rights as they are defined by the United Nations. The convention was prompted by the Jews who tried to leave Nazi Germany but were refused and literally sent home to be slaughtered in death camps later.

Another interesting point to be raised is the amount of people who overstay their visa in Australia who are not deported or detained- about 50,000. These people are mostly white and Anglo and outnumber the refugees by at least 3 times.

Australia, or Ausfailure as I have lovingly come to call it, is constantly under a spell of the highly contagious xenophobia virus and so these ‘scores’ of invading peoples are seen as a threat to our national identity, culture and job security. False claims from Mr. Howard of boat people throwing their children over the sides of their vessels into the ocean even won him an election. Stay classy, Ausfailure.

Official Australian Immigration Policy (Also available as a fridge magnet):

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7 Responses to “Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200”

  1. clubwah Says:

    The most offensive thing about detention centres and the Pacific soloution is the Howard Government took large numbers of refugees but at the same time wanted to look tough and in control by condeming a number of people to long stays in detention camps.

    Most of them were found to be refugees and allowed to stay here or in New Zealand, after long periods in detention which has had serious effects on their physical and mental health.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when it’s more politically desireable to be seen as tough on refugees than charitable.

    By looking tough and using words like “queue jumpers” and “illegal immigrants” it condoned the hatred and xenophobia we see so evident today, as with that hideous sign.

    BTW – I was a bit disappointed you never managed to use an anime pic for this post – how about http://hajimenokizu.com/doujinshi/albums/album11/Prisoner.jpg

  2. LuLi Says:

    He’s about as tough as the school yard bully picking on the handicapped kids.
    P.S. Sorry about the lack of anime, I was going for ‘tres serious journo’ pics but I’ve saved your picture suggestion for future use. It was too good to pass by, made me lol..

  3. rayedish Says:

    It is just fortunate that Bush hadn’t managed to stack the Supreme Court Bench with judges of his ilk. It was a close thing though, the decision went 5-4.
    This decision makes Howard’s stance on Hicks look ridiculous, unlike his stance on refugees which is just plain heartbreaking.

  4. raydixon Says:

    That’s one serious fridge magnet Luli. It’s surprising how many people (probably a majority) think that way too. My view is Australia needs to “populate or perish” sort-of thing. People forget how we built this nation on post WW2 immigration with Europeans & Poms.

    A lot of the resistance nowadays is just fear-based rather than straight out racism. Well that’s what racism is anyway, fear of different people.

    People fear more immigrants will lead to increased crime & violence, less jobs, not enough water etc. But apart from water (which I believe we’ll overcome) the fears are baseless.

    This is where real leadership is needed, to remove those fears. It’ll take time to change it because we’ve had a decade of fear-based politics from JH.

  5. Andy Says:

    At the risk of sounding unpopular, I think that while the current system of seemingly endless detention for people seeking refuge is abhorrent, I think it would be similarly unwise to adopt a free-for-all approach.

    Regardless, there is no doubt that a little humanity would go a long way with the whole issue. Unfortunately, we are coming out of eleven years of a government that based its entire party platform on encouraging the “me first” attitude within the community, and it is going to take time to reverse that.

    Oh, and I tagged you for a meme on my blog if you’re interested…

  6. LuLi Says:

    Rayedish – As close as it was, its good to see justice prevail. It gives me hope that maybe we haven’t fallen all the way off after all.

    Raydixon – It would definitely brighten up your spiffy clean fridge! We often forget the Australia has quite a small population for its size, populate or perish is probably closer to the attitude we need. I would like to see a leader go back to promoting the multicultural Australia again, but as much as I’m an advocate for free speech I feel that the media has played a big role in portraying nationalities under a certain slant. There has to be some kind of way to keep truth in check without infringing on our right to opinions.

    Andy – I don’t think it has to be free for all, as in you rock up to the shoreline and you’re in, but the whole way we handle it needs to be reconstructed. Maybe check in centres where people can get the paperwork sorted out, done by weekly appointments, and accommodation set up for them to live in that allows them to freely move in and out.

    We have to remember that they are very traumatised, often having seen family members die and surviving torture. Throwing them behind bars is viciously cruel. We should take a look at what countries like France and Germany do to admit people, they take in 30-40k of refugees a year.

    P.S. Thanks for the tag, I’m in.

  7. gullybogan Says:

    It’s good that they included Tasmania in the Official Australian Immigration Policy. Often it gets left off.

    I notice, however, that both Bass and Flinders Islands aren’t included in the policy, so maybe we can set up a settlement programme in Grassy?

    I have an ancestor who was an indigenous European, forced to flee the homeland as a post-war refugee. Upon arrival here the Govt sent my indigenous ancestor to a place called ‘Castlemaine’. I think King Island would have been more fun than Castlemaine. At least King Island has beaches.

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