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):