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2001 – 2011: Here We Go Again
In the past ten years the Howard and now the Gillard governments have done everything they can think of to pretend that asylum seekers are breaking some arcane law by entering here on boats, and have become increasingly shrill and harsh in their rhetoric. Here’s a 10 year retrospective of events.
26 August 2001 – Howard demands the Tampa not enter Australia after Australia had asked them to rescue 433 people on the sinking ship Palapa. It was discovered by David Marr later that planes had flown over the stalled boat for two days pondering whether or not to rescue them. Eventually Australia asked the good Captain Arne Rinnan to do so. (All details in Dark Victory, Marr and Wilkinson.) It was discovered much later that this was the first group of refugees forced onto the boat in Indonesia while not one other had been by force.
September 26 2001 – up comes Howard’s deluded Pacific Solution where Nauru was bribed hundreds of millions to illegally jail and brutalise refugees, most came here later on anyway. (Susan Metcalfe, The Pacific Solution, Michael Gordon, Saving Ali.)
8 October 2001 – Howard and Ruddock claim refugees had thrown their children into the sea to “blackmail the government” into accepting them as refugees. Two days before the November election Natalie O'Brien of the Australian discovered that it was not true and later the Certain Maritime Incident inquiry (all documents on sievx.com) discovered that it was not only not true but the government knew it was not true.
19 October 2001 – 146 children, 142 women and 65 men drown on the SIEVX after being forced onto the boat at gunpoint in Indonesia, having their phones all taken away and some were beaten by Abu Quesay and his thugs. There were dozens of ships in the area and planes in the sky but all claimed they knew nothing. It was discovered months later in the Senate inquiry that the departments had known of Abu Quessay buying and stocking the boat, and that they knew the numbers of passengers, who they were and where they came from. In fact it was a monstrous cover up blown in a flash by Mark Bonser of the coast guard who said they had known of the vessel as early as July. To this day the AFP will not release the names of the dead and no-one has discovered who doctored the flights for that day and whited out the rescue vessel on 20 October. (Tony Kevin, A Certain Maritime Incident.)
All of these facts are well known along with details of riots, abuse and deaths in custody up to 2007. (Human Rights Overboard, Briskman et al, Blind Conscience, Margot O'Neill.)
In 2007 Kevin Rudd was elected in a landslide with promises of more humane and decent treatment of asylum seekers, but he maintained the refugee prison on Christmas Island while not using the main “concentration” camp. Chris Evans did a reasonably good job of keeping it low key along with Bob Debus and a mere 7,000 refugees arrived in three years – apparently too many for Julia Gillard.
There were no stories of riots, no stories of self-harm, people were being released very quickly with 99.7% of those Afghans who applied being accepted on their first interview – something that was used against them later.
Then the wheels fell off as the racists again took command and the media would not shut up. The Age was egregious, with Tom Allard showing pictures of little boats all the time and making up silly stories of “people smuggling rings” and how they are operating out of Indonesia and getting sneakier as we got meaner. Paul Maley in the Australian started rant after rant about “people smugglers” and even though I sent him all the information showing that it is not people smuggling he keeps right on doing it to this day.
Rudd made two dreadful calls – he had SBY stop a group of 250 Sri Lankan Tamils who then stayed in the port of Merak on that boat for six months, most made it here anyway in the end and some like 9 year old Brindha are still in prison denied refuge.
He had a group of 78 saved by the Oceanic Viking and, instead of obeying the law of non-refoulement after finding out they were already designated refugees, he forced them illegally into prison in Indonesia where they faced torture and beatings. Over 18 months later 17 of them were still in a transit camp in Romania and Bowen had to accept them.
Now we have this mess today where Bowen has a brain snap and decides that the best way to “stop people smugglers” is to punish the victims and send them to prison in the worst place in the region for refugees – but only 800 of them.
Nicola Roxon called it when she stated on Q&A that 800 was a deliberately large enough number to torture to “send a message” to not come to Australia, 50 was too few and 4,000 too many she said.
Of course under Article 3 of the Convention is it illegal to discriminate, under Article 16 all must have access to courts (something that annoys both major parties), under Article 31 punishment of any kind is forbidden, Article 32 forbids expulsion for any reason and Article 33 forbids refoulement to any place where the refugees cannot be guaranteed safety. But what do the lazy bigots in our parliament care?
Nothing, it would seem, as they sit silently by as we slide inexorably back into the business of forced human trading.
Sadly for our politicians and media we do have a nation run on the rule of law, therefore appeals to the highest court are legal and binding and it would be hard to see how our High Court would consider it legal to break the law the High Court handed down in November last year that says the law applies to all in our territory and natural justice applies even to those we jail on Christmas Island.
Now some stats:
$1.24 billion on detention in three years, $772 million in 2010/11 even though 40% of the refugees incarcerated had already been granted status.
In spite of claims to the contrary Afghans are still being accepted over 90% of the time with only 47 out of 4300 refused.
The courts are finally questioning the lunacy called “people smuggling” after lawyers discovered young Indonesian kids jailed with pedophiles and murderers in adult prisons and the courts set them free.
And the reality is the same as it was 12 years ago when Ruddock invented the people smuggling nonsense, we have not jailed a single person for people smuggling.
All court transcripts are available here: http://www.sievx.com/articles/sentences/dirlist.php
See where they all say: “this is clearly not people smuggling?
Last year, though, the Senate passed a bill making it a crime to send money home to refugee families in case it is used for “people smuggling”. Which is absurd, it is nothing short of advocating genocide if people are forced to stay home.
But we wait on the High Court and torment and torture innocent people in the meantime so Gillard can prove she is as “resolute” and cruel as her hero Ruddock.