Asylum seekers returned directly to Sri Lanka?

SRI LANKA NAVY SPECIAL BOAT SQUADRON

Refugee advocates and the Tamil community are increasingly concerned that a boat load of 153 Tamil asylum seekers has been handed over the the Sri Lankan navy.

There was regular contact with the boat from last Thursday to last Saturday morning, when communication ceased.

On Thursday the boat started leaking oil. On Friday they were almost running out of water and some of the younger people were not well. One adult also was “facing some physical conditions”.

The Government is refusing to comment on whether the boat even exists.

Daniel Webb, Director of the Human Rights Legal Centre, says that if refugees are returned directly to the place they are fleeing from without their claims being processed there can be no clearer breach of our obligations under the Refugee Convention.

The fact that the boat may be in international waters has no relevance. The idea that the asylum seekers’ claims could be assessed in transit is ludicrous.

Turning boats back to Sri Lanka is completely different to turning them back to Indonesia, which is a transit country and as such not the source of the fear of persecution or worse.

The Guardian says that:

Sri Lankan asylum seekers are subject to the “enhanced screening process” in Australia, which has been condemned by the UNHCR as an “unfair and unreliable” process for determining refugee claims as it involves short interviews, often without the presence of a lawyer.

But

In October, Morrison said he was “completely comfortable about the process”, adding: “If you’re coming here to try something on to get access to Australia from Sri Lanka, you’ll go straight back.”

Surely asylum seekers would not be subject to ‘enhanced screening’ in transit!

The Sri Lankan high commissioner in Canberra said he had not been informed by the Australian government of the boat’s existence and hence he was in no position to comment.

The boat actually departed from India and the nationality of all on board in unclear. India is not a signatory to the refugee convention.

The image above is from AAP courtesy of SBS who report that the Sri Lankan military says it’s unaware of any arrangements with Australia to return asylum seekers.

From the SMH on Monday:

Ian Rintoul, of the Refugee Action Coalition, said it had become apparent that Australia had intercepted the asylum seekers.

“It has been 48 hours and under Scott Morrison’s own rules he would have had to announce there had been an incident at sea by now, so you can assume they have been taken off their boat.”

More generally, I reported last week, the Government is introducing new rules for assessing asylum seekers:

  • People arriving without travel documents will be refused protection visas unless they can provide a “reasonable explanation” for not having identification.
  • A lower threshold for assessing harm to returning asylum seekers who have sought complementary protection, where the chance of harm is more than 50%.
  • Asylum seekers who have arrived by boat will be refused visas unless the minister determines “it is in the public interest to allow them to do so”.

As SBS highlights, this means that asylum seekers facing a 49% chance of death or torture could be sent home. Surely the cross bench in the Senate will vote the legislation down.

While it is too early to rush to judgement in the case of the Tamils, Scott Morrison never ceases to appal so nothing would surprise.

Morrison_Sowhothebloodyhellareyou _500

I’m not sure of the source of that image which I had on file, but it has the title Sowhothebloodyhellareyou!

65 thoughts on “Asylum seekers returned directly to Sri Lanka?”

  1. On the radio this morning there was talk of a second boat, which I had heard about but wasn’t included in the sources I consulted. It’s looking more and more like there was an on-sea transfer. No doubt the truth will out when the asylum seekers reach landfall somewhere.

  2. Abbott has just said he has no problem with handing over asylum seekers to the Sri Lankan navy.

  3. Yes they were jumpy, (but not necessarily persecution by Indians).
    Now, back under your bridge.

  4. zoot @ 6

    Yes they were jumpy, (but not necessarily persecution by Indians).

    And your evidence ?
    Seem like, and till more info emerges in due course, they may have fled persecution in their homeland and gained asylum in India.
    Found refuge as they say.
    The amount of coin ,it’s said, to procure the services of the people smugglers would almost certainly have them financially comfortable in India compared to the locals.
    I grant you that India spends only 1.7% of their gdp of $ 1.87 trill (US$) and Australia spend 19.5% of our gdp of $1.56 trill (US$) on public welfare but that doesn’t constitute persecution in my book.

    ( Incidentally, the ” troll ” calling is a little uncalled for. I do, from time to time, assume the position of ” Devils advocate ” for balanced intellectual discussion. 🙂
    Please zoot, enter the discussion in a substantive way, I’m sure Brian won’t mind )

  5. [ ps, I dug most of the big words out of my arse. I hope they mean what I think they mean ]

  6. jumpy, your question implied that if 1,000,000 Indonesians suddenly washed up on our coast seeking asylum you would immediately offer them sanctuary, since this was the nearest country for them to flee to.
    Or would you persecute them in the same manner as our current government (and opposition)?

  7. The Sri lankan Tamil situation is one of a number of problems resulting from the free movement of people during the days of the Raj. Its the same as the way the poms have banned the return of the descendants of all those who migrated freely from the UK to Aus during the same period.
    My understanding is that some of the Tamil refugees came from a Tamil refugee camp in India.

    Has anyone got any information?

  8. I’ve got no information on origins, John.

    Tony Abbott on Radio National’s PM:

    What’s happening is that the Government is purposefully and methodically ensuring that our borders are protected, and that the boats are stopped.

    But

    Amnesty International has condemned the Government’s silence.

    Its refugee spokesman in Australia, Graeme McGregor, says handing over asylum seekers to the Sri Lankan navy would be in serious breach of the principle of non-refoulement, risking returning potential refugees to torture and death at the hands of their persecutors.

    Greg Lake, former Director of Offshore Processing at the Immigration Department, told Waleed Aly that the on-sea processing caper had been worked on in detail under Labor in 2012. They decided not ot proceed in the end because it was illegal and impractical, at least with the numbers facing them at that stage.

    It seems that Labor also invented the “enhanced screening process” which he said was anything but enhanced. I think he said 3,000 had been returned after being asked four simple questions like, Who are you? Where did you come from? and Why did you come? Can’t remember the fourth, but it was no advance on those three.

    On being asked why he left Immigration, he said that he could no longer hack the way we are treating asylum seekers.

  9. Woopee! The UNHCR has condemned the Abbott Govt about this. Abbott has more or less said Go jump
    So my question is what is the UNHCR and the UN actually going to do that stops this and future Australian Federal Governments from committing crimes against humanity? Issue more press releases?
    FFS!

  10. No probs John.
    Maybe I was a bit hasty [ or dead wrong :)]in that 12-13 was still ALP.
    Acording to this;

    Each year the government sets the number of visas that may be granted under the programme. The 2013–14 programme has 13 750 places comprising:

    So It’s back to norm it seems.

    ( interesting ” pick the PM ” graph on page 10 though)

  11. jumpy, my understanding is that the Abbott Government has reduced the voluntary refugee program by about a third.

    Elsewhere, see Michael Leach on ‘Operational silence’ breeds more questions.

    The lack of proper processing and the possibility of refoulement breaches the conventions on refugees and of torture. We are increasingly out of sync with our friends and allies on Sri Lanka, and could be subject to criticism by a current UN investigation.

  12. Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Human Rights Commission, has criticised the Government. She also comments on international law:

    The question is what can be done about it? Unfortunately, very little. UNHCR can use their persuasive powers. Australia is a member of the Security Council and members of that council may very well take the opportunity to raise these concerns with Australia.

    The High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva has already raised her concerns. And the Human Rights Council has been appraised of Australia’s position, calling into question the principles of international law.

    So I’m afraid this aspect of international law depends to a very high degree on the element of persuasion. Now, technically it is possible for a state to bring Australia before the International Court to challenge this behaviour but it’s of course highly unlikely. States very rarely bring other states before the court.

    The other option, of course, is for claims to be brought to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. That has already been done in relation to those held indefinitely in Australia with negative ASIO assessments that are not subject to scrutiny by the court.

    And again the committee has ruled against Australia but that has really been ignored by the Australian Government.

    But the Immigration Minister’s plan to use a national interest test to determine whether refugees get a permanent visa could come unstuck in the High Court.

  13. From the ABC:

    The Tamil Refugee Council claims at least 11 people who Australia has reportedly handed over to the Sri Lankan navy have been tortured by that country’s intelligence services.

  14. Brian @19
    That’s by Karen Barlow. Wasn’t she the one that broke the ” Navy Burn Hands ” false story ?
    If it’s true that torture has happened I’d be outraged.
    But I’d need a better source than the ABC, they never fact check their own.

  15. If it’s true that torture has happened I’d be outraged.

    But you’re never going to find out, because we refused to comply with our obligation under international convention to assess their claims fully and dispassionately.
    BTW I’d give more weight to Ms Barlow’s reporting than that of Gauleiter Morrison, who seems to have installed a cone of silence over the whole shebang. He appears determined that the Australian public vill know nussink.

  16. jumpy, I don’t think Ms Barlow can go far wrong reporting on what the Tamil Refugee Council said. Whether it’s true or not is another matter, but there is so much interest in the story now that chances are the truth will out.

  17. What a disgrace. Worse yet, it is an inevitable, completely avoidable disgrace.

    However, it’s not just the Abbott government that deserves condemnation for this scandal – many of those activists and enthusiasts for the undifferentiated, homogenized, one-size-fits-all, grab-bag, mythical “asylum seekers” deserves a lot of the condemnation. They got their way and now they have been foist on their own petard – but, sadly, it is not the smug-and-screeching enthusiasts who will pay the real penalty for their bullying and their ignorance and their folly but two boat-loads of unfortunates on the high seas.

    Every time I dared to suggest that those who seek to enter Australia by illegal or irregular means need to be distinguished according to their origin or type or needs or the threats they faced or the situation they left, I was shouted down and abused.

    Like it or not, the real problems faced by the Tamils of SriLanka since the defeat of Tamil Elam in the brutal civil war are very different to those, say, faced by the poppy-growers of Shaitanistan or by those with dubious yarns of persecution so as to get a better-paying job. Had these differences been recognized and addressed in a timely and productive manner, there would have been no need at all for these unfortunates to put to sea and then be handed over to the SriLankan Navy.

    Yes, I’ll continue to express my disgust at the silliness and cruelty of the Abbott government; I’ll continue to call for the replacement of the old Refugee Convention which favours the people traffickers and harms refugees …. but now I’ll add the high-and-mighty “asylum-seeker” enthusiasts to the list.

    I hope and pray that the Tamils of SriLanka, no matter where they are right now, can all look forward to a happier and more fulfilling future.

  18. Every time I dared to suggest that those who seek to enter Australia by illegal or irregular means need to be distinguished according to their origin or type or needs or the threats they faced or the situation they left, I was shouted down and abused.

    Graham, if you were shouted down and abused for suggesting we assess asylum seekers according to our obligations under the convention, which is what you describe, I think there has been a complete failure in communication.

  19. Graham @ 24
    Yup. And also interesting that this particular group, it has been stated, had a sat phone with ABC and SBS reporters numbers on speed dial with which they used as first point of contact with Australia.
    Whether that’s true or not is another matter.
    What is not disputed is the fact these people had found asylum in an Indian refugee camp, were not being persecuted there and chose to leave.
    It could be strenuously argued they gave up refuge in search of ” better ” refuge with the benefit of wealth that the most vulnerable and persecuted can only dream about.
    I must also disclose that have employed and housed an Afgan refugee ( good man ) in my little crew and currently assisting*, a Venezuelan family in there dream of not returning to the socialist shithole from whence they came.
    (* you won’t find that in the stats)
    These folk followed the rules to get here.
    I didn’t accept Gillards $300.00 a week billeting joke policy either and despite all the bitching and handwringing by the ” activists “, neither did they.

  20. Zoot:@25: Sadly, like blowflies to unprotected corned-meat, the whole field of migration and refugee affairs has attracted every scoundrel, rorter, political stuntman, show-off, shock-jock, manipulator and well-meaning fool in the land.

    Those of us who have normal humane concern about the welfare of genuine migrants and of those oppressed, persecuted and displaced see this only too clearly and are appalled by this. The wider, uninvolved community, too, is becoming increasingly aware of this shonkiness , and, urged on by shock-jocks, political rats and loony racists, are now less and less tolerant of those attempting to come to our shores and more and more hostile to having huge amounts of their taxes blown in keeping this gravy-train on the rails. So long as private companies and experts and “service providers” are rewarded so lavishly – as well as handing out unintended perverse incentives to the people traffickers – the whole problem will be unresolved. Despite all their fiery rhetoric and chest-thumping, the federal government really doesn’t want this problem resolved at all – controlled ? – yes – but not resolved.

    Lumping together all the various people seeking to come to Australia by irregular or illegal means as the single, all-purpose “asylum seekers” suits the crooks and the scoundrels and the do-badders right down to the ground. It’s a single “brand” and you had better buy it if you don’t want to be branded as an unchristian miser or a racist boagan. Bad luck for all the unfortunates caught up in this, they’re only “units of production”, useful for for generating money and for enhancing reputations and personal power and useful for nothing else in the view of the enthusiasts for “asylum seekers”. Anyway, when this gold-mine is exhausted, they will go onto the next good thing in a flash.

    Cynical? . My oath I am – and with damned good reason. ,

  21. Well put Mr Bell.
    ( Except for ” boagan ” what’s that, a flannelette skinned non-venomous serpent with few teeth supporting Da Pies!! ? 🙂 )

  22. Graham, until any irregular arrival has been assessed no-one (not even you) knows their status, be it genuine or bogus. And us being arseholes in an attempt to dissuade irregular arrivals is patently not working.
    Before someone brings up the risible fig leaf of “we don’t want them to drown” please remember the whole mess is not labelled “Operation Save Brown People’s Lives”, it is “Operation Sovereign Borders”, bravely defending our beleaguered country from a trickle of unarmed wretches in leaky boats.

  23. “the poppy-growers of Shaitanistan”

    I have to confess, Graham. When you use bullshit degrading made up terms for peoples’ nationalities, you tend to sound a bit like a “racist boagan”.

    Not someone sincerely trying to distinguish between the plights of various groups of asylum seekers to better inform public debate.

    Just saying. I appreciate the passion and sympathy you’re expressing – it makes me feel angry and depressed too – and I don’t think you are a “racist boagan” or “unchristian miser”.

    (To my ears, you sound more or less like a typical serving/ex-serving member of our armed forces)

  24. They departed from a ” Tamil refugee camp in India ” suggests to me their ” status ” was being or had been assessed by the UNHCR.

    And they ( or some-one else ) then paid a people smuggler.

    Why?

  25. jumpy, here’s another news story about Leorsin Seemmanpillai:

    http://m.newindianexpress.com/tamil-nadu/325416

    He had left the camp in Vellore 18 months ago with the hope of reaching the shores of Australia for a better future for himself and his family.

    The telephone call from Australia during the wee hours of June 1 shattered Seemmanpillai Ezekiel. He was told about the death of his second son Leorsin. “Since we came to know about the death, I have been trying to get a visa from the Sri Lankan Embassy. I also asked the Consul General of Australia in Chennai to help us reach Melbourne to attend my son’s funeral, but returned with a heavy heart,” said Ezekiel, fighting back tears.

    Leorsin’s mother Elizabeth and brothers Maricilin and Alexander were living in the camp here.

    Leorsin was supporting the entire family and was sending most of his earnings to his parents. “We have been living in the camp for the last 24 years. Leorsin completed his schooling and studied an electronic and computer engineering polytechnic course. He worked in many places before leaving us one-and-a-half years ago,” he said recollecting about his son.

    Bloody ‘economic refugees’.

  26. Bloody ‘economic refugees’.

    There is no such thing, unless he was persecuted economically by the powers that be, and I guess I could claim the same.
    I lived with a Sri Lankan back in 88, hard worker, honest, live off next to nothing to sent money home as his father and eldest brother were sick.
    Reminded me of the Maltese immigrant cane farmers that my Dad praised so much and their sons and daughters I schooled with.
    According to this he came when no boats fucked up his chances of coming in a legal ordered way.
    He met the 100 point criteria and waited.
    He now has his mother and siblings here too.( unfortunately his Dad never made it but his brother did )
    Those time gave me a great appreciation for migrants whatever their ” status “.
    And those traveling illegally deny the lawful.

  27. Graham: Most of the people living in Australia today are, like me, here because they, or some of their their ancestors or guardians came here to find a better life. For this reason, I get a bit impatient when Australians want to demonise people who also want to share the better life that Australians have.
    Sure, preference should be given to asylum seekers who are most at risk and sure, Australia cannot take all the people who might like to come to Australia. However, this doesn’t mean that it is OK for Aus to stay at its miniscule refugee intake.
    Have a delve through these ABS migration stats

  28. John @35
    Ive been sussing this one and our intake for 30 years has been between 11,000 to 14,000 each year. ( table 4 )
    If the discussion is on ” how many ” I love you to do a post because it’s the big question that’s rarely discussed.
    However, looking at table 4 ( by the refugee council ) leaves no doubt that those that can afford to pay a ” smuggler ” are taking up positions that others can’t or won’t pay for.
    People are acting illegally to the detriment of the law abiding, that’s my gripe.

  29. Oops, sorry mods. Mistyped email address on my phone, and last comment went into moderation…

    “People are acting illegally to the detriment of the law abiding”

    jumpy, can you quote for me which law they are breaking?

  30. Jumpy: How many is a difficult question given that my recollection is that there are something like 50 million refugees world wide.
    On these figures if every country took their per capita share Australia would receive a one off influx of about 165,000. (Much more if countries that are unsuitable destinations are excluded.)
    Alternatively, if we met all our net immigration with refugees the numbers would be about 100,000 per year.
    Beyond that it is really all about taking pressure off countries like Pakistan, Lebanon and Jordan who are overwhelmed by refugees.

  31. Zoot: I have about as much faith in Australia’s current “assessment” system as I have in the fabulous Operation Sovereign Blunders.
    If our government was fair dinkum about assessment, they would have teams of migration/refugee officers ON THE GROUND in the world’s troublespots, gaining reliable intelligence about who’s who in the zoo, imparting reliable information and generally undermining the people traffickers’ business – not waiting until boatloads of mixed refugees and crooks pop up in Australian territorial waters. The government wants this racket to keep going; they need it and cannot do without it – if they didn’t have this wonderful, on-tap distraction of “asylum seekers” they would have to respond truthfully to all the awkward questions and allegations taxpayers chuck at them.

    Nick: I have respect for genuine refugees from Afghanistan who suffered brutal oppression and are now here trying their best to make a new life for themselves and who do no harm to their new neighbours. I wish them happiness and success. That said, surely you don’t expect me to lay out the welcome mat for those who had their way paid here by drug-money, do you? This isn’t the first time gullible or downright dishonest Australians have opened our doors to the scum-of-the-Earth masquerading as refugees.

    John D.: Australia should be bringing in more genuine refugees – this is why I say that we should have proactive teams of migration/refugee officers go into the world’s troublespots.
    To put it in quite selfish and brutal economic terms: doing so would give us a terrific selection of the best-and-brightest, of the hardest working, of young families, of older people with very valuable experience or unexpected skills, of war-experienced soldiers and all sorts of other useful people; even some of those with a handicap or a police record could end up making valuable contributions to Australian society.
    This is why I was so annoyed that when serious disturbances happened in Tunisia and the civil war broke out in Libya. We blew those heaven-sent opportunities by neglecting to go in there and actively seek people to come to Australia. Chinese strategists call grabbing the opportunities presented by another’s disaster “Looting the burning house” and are not ashamed to do such a thing – but oh no, not the lovely precious Australians; we would rather hold back until they landed on our doorstep, treat them abysmally and then, much later, toss a coin to see which ones we select and which we reject.
    A ceiling on migration numbers? That’s easy to solve. Cut back on the 457 rorters, cut back on the imitation “students(??)” and cut back on all the fake “investors” and monkey-business migrants. See. Plenty of room for more genuine refugees

  32. Just reread what I posted and have to clarify a point. When I said “we would rather hold back until they landed on our doorstep” I was, of course, referring to those fleeing troubles in their homeland – and not to Chinese strategists. Sorry.

  33. The New York Times has noticed.
    Graham, I couldn’t agree more we should have migration officers (offices?) on the ground near trouble spots. Then we could fly the successful applicants to Australia. In an ideal world it would remove the need for desperate people to risk the sea journey here. I’m surprised you were abused for such an eminently sensible suggestion.

  34. Zoot @ 42: In any major issue, there seem to be four main types of people:

    (1) Those with little or no interest other than having heard something about it.

    (2) Those with an interest, a concern or even an involvement – they may agree or disagree with a particular point of view but they can discuss matters quite rationally with varying degrees of passion. They cause no real trouble and may well persuade others, generally by example or by amassing verifiable information, to see things from their point of view. They tend to maintain their interest in an issue over a long period irrespective of the fashionableness of the issue. Examples: genuine conservationists, genuine pacifists.

    (3) The Show-offs, the Bullies, the Concerned(??) Activists and the Raving Ratbags. There is only one point of view: theirs!! and heaven help anyone who dares hold any other opinion. It the issue is not yet fashionable, they won’t touch it with a barge-pole; if it ceases to be fashionable, they’re gone in a flash to the next circus. They strive to push anyone with a long-term interest in the issue off to the sidelines and dominate everything. News media love them because their extremism makes spectacular news. They are the Land-Rights-For-Gay-Whales “activists” and the 4-members-nationwide Homes-For-Homeless-Homing-Pigeons Alliance ….( these are the sort of people who abused me, Zoot).

    (4) The downright Crooked. These are your agents-provocateurs and underminers …. as well as the ones whose interest in an issue is strictly how much loot or how many undeserved brownie points they can get out of it. These are the ones who do not like it at all when their personal enrichment or their covert conflicts of interest are exposed.

    Someone once said, of any issue, “Follow the money” …. and unfortunately, in the issue of irregular or illegal arrivals on our shores, that is sage advice.

    Anyway, further to my suggestion about field teams for migrants/refugees in the world’s troublespots.: That these be selected from former refugees from a DIFFERENT troublespot(so as to avoid conflicts of interest), from certain types of reformed ex-criminals, from ex-soldiers who had been on active service (that is, been shot at) and from experienced social workers and charity workers – that is, from people who have heard all the fake stories before, who have an understanding of why desperate people do things they would not usually do, who can spot a dodgy character at 500 paces, who have seen more forged documents than you can imagine existed. Those who should never ever be selected for such teams are the over-credentialed, those who see the world only in black-and-white terms and especially not those who lead well-paid but boring lives and would welcome an opportunity to become an action-hero with the power of life-and-death over the vulnerable. Training should include a lot of cultural awareness and local customs, as well as local history. Language training should concentrate almost entirely on reading and on conversational-speed hearing. And, of course training in personal survival. Local interpreters should be employed in-country (and never allowed to know the Australians can understand a word of the local language!!) Do pay team members well but definitely not any sky-high salaries (for reasons I can go into later, if you like) and ensure vetting is ongoing (just to keep them honest).

    It’s worth a try – and it may mean we get refugees here who are both genuine and unharmed by their journey.

  35. Graham, how many Afghan drug-traders (ie. criminals) do you imagine we let in, compared to genuine Afghan refugees?

    You mentioned “poppy growers” earlier. Many of those are nothing more than indentured peasant farmers.

    If they paid their way here via growing poppies, they did so by the only means they had of making money in the first place.

    They are no danger to our society. There’s no doubt they and their families would lead a better and safer life in Australia.

  36. Yes, of course Nick – just like the Nazi German SS soldiers who were only obeying orders when they committed atrocities. So what then is the fine moral distinction between killing a kid in a Russian village with a 7.92mm bullet and killing a dhimmi kid in Western country with opiates and other “recreational” drugs? Get real. There are millions of refugees around the world who have done us no harm whatsoever and are unlikely ever to do us any harm – so why the blazes should we reward those who have done us tremendous harm already and are likely to do us more harm in the future? You can believe in miraculous changes for the better if you want – but I prefer to go with the attitude of the Iranian authorities who seem to have a fair bit of hard-learnt practical experience dealing with “former” poppy-growers who slip over their eastern border.

  37. This is getting away from the topic. About the first vessel: Why was that one SriLankan Tamil found to be a genuine refugee allowed or persuaded to go onto the SriLankan Navy vessel? Was this ordered by a Canberra screen-jockey pretending to be an ADF officer or by a bureaucrat seeking promotion or by a GP (grovelling politician) after consultation with his news media “advisor”?

  38. Zoot: Just on flying refugees directly here: It would have to be organized very carefully so as to avoid setting up yet another gold-plated rort and done without setting up any perverse incentives. Security would have to be tighter than the proverbial fish’s too – in case a peeved warlord or other disappointed nasty decided to give the fleeing Hated Enemy a mid-air “farewell present”.

  39. “Yes, of course Nick – just like the Nazi German SS soldiers who were only obeying orders when they committed atrocities”

    Godwin’s Law holds true yet again. Sorry Graham – Nazi Germany has precisely zilch to do with peasants in Afghanistan in 2014. You’re just ranting now.

  40. Nick,
    Godwin’s Law doesn’t apply here. I’ve just finished reading a magnificent 3 volume history of the Third Reich and, believe me, there are direct parallels between Manus Island and the early concentration camps in the first years of Hitler’s seizing of power. And that is just the first of about six or seven astonishing similarities between the Third Reich and the Abbott Government.
    Or maybe its just that all ultra-rightwing governments are basically the same, and its just a difference of degree.

  41. Paul, I have no issue with people comparing Australia’s current right-wing regime, and its treatment and internment of asylum seekers, to Nazi fascists of the 20C. If the shoe (or symbology) fits etc.

    But Graham has the wrong end of the stick comparing oppressed and extorted Afghan peasants to Nazi SS soldiers.

    They are not the machine gun-armed CIA-sponsored thugs running opium across the border into Iran as we speak.

  42. Oh gawd
    Let’s not get into the ” Hitler was left wing/ Hitler was right wing ” argument, it’s never been won and never will.

    But back on topic, I’d like to know the percentage that lob without ID of any kind.
    Those that come by air have to have ID but the perception (so I’ve heard ) is that those that come by boat destroy theirs for some reason.
    I would have thought proof of ID would assist in expediting the assessment procedure and without it cause suspicion from assessors.

  43. Nick; You evaded my question about the moral distinction between the means used to kill a young person – and you evaded my question on why we should reward those who have done us great harm yet ignore or despise those who have done us no harm whatsoever. Sorry Nick but do you honestly think those running their own multi-million dollar drug operations would waste money and opportunities sending their useful field-hands here as fake refugees in preference to sending members of their own filthy-rich families with appropriately convincing stories of lifelong grinding hard work, oppression and extortion? You can bet anything you like that the ones telling such stories know everything in fine detail – especially if they themselves were the ones doing the oppressing and extorting!! This is why I suggested, @43, in my reply to Zoot, that any migration/refugee teams we send into the world’s troublespots be composed of personnel with real street-smarts who are unlikely to fall for any old plausible yarn.
    b.t.w., Whether some of the invasion of Iran by Afghan poppy-growers is sponsored by The Great Satan or not is less relevant to them than the size of that problem.

    Paul: You are damned right in comparing the early Nazi concentration camps with the “detention centres”. I noticed that myself a long time back but declined to say anything in public about my feelings back then because to do so would have only given more ammunition to the show-offs, the agents-provocateur, the dodgy advocates, the shiils for the people-traffickers and all the other scoundrels on the “asylum seeker” bandwagon. .

  44. At last! Somebody has had the courage to speak out on radio about the behaviour of the current regime in SriLanka and especially the primitive methods used by its Police in handling those who leave SriLanka illegally. . It was a refreshing change from all the ignorant abuse hurled at the SriLankan authorities and a refreshing change from all the equally ignorant sweet reassurances given by Australia’s politicians.

    Look, seeing Australia is so well-experienced in helping with regime-change – perhaps it may be beneficial all round to whisper quietly into the ears of relevant important personages in SriLanka that the girls and boys in the ADF are getting a little bored and restless these days and would just love to give a practical demonstration of regime-change. Of course, we might be able to distract all those energetic young ADF warriors before they become too excited – IF the SriLankan government accepted a few hundred retired Australian police officers to “advise” them and train them on current best practice in policing. Gunboat Diplomacy? My goodness, how could you think such a thing! This would be simply another project in Australia’s famous and long-running overseas humanitarian aid program..

  45. “Nick; You evaded my question about the moral distinction between the means used to kill a young person”

    I didn’t evade your question, Graham, I ridiculed it.

    What’s the moral distinction between someone who works on the floor of a gun factory to feed their family – and the actions of Martin Bryant?

    That’s roughly the level of ethical nonsense you posed.

  46. And actually you evaded my question: how many Afghan drug-traders (ie. criminals) do you imagine we let in, compared to genuine Afghan refugees?

  47. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/13/afghanistan-record-opium-crop-poppies-un

    In the government-controlled area we farm 1 jerib (half an acre) per year, but in the desert we farm another 4 to 5 jeribs. Sometimes the government does military operations, but after they leave the Taliban take back control.

    Before I used to make 800,000 Pakistani rupees (£4,700) per year, but in the last two years it has gone down to 300,000 Pakistani rupees (£1,800).

    “Filthy rich” Afghan poppy-farmers and their “multi-million dollar drug operations”.

  48. Nick @57: You are talking about field-hands here: how the blazes would they ever raise the money to get out of Shaitanistan let alone pay people to smuggle them into anywhere. I’m talking about the ones who make false claims of being poor downtrodden peasants but are most probably the warlords’ own oppressors and relations themselves – it’s an old trick, used every time a refugee situation arises …. and if you think others in the refugee camp are going to dob them in, think again: the others are just as likely to be fellow bully-boys or else still have relatives back home and would not like anything nasty to happen to them – besides, what massive gain do they hope to get from the “foreigners” (that’s us) by dobbing in one of their own, no matter how vicious they may be? It’s rarely a simple goodies-versus-baddies situation; it’s usually a bit more complex than that. Just talk with people who have been refugees themselves – their views are often miles and miles away from those expressed so passionately by “asylum-seeker” enthusiasts.

    @ 55: You didn’t ridicule my question at all – kindly reread, or ask a friend, to reread you post.

    You question on how many drug-traders (criminals) we let in is only a variation on the old trick of “Two million Ethiopians died in the famine: name one”. Since I am neither the Minister for Immigration not the Director-General of A.S.I.O., I certainly would not have that exact figure to hand.

    Jumpy @ 52: If a whole group was advised to ditch all their ID material – you’re right, it would impede assessment and so would seem illogical – I would be checking thoroughly for the one or two in the group who were real nasties and who were being slipped in with a bunch of innocuous refugees or would-be migrants; at least that’s what has happened before.

    Everyone: seems like Bob Carr has come out and contradicted that seemingly factual interview about brutality by the current regime in SriLanka. Since he is no longer in parliament and apparently has no vested interest either in refugees or in SriLankan affairs, does anyone know why he made this contradiction?

  49. Nick @57: You are talking about field-hands here: how the blazes would they ever raise the money to get out of Shaitanistan

    Nope. I’m talking about Afghan poppy-growers, which is exactly who you referred to.

    They are not “field-hands”. They don’t get paid by the hour. They are farmers. They sell the produce they grow.

    They are not warlords, or drug barons, or drug runners, or corrupt government officials, or dodgy loan sharks, or the gang member thugs who enforce those dodgy loans.

    You said they are the “scum-of-the-Earth”. You claimed they are on a par with Nazi SS soldiers.

    An interesting thing to come out of the Sri Lankan boats situation was the information that the refugees paid between $1,000-5,000 for their passage. $1,000 for an individual, and more for groups and families?

    The Government (this one and the last two) has always claimed it costs $10,000-15,000, and how could any truly poor person afford that…

    @ 55: You didn’t ridicule my question at all – kindly reread, or ask a friend, to reread you post.

    Your question was ridiculous. This is not Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. If I’m wrong, show me why I’m wrong.

    You question on how many drug-traders (criminals) we let in is only a variation on the old trick of “Two million Ethiopians died in the famine: name one”.

    Nope. It was not a trick question at all. You made a contentious claim – now you need to back it with something more substantial than faff about naïve, system-rorting “asylum seeker enthusiasts”.

    Since I am neither the Minister for Immigration not the Director-General of A.S.I.O., I certainly would not have that exact figure to hand.

    Funny. That’s exactly the kind of thing our Minister for Immigration would say in a press conference: “since I’m not the Director-General of A.S.I.O., I certainly would not have that exact figure to hand”

    You should be a politician, Graham. Or, maybe ‘benevolent dictator’ is more up your alley 😉

    But thanks. In other words, you’re pulling all of this out of your proverbial. Not only do you not have “that exact figure”, you don’t have the faintest clue. Sorry – but that’s how it’s coming across.

  50. Nick: I am not in the habit of following every utterance of that boofhead Morrison; I don’t give two hoots what his script-writer tells him to say.

    EVERYONE, old and young, without exception, involved in the drug-business in Shaitanistan is as guilty as Hell of crimes against humanity – but I still assert that it would only be the middle-and upper-levels of those circle of criminality, and not the lower-level production workers, that would have their very expensive passage paid to Australia. (b.t.w.: the cost of getting on a vessel in Tamil Nardu is only a small fraction of the costs of getting to Pakistan then on to Indonesia and then Australia plus the myriad of other costs along the way).

    My own preferred way of dealing with these scum-of-the Earth would be to erect a 30M. high impenetrable barrier around the whole place and then come back in two centuries hence to see what, if anything, was left.

    You seem to be keen on splitting hairs so as to put people who have done us real harm up on a pedestal. Why you have chosen to act as an apologist for them is entirely your own affair. You have shown you have formed an opinion about me. Likewise, I have formed an opinion about what you stand for. However, I do suggest that at some time in the far future, you do listen to what bereaved families of drug users have to say – and that you also listen to what former refugees have to say and to what those who have had to work right down in the dust or mud among refugees have to say; it might not change your mind at all but then again, listening might cause you to question your assumptions and beliefs. Good luck.

    Next?

  51. Graham, re. Morrison, it was just a joke. I wasn’t suggesting at all that you share his beliefs.

    Fwiw, my opinion of you is that you seem have a deep knowledge of many things, and I’ve enjoyed and learnt quite a lot from your posts over the years. You also like to have a rant now and then, and I often enjoy reading those as well.

    I’m choosing to disagree with you on this occasion. I don’t share your views at all about naïve, system-rorting “asylum-seeker enthusiasts”. In fact, I have no idea what you’re talking about. You haven’t been at all clear who you’re actually referring to. NGOs in Afghanistan?

    I knew more than enough people growing up in my 20s who died of overdoses, or otherwise ruined their lives, due to heroin use, thanks.

    That doesn’t mean for a second I share your “build a wall and leave ’em all to rot” belief – or that I think that your average dirt-poor farmer in Afghanistan shares the same moral culpability as a tribal warlord.

    But we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

    “(b.t.w.: the cost of getting on a vessel in Tamil Nardu is only a small fraction of the costs of getting to Pakistan then on to Indonesia and then Australia plus the myriad of other costs along the way)”

    I did wonder about that. Thankyou for the clarification.

    However: http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/people-smuggling-faster-cheaper-and-safer-than-the-queue/645/

    After 20 years working with asylum seekers, Hogarth says the highest people-smuggling fee she’s heard of — even for families — is $8,000. Others have reported fees in the realm of $10,000 to $15,000.

    So roughly a year or two’s wages to send an entire Afghan farming family. In Australia, that would be roughly one third to one fifth the value of your home. No idea why you think it requires anyone to be a millionaire.

    Or why you think millionaires would want to send their family members on dangerous voyages across thousands of kms sea risking drowning, dehydration, starvation and the possibility of months and years languishing in detention camps.

  52. Nick: the NGOs operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan are doing a fantastic job and get next to no recognition or thanks – maybe if one of them won a Nobel Prize, the rest of the world might take notice. I do have respect and compassion for good people, who though no fault of their own, have had to flee their homes there; some of them have made good migrants here though their own hard work – and good luck to them.

    There are indeed hazards in sending the relatives of warlords to cross a relatively short distance in a fishing boat (after a comfortable air trip from Pakistan) – but probably a much lower risk than staying back in their own local area and being killed by rival drug-financed warlords in turf-wars. Besides, going through regular means to get into Australia would mean a 99.99% risk of a knock-back for a visa. I do not know for sure but it may well be worthwhile for a warlord to pay for sending a whole boatload so as to get one of their own relatives into Australia.

    I’m disgusted at the behaviour of the Australian government: cruelty is not firmness nor are dithering and chest-thumping intelligent ways to resolve complex problems.

  53. Graham, to assist with the recognition of those NGOs doing a fantastic job in Afghanistan and Pakistan, could you give us a few names please? I am interested in which organisations I should be supporting.

  54. Zoot: (Sorry about my tardy reply – had compelling off-line distractions).
    MSF: Mecicines Sans Frontieres, the Fred Hollows Foundation and the Red Cross Red Cresent complex for a start.

    If you are thinking of supporting an organization financially, better seek the advice of with people who have spent some time in-country first. As soon as I got onlinre just now, I thought I had better check a few websites first – sorry, but doing so shorted my list quite a bit; not because of any gap between what they say they do and what they actually do but because I would be reluctant to advise you to put your money into this NGO or that simply on what I have heard or impressions I have gained.

    Everyone: Haven’t Actin-man Abbott, Tough-guy Morrison and Barrister Brandis got Australia into a ripe old pickle almost entirely through failing to distinguish between “Sri Lanka Departees” and “Other Homogenized Asylum Seekers”?
    Why don’t they just rock up to a beach in Sri Lanka, take a dozen ports (suitcases) stuffed full of $100 notes ashore and have a whopping big bonfire with them – it would be a lot cheaper, quicker and easier than continuing their present international farce.

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