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Burma free, now Australia is the pariah

By Charlotte Harper 10 November 2015 51

stock image - behind wire fence

For years we shook our heads at human rights abuses in Burma and offered our support to the campaign for democracy there led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Today, she is celebrating as her National League for Democracy Party takes charge after a landslide election win.

Meanwhile, here in Australia, we’ve become the international pariah. The UN Human Rights Council took 300 recommendations from 110 countries on Australia’s human rights record as part of its quadrennial universal periodic review overnight, The Guardian reports.

When even North Korea is critical of Australia for breaches of human rights, it’s time for our government and opposition leaders to makes some changes in the way we treat asylum seekers and Indigenous Australians.

This is the official North Korean view on our record: “We still have serious concerns at the continued reports of … violence against refugees and asylum seekers and violation of the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Australia.”

Britain was among those critical of our policies, stating: “We encourage Australia to ensure the humane treatment and respect of asylum seekers including those processed offshore in PNG and Nauru … [Australia should] closely monitor the processing of asylum seekers and refugees in offshore processing centres to ensure their human rights are respected.”

Indonesia called on Australia to “ensure that the issues of refugees and asylum seekers are addressed in line with the principles of the Bali process and Australia’s other human rights obligations”.

India said we should review our mandatory detention policies and ensure refugees are never sent back to face persecution in the countries from which they have fled, The Guardian reported.

And Turkey urged us to immediately cease transferring asylum seekers to third countries.

Those are just 5 of the 300 recommendations from 110 countries.

They are the reason I’m calling on Malcolm Turnbull to take steps to end the concentration camp-style offshore detention of asylum seekers before even more lives are destroyed.

They’re also why I’m urging Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to take a stand on this issue and commit to improving our human rights record if he wins Government at the next election.

And finally, they’re the reason I’m encouraging you to write to your local MP and to Turnbull and Shorten to ask them to act on this issue.

Have a heart, Australia. These people we’ve locked up are human beings, just like you and me. What we’re doing to them is a disgrace.


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Burma free, now Australia is the pariah
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dungfungus 2:23 pm 18 Nov 15

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

France urgently needs another Charles De Gaulle.
The USA needs another Douglas Macarthur.
The UK needs another Winston Churchill.
Australia needs Tony Abbott back.

No, Australia needs a leader.

Like we have now? You have to be joking.

Turnbull is better than Abbott, who was a complete ‘minable’, to use the French term that fits him best.
Turnbull is still no Churchill, although I was *very* interested to see him accusing Islamic fundamentalists of “blasphemy” against their own religion. Let’s see where he goes with that…..

That would be tantamount to the IRA using “in the name of the Father”.

dungfungus 11:08 am 18 Nov 15

rosscoact said :

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

France urgently needs another Charles De Gaulle.
The USA needs another Douglas Macarthur.
The UK needs another Winston Churchill.
Australia needs Tony Abbott back.

No, Australia needs a leader.

Like we have now? You have to be joking.

Turnbull is better than Abbott, who was a complete ‘minable’, to use the French term that fits him best.
Turnbull is still no Churchill, although I was *very* interested to see him accusing Islamic fundamentalists of “blasphemy” against their own religion. Let’s see where he goes with that…..

Abbott is a knee-jerk puppet who did whatever IS wanted him to do. When they said jump, he said how high? Unthinking knee-jerk reactions defined the previous government and it is precisely what the world does not need now.

Examples of what you claim please or is it the same as when everyone was calling him a misogynist but no proof of this was ever offered.

rosscoact 9:09 am 18 Nov 15

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

France urgently needs another Charles De Gaulle.
The USA needs another Douglas Macarthur.
The UK needs another Winston Churchill.
Australia needs Tony Abbott back.

No, Australia needs a leader.

Like we have now? You have to be joking.

Turnbull is better than Abbott, who was a complete ‘minable’, to use the French term that fits him best.
Turnbull is still no Churchill, although I was *very* interested to see him accusing Islamic fundamentalists of “blasphemy” against their own religion. Let’s see where he goes with that…..

Abbott is a knee-jerk puppet who did whatever IS wanted him to do. When they said jump, he said how high? Unthinking knee-jerk reactions defined the previous government and it is precisely what the world does not need now.

HenryBG 8:00 pm 17 Nov 15

dungfungus said :

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

France urgently needs another Charles De Gaulle.
The USA needs another Douglas Macarthur.
The UK needs another Winston Churchill.
Australia needs Tony Abbott back.

No, Australia needs a leader.

Like we have now? You have to be joking.

Turnbull is better than Abbott, who was a complete ‘minable’, to use the French term that fits him best.
Turnbull is still no Churchill, although I was *very* interested to see him accusing Islamic fundamentalists of “blasphemy” against their own religion. Let’s see where he goes with that…..

dungfungus 11:05 pm 15 Nov 15

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

France urgently needs another Charles De Gaulle.
The USA needs another Douglas Macarthur.
The UK needs another Winston Churchill.
Australia needs Tony Abbott back.

No, Australia needs a leader.

Like we have now? You have to be joking.

HenryBG 6:47 pm 15 Nov 15

dungfungus said :

France urgently needs another Charles De Gaulle.
The USA needs another Douglas Macarthur.
The UK needs another Winston Churchill.
Australia needs Tony Abbott back.

No, Australia needs a leader.

dungfungus 5:08 pm 14 Nov 15

HenryBG said :

HenryBG said :

rubaiyat said :

France’s refugee intake: 210,207

Australia’s refugee intake: 23,434

Over 3x our intake rate per head of population.

…Some of us actual research rather than make it up.

I think it is very important for you to read the information provided here:
http://www.resettlement.eu/country/france

Start of annual quota: 2008

Current quota: 100 dossier cases per year
Resettlement numbers
Year Total arrivals
2014

117
2013

107
2012

90
2011

55
2010

203
2009

159

There are two main points to take home from this –
1. France has only been participating with the UNHCR refugee resettlement program since 2008, contrst that with Australia’s long-standing comittment to this program.
2. France resettles 100-200 refugees per yaer. Never mind per capita values, this is at best 1/100th of the amount of resettling of refugees that Australia does.

What continues to confuse me is that this information is hardly secret, and yet people insist on maintaining a belief that somehow Australia is not pulling its weight, when in fact we are world-leading.

…and now France has closed its borders completely, wishing they had followed Australia’s lead and done so 3 months ago, before ISIS sent hundreds of terrorists into Europe posing as “refugees”…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34814203

France urgently needs another Charles De Gaulle.
The USA needs another Douglas Macarthur.
The UK needs another Winston Churchill.
Australia needs Tony Abbott back.

justin heywood 2:10 pm 14 Nov 15

Michelle_Dunne_Breen said :

By using mainstream media for information, your argument lowers itself to the same standard as me, where unfounded accusations fly left, right and center.

I confess that I too use ‘mainstream media’ for my information, having found ‘agenda based’ news to often have…well an agenda other than reporting the full story.

Why hint at greater knowledge Michelle, but refrain to discuss it further? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of posting here?

(if your purpose was increasing awareness of the plight of refugees, that is).

HenryBG 11:48 am 14 Nov 15

HenryBG said :

rubaiyat said :

France’s refugee intake: 210,207

Australia’s refugee intake: 23,434

Over 3x our intake rate per head of population.

…Some of us actual research rather than make it up.

I think it is very important for you to read the information provided here:
http://www.resettlement.eu/country/france

Start of annual quota: 2008

Current quota: 100 dossier cases per year
Resettlement numbers
Year Total arrivals
2014

117
2013

107
2012

90
2011

55
2010

203
2009

159

There are two main points to take home from this –
1. France has only been participating with the UNHCR refugee resettlement program since 2008, contrst that with Australia’s long-standing comittment to this program.
2. France resettles 100-200 refugees per yaer. Never mind per capita values, this is at best 1/100th of the amount of resettling of refugees that Australia does.

What continues to confuse me is that this information is hardly secret, and yet people insist on maintaining a belief that somehow Australia is not pulling its weight, when in fact we are world-leading.

…and now France has closed its borders completely, wishing they had followed Australia’s lead and done so 3 months ago, before ISIS sent hundreds of terrorists into Europe posing as “refugees”…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34814203

HenryBG 11:45 am 14 Nov 15

rubaiyat said :

Australia accepts a miserable number of UNHCR refugees, less than 6000 per year only, ….
….
http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1415/RefugeeResettlement
.

…and from that site, some of the other countries’ figures for 2012 were:
Sweden
1,483
Norway
1,137
United Kingdom
989
Finland
763

From you very own reference, the figure shows that Australia’s resettlement intake for 2012 was the 2nd-LEAST miserable amount in the world, without even calculating it on a per capita basis.

That makes us the 2nd-most generous country in the world!

And yet we keep hearing about how “terrible” we are, how “ashamed” you are, and so forth.

Your beliefs simply do not tally with the facts. It’s astounding.

dungfungus 9:50 am 14 Nov 15

HenryBG said :

rubaiyat said :

France’s refugee intake: 210,207

Australia’s refugee intake: 23,434

Over 3x our intake rate per head of population.

…Some of us actual research rather than make it up.

I think it is very important for you to read the information provided here:
http://www.resettlement.eu/country/france

Start of annual quota: 2008

Current quota: 100 dossier cases per year
Resettlement numbers
Year Total arrivals
2014

117
2013

107
2012

90
2011

55
2010

203
2009

159

There are two main points to take home from this –
1. France has only been participating with the UNHCR refugee resettlement program since 2008, contrst that with Australia’s long-standing comittment to this program.
2. France resettles 100-200 refugees per yaer. Never mind per capita values, this is at best 1/100th of the amount of resettling of refugees that Australia does.

What continues to confuse me is that this information is hardly secret, and yet people insist on maintaining a belief that somehow Australia is not pulling its weight, when in fact we are world-leading.

If France doesn’t wake up after today’s terrorist attacks it deserves what is coming to it.

HenryBG 4:27 pm 13 Nov 15

rubaiyat said :

France’s refugee intake: 210,207

Australia’s refugee intake: 23,434

Over 3x our intake rate per head of population.

…Some of us actual research rather than make it up.

I think it is very important for you to read the information provided here:
http://www.resettlement.eu/country/france

Start of annual quota: 2008

Current quota: 100 dossier cases per year
Resettlement numbers
Year Total arrivals
2014 117
2013 107
2012 90
2011 55
2010 203
2009 159

There are two main points to take home from this –
1. France has only been participating with the UNHCR refugee resettlement program since 2008, contrst that with Australia’s long-standing comittment to this program.
2. France resettles 100-200 refugees per yaer. Never mind per capita values, this is at best 1/100th of the amount of resettling of refugees that Australia does.

What continues to confuse me is that this information is hardly secret, and yet people insist on maintaining a belief that somehow Australia is not pulling its weight, when in fact we are world-leading.

Michelle_Dunne_Breen 12:32 pm 13 Nov 15

By using mainstream media for information, your argument lowers itself to the same standard as me, where unfounded accusations fly left, right and center.

You’re giving yourself away there, friend. 🙂

HenryBG 12:29 pm 13 Nov 15

Michelle_Dunne_Breen said :

There is a fair bit of semantic nit-picking going on here, and exonerating our actions by pointing to other countries that are doing worse. .

It’s not “nit-picking” to point out that Australia is a leading participant in the UNHCR’s refugee resettlement program which targets the neediest refugees for resettlement.

Michelle_Dunne_Breen said :

The bottom line is, we have locked up innocent people (yes, innocent – they haven’t been found guilty of anything) indefinitely in offshore camps….

What you are engaging in is a political rhetoric – there is no requirement that anybody be “found guilty of anything” in order to be detained, and they are perfectly legally detained.
Neither are they “detained indefinitely”: as soon as we have identified them properly and figured out what they are up to, they are free to leave. Most do.
The few troublemakers who choose to remain in Australian detention centres to continue scoring generous food and healthcare are doing so of their own free will. They are free to leave anytime they want (and they’ll be flown home at Australian taxpayers’ expense, with virtually no attempt made to force them to defray Austraila for the considerable costs involved in their attempt to enter Australia illegally.

rubaiyat 11:23 am 13 Nov 15

Australia accepts a miserable number of UNHCR refugees, less than 6000 per year only, 3.2% of our migrant intake and falling under the Abbott government. The recent declaration of accepting more Syrian refugees may change this in a minor way.

http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1415/RefugeeResettlement

The big lie is that refugees have a choice, they have bugger all choice let alone chance.

chewy14 9:29 am 13 Nov 15

rubaiyat said :

HenryBG said :

watto23 said :

The problem we have in Australia is we have a far right pushing the fear agenda, and the far left not able to offer any kind of viable solution. I have a lot of sympathy for refugees and asylum seekers though and I feel Australia does quite poorly regarding it on many fronts. ..

So, how are they doing in France for example:
http://www.thelocal.fr/20151110/calais-second-night-of-violence-towards-police

Gosh, we seem to be doing better than them.
And how many refugees has France resettled under the UNHCR program? about 1/100th as many as Australia?

The whole idea Australia is doing poorly is a complete myth. By resettling genuine refugees in cooperation with the UNHCR (and at the highest rate per capita than all but 3 other countries in the entire world) we ensure that the limited number we can resettle each year is aimed at resettling the neediest.

Asylum seekers who are on the move through France are on their way to Britain for the very simple reason that the French legal system offers them no incentive to stay in France. Creating the kind of incentive that exists in Britain (and Australia) will create deaths, violence, and inequity as well as creating illegal migration issue in neighbouring countries..

If you are going to tell a lie*, make sure it is a big one:

France’s refugee intake: 210,207

Australia’s refugee intake: 23,434

Over 3x our intake rate per head of population.

* But don’t try it on this forum. Some of us actual research rather than make it up.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_refugee_population

That is the total refugee population in the country, not what their intake is. And the main reason is, that they aren’t resettling those refugees, they’re giving them temporary residency if their claims are accepted which only currently has about a 22% success rate.

I’m sure the same people complaining about our deterrence policy would be equally complaining if we accepted refugees for temporary protection, took a couple of years to assess their claims and didn’t allow them to work or provide social welfare for them in the meantime.

dungfungus 9:08 am 13 Nov 15

chewy14 said :

Michelle_Dunne_Breen said :

There is a fair bit of semantic nit-picking going on here, and exonerating our actions by pointing to other countries that are doing worse. The bottom line is, we have locked up innocent people (yes, innocent – they haven’t been found guilty of anything) indefinitely in offshore camps that have no independent oversight and which numerous sources have claimed are staffed by guards that do them harm, sexually and physically. The food is appalling, the accommodation is disgusting, the healthcare is substandard, people have become very ill and some have died. It is indefensible on any grounds – moral, economic or even drownings. There is not simply a choice of drownings at sea and tormenting the survivors to the point of losing their minds and sometimes their lives. For those calling for critics to put up solutions – there have been solutions forwarded. Here in Canberra, we have the Refugee Action Committee, which is a very diverse group of concerned Canberrans. It includes those of many faith groups, students, academics, public servants, all political opinions. The thing that we agree on and work together towards is that Australia needs a much more humane refugee policy. Look at http://www.refugeeaction.org for the alternative policy proposed. Oh, and there’s a vigil this evening, at the corner of Northbourne Avenue and Barry Drive. Come along. We’re nice, as well as committed and passionate.

And as all alternative policies like this, it has severe shortcomings. Problems that would make it impossible to implement without causing further more serious problems, particularly for neighbouring countries to us. The most obvious being:

1. It’s an open border policy. There are no limits placed in the numbers they expect us to take for resettlement. How do you organise processing and support services when your intake is limitless? Either the processing and support services are completely overwhelmed or you lower the services available to arrivals. Either is problematic and would cost many billions of dollars.

2. Bypassing Safety Checks. Once the limits on services are reached and asylum seekers have to wait (say in Indonesia or other refugee camps, how do you prevent them from hopping on a boat and simply bypassing any safety/health checks? This also brings back the risk of asylum seekers dieing at sea.

3. Effect on Neighbouring Countries. I dont think Indonesia is going to be too happy with us flooding them with asylum seekers using their country as a stepping stone to Australia. The pull factors created would cause massive unrest.

4. Equity. Under this policy, we will only have the resources to accept those who can get themselves to Indonesia or hop on a boat here. This necessarily means that the only refugees we accept will be self selected and will not be those people who are most in danger of immediate persecution. Surely we want an equitable solution, not one which gives preference to those with the money and means to get here?

The proposed policy, like most presented by those who claim the moral high ground for themselves due to their infinite compassion, could never work in the real world. It fails to even come close to addressing so many other problems that it, in itself, would create.

I thought asylum seekers were obliged to seek refuge and residence in the first safe country they arrived in after they fled from wherever they were being oppressed?
So, how come they are not settling in Indonesia?
Could it be that our concentration camps are of a higher standard than Indonesia’s?
Most of the asylum seekers arriving in Australia conspire with people smugglers to get here and then destroy their papers which is tantamount to entering Australia illegally. I thought conspiracy and identity fraud were serious issues – apparently if the situation is under the heading of “humanitarian” it is OK. Well, it’s not OK with me.
Australia has no legal responsibility to care/re-settle these people whatever they say their circumstances are.

justin heywood 1:21 am 13 Nov 15

Michelle_Dunne_Breen said :

There is a fair bit of semantic nit-picking going on here, and exonerating our actions by pointing to other countries that are doing worse. The bottom line is, we have locked up innocent people (yes, innocent – they haven’t been found guilty of anything) indefinitely in offshore camps that have no independent oversight and which numerous sources have claimed are staffed by guards that do them harm, sexually and physically. The food is appalling, the accommodation is disgusting, the healthcare is substandard, people have become very ill and some have died. It is indefensible on any grounds – moral, economic or even drownings. There is not simply a choice of drownings at sea and tormenting the survivors to the point of losing their minds and sometimes their lives. For those calling for critics to put up solutions – there have been solutions forwarded. Here in Canberra, we have the Refugee Action Committee, which is a very diverse group of concerned Canberrans. It includes those of many faith groups, students, academics, public servants, all political opinions. The thing that we agree on and work together towards is that Australia needs a much more humane refugee policy. Look at http://www.refugeeaction.org for the alternative policy proposed. Oh, and there’s a vigil this evening, at the corner of Northbourne Avenue and Barry Drive. Come along. We’re nice, as well as committed and passionate.

Michelle, I see that the committee is calling for Australia to process refugee’s applications in transit countries and transport successful applicants safely to Australia, thus bypassing the people smugglers and avoiding the sinking boats. This sounds like an idea but raises a few questions;

– what ‘would ‘transit’ country’s attitudes be to this do you think? What would become of those rejected by Australia? Whose responsibility would they be?

– if we abandon detention and release people into the community on arrival, why would anyone take a chance having their assessment in, say, Indonesia, and possibly a long wait or rejection? Surely a significant number would simply hop on some leaky boat, as they have done in the past.

– There is reportedly about 50 million displaced people in the world and obviously Australia cannot help all of them. How many does the committee believe we can take per year, and what happens when we approach this number?

These are genuine questions which I believe deserve proper answers from people who seek a change in policy. No thinking person believes there is a simple solution to all this, and it is unfair to accuse people of being ‘inhumane’ without explaining exactly what a better policy might be.

gazket 12:08 am 13 Nov 15

Michelle_Dunne_Breen said :

The food is appalling, the accommodation is disgusting, the healthcare is substandard.

Cabbage is disgusting but mum still made you eat it. Is your mum such a bad person. I wouldn’t think so.

$10 million in damage was done to one centre . Lets say $15 million accommodation centre doesn’t sound very disgusting .

we flew one lady 32.000 km’s for health treatment which she wanted then didn’t want. That’s a carbon tax bill for nothing isn’t it.

chewy14 8:00 pm 12 Nov 15

Michelle_Dunne_Breen said :

There is a fair bit of semantic nit-picking going on here, and exonerating our actions by pointing to other countries that are doing worse. The bottom line is, we have locked up innocent people (yes, innocent – they haven’t been found guilty of anything) indefinitely in offshore camps that have no independent oversight and which numerous sources have claimed are staffed by guards that do them harm, sexually and physically. The food is appalling, the accommodation is disgusting, the healthcare is substandard, people have become very ill and some have died. It is indefensible on any grounds – moral, economic or even drownings. There is not simply a choice of drownings at sea and tormenting the survivors to the point of losing their minds and sometimes their lives. For those calling for critics to put up solutions – there have been solutions forwarded. Here in Canberra, we have the Refugee Action Committee, which is a very diverse group of concerned Canberrans. It includes those of many faith groups, students, academics, public servants, all political opinions. The thing that we agree on and work together towards is that Australia needs a much more humane refugee policy. Look at http://www.refugeeaction.org for the alternative policy proposed. Oh, and there’s a vigil this evening, at the corner of Northbourne Avenue and Barry Drive. Come along. We’re nice, as well as committed and passionate.

And as all alternative policies like this, it has severe shortcomings. Problems that would make it impossible to implement without causing further more serious problems, particularly for neighbouring countries to us. The most obvious being:

1. It’s an open border policy. There are no limits placed in the numbers they expect us to take for resettlement. How do you organise processing and support services when your intake is limitless? Either the processing and support services are completely overwhelmed or you lower the services available to arrivals. Either is problematic and would cost many billions of dollars.

2. Bypassing Safety Checks. Once the limits on services are reached and asylum seekers have to wait (say in Indonesia or other refugee camps, how do you prevent them from hopping on a boat and simply bypassing any safety/health checks? This also brings back the risk of asylum seekers dieing at sea.

3. Effect on Neighbouring Countries. I dont think Indonesia is going to be too happy with us flooding them with asylum seekers using their country as a stepping stone to Australia. The pull factors created would cause massive unrest.

4. Equity. Under this policy, we will only have the resources to accept those who can get themselves to Indonesia or hop on a boat here. This necessarily means that the only refugees we accept will be self selected and will not be those people who are most in danger of immediate persecution. Surely we want an equitable solution, not one which gives preference to those with the money and means to get here?

The proposed policy, like most presented by those who claim the moral high ground for themselves due to their infinite compassion, could never work in the real world. It fails to even come close to addressing so many other problems that it, in itself, would create.

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