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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.

What’s Your opinion?


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51 Responses to
Burma free, now Australia is the pariah
justin heywood 12:40 pm 11 Nov 15

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. The whole stop the boats fiasco is just a big con job. the far right feel like they show compassion by not having people die at seas, but we also have no idea how many people were turned around, how it was achieved and lets be honest, people are still dying in refugee camps. Now I completely agree we can’t have people arriving by boat for many reasons. But we really haven’t solved any problems. We’ve just satisified the far right fear mongers.

I have hope as our current PM is stalking about inclusiveness rather than the previous ones divisive tactics that split the country. There is no doubt in my mind we could accept a significant number of refugees and the country would be no worse off. Even if say the average Australian was say 1% worse off, is that not a reasonable price to help x thousands of people.

Whilever the far right use sterotypes and fear and the far left fail to understand that yes being nice to refugees as a human is the correct thing to do, there are still economic decisions that need to be made. I’d love to know how many Rohinga people from Myanmar, we’ve taken from refugee camps. I suspect very few because they are persecuted muslims, being persecuted by those nice buddhists.

We are not doing enough and we can do more, its a shame so many people prefer to revel in the fear and stereotypes rather than look for real solutions.

And yet you offer no solutions yourself Watto, just some pointless political name-calling. Half the problem with this issue is trying to discuss the matter while mindless abuse is hurled from the ‘high moral ground’.

If it was just a struggle between ‘far-right fear mongers’ and compassionate lefties you might have an argument, but the middle ground is where it’s at, and at the moment I think the middle ground is uneasy about opening our virtual borders German-style, or even re-visiting Rudd’s ‘softer’ policies. The first is economically unsustainable and the latter is murderous, in my view.

My opinion: we know where many genuine refugees are; in camps. Find those most in need, fly them here and resettle them, in numbers. Do not accept people who are trying to game the system.

watto23 10:49 am 11 Nov 15

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. The whole stop the boats fiasco is just a big con job. the far right feel like they show compassion by not having people die at seas, but we also have no idea how many people were turned around, how it was achieved and lets be honest, people are still dying in refugee camps. Now I completely agree we can’t have people arriving by boat for many reasons. But we really haven’t solved any problems. We’ve just satisified the far right fear mongers.

I have hope as our current PM is stalking about inclusiveness rather than the previous ones divisive tactics that split the country. There is no doubt in my mind we could accept a significant number of refugees and the country would be no worse off. Even if say the average Australian was say 1% worse off, is that not a reasonable price to help x thousands of people.

Whilever the far right use sterotypes and fear and the far left fail to understand that yes being nice to refugees as a human is the correct thing to do, there are still economic decisions that need to be made. I’d love to know how many Rohinga people from Myanmar, we’ve taken from refugee camps. I suspect very few because they are persecuted muslims, being persecuted by those nice buddhists.

We are not doing enough and we can do more, its a shame so many people prefer to revel in the fear and stereotypes rather than look for real solutions.

chewy14 9:35 am 11 Nov 15

I agree we should change our asylum seeker policy.

By lobbying for a complete rewriting of the refugee convention or removing ourselves as a signatory nation.

It’s a completely outdated document that was written to facilitate simple cross border movements of asylum seekers/refugees when international travel was rare, expensive and hard to access. Now, you can hop on an international flight through multiple safe countries and then hop on a boat to your destination country and expect to be resettled. The whole point was to stop people from being persecuted and killed, not to allow them to have a better life.

Our current policy, whilst clearly not perfect, allows us to control the amount of refugees we accept, to choose the most in need of our assistance and to prevent people dieing at sea as well as stopping the illegal people smuggling trade. It has reduced the amount of arrivals immensely and eventually the camps will empty as the asylum seekers who arrived under previous policies are processed and resettled elsewhere and no one else arrives because they have been given a clear message that we will not accept them by that means. The people smugglers business model is dead, why would anyone want to resuscitate it?

This policy with then allow us to redirect our limited resources to assisting more people overseas or lifting our overall refugee intake from those most in need of our help, rather than preferentially helping those with the means to escape their persecution and who are no longer in immediate danger.

HenryBG 8:59 am 11 Nov 15

Charlotte Harper said :

That’s true, Justin, but are other countries treating asylum seekers the way we are? .

I found an amusing Wikipedia article:

Which includes:
“Detention and deportation
Through detention, the illegal immigrants will be imprisoned, caned and finally deported. This was done to help regulate immigration and to remind them to return to their home countries by letting them know to “not flout the law again”.[48]”

Gosh, our bleeding hearts have apoplectic fits if we fail to give our illegal immigrants a free taxpayer-funded lawyer – just imagine if we gave them a bit of a caning, like some foreign countries do…?

Mysteryman 8:58 am 11 Nov 15

“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.”

Oh please, you’d have to be born yesterday to think that anything said by the North Korean regime is deserving of thoughtful consideration, especially on the subject of human rights. They throw inflammatory comments anywhere they can in a vain attempt to feel relevant on the international stage. They have no credibility.

justin heywood said :

Charlotte, every western country is struggling with this problem. There ARE no easy answers.

Do you propose a solution? If so, why not put it forward and then we can debate that?

I’d also like to hear a solution or suggestion as to what they answer is. I hear frequently from people who don’t like the current situation. As of yet, I haven’t heard a single viable suggestion from any of them.

HenryBG 8:51 am 11 Nov 15

So…open the floodgates again and let thousands of them drown, just like what happened as soon as Kevin Rudd came to power?

Australia treats refugees and asylum seekers better than most other countries. We resettle – per capita – more than all but 3 other countries. Few countries hold out any hope of permanent resettlement to refugees, but Australia has resettled over a million over the years. Few countries offer refugees free housing, cash payments, and free education for their children. Australia does. Most countries hosting refugees within their borders just ignore them – they allow international aid agencies to come in and help them, but they certainly do not provide them with the benefits that we do.

And you want us to worry about what *NORTH KOREA* has to say!?!?!? ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!

dungfungus 8:44 am 11 Nov 15

Charlotte Harper said :

That’s true, Justin, but are other countries treating asylum seekers the way we are? I don’t think so. Anyway, a follow up post along the lines you’re suggesting is an excellent idea. I’ll do that, or better yet commission someone else with more expertise in the area to do it.

I am interested to know how North Korea treats its asylum seekers.
With such an inspiring leader and superior political system, a human rights record second to none, it’s no wonder thousands of oppressed people are rushing there to seek asylum.
Make sure your expert focuses on North Korea.

TFarquahar 2:37 am 11 Nov 15

Dear Charlotte,

I do hate to be the cloud and the lemon that spoils your sunshine and lollipops experience regarding the recent election results in Burma but here goes. The victory of the National League for Democracy party does not mean that Aung San Suu Kyi will be President of Myanmar (Burma). The constitution prevents it because she married a foreigner and has children to a foreigner. It also guarantees 25% of the seat in Parliament to the military junta. It also guarantees key ministerial positions to the military junta.

The victory an important step towards a more civil and democratic Myanmar? Absolutely. Will life improve overnight? Absolutely not. In fact it could get worse, much worse before it gets better.

Unfortunately I must also take you to task on the content of your missive regarding the reporting by The Guardian. Whilst I sympathise and understand your viewpoint regarding off-shore detention you have done yourself no favours by referring to the comments of North Korea, Turkey, India, Indonesia and even Great Britain on our Australia’s Human Rights Record.

Worse still you have placed it in a United Nations context. The UN is no shining beacon of Human Rights Charlotte.

I look forward to reading the piece commissioned by someone with more expertise than you.

rubaiyat 10:49 pm 10 Nov 15

Aung San Suu Kyi now has her own dilemma, we shall see to what degree the military will let her rule, but her followers are not innocent of their own injustices.

She notably did not speak up or intercede on behalf of the Rohingyas who are in a desperate plight and deeply despised by nearly all sides in Burma.

Charlotte Harper 9:42 pm 10 Nov 15

That’s true, Justin, but are other countries treating asylum seekers the way we are? I don’t think so. Anyway, a follow up post along the lines you’re suggesting is an excellent idea. I’ll do that, or better yet commission someone else with more expertise in the area to do it.

justin heywood 8:52 pm 10 Nov 15

Charlotte, every western country is struggling with this problem. There ARE no easy answers.

Do you propose a solution? If so, why not put it forward and then we can debate that?

dungfungus 6:35 pm 10 Nov 15

Are the same critics bagging Sweden who give everything to asylum seekers and nothing to the their homeless and the Roma who must be the most despised people in Europe- wait, they are European too aren’t they?
https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/roma-migrants-poverty-returns-sweden-182038078.html

MERC600 6:31 pm 10 Nov 15

And just a little bit more. This ‘review’ thing started in 2006, and I guess going alphabetically, there is Afghanistan ( what can you say here ) , or Argentina ( still looking for missing people )
then Azerbaijan, effectively run by one family.

I guess the UN will then move on through the rest of the alphabet. There will be some beauties for the guardian to report on , but i won’t mention all the countries as I’m off to the club. However I will say North Korea by itself should fill an entire gaurdian edition.

Bolbi 6:22 pm 10 Nov 15

MERC600, does a person receiving a reasonable pay packet immediately make them wrong? Or consumption of alcohol (check your comment history)?

MERC600 4:45 pm 10 Nov 15

Hmm. The UN hey… well ….let him who is without sin cast the first stone , or however it goes.

A 110 countries bagged us at the UN hey, all feeling they have done something to deserve their massive pay packets, before breaking off for champers and canapes.

Yawn.

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