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.