Friday, October 28, 2005

Clarke and Dawe on Ruddock's counter-terrorism laws

Australian Broadcasting Corporation


If you can't laugh you just cry all the time....

Our shame: Refugee Action Coalition of NSW Media Release

Protests in three capital cities today will highlight the plight of asylum seekers stranded on the Indonesian island of Lombok for up to four years.

Over 90 asylum seekers (Afghan, Iraqi and Vietnamese) including many children are held in a refugee camp on Lombok run by the International Organisation for Migration, paid for by the Australian government.

October 28 is the 4th anniversary of the interception by the Australian navy of the refugee boat called SIEV 7. Although the boat of mostly Afghan asylum seekers made it to Ashmore Reef, the Australian navy towed the boat back to Indonesian waters where the boat was disabled by naval officers, leaving the asylum seekers to be rescued by fishermen.

"Lombok is an untold and shameful part of the government's so-called Pacific solution," said Ian Rintoul.

"The Lombok asylum seekers made it to Australian territory. But they were towed back as the government implemented One Nation policies and excised territory like Ashmore Reef from the effect of the Migration Act in the wake of the Tampa.

"Many of those asylum seekers were taken to Nauru and now that most of the asylum seekers on Nauru are being brought to Australia, it is time for the Australian government to face up to its responsibility to those it forcibly took to Lombok. It pays for the camp on Lombok but won't accept that it is responsible for those living there. Had they been processed in Australia, there is no doubt that most of them would be recognised as refugees and be living in the community."

"The government claims that its border protection save lives but in fact many lives have been lost and wasted by the Pacific solution. 353 asylum seekers drowned on SIEV X at the time the government was intercepting refugee boats and hundreds languished on Nauru and Lombok, for far too long.

"It is time this shameful episode in Australia's treatment of asylum seekers was bought to a close and those on Lombok resettled in Australia."

"A report by an Australian who visited Lombok, described their situation as: destitute absolutely hopeless...dependent on inadequate support provide by IOM..." They are unable to work, or travel and unable to return. Four years of their lives has been wasted by their disgraceful treatment – they have been treated worse than criminals but have committed no crime. This is another part of the mess of the immigration department that we are waiting for the minister to clean up," said Ian Rintoul.

In a letter from Lombok which will be read at the protest, one asylum seeker writes,: We had attempted to find a shelter to save our life and make a safe life and better future especially for our children, but here in Lombok we Afghan Refugees are suffering from an intolerable and unimaginable condition. We lost our hope, our family, friends, relatives and our own life.

We request Australian Immigration to be responsible for the Lombok refugees who were returned from Australian water, and to treat us in the same way as the Nauru refugees, that have been interviewed by Australian Immigration."

Hunger strike continues: Meanwhile the hunger strike by six Chinese asylum seekers continues at the Villawood detention centre. After a one-day solidarity hunger strike protest by most of the Villawood detainees, the men are determined to continue their action until they get some answer from the Department of Immigration. The Refugee Action Coalition has called a protest at Villawood for Saturday 10.30am, Miowera Rd entrance.

For more information contact: Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713
Refugee Action Collective, Melbourne, Tom Petterson 0438 399 973

Monday, October 24, 2005

Singapore sentences Aussie to death

A family photo of Nguyen Tuong Van.
Aussie MPs mobilise to save a citizen.

Appalling decision to execute Nguyen Tuong Van

I do not usually digress from the key theme of this blog, ie. the Australian Government's egregious approach to asylum seekers.

Today, however, I am posting part of an email I sent the Singapore High Commission this morning calling for the sentence to execute Nguyen Tuong Van to be commuted:

"I am writing to register my anger at the decision of your Government to execute Van Tuong Nguyen, an Australian citizen, despite the clearly articulated mitigating circumstances in his case.

I am a long-time opponent of the death penalty in any circumstances, because I believe members of a society demean themselves by tolerating acts of barbarism in the name of justice.

This cruel and inhumane punishment is applied regularly in Singapore, and I am hopeful that right minded people in Singapore and around the world will protest this barbarity."

Howard and Downer claim that nothing more can be done but that is not good enough in my book.

Mr Nguyen's lawyers have'nt given up
and I call on like minded readers to protest this decision by the Singaporean authorities.

The email address of the High Commission of Singapore in Canberra is:

The High Commission website is:

Thursday, October 20, 2005

meanwhile in Canberra...

Moir in the SMH

Malcolm Fraser decries laws for a secret state without any safeguards

Read the full text of the Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture, presented by former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, at the State Library of Victoria on October 19, 2005.

The Unknown Story of Cornelia Rau: Robert Manne

A friend has brought an excellent article by Robert Manne to my attention. Click on the September Edition of The Monthly for the full article. Following is an excerpt:

"In the history of the Australian Commonwealth, there has never been a more devastating assessment of the work of a major department of state than the one contained in the Palmer report.

Only two elements were odd. The responsibility in this mess of the immigration minister, Amanda Vanstone, was not discussed. For the department’s failings only its secretary Bill Farmer, before being moved sideways to the Indonesian ambassadorship, formally shouldered blame. Upon the release of the Palmer report, the prime minister rejected calls for the replacement of Vanstone. Apparently, in our system of government, a minister does not have to resign even when systemic and disastrous failings in the department for which they are responsible are revealed. In the constitutional history of Australia, the Howard government’s behaviour following the Palmer inquiry will be seen to mark the formal end of the Westminster principle of ministerial responsibility.

An even odder feature of the Palmer report was its failure to discuss the relationship between the diseased culture of the immigration department and the policy which had given rise to the disease – mandatory, unreviewable and indefinite detention of asylum seekers, whose only crime was to have appealed to Australia for help. It was as if, to deploy an admittedly extreme analogy, an independent inquiry into the Gulag Archipelago should have criticised fiercely the “culture” of the Ministry of the Interior without mentioning that this same culture had some connection with the policy of turning supposed class enemies of the revolution into slave labourers of the Soviet state."

I recommend this article to anyone interested in why some of us are get so 'worked up' over mandatory detention.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

and on the frontline...

Bill Leak in The Australian

meanwhile in Canberra...

Moir in the SMH

Let us not forget this guy's record on asylum seekers. Rather than react calmly to the relatively modest number of refugees seeking asylum in Australia back in 2000, as Immigration Minister at the time, Ruddock did whatever he could to create a sense of panic...and now it obviously suits the Government to have Ruddock performing a similar role as Attorney-General to frighten the public with anti-terror laws. Ain't he magnificent? The Australian has a good article on this phenomenon today.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I feel better now....

Thanks (and I mean thanks) to Leunig and The Age

Howard claims Nauru an 'outstanding success'

"..and black is white and up is down, and believe me because I say it is so". Read The Age article.

As this blog foreshadowed, the government's approach to asylum seekers signalled further attacks on civil liberties and human rights down the track. Plaudits to Jon Stanhope for alerting us to the draconian nature of the anti-terror legislation Howard and Ruddock want to ram through.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Human rights?

Thanks to Fiona Katauskas

The Labor opposition is calling for a human rights bill in Australia.

It just gets worse

After over two weeks away I've come back to find the DIMIA story just keeps getting bleaker. This blog has asserted that DIMIA's abusive culture was honed by political interventions. I have no doubt about this as I saw it play out firsthand. The Federal Opposition says it has obtained information showing DIMIA was receiving bonus payments for detaining and deporting illegal entrants. Labor says the funding system encouraged detentions and deportations.

The revelations on bonus payments tells a sorry tale of just how low the rent can go.