Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas and could we do better on the human rights front in 2011?

As this tumultuous year comes to a close I have been pondering the direction of our moral compass when it comes to the human rights of refugees:

. We still see children behind bars because their parents or guardians had the courage & temerity to arrive on our shores unannounced

. Many accepted refugees struggle to find public housing and to get a toe hold on the economic ladder

. Asylum seekers in the twilight limbo of our detention centres are self-harming again out of desperation with a system that grinds painfully slowly and which treats them like criminals

. Trash language such as 'illegals', 'boat people', 'queue jumpers' and the rest of the nasty lexicon continues to pepper our air waves and be bandied about by politicians, shock jocks and right wing pamphleteers so as to press the buttons of the permanently credulous and the pygmy intellects of the lumpen mob

. A promise to reprise the Pacific Solution and to punish refugees with reinstatement of the draconian TPV regime remains a centre piece of the Coalition's policy platform - twin violations of international human rights and refugee instruments

We have moved quite a way from the dark years of the Howard ascendency, which shamed Australia on the human rights front, but the repressive tendencies just beneath the surface of our open democracy are writ large in the report card on refugees and continue to diminish us all.