Rosh Hashana Newsletter – Off-shoring Our Obligations

By AJDS Executive Photo by publik15 As you read this newsletter, we find ourselves days away from a Federal election. For those of us that care deeply about asylum seekers and refugees, this is a very difficult ballot. With both the ALP and the Coalition demonising asylum seekers and refugees through harsh rhetoric and proposed policy changes. These policies include the ALP’s pre-election plan, already enacted, to force all asylum seekers that arrive in Australia by boat to offshore detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, and to deny them the possibility of ever being granted asylum in Australia. From the Coalition we have “Operation Sovereign Borders”, which brings a military response to the forefront with staunch vows of “send[ing] the boats back” to Indonesia. From both parties we have heard disingenuous and incorrect declarations about “illegals” and “queue jumpers”. In response we say no person seeking asylum is illegal, and we remember that the idea of a queue is completely artificial and incorrect. Australia has an obligation – both by law and morality – to help those that come to this country in need. By sending asylum seekers away we are breaching our responsibilities to the rest of the world, and particularly to those that need help most. These approaches also ignore the role that Australia plays in creating conditions around the world that are unsafe for people – ‘push factors’ that force people to seek asylum – as well as the dangerous effects that building larger capacity detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru will have on local communities there. It makes arbitrary distinctions between how people come to this country to seek asylum, and in doing so creates and reinforces the paranoia and fear of the worst, most racist, elements of Australian society. We look forward to the day when the lives of people in need are no longer treated as political footballs. When Australia’s immigration policies are based on care and directed at protecting as well as helping people that come to us seeking asylum.      
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