Apologies for the off topic post, but as an Australian blogger I thought it important to give emphasis to the latest evidence of sadistic abuse going on under the authority of the Australian people at our off shore detention centres: The Nauru Files. The non-Aboriginal peoples of our country have a long had a difficult relationship with other new arrivals, from the Lambing flat riots to the White Australia policy, and the widespread racism experienced by the ‘wogs’ who settled here since the second world war and the ‘gooks’ who arrived after the Vietnam war. In recent times (that is, for at least the past fifteen years) our politicians have had great success in harnessing racist attitudes amongst the population by whipping up fear of boat people and promising ever tougher measures to deter the huddled masses from attempting passage to Australia by boat. A case in point being the Tampa affair which saw John Howard win huge support for refusing entry to Australian waters for a Norwegian commercial vessel that rescued 438 refugees (mostly Afghani) from a sinking ship in international waters between Australia and Indonesia.
Since the Tampa Affair both sides of politics—namely, the Australian Labor Party and the (ironically named) Liberal Party of Australia—have taken a hardline attitude to ‘illegal’ arrivals of refugees by boat, building up the myth that we need a strong deterrent against those seeking to ‘jump the queue‘ of ‘legal’ refugees. The prime focus of which has been the consignment of such ‘illegal’ arrivals by boat to detention centres on Nauru (a tiny Micronesian republic) and Manus Island (part of Papua New Guinea). Here the asylum seekers (including women and children) are held for years at a time while their cases are ‘investigated’ to determine whether or not the government will grant them refugee status. The living conditions are these internment camps are squalid, the guards are known to harass the women and kids for sexual favours, and rates of mental illness are consequently staggeringly high amongst detainees. In PNG homosexuality is illegal and gay refugees on Manus Island live in fear for their safety. The latest leak of documents from the Nauru detection centre paint a shocking picture which it has been argued amounts to raw evidence of torture.
As much as I feel pride in my fellow Aussies when I see them doing well at the Olympics or excelling in science and the arts, I feel just as much shame at our dickhead attitude towards refugees.
I’ll finish here with some thought-provoking words from “The Phillip Ruddock Blues” by a great Aussie band called TISM:
“Why should we let towel-heads in
’cause their ships won’t float?
what other race has ever come to Australia on a boat?
and if self-interest should rule
five miles out from shore
why the hell don’t it apply to those who live next door?“