I never intended this to be a political blog, but the front page of this morning’s Age (Melbourne daily) reignited a righteous anger I first expressed in writing in 2001 (before 9/11). The article tells of how 2 Asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Tour Gul and Mohammed Hussain have been confirmed killed by the Taliban, after their application for asylum was rejected by the Australian government and they were deported (in 2002). I’m not an expert on international law, but I suspect
The Age had previously reported that 11 asylum seekers on
This provided a grandstanding opportunity for Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, on the eve of an election to show how tough he was with refugees and win the xenophobic vote for
I alluded very vaguely to this incident, or the social dynamics that surround it, in my closing arguments on an early post, Evil (Oct.07). What galls me is that we live such a privileged life yet we feel so threatened by these people who are literally in desperate straits. It makes me ashamed to be Australian, but it doesn’t surprise me. The Attorney General of the time, Philip Ruddock, seemed to take all these cases personally, and was determined to make any refugee’s life even worse than it already was. It was his unstated goal to make their life an absolute misery – I referred to him as the Australian Minister for Misery – and he did an exemplary job. The mental health damage he did to innumerable vulnerable people, including children, cannot be overestimated. Of course, these people have no vote, and no one to stand up for them, with a few outstanding exceptions, so the Government knew they could treat them like chaff.
Ex Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser (same political party as Howard), was one of the few to speak out, and made the point in an early interview, well before
The irony is that we now have troops in
Addendum: it would be remiss of me not to mention some of the advocates as well as Malcolm Fraser; in particular, Julian Burnside QC. In 2005, some Liberal party backbenchers (same party as Howard) including Petro Georgiou and Judi Moylan (whom I corresponded with) put a bill through parliament that stopped children being kept in mandatory detention (as refugees). John Howard liked to tout the virtues of his Christianity and Christian values. It should be obvious from other posts on this blog, that I'm definitely not a Christian, but Howard's policy towards refugees was the antithesis of the Jesus character depicted in biblical stories, whether he be fictional or real.