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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Homes not Jails - Refugees are welcome here

This photo was taken in 2007 outside Mt.Eden Prison in Auckland during one of many demonstrations against the incarceration of Christian asylum seekers from Iran. After a long campaign most of the asylum seekers were given residency in New Zealand but not before they had spent up to 3 years in prison. Letting your Government incarcerate asylum-seekers is absolutely disgusting. As refugee advocates around the world have said, "No One Is Illegal".

Which is why I find it disturbing that The Dominion Post reports that John Key wants to team up with Australia's new PM Julia Gillard to build a processing centre for asylum seekers in.... East Timor.

Even Phil Goff can't understand why you'd send asylum seekers to one of the world's newest nations, struggling with the aftermath of a twenty-five year occupation by Indonesia and 100,000 internally displaced people.

Asylum seekers and refugees are heading for safer shores fleeing war, ethnic cleansing and political or religious persecution. Is it really in the best interests of refugees (and the communities in Australia and New Zealand they will eventually have to integrate into) for them to be shipped into a country where the national police force enjoy torturing their prisoners? That's according to Human Rights Watch, which released a 2006 report on the subject. It detailed how one young man was treated, “I was arrested by the [Timor police], and put in a cell for two days and two nights. I was continuously tortured, sprayed with pepper spray, beaten and drenched with water."

Not to mention the fact that sending asylum-seekers to jail is a breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Refugees which states, "Detention is only acceptable if it is brief, absolutely necessary, and instituted after other options have been implemented."

Equally appalling is the fact that Australia sends children to detention camps, something the Canberra Refugee Action Committee says is relatively unusual (and illegal) for developed countries to do.

As for the scaremongering about Australia being flooded by boat people, as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre points out, "In the last 34 years (from 1st January 1976 to 30th April 2010) we have had a total of 23,024 people come by boat to Australia seeking asylum. That’s an overall average of 677.1 asylum seekers a year. At this rate it would take 149 years to fill the MCG once with asylum seekers coming by boat."

New Zealand should be trying to help asylum seekers and refugees. They need homes not jails. With some 15.6 million refugees swirling around the world we should be focusing on how we can help these people rather than create another trauma in their lives.

It's not like New Zealand doesn't have room for refugees. I mean we've been busy over the last couple of years making it easier for rich parasites from the US and Asia to come live here, and they contribute nothing of value to this planet. So we could stop taking in rich retirees and instead increase our quota of refugees which is much smaller per capita than even Australias.

As for upgrading New Zealand's refugee processing facilities, I'm sure John Key won't mind sharing his Parnell mansion with some deserving families. Hopefully he'll get to hang out with some Iraqi or Afghani families, displaced by the bloody oil wars he so fanatically supports. Actually while we are at it maybe he can also share his Hawaii and Omaha Beach holiday homes with some of the refugees already here and he could learn a little about their experiences, "Cramped inside a small, old wooden boat, [with] 437 other asylum seekers from Afghanistan had been drifting at sea for more than three days after a storm battered their rundown vessel."

Anyway, why should New Zealand be supporting Australia's racist refugee policy? We should be telling white Australia to wake up, just like this video by Sydney band The Herd does:



The planet needs homes not jails! Refugees are welcome here!

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