The Australian HMAS Manoora
September 16, 2001 7:06 PM   Subscribe

The Australian HMAS Manoora is taking hundreds of Afgan asylum seekers to the island of Nauru after they were rescued by a Norwegian freighter. Many Australian's supported the Government's move not to let them into the country but much of the rest of the world (and a few Australian do-gooders who took the Government to court and won) think we should let these people in.

Today on the radio I heard the mother of one of the sailors on the Manoora saying that the majority of these "refugees" cheered and celebrated when they heard the news of the WTC and Pentagon attacks. And these are the people that the do-gooders want in our free country???
posted by Jase_B (16 comments total)


My main objection to allowing these 'illegal immigrants' on the Manoora (regardless of their reaction to what happened in America because there are reports that people who are Australia citizens and residents danced in the streets when they heard the news on Wednesday (our time) of the attacks), is that for every one of them who is granted legal asylum one genuine refugee, who can't afford to pay thousands of dollars to pathetic people smugglers to make a new life, therefore has no chance of being accepted into Australia- there spot has been taken.

I also heard reports that some of these illegal immigrants are now demanding to be taken back to Afghanistan because they likely won't be accepted into Australia. Don't know if it is truth or rumour, however.
posted by Danielle_T at 7:25 PM on September 16, 2001

Besides the occasional spy or draft card burner, has there ever been an American refugee? An American defector? An American seeking political asylum?

Kind of makes you think when people start discussing how terrible America is...

I know that this comment is kind of off in left field, but I was just noodling over it when I saw this thread and thought it to be the most appropriate place for it.
posted by fooljay at 7:50 PM on September 16, 2001

Enough already. I am sick and tired of all this crap I have been reading in the letters pages of the Australian press this last few days. The political manouverings by John Howard that were involved in the initial incident left me feeling very angry. The disaster that hit the US soon afterwards was, and still is, tragic. The mixing of these two issues is both outrageous and sickening.

If Australia wants to be tough on immigrants, then it is within its right to do so. On the other hand, the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon are not linked to the refugees coming through by boat to Australia in the manner being represented by some of the letters from readers and in the tone of the post above. To make political capital in such a manner is a hideous endeavour.

A common thread on talk shows and in letters to the editor of, for example "The Australian", paints a view that Australia, as viewed by Australians, is under invasion by bogus islamic assylum seekers who are probably dangerous terrorists.

Terrorists, should they come, will almost certainly arrive with immaculate documentation into Australia, no matter where they come from. They will probably not be coming by leaky boat through dangerous seas with a lack of food and the knowledge that they will have to spend months in detention camps upon arrival, if indeed they make it at all with the high likelihood that they will just be sent back anyway.

The people who are smuggled to Australia by boat are more likely to be fleeing their countries and will have paid much money to do so. The driving factor may not necessarily be that they will live a "better life abroad" in the most direct sense, although if you are fleeing Afghanistan, one would hope that where ever you did arive it would be better. Moreover they are likely to have left their home country in fear for their lives or their way of life, at home.

It is most unlikely that they are coming over with a view to destroying the almost mythical "Aussie Way Of Life". The recent arrival of another "illegal immigrant", the South American fire ant, is much more likely to do that.

The Australian's inherrant national pride and sense of identity is, it seems, being turned through the electioneering of a biggoted Prime Minister, into explicit xenophobia. Of course Australians should be proud of Australia and they should defend its very nature, but picking on a boatload of Afghans who were about to drown to demonstrate the strength of an immigration stance by a major political party in order to get itself re-elected is pathetic. To then mix this with anti-Islamic sentiment due to terrorism in the US is wrong.

That is what the world and the "do-gooders" are taking Australia to task upon.
posted by davehat at 8:12 PM on September 16, 2001

I was against letting illegal immigrants come here before, and after this tragedy in New York, I am infinitely more resolute in my view than I was before. I have read reports that some of the hijackers were in the US because... They were granted asylum!

I don't like the Liberals, and I think their immigrantion policy is far too limited. I think we need to drastically INCREASE the number of refugees allowed into the country per year, who choose to do so through legal channels. Heck, my family were refugees from WWII themselves. But for the sake of our own national security and our society, we just can't let whoever shows up on our doorstep into the country without papers. We have to know exactly WHO they are.
posted by eclectic glamazon at 8:19 PM on September 16, 2001

Davehat, although I'm sure the vast majority of asylum seekers fit the profile you've outlined, according to the article about the hijackers in Friday's Herald, some were indeed in the USA because they were granted asylum.

Here it is if you're interested: Happy Hour With The Pilot From Hell.
posted by eclectic glamazon at 8:25 PM on September 16, 2001

eclectic glamazon: I have read reports that some of the hijackers were in the US because... They were granted asylum!

The point I was making was that the mixing of these two issues, Illegal immigration and terrorism, for political gain is wrong. The fact that these two issues are already inextricably linked in the minds of many is just unfortunate.
posted by davehat at 8:33 PM on September 16, 2001

Ecelectic I am with you on the need for drastic increase for the number of genuine refugees granted asylum in Australia.

Perhaps Australians would feel a little more open to letting more refugees enter our country (such as ones like these) if we weren't innundated with ones who were entering illegally, threatening those who saved their lives (as on the Tampa), destroying their records and papers, sewing their lips together on hunger strikes when the Australian taxpayers are paying for the food they are wasting, rioting in the accommodation that the taxpayers are also paying for, and paying thousands of dollars to despicable, pathetic people smugglers - many of whom (according to the UNHCR in Indonesia) are 'refugees' who despite not being granted status in Indonesia remain there and make money off other people's misery.
posted by Danielle_T at 9:32 PM on September 16, 2001

Australia's a marvellous place, if you can stomach the casual racism, xenophobia, and lingering aftertaste of the genocidal policies of the past.

Great beer, mind you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:03 AM on September 17, 2001

Stavroswhoreallyisachicken, if that's your opinion, we don't need people like you anyway. Please feel free to never visit. You enjoy the beer? Let me guess what you're drinking, Fosters?

There is a legitimate way for immigrants to enter our country, and those that do so are welcomed with open arms. The alternative is having no control whatsoever as to those who enter and we have seen the potential consequences of that this past week.

Unless your tax dollars are paying for our illegal immigrants food, you have no vested interest in what happens in Australia, and if your only opinion of the place is that it is full of racists, something tells me, you've never been there. Go back to your beer.
posted by Jubey at 1:14 AM on September 17, 2001

I don't know about casually racist but Australians are very, very touchy.
posted by Summer at 10:29 AM on September 17, 2001

Lived there for three and a half years, Jubey, and paid a LOT of taxes. I know that of which I speak.

Perhaps I was a titch overcritical. But I don't withdraw my comments.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:53 PM on September 17, 2001

Summer, you try being called racist, xenophobic and genocidal and see how 'touchy' it makes you. A titch overcritical? Please!

So stavros lived there for 3 years, and took advantage of our immigration policy and now after being allowed into our country, feels free to make these unbelievable comments to the very place that hosted him and gave him employment.

That's like being welcomed into somebody's home, eating their food, sleeping in their bed and then trashing the joint and stealing everything before leaving. After that you tell all of your friends what a rotten time you had.

Well guess what a lot of people would say? You're not welcome back. There's many other people who would appreciate Australia far more than you and who are far more worthy of it.

If you don't want people to react to what you say, be careful of how you say it.
posted by Jubey at 10:54 PM on September 17, 2001

Hmm. I would go for the easy ad hominem, but how about this instead : I brought skills to your country that are sorely lacking because of the enormous brain drain of bright, talented people leaving for greener pastures, if not for the sorts of reasons I mentioned above, then for other, equally valid ones. I left because mediocrity triumphed, as it so often seems to do Down Under. That's all water under the bridge, though, and none of your affair.

Regardless, I was invited there, mate. Regardless also of whether or not you might welcome me back, my many friends and colleagues, some of whom agree with me and some of whom don't, are ready indeed to welcome me back.

I didn't call you anything Jubey. You've attacked me twice now, without even attempting to refute my claims. Where I come from, that's pretty lame.

To deny the dark side of the Lucky Country is to leave open the possibility that the same terrible things that have happened there in the past may happen again. You haven't even tried to deny what I said. In getting all in my face personally, you've shown that the sort of knee-jerk patriotism that people have been accusing some Americans of all over Mefi (and elsewhere) this week is also alive and well Down Under.

I love Australia, warts and all. But people like you, I'm sorry to say, make it less attractive than it might otherwise be. And as far as being 'worthy' of it - puh-lease.

I've wasted enough time on you. React all you want. Just react appropriately. And get out of my face.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:06 AM on September 18, 2001

Summer, you try being called racist, xenophobic and genocidal and see how 'touchy' it makes you. A titch overcritical? Please!

I'm British. Charges of racism, xenophobia and genocide are nothing to me. We get blamed for the worlds ills on a daily basis. Plus I know a lot of Australians and they're all very, very touchy.
posted by Summer at 4:00 AM on September 18, 2001

Good grief, this thread certainly has degenerated a bit. So has recent politicking in Australia.

Danielle_T: Perhaps Australians would feel a little more open to letting more refugees enter our country (such as ones like these) if we weren't inundated with ones who were entering illegally, threatening those who saved their lives

Bill Clinton was in Australia recently giving a speech at a charity dinner (alas, I cannot remember the specifics and have therefore not been able to track down a link). During the speech, he mentioned that he had been asked in the press for his views on the Tampa affair. Being the diplomat he is, he refused to be drawn directly on the matter but pointed out that Australia possibly needed to redefine the scope of their worries on such issues.

He pointed out that as global warming increases and ocean levels rise, the 2000 or so illegal immigrants that now land ashore each year in Australia may, within our lifetimes rise by a factor of as much as a hundred.

Of course, it is up to Australia what it does with its borders (and indeed they are making illegal entry by boat more difficult as we speak). Perhaps what pisses off the international community is that Australian politicians seemed to imply in their early rhetoric (when talk was of the Tampa, not the Manoora affair that this has now become) that Australia was some sort of a promised land under threat by hordes of illegal immigrants when really, it isn't.

Australia has a large number of refugees. Places like Tanzania, Pakistan and Iran and many others (just check out the UNHCR site and the USCR site for more figures for any country in the world) are the ones being truely inundated.

Yes it would be great if all refugees could be checked out before they got to where they seek refuge, but to be honest, in the middle of a war zone or if you are being persued by the secret police, or enduring famine and extreme poverty, you are hardly going to sit around waiting for that letter from the immigration department before you flee are you?


Jubey: Don't hide behind anonymity. If you want to be in this gang, play nice. Oh, and by the way, putting an email address in your profile is common courtesy, especially if you're going to throw insults around.
posted by davehat at 8:22 AM on September 18, 2001

Thanks David, for bringing us back on topic. Apologies all 'round for getting heated.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:30 AM on September 18, 2001

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