"Nobody on the outside believed how bad it was in there."
February 7, 2014 4:03 PM   Subscribe

A former Serco (previously) employee tells of his experience working as a guard in the Australian refugee detention centers, illustrated by cartoonist Sam Wallman.
posted by Pope Guilty (65 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
 
That's messed up.

This hit me particularly hard for some reason.
posted by figurant at 4:17 PM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Damn, this was really really good but I wish it couldn't exist.
posted by nushustu at 4:56 PM on February 7, 2014


This company legitimately sounds like lexcorp or umbrella corp or something.

Like, it's so gigantic and pervasive and lumberingly nihilistically evil that it seems like something that could only exist in a work of fiction.
posted by emptythought at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2014 [10 favorites]


Wow, jarringly great end sequence after a powerful story.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Detention is part of Australia's border protection. If we didn't protect our borders, we'd have a massive flow of people into the country and our quality of life would decline."

Ugh. It's one world and we all have to live in it. Why can't this be different?
posted by limeonaire at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


Very well illustrated.
posted by Kabanos at 5:15 PM on February 7, 2014


Ugh. That was really well done.

"Detention is part of Australia's border protection. If we didn't protect our borders, we'd have a massive flow of people into the country and our quality of life would decline."

Yeah. If only we hadn't welcomed all those Vietnamese people who arrived by boats in the 1970s. We wouldn't have to put up with the many amazing doctors, scientists, comedians, writers, cooks, teachers, etc that they became or parented.

The inhumane attitudes of many Australian politicians and some members of the public disgust me.
posted by Kerasia at 5:24 PM on February 7, 2014 [20 favorites]


Thank for this. The only reason as an American that I have heard anything about Australian refugee issues is that Metafilter exposed me to rappers The Herd, who are great.
posted by steinsaltz at 5:41 PM on February 7, 2014


Antony Loewenstein's Profits of Doom is good on this.
posted by Ahab at 6:02 PM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


limeonaire: Ugh. It's one world and we all have to live in it. Why can't this be different?

Well, consider the number of poor people who'd like to move there to find opportunity (huge), and the population of Australia (small). If they were to totally open their borders, I bet they'd be literally outnumbered by the immigrants within five years.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:29 PM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's no reason these people must be treated like meaningless garbage, though..
posted by bird internet at 6:39 PM on February 7, 2014


"The only thing that's different is the clothes we let them wear"
Sadly true.
posted by variella at 6:42 PM on February 7, 2014


bird internet: There's no reason these people must be treated like meaningless garbage, though..

Well, clearly not, and I don't agree with how people are being treated in these centers. However, I think it's fair to say that open borders for Australia are not a realistic option. Southeast Asia has a major poverty problem and something like a hundred times Australia's population - they would just get swamped.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:44 PM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Southeast Asia has a major poverty problem and something like a hundred times Australia's population - they would just get swamped."

Is that a good argument for One World Government?
posted by artof.mulata at 7:04 PM on February 7, 2014


Why do people not believe bad things? They believe they're going to die, right? That's like, the worst, right? So, if the worst is definitely going to happen, why would something not quite as bad definitely be false even in the face of (albeit anecdotal) evidence?
posted by 3FLryan at 7:33 PM on February 7, 2014


They believe they're going to die, right?

I don't know half the people I see seem to be planning on living forever.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:50 PM on February 7, 2014


3FLryan

Dying is feared, but unavoidable and universal. Something terrible that you hear about is likely avoidable in some way, or, at least, not unavoidable and, hence, possibly untrue. And that's what some people to choose to believe.
posted by the sobsister at 7:53 PM on February 7, 2014


Mitrovarr: "overrun by immigrants"? Because the English colonizing settlers didn't overrun them enough? What the hell?

And guess who instigated the issues that led to them fleeing in the first place? Colonization, yay!

(the Australian immigration system is horrible even as someone who does it "properly". Considering the constant rule changes and general fuckery I'm not surprised people end up bypassing the system. Seeking asylum is legal. Nobody is illegal.)
posted by divabat at 7:57 PM on February 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


Because the English colonizing settlers didn't overrun them enough? What the hell?

And guess who instigated the issues that led to them fleeing in the first place?


That's a bit facile. First specify the particular "they" and then we can work backwards. The migrants' impulses are many and varied and not one hundred percent traceable to Evil White Guys and colonialists.

In any event, here's an account (and jpeg) of where they're coming from, which gives a little context.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:18 PM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


This company legitimately sounds like lexcorp or umbrella corp or something.


Hey- it has always been the position of the LexGroup of companies that everyone has a valid contribution to make to the global society of the 21st century; and that the barriers that we place in their way - not just institutional barriers, but those that are based in ignorance and prejudice, and those that cross those lines - diminish both those who seek to make a new life for themselves, as well as those who should welcome the contributions of enthusiastic new citizens.



Unless they are aliens from Krypton. That's totally different.
posted by Alexander J. Luthor at 8:22 PM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Because the English colonizing settlers didn't overrun them enough? What the hell?
So come all you jolly young fellows,
I'll have you take warning by me,
Whenever you're out on the liquor,
Beware of the pretty Colleen.
She'll fill you with whiskey and porter,
Until you're not able to stand,
And the very next thing that you'll know,
You're landed in Van Diemen's Land.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:23 PM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah. If only we hadn't welcomed all those Vietnamese people who arrived by boats in the 1970s. We wouldn't have to put up with the many amazing doctors, scientists, comedians, writers, cooks, teachers, etc that they became or parented.

The inhumane attitudes of many Australian politicians and some members of the public disgust me.
posted by Kerasia at 5:24 PM on February 7 [7 favorites +] [!]


Same Kerasia. I live in North Richmond, Melbourne, where a lot of those Vietnamese people were settled. What a terrible terrible thing it was to take them in. Clearly a mistake that should never be made again.

Sigh. More than a hundred years on and people who probably interact with refugees several times a year without even realising it are still getting their knickers in a knot about the yellow peril.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:42 PM on February 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


If they were to totally open their borders, I bet they'd be literally outnumbered by the immigrants within five years.

Why should us citizens of Australia be so especially privileged, that we deserve such wealth and perpetual low population density, relative to people who happened to have been born elsewhere?

I don't really see how any moral person can hold onto what's essentially saying "This here is a rich country, all you poor people will spoil it for us, you weren't lucky enough to be born here so fuck off."
posted by Jimbob at 10:15 PM on February 7, 2014 [14 favorites]


Particularly since the vast majority of people who crow "fuck off we're full" in my experience has been from people whose ancestors came on boats and forcibly settled themselves on the island, displacing many indigenous cultures along the way.
posted by divabat at 11:29 PM on February 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


Fuck, those are stunning illustrations.
posted by this is a thing at 11:31 PM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jimbob: Saying that totally gives the argument away to the "We'll be swamped" people, because it accepts the premise that there will be unlimited immigration until the standard of living is reduced to a global average. If you accept that premise, you will never convince people that immigration is a good thing, because you are never going to win a majority of people over to a "voluntarily slash our standard of living" platform regardless of the morality of it.
posted by Grimgrin at 12:47 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Saying that totally gives the argument away to the "We'll be swamped" people

I'd rather present a moral, fair, humanistic position that's honest, than try to have my cake and eat it too. The problem with the "We'll be swamped" people is not the claim that we'll be swamped. It's that they are implicitly stating that their lives, as Australians, are worth more than the life of someone from Sri Lanka or Iran or Afghanistan. I don't believe that. I believe that all people on the planet deserve the same opportunities and freedoms and, indeed, the same rights to move across the face of the earth as best benefits them. Since I believe that, I can't in good conscience support keeping anyone out.
posted by Jimbob at 1:21 AM on February 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


You can see this attitude, by the way, from our very own defense minister who today stated that claims of abuse by asylum seekers shouldn't be believed because "they're not even Australian".
posted by Jimbob at 1:24 AM on February 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


you are never going to win a majority of people over to a "voluntarily slash our standard of living" platform

Of course not. That has to be forced on the majority by government assisted corporate capitalism.
posted by de at 1:28 AM on February 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Serco have prison contracts all over Australia.
They keep letting people escape.
Or, you know, cooking people alive (although, to be fair, that was the once).

I am tend to back the "we can't afford to be swamped" argument*, always have done, and I generally controls on immigration to ensure we can have sustainable population growth and to ensure we have good bio-security (the quantum of those numbers is iffy, since I think we have too many damn people anyway, and where they are is too small to cope), but I have always hated Fuck Off We're Full thinking. (It's a popular bumper sticker/ window decal here for those who don't know. This is the more common version, for those who hate to say fuck.

We don't have boundless plains to share, but we have a hell of a lot more space than we use.

And, for those few people who do get from over-crowded Indonesia on leaky boats to Australia, we say "so much as spit and you're out".

I really am not a fan of this government on this and many issues.

(*Although, to look at Lebanon or Jordan and their issue with Syrians, and my god we look like utter cunts).
posted by Mezentian at 3:38 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ugh, as an Australian I feel utterly shamed by this. Great post, thanks. Devastating.
posted by Wolof at 4:39 AM on February 8, 2014


Sam Wallman is one of Australia's best comic makers at the moment. His work just gets into the heart of things and makes you aware of depths and facets you didn't even know existed. Such a gentle soul who weilds a pen with such anger but also a great amount of love. Such love. This piece had me in tears.
posted by HarveyDenture at 5:07 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


As Australia likes to contribute as much as possible to global climate change it seems only fair that they should accept climate refugees at the very least.
posted by asok at 6:58 AM on February 8, 2014


I think it's fair to say that open borders for Australia are not a realistic option.

I am so fucking sick of hearing this line wheeled out. Anybody who actually believes that there's a hard and fast choice between being completely fucking inhumane to every refugee who arrives here on a boat without papers, and opening the borders to the point where our population explodes into unsustainability... well, I have only three words for people like that. One is "stupid", the next I've used twice already in this paragraph, and the third is one of the few I'd get comments deleted here just for using and it starts with C.

We let in an order of magnitude more non-refugees than refugees, all the while pissing and moaning and spreading lies about being overrun and taken advantage of. The simple fact is that the overwhelming majority of the people we have decided deserve to be fucked up in these detention centres are subsequently found to be genuine refugees with a perfectly legitimate right to protection here under the UN Refugee Convention. Given how hard we work at denying these people any semblance of access to legitimate representation, that's a truly remarkable result.

It's bad enough when Labor is in power. With the toffee-nosed school bullies back in charge of the tuck shop, ably assisted by their broadcast media toadies Bolt, Jones and Hadley and the pack of supercilious pricks and wankers who write for the Murdoch press here, being Australian in 2014 is just a fucking shame job.
posted by flabdablet at 8:38 AM on February 8, 2014 [17 favorites]


It's not numbers alone that determine quality of life - there are countries much denser than the Australia that are doing OK. It's a complex interplay of resource distribution, privileging certain groups over others, access restrictions.

Personally I hate the "population growth will ruin us all!" because too often it means "brown people need to stop breeding and migrating!" rather than "white people need to stop being so greedy and learn to share!".

When the brouhaha over Tony Abbot electing himself Minister of Women's Affairs happened I looked to see who had held the position of Minister of Immigration. Two had come over with their families from the UK, one may have been indigenous (i couldn't tell from his bio), the rest were White Australians who have never had to fill an extensive immigration form in his life. And yet they're the one messing with the rules every year.

At least my Student Guild, for all its faults, had the sense to elect an actual international student for the International Students seat.
posted by divabat at 10:54 AM on February 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


divabat: Personally I hate the "population growth will ruin us all!" because too often it means "brown people need to stop breeding and migrating!" rather than "white people need to stop being so greedy and learn to share!".

What personally bothers me is when people assume that the only reason anyone could ever be against unchecked immigration is racism.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:03 PM on February 8, 2014


Racism underpins a lot of the rhetoric against immigration - the notion that anyone can be "illegal", the focus on particular types of immigrants over others, the reluctance to check the institutions of immigration themselves and instead put the focus on the people trying to get by in a hostile world. It's largely "we don't want Your Kind here, and we'll justify all sorts of reasons why Your Kind is undesirable, while ignoring the people that are closer to Our Kind but may be committing the same crimes we accuse Your Kind of doing".

I have been a migrant twice or three times over (if you count the mess that is trying to get Malaysian citizenship despite being born and raised in that country). I'm deeply interested in and affected by immigration politics. Everything I've encountered that talks about "unchecked immigration", no matter what side of the political spectrum they're on, is based on racism and colonization and xenophobia. And it's almost always spouted by people who never had to deal with systems of immigration the way many immigrants like myself do.

And I'm one of the lucky ones. My family has money and class privilege. We get to mitigate the worst of the system - and even then that often takes pulling strings or constant followup or a shit-ton of resources. Refugees, asylum seekers, poor people - they're not going to have the same amount of resources, time, knowledge, money. They're not going to necessarily be able to check the DIAC/BC website before they get on that boat to see that oh, Australia's going to automatically send boats to PNG now (WTF was that idea anyway, I didn't pay hundreds of dollars in visa fees so you could enact such a horrible idea), they're not going to necessarily have the time to hound their migration agent for updates, they're not going to necessarily be able to still live and pay rent even though their bridging visa means no one will ever hire them because they're too much of a risk even though it's legal for them to do so, they're not going to necessarily be able to hunt down police clearances for every country they've lived in for at least a year in less then 28 days after their PR application hasn't had a case manager for half a year and figure out what to do when the Australian government wants a US State police clearance but the US state you're in says that's illegal.

All that bureaucracy, all that red tape, all the arbitrary rule changes that come in every six months to a year that aren't rooted in reality and are enacted by people who have no idea what they're dealing with. Policies that came about without actually asking any immigrants or international students or migrant labor or dependent spouses or whatever. If the Ministers and Departments even bothered to ask and listen we would have a much MUCH fairer Immigration system. How is applying the Prison Industrial Complex to asylum systems at all fair or justified?

You want checks on immigration? Check the system.
posted by divabat at 11:38 PM on February 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


What personally bothers me is when people assume that the only reason anyone could ever be against unchecked immigration is racism.

I agree, for what it's worth, but the sad fact that too often it is. And given how low population, it's not hard to create the perception of "being swamped", especially with a government and sections of the media whipping people up into a frenzy somewhere just short of forming a pogrom. 15 years ago it was unusual to see a really dark-skinned African in my 'hood. Five years after that there were two African cafes and a media panic about Sudanese gangs with machetes.

These days, if I drive past one of the churches of a Sunday morning (and some Saturdays) it's practically little Sudan (or wherever they're from). Radical change like that scares people.

30 years before that John Howard was warning about being swamped by the unchecked hordes of Asian. Before that we had Vietnamese boat people, and before that our post-war populate or perish thing, and even then people were worried about Greeks and "I-ties" coming in and stealing our jerbs. (Although, to be fair if we had turned back the boats we'd have been spared the worst of the 1980s "Wog Comedy*", but we'd have lost the rich work of Lou Interligi. And I wouldn't have an Asian convenience store or 19 within walking distance and my ethnic dining choices would be limited to the esoteric Pizza Hut italian or Chinese takeaway.

Not that I know how we can control population growth and immigration in a sustainable way. We're already running out of water, but I am pretty sure against a backdrop of Stop The Boats we can't even begin to have mature conversation.

(Meanwhile, it looks like Serco has bungled again).

* I know it's a more offensive term outside Australia, but you can take it up with them.
posted by Mezentian at 11:41 PM on February 8, 2014


How is applying the Prison Industrial Complex to asylum systems at all fair or justified?

This way.

(Well, you asked how they justify it).
posted by Mezentian at 11:43 PM on February 8, 2014


Well, I suppose I meant "just" more than "justified". I've heard all the common rhetoric - I get it yelled into my face especially during election season. Along with stupid questions about whether it's true that I get a free car and mansion on arrival, no thanks Today Tonight.

Population Control: Environmentalism or Racism? (via Socialist Alliance, the article focuses on anti-capitalism)

The ‘New’ Population Control Craze: Retro, Racist, Wrong Way to Go (by activist and writer Betsy Hartman, who works with women's health, development, and climate change)

There's also a similar article written by a group associated with Native Americans or First Nations people in some way shape or form, but I can't seem to find that now.
posted by divabat at 11:53 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


You forgot the bit where you get preference of the mansions from cash-poor pensioners, such as veterans who fought and died for this country and are now forced to sleep on the streets, while you're busy sneakily turning entire shopping malls into Little China, while kicking out white shop-keepers and requiring that street signs be in Japanese (I remember that one from the 1980s).

(Unlike Jones, TT or ACA I check my stories, but I did write that they died. Silly me).

I have said times I sympathise with the slow and low population growth idea (and I am not sure about the position those links start from, but it doesn't matter), but we're a nation of 25 million with some 250 million people on our doorstep in Indonesia alone.

If our neighbours want living space, there's zip we can really do about it except be polite, kind, and look at ways we can manage a sustainable level population growth.

I couldn't find any work on what the maximum population Australia can support is (assuming the high standard of living we enjoy remains the same) but this suggests we are on track for 30 million by 2050 (well below Rudd's Big Australia 50 million), a population growth of 2.4%, while our chums at Sustainable Population Australia say that a rate of 1.8% pa is too damn high and that "every new person, whether migrant or baby born here, requires at least $200,000 in infrastructure.” (Interestingly, they want a cut to skilled migration, while increasing humanitarian intake).

Tim Flannery, Australian of the Year 2007, calculated a long-term carrying capacity of between 8 million and 12 million and the Tim Flannery, Australian of the Year 2007, calculated a long-term carrying capacity of between 8 million and 12 million says about 23 million.

All of which has nothing to do with Serco.
But it's okay. It's not our problem. We're just going to pack everyone off to PNG, a land of milk and honey, a healthy economy, acres of space, no history of internecine violence and really strong institutions.
posted by Mezentian at 12:28 AM on February 9, 2014


Interestingly, they want a cut to skilled migration, while increasing humanitarian intake

Which will never get support from business in this country, because God knows nobody we've consigned to a Serco gulag could possibly have skills; these people are in the "illegals" category, not the "skilled migrants" category, and therefore incapable of contributing in any way whatsoever, by definition. Of no possible value. Ever. Obviously.

Excuse me while I step outside and scream the C word at the moon for a while.
posted by flabdablet at 5:10 AM on February 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Man, you are going to hate the next 2.5 years, or 5.5 years, or 8.5 years.
Best get it out now, before July when the fun begins.
posted by Mezentian at 6:06 AM on February 9, 2014


July's only redeeming feature will be the advent of Palmer in the Senate. Obviously a huge setback for anything approaching a sane climate change policy, but he has been known to opine that what we need to be buying in Indonesia is not fishing boats but Qantas tickets for asylum seekers, and watching him jump on every possible opportunity to fuck Tony Abbott over in public for purely spiteful personal reasons will at least be entertaining.

And you never know. Albo might get an opportunity to knife Shorten. One lives in hope.
posted by flabdablet at 6:15 AM on February 9, 2014


What an excellent cartoon. Usually these panel-by-panel things just drive me nuts, but he really uses the borderless format very well.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:16 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Apparently the Australian government liked the idea of a comic - they have produced their own. It's propaganda designed to show would-be immigrants that Australia is hideous and they will never be happy there so don't even try it.
posted by koeselitz at 1:47 PM on February 12, 2014


Clearly the comic works!
There may or may not have been any "incursions" for 50 days.
Actually, the Senate demanded some info that was due by midday. I should see what happened to that.

Operation Sovereign Borders: health panel sacked over fears of media leaks

Serco and the West Australian hospital with no patients

Meanwhile .... Greg Hunt set to grant himself retrospective legal immunity, the same Minister who wants to remove protection for Tasmanaia's World Heritage forests.

And, just for laughs: Christopher Pyne attacks Labor for 'ungentlemanly' behaviour.

posted by Mezentian at 10:58 PM on February 12, 2014


Nobody is illegal.

What does this even mean? I get how it's a nice sounding slogan and I get it's meant to be a retort to referring to illegal immigrants as "illegals". But is there any thought to it past that? Universal open borders? If you're rejecting the concept immigration law, just say that. If not, it's just really self-satisfied rhetoric that doesn't say anything.
posted by spaltavian at 8:27 PM on February 22, 2014


I'm on the phone so I can't look up links now, and I'm not sure where it started exactly, but "nobody is illegal" was an especially prominent rallying cry by activists of undocumented and refugee migrants in the US in the past year. I've seen it largely used to refer to refugees & asylum seekers, which technically *are not illegal anywhere* due to international treaties.
posted by divabat at 11:44 PM on February 22, 2014


What does this even mean? I get how it's a nice sounding slogan and I get it's meant to be a retort to referring to illegal immigrants as "illegals".

It means that the UN Convention on Refugees says that it is perfectly legal for a refugee to turn up in any signatory nation by any means and ask for asylum there, whether or not they've been given explicit individual permission to do so.

A refugee is not an illegal immigrant, even though there are and should be laws against bringing boats across borders by stealth. The illegality is in the act of bringing a boat across the border, not in the act of turning up in one in order to seek asylum. People smugglers are breaking Australian law; the overwhelming majority of the people they bring here are not.

Note well that Government spokespeople are always very careful to use the phrase "illegal boat arrivals" rather than "illegal immigrants", though they are of course perfectly happy to let Alan Jones et al perpetuate the pernicious myth that these phrases mean the same thing.
posted by flabdablet at 4:10 AM on February 23, 2014


Universal open borders? If you're rejecting the concept immigration law, just say that.

Again, the choice is not and never has been between locking up asylum seekers on the one hand and universal open borders on the other. Refugees comprise under a tenth of the migrants to this country. There is plenty of scope within immigration policy to allow a huge increase in our refugee intake without making any difference at all to overall immigration numbers.
posted by flabdablet at 4:12 AM on February 23, 2014


the UN Convention on Refugees says that it is perfectly legal for a refugee to turn up in any signatory nation by any means and ask for asylum there

By the way, the morally bankrupt governments in this country have attempted to make it damn near impossible to do this by excising all of Australia from its own migration zone.

No, this makes no sense whatsoever.
posted by flabdablet at 4:23 AM on February 23, 2014


I dealt with this upthread, I am sure.
It is illegal to enter Australian territory without permission.
It is not illegal to request asylum on doing so.

There is plenty of scope within immigration policy to allow a huge increase in our refugee intake without making any difference at all to overall immigration numbers.

As we have seen, the more that are let in, the more will come. The more who come (by "illegal" boat, the more who will potentially die at sea. The more who attempt to come, the more who will arrive and will need to be settled here.

I don't have the answers, but Australia seems to have dealt with the same issue in the '70s with the Vietnamese, so there is obviously a long-term solution if we think beyond the electoral cycle (ha!).

So, in summation, we're a pretty shitty nation just now. I'd almost long for TPVs if I didn't remember when we sent people back to Afghanistan or Sri Lanka.

No, this makes no sense whatsoever.

I'm actually shocked in the decade or so since we did that there hasn't been a successful legal argument based around the "BUT IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE" angle.
posted by Mezentian at 5:10 AM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is illegal to enter Australian territory without permission.

Maybe so, but it's also against international law to punish a refugee for doing so which pretty much makes their breach of entry regulations moot.

Given that the vast majority of those who arrive here seeking asylum are (eventually!) assessed as refugees, that means that subjecting those people to arbitrary detention for an unreasonable and indeterminate period is absolutely against international law regardless of what the weasels in Canberra and the fuckwits on 2GB would prefer we all believed.
posted by flabdablet at 8:50 AM on February 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


divabat: I'm on the phone so I can't look up links now, and I'm not sure where it started exactly, but "nobody is illegal" was an especially prominent rallying cry by activists of undocumented and refugee migrants in the US in the past year.

And earlier; like I said, I'm not unfamiliar with the term. I'm asking if there is anything more there than a feel good slogan.

I've seen it largely used to refer to refugees & asylum seekers, which technically *are not illegal anywhere* due to international treaties.

Except you said no one is illegal. So what are you saying; unrestricted open borders? Or are you just talking about asylum seekers, so you accept some have immigrated illegally? I don't know about Australia, but most American immigration is economic, not refugees.

flabdablet: the UN Convention on Refugees says that it is perfectly legal for a refugee to turn up in any signatory nation by any means and ask for asylum there

Evaluation of the asylum claims are left to the signatory nations; international law doesn't override national policies in practice or even de jure, really. And again, that only applies to asylum seekers.
posted by spaltavian at 2:46 PM on February 23, 2014


"No one is illegal" is a slogan I've only ever heard used by refugee activists in the context of discussions about asylum seekers, and it's perfectly clear to me that it's nothing more than an attempt to push back against the persistent government/media trope of referring to those people as "illegal immigrants" when in fact they're no such thing.

If it's used differently where you live then I guess you might have reason to object to that, but I would personally prefer that you not do so in a thread specifically about the egregious mistreatment of refugees arriving in Australia.
posted by flabdablet at 5:02 PM on February 23, 2014


Also: international law sets up a framework of expectations about how civilised countries ought to behave. To the extent that national legislation conflicts with international law, that legislation is uncivilised and ought to be changed.
posted by flabdablet at 5:05 PM on February 23, 2014


Evaluation of the asylum claims are left to the signatory nations

and if the vast majority of the people we lock up for arriving by boat were not in fact refugees, that might be vaguely relevant.

These people risk their lives on shitty boats - boats well known to have a high chance of killing them - to come here. That in itself is a measure of how desperate they must be to make that choice. As refugees, they are entitled to life and freedom. We deny them their freedom on an arbitrary and capricious basis, in some cases for long enough that they take their own lives; and we refuse them entry even though the UN convention to which we are a signatory obliges us to grant it. There is no morally defensible basis for us to do those things.

If our policy makers actually gave two hoots about the lives of the people whose drowning provokes their crocodile tears, they'd work with Indonesia to set up Australian Government offices in that country where people could turn up without fear of retaliation to obtain safe transport to Australia for assessment of an asylum claim. They'd also reverse the Howard Government policy of taking direct asylum applicant numbers into account when capping the number of refugees we accept via UNHCR processing. And they'd put all other immigration applications behind refugees in the currently nonexistent "queue".

They don't do these things because they care far more about providing an ongoing supply of pre-trained workers to big businesses who can't be arsed setting up sustainable training programs here, and because it's politically convenient to own the xenophobia vote. As always, as everywhere, the lives of those in need are not considered as important as the continued ability of the wealthy to swing their enormous dicks.
posted by flabdablet at 5:25 PM on February 23, 2014




Mr De Luca and Minh said they wanted to thank Australian consular officials in Vietnam for their support and to acknowledge Mr Morrison for encouraging Minh to resubmit a visa application.

Naturally, it would not have occurred to that merciless fucker just to pick up the phone to Immigration and order them to issue one. No, first we have to make the suspicious yellow person jump through more bureaucratic hoops. It's the Australian way.
posted by flabdablet at 11:12 PM on February 23, 2014


I had to chuckle when I heard that Morrison is going to widen the terms of the Manus inquiry to determine how Manus was set up under labor. This govt loves a finger-pointin' inquiry even though it was the rodent that actually sent the first poor sods there

Labor the dumb fucks never miss an opportunity to claim policy dibs whenever Morrison trumpets the lack of boats.
posted by mattoxic at 11:21 PM on February 23, 2014




Malcolm Fraser's piece in today's Age is spot-on as well.
posted by flabdablet at 6:07 PM on February 24, 2014


We probably all know what has happened since, but the ABC pointed out that the guy who runs Manus Island is an ex-Sri Lankan military, which doesn't bode well for Tamil asylum seekers.
I mean, he might be a stand-up guy, but it doesn't look good.

The Government REALLY doesn't want people to know what it going on.

There is other stuff we can all read, but this is a clusterfuck of massive proportions.

It's not like anyone who is even remotely familiar with PNG could have told you what might happen.


Malcolm Fraser's piece in today's Age is spot-on as well.

A word where Malcom Fraser is right... doesn't seem right. Which means the world has been broken for a long time.
posted by Mezentian at 5:25 AM on February 25, 2014


FWIW this is a FB account of the riots.
posted by Mezentian at 6:13 AM on February 25, 2014


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