Don't need a cure, need a final solution
August 14, 2015 5:02 AM   Subscribe

First you had changing the Australian migration zone, then the Pacific Solution, and then boat turnbacks (and paying people smugglers for the same - a policy supported by both major parties), and then a murder in custody on Manus Island, and then allegations of rape, trafficking and traumatising children (some of whom try to hang themselves at 6yo) and spying on parliamentary oversight, and now a whistleblower says staff members at the Australian detention centre on Nauru - "a diverse workforce and provides continuing cultural awareness training" - employed waterboarding on asylum-seekers.

Yeah, and New Zealand, try not to look too smug.

Bonus:
Fun fact, if you search "wilson security waterboarding nauru" in DuckDuckGo you end up here.

Also, no Freedom-brand food bars. Ever.

Asylum-seekers are offered resettlement in the paradise of PNG, or indefinite detention. There is no other choice.
posted by Mezentian (31 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Australian Parliament is a huge joke at the moment. It makes me wonder who is actually running the country rather than keeping score.
posted by unliteral at 5:22 AM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


PS: I should have included the word tragic before joke.
posted by unliteral at 5:26 AM on August 14, 2015


What the fuck is wrong with Australia?

Also, is this a manufactured asylum-seekers crisis or a real thing? If a real thing, why has it only recently become such a huge issue?
posted by leotrotsky at 5:32 AM on August 14, 2015


Just this morning, I was reading this piece in the Guardian by Ben Doherty. The most terrifying thing is that the whole world seems to be heading down this path. It's as if we'd never heard of the Nazis for crying out loud.
posted by Myeral at 5:37 AM on August 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


I live in Fortitude valley, Brisbane. Within walking distance I can get Vietnamese pho, Japanese sushi, Turkish kebabs and German bratwurst hotdogs with sauerkraut. All authentically made by second and third generation immigrants from those countries we were once at war with.

This wasn't always a partisan issue. I recall Andrew Peacock lamenting how immigration wasn't always a political issue. During his active career, we had such a influx of Vietnamese refuges we welcomed with open arms, going far beyond our territorial waters to rescue these desperate people. Some of the stories of survival they tell are truly heart breaking.

This changed in the 1990s with the arrival of Pauline Hanson, a xenophobic nationalist exploiting the usual fears. She coined the term 'asian invasion', and surprisingly her One Nation party won votes and got seats.

John Howard looked upon this with envious eyes. He toned down the zeal, and replaced 'asian invasion' with 'boat people'. In time for the election, it was reported that 'boat people' were throwing their children overboard when being greeted by our navy in hope of rescue. This thoroughly demonized them and he won the election. The 'children overboard' story later proved to be untrue.

Nowadays the narrative is that immigrants are either terrorists or freeloaders, never actual refuges. Xenophobia has become a political tool in our country. People act shocked when there are race riots, but that's what happens when the government itself is telling you immigrants don't belong here.

I'm glad I can choose between Indian or Mexican for dinner tonight, but just thinking of where we are and how we got here, I think I've lost my appetite.
posted by adept256 at 5:45 AM on August 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


What is the time frame for 'recently'? This has been building for years.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 5:50 AM on August 14, 2015


Yeah, saying it all started in the 1990's with One Notion is a bit simplistic. Another recent piece in the Grauniad puts it back to 1977, and I'd tend to roughly agree. There certainly wasn't a lot of love for Vietnamese refugees initially (although the Government-supported public xenophobia is definitely a more recent development).
posted by Pinback at 5:56 AM on August 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was going to start off with the whole state of Aussie politics, but it is just relentless. We are being exhausted with wave after wave of bad government. I want to just slip under the froth and spray and find some calm, quiet grave for myself on the ocean floor. We used to be surfers.

What happened to our beautiful, strong country? We were skeptics and rogues, now we're all tangled up in slippery weeds of investment property mortgages and being soothed by cooking and reno shows as our wages stagnate and full time jobs dry up. We've been taken hook, line and sinker by conmen of no particular skill because we've been so wrapped up in all that other bullshit, when what we should have been doing is watching them, calling them out, marching in the streets and ... oh ffs. Even if we march today, what damage is done will take decades to undo.

And then this, silencing the whistleblowers and allowing the continued abuse of children in detention. These are the evilest bastards to ever "represent" us.

Let me drown, let climate change sink this island and maybe in a million years it will re-emerge with some more advanced species upon it and they might not fuck it all up quite so badly.
posted by Raunchy 60s Humour at 5:56 AM on August 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


For those wondering about the state of the problem I've heard the figure of about 40,000 refugees have attempted to come here by boat in the past 15 years, to about 50,000 who have illegally overstayed their visas after arriving by plane annually.
If there is a real crisis in the number of people we take, it's not about boat arrivals.
But how convenient for every pollie that there's a rich vein of racism simmering away that they can capitalise on politically.
posted by Raunchy 60s Humour at 6:06 AM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, is this a manufactured asylum-seekers crisis or a real thing?

A bit of both.
It's a "real thing" from a certain point of view, but also a manufactured.

I've heard the figure of about 40,000 refugees have attempted to come here by boat in the past 15 years, to about 50,000 who have illegally overstayed their visas after arriving by plane annually.

I believe 50,000 asylum seekers have arrived on Kos, Greece, since the start of the year.

For context.
posted by Mezentian at 6:19 AM on August 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Is this the recruiting centre for IS?
posted by infini at 6:33 AM on August 14, 2015


Yeah, saying it all started in the 1990's with One Notion is a bit simplistic. Another recent piece in the Grauniad puts it back to 1977, and I'd tend to roughly agree.

Doesn't it actually have its roots in the White Austrialia policy of even earlier?
posted by infini at 6:35 AM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Final solution" is a rather aggressive phrase for this situation. It's commonly used to evoke the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" implemented by the Third Reich during the Second World War.

Australia may not be a human rights paragon here, but they aren't quite committing genocide yet, are they?
posted by theorique at 6:39 AM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Pacific Solution is the name given to the Australian government policy of transporting asylum seekers to detention centres on island nations in the Pacific Ocean, rather than allowing them to land on the Australian mainland.

You're right, it really is a poor name for a policy of sending children to remote secretive camps with no hope of release.
posted by adept256 at 6:44 AM on August 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


"Final solution" is a rather aggressive phrase for this situation

Context (remix) for the title, but the whole Pacific/Final solution has been noted since the called it the Pacific Solution.
posted by Mezentian at 6:45 AM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


"and paying people smugglers for the same"

I don't know if you're new to illegal immigration, Australia, but you don't pay the coyotes. They are literally the worst people in the entire world. This part just boggles my mind, it is an absolutely terrible idea. Why on earth would you incentivize the journey BOTH WAYS?

I understand why large waves of low-skilled immigrants are not as easy to absorb as they were in the days of factory assembly lines and 40-acre farms, but it really bothers me how many immigrants we English-speaking immigrant nations are turning away. Why are the Yazidi and Rohyinga not ALREADY resettled in rapidly-depopulating rural Nebraska or somewhere? Because the world is balls lately, that's why.

(I mean I get it if you'd rather stay and fight for your homeland, that's fine, but if you'd rather come have a NEW homeland, we have got all these lovely big states with not that many people in them, the Sudanese refugees are quite enjoying The Indiana (as they call it) and praise its vast natural beauty and open spaces.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:49 AM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, is this a manufactured asylum-seekers crisis or a real thing?

The refugee problem is a complication of climate change. And all signs point to it getting a lot worse very soon. The Syrian civil war leads to Calais. The drought in California is happening in Mexico too. I'm glad I'm old sometimes.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:50 AM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


. Why on earth would you incentivize the journey BOTH WAYS?

To stop deaths at sea, we must prolong deaths at sea.
posted by Mezentian at 6:51 AM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Context (remix) for the title, but the whole Pacific/Final solution has been noted since the called it the Pacific Solution.

Ah, didn't get the musical reference - thanks!
posted by theorique at 7:01 AM on August 14, 2015


Not going to be smug until later on today (hopefully).

Seriously though this shut sucks.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:12 AM on August 14, 2015


In a concluding chapter to his book CONSILIENCE, the biologist E.O. Wilson stated that the two biggest problems that will confront the world in the near future would be
1. drinkable water for many people and nations
2. massive immigration as people flee from lands unable to sustain life because of wars, famine, disease, to lands where their families might survive. This will present many conflicts.

Also to be noted: demographics now indicate that Africa will lead in a huge population growth in the years ahead, and Africa is one of the big regions that people are fleeing from
posted by Postroad at 7:15 AM on August 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. It made me follow down a rabbit hole of articles, each one more depressing than the other, but this one really took the cake. Quoting the submission of a former Save the Children worker to the Senate inquiry, regarding guards having sex with detainees (emphasis mine):
    “I was told that this [sexual favours] was acknowledged in management meetings between service providers and that it was also established that these acts had been filmed and circulated around Wilson [Security]'s staff. I was also told that because prostitution is legal on Nauru that no action was being taken against the staff members involved."
How. Fucking. Convenient.
You detain a bunch of people, provide shabby basic resources and allow their guards to allocate discretionary privileges. Then when the guards demand sex in return for e.g. shower time (!), the management goes "*shrug* well, there's no law against prostitution"?
The... vileness. It's breathtaking.
posted by sively at 8:01 AM on August 14, 2015 [17 favorites]


I did forget to mention that Wilson, in Australia, are best known for running car parks.

I am not sure how to translate that internationally.

I'd not heard the sex, lies and videotape angle before sively, and not to absolve our Best Government Ever, but the image in that Independent article looks like it might be from the early Rudd years, when the current policies were reversed and the detentions camps somehow got ruined.

Quite how those shipping containers got ruined... wow.
posted by Mezentian at 8:23 AM on August 14, 2015


but they aren't quite committing genocide yet, are they?

no, they're just putting them in concentration camps, in remote locations, under terrible conditions. What next, I scratch my head and wonder?
posted by infini at 9:16 AM on August 14, 2015


I was born with Aussie citizenship, and lived most of my life in the US. When I report that I got naturalized, people still ask me why.

The grass always seems greener in some other English speaking country.
posted by ocschwar at 1:00 PM on August 14, 2015


The tiniest, tiniest ray of hope in the darkness for me is that the Greens' vote is currently at record levels.
posted by Quilford at 5:09 PM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this Mezentian. I'm so ashamed of my country right now. Torturing refugees and telling us it's for our benefit, as if my life is made better by someone else being water boarded, by children being raped. I know sunlight is the best disinfectant, so I'm heartened by the quiet-yet-persistent work by some journalists. Maybe even the racists will eventually feel like it's gone too far.
posted by harriet vane at 1:10 AM on August 15, 2015


I was going to start off with the whole state of Aussie politics, but it is just relentless. We are being exhausted with wave after wave of bad government. I want to just slip under the froth and spray and find some calm, quiet grave for myself on the ocean floor.

There just so much wretchedness that it almost seems like we're being deluged with shit on purpose, because the people can't swim against that tide forever and a couple of turds are going to get through no matter hard we try.

but they aren't quite committing genocide yet, are they?

We're complicit. I'm complicit. It makes me want to throw up how complicit we are.
posted by Jilder at 4:11 AM on August 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, saying it all started in the 1990's with One Notion is a bit simplistic.

This provides a good overview of how we got here: the first step isn't the annexation of the migration zone, but the introduction of mandatory and then indefinite detention for unauthorised maritime arrivals in 1992 and 1994 respectively.

John Howard looked upon this with envious eyes. In time for the election, it was reported that 'boat people' were throwing their children overboard when being greeted by our navy in hope of rescue. This thoroughly demonized them and he won the election... This thoroughly demonized them and he won the election.

The Piping Shrike provides a valuable service in dismissing the fable of the Tampa election.

Also, is this a manufactured asylum-seekers crisis or a real thing?

Manufactured. Politicians can't control the border, so they disproportionately punish the most hapless wretches they can find in a futile attempt to prove otherwise.

As the 1990 report quoted in the first link notes "the presence of illegal entrants has come, whether correctly or not, to symbolise the inability of governments to control their borders, and in Australia’s case, to protect the integrity of its immigration programme".

So despite Howard's ardent speech, we can't decide who comes to this country or in what circumstance, so that's why we need to torture asylum seekers.
posted by kithrater at 7:54 AM on August 15, 2015


Why are the Yazidi and Rohyinga not ALREADY resettled in rapidly-depopulating rural Nebraska or somewhere?

That would make a lot of sense, but it would also make ethnic cleansing of those populations easier. And it wouldn't be limited to those ones, either: there are dozens of vulnerable ethnic groups whose persecutors would jump at the chance to make their homeland more homogenous.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:15 AM on August 16, 2015


Why are the Yazidi and Rohyinga not ALREADY resettled in rapidly-depopulating rural Nebraska or somewhere?

Rural Nebraska is in the USA, so that would require agreement from American citizens and immigration authorities, who are already dealing with substantial migration across the southern border. As well as a broad skepticism in some circles about some "migrant children" and such.
posted by theorique at 6:35 AM on August 16, 2015


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