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John Passant

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October 2009



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

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Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

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Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

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Refugees: Rudd continues Howard’s brutality

Australia has a long history of brutalising refugees. Rudd Labor is continuing that tradition. 

It has deported a number of Sri Lankan refugees in recent days, including some forcibly.

Sri Lanka is a hell hole.  The Sinhalese Government there, after defeating the Tamil Tigers, is committing genocide against the civilian Tamil population. 

According to Josh Lees in Governments applaud massacre of Tamils in May’s Socialist Alternative:

The Sri Lankan government has a lot to hide. Around 300,000 Tamils are being held in concentration camps where they face torture, rape, starvation and constant “disappearances”. In the first four months of this year, at least 20,000 people were killed. Access to the killing fields continues to be denied, but UN documents obtained by The Times suggest that a further 20,000 were killed in the last three weeks of the conflict.

So people have fled the fighting  or the consequences of that fighting, such as the concentration camps.

A society which conducts genocide against part of its own people is not fit to live in.  So it is not surprising that Sinhalese as well as Tamils are among those fleeing Sri Lanka.

 There is a precedent for this disgusting treatment of refugees.  According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

The sudden flood of [Jewish] emigrants created a major refugee crisis. President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened a conference in Evian, France, in July 1938. Despite the participation of delegates from 32 countries, including the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, and Australia, only the Dominican Republic agreed to accept additional refugees. The plight of German-Jewish refugees, persecuted at home and unwanted abroad, is also illustrated by the voyage of the “St. Louis.”

At the Evian Conference the Australian representative T H White, the Minister for Trade and Customs in the Lyons Government, said ‘that as we have no racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.’

It is an approach whose undercurrents inform the debate today and in the recent past.  Howard’s immigration policies were all predicated on a strong Australian capitalism rejecting those fleeing the destruction imperialism unleashes, and appealing to the ‘crimson thread’ of racism that defines it.

Rudd’s actions show he continues those policies.

Politicians on both sides of the capitalist divide think there are votes in bashing refugees. And so, as the election comes into distant view, and the number of refugees fleeing poverty and war in places like Sri Lanka, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq increases, Rudd Labor toughens its stance against refugees.

Repelling refugees is something that flows from the very way capitalist production works, with competing blocs of capital organised in nation states, even in a globalised world. 

In fact globalisation makes a strong home state for capital, one prepared to extend its rule militarily as well as economically, even more important than ever.

It also reinforces the alienation we experience from each other through the theft of the products of our labour, and the effect this produces of fear of the other.

But the very act of socialising production creates the class capable of destroying borders and allowing labour to flow around the world as freely as capital does today.

The Australian newspaper is claiming that ‘ASIO could be set to issue adverse security assessments against some Sri Lankans already in detention’. 

This is shadowy, rumour filled muck designed to deliberately link Tamils to terrorism without a shred of evidence and with the clear goal of influencing  public feeling against Sri Lankan and indeed, all, refugees. 

 The Australian then quotes the Sri Lankan High Commissioner who warns against infiltration of Tamil Tiger fighters into Australia.  The Tamil Tigers are not a proscribed organisation here.

This  type of reporting is being used to justify sending back refugees on the grounds of terrorism, when in fact the real terrorist is the Sri Lankan Government.

We are also sending a number of Sinhalese back as ‘economic refugees’.  This is a catch all used to justify deporting refugees to a sick society like Sri Lanka.

First, there is a brutal genocidal Government in power in  Sri Lanka. Fleeing that barbarity for a better life makes perfect sense and we should welcome any refugees from that country.

Second, the imperialist powers have created these hellhole conditions or been the midwives to their birth. 

It is no accident that the intervention of Western imperialism, either directly or indirectly, in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Sri Lanka has created a flood of would be settlers in the West.

Rather than rejecting them, we should welcome all those fleeing the hellholes we have created or helped create.



Comment from Auguste
Time October 7, 2009 at 8:35 pm

What are we to do? Parts of the world may be a ‘hellhole’ but, as a practical matter, we can cannot admit endless streams of economic refugees to our country. To do so would risk a reduction in the quality of life in Australia and a saturation such that existing economic infrastructure could not cope. Strict immigration controls are a necessity in a non-ideal world. My condolences to those in other countries living in deplorable economic and social conditions, but illegal entry to this country must nevertheless attract the sanction of the law.

PS: I might add that, if Sri Lanka is so imminently dangerous (you mentioned genocide), applicants for refugee status in those circumstances would no doubt satisfy the “well founded fear of persecution” test.

Comment from John
Time October 7, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Thanks Auguste. Why is it impractical? There are about 25million refugees worldwide, and maybe the same number of internally displaced people (not sure of the letter number.) 50 million spread among the 30 developed nations isn’t very many at all.

Alternatively we could stop invading their countries or supporting one usurper over another (the root cause of the refugee problem in many cases) and use the money saved to help them develop.

As to genocide, this is the genocide of the Sinhalese Government against the Tamils.

Some of those in Australia are Sinhalese but don’t want to go back to such a sick society. We have forced them too. Of course the Australian authorities don’t recognise what is happening in Sri Lanka as genocide because our Government supports the Sinhalese Government.

In any event let’s wait and see what actually happens to the Sinhalese refugees we have returned to date.

Returning Tamils to Sri Lanka (especially those branded as Tamil Tigers) would be a death sentence. So that is unlikely to happen, I hope. They will in all likelihood rot in Australia as stateless persons.

Pingback from En Passant » Rudd’s refugee racism
Time October 13, 2009 at 11:22 pm

[…] Readers might also like to read Hey hey it’s yesterday: Australian capitalism and racism and Refugees: Rudd continues Howard’s brutality […]

Pingback from En Passant » Refugees: from Howard to Rudd the racist song remains the same
Time October 16, 2009 at 6:05 pm

[…] Readers might also like to look at Rudd’s refugee racism and Refugees: Rudd continues Howard’s brutality […]

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