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.