Close down Australia’s concentration camp on Nauru
As I write up to 300 asylum seekers blackbirded to Nauru by Australia’s Labor Government are on hunger strike and have been for ten days.
One Iranian asylum seeker has been on hunger strike for 33 days. A doctor has advised him that his organs could begin to shut down soon and he should appoint someone to authorise treatment if he lapses into unconsciousness.
The conditions on Nauru are inhuman, and that’s exactly the point for Labor. Asylum seekers in their eyes have no rights.
Asylum seekers are people who have committed no crime. They are fleeing war, rape, genocide, Western sanctions and economic devastation. Most of the wars they are fleeing are Western invasions or Western supported conflicts.
Under the ‘no advantage’ test that Labor has adopted, asylum seekers are first being denied timely processing of their claims and second being left to rot for an indefinite period which could be more than five years.
Gillian Triggs, the Human Rights Commissioner , has described the indefinite detention of asylum seekers on Nauru as ‘an egregious breach of international human rights law’.
According to Daniel Flitton in The Age:
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay … said she had heard numerous concerns that asylum seekers could languish indefinitely on Nauru and Manus Island under Labor’s revived Pacific Solution and was especially worried over the plight of children.
”I am highly concerned that detention in regional offshore processing centres such as in Nauru could result in indefinite detention and other human rights violations,” she said.
”All people, including migrants, have the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and this form of detention has been shown at times to violate this right.
”It could well end up as indefinite detention, and people in indefinite detention suffer significant mental health issues – and Australia should be well aware of this.”
Professor Patrick McGorry, Australian of the year in 2010 described detention centres in Australia as ‘factories for producing mental illness and mental disorder’.
There have been many asylum seeker suicide attempts both here and in the offshore camps.
Offshore processing and excising the Australian mainland from the migration zone are about tearing up our responsibilities under the Refugee Convention.
Labor and the Opposition agree on the basics. Refugees are bad. They disagree on the detail of how to stop them but agree that whatever ‘solution’ must be cruel and inhumane.
Racism is a tool of the ruling class to divide workers and divert our attention from the problems of capitalism like low wages, gendered wages, cuts to social services, attacks on nurses and teachers and other public servants, and job cuts.
It is not just the racism of ‘stopping’ the boats. It’s also the racism of imprisoning asylum seekers, people who have committed no crime and sometimes, on ASIO’s say, locking them and their children up indefinitely. Some asylum seekers kill themselves, or try to, to escape our hell holes.
In some 50 cases to date ASIO has determined genuine refugees to be security threats which means they are being held indefinitely on the say so of a group of spooks and reactionaries who liaise closely for example with the mass murderers in the Sri Lankan government to determine if Tamil refugees are a ‘threat’.
Is there a solution to all of this inhumanity? It think so. It is onshore processing – quick, efficient and humane processing, in the community, not in detention centre concentration camps. I understand for example that Canada takes less than ten days to process refugee applications from asylum seekers on average.
But quick processing here in Australia doesn’t go far enough because it still means refugees will risk their lives for freedom by crossing dangerous seas in dangerous boats.
There are about 4000 refugees in Indonesia. With the Indonesian Government’s permission we could send in the Navy and Air Force and bring those people to Australia safely for processing in the community.
There are about 100,000 refugees in Malaysia. Once we have bought the refugees from Indonesia we could then, again with Malaysian Government agreement, send the navy and air force, and hire QANTAS planes too, to bring the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free, to our shores.
The ruling elite also join wars that create the refugee problem, or support governments like Sri Lanka and Israel that are responsible for many refugees around the world.
The Iraq war displaced 2.25 million. In Afghanistan there are 3 million displaced. Australia helped ruin these countries and now denies the victims asylum.
It should be the other way around. Deny war and welcome refugees.
We could also set up quick processing centres in countries with large number of refugees or near hotspots we have helped create, like Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka and once approved fly the refugees to Australia for their new lives.
The camps on Nauru and Manus Island, and the detention centres in Australia are concentration camps.
In 1992 Paul Keating introduced mandatory detention, effectively imprisoning people who have committed no crime for long periods as punishment for exercising a legitimate right.
These detention centres are concentration camps in the tradition of the US-Spanish war in the Philippines, the British in the Boer War and the Nazis when they first came to power and locked up communists, socialists, union leaders and others.
All involve locking up people who have committed no crime in confined areas away from the rest of society.
Our task is great. Our struggle is important. To end the criminal refugee policies of our one percent we must build bigger and bigger demonstrations to force Labor to treat asylum seekers humanely and end the death trip it forces them into.
There have been snap demonstrations in support of the hunger strikers around Australia. While there are the various magnificent refugee groups working brilliantly for asylum seekers there is no significant revolutionary left in Australia that could defend refugees as part of its more general defence of workers and the oppressed.
Now more than ever we need a socialist alternative to give hope to refugees and those who support them and lead a real fight with a long term goal of having tens of thousands of people shutting down the centres of the major cities to close down Australia’s concentration camps.