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John Passant

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May 2015



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Behind the battle over who is tougher on boat people, lies the tragedy of a boat stranded at sea for 4 months, pushed back by 3 countries.

When the 677 survivors were finally rescued by local Indonesian fishermen, the Australian government disgracefully boasted about its turn back policies and how they save lives. The 200 dead refugees from the boat shows that to be a lie.

The 677 survivors include UNHCR refugees and other Rohingya asylum seekers fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar (Burma). They now face an uncertain future, stranded in the country of Indonesia that did not sign the ‘UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees’.

A local Illawarra group called ‘A Community for Peace & Justice’ has called for a public show of community support for the 677 survivors and a vigil for the hundreds who drowned from that boat.

The community support will be held this Friday 22 May from 5pm to 6 pm in Crown Street mall, near the corner with Kembla Street (close to the Church).

Community support DETAILS:
WHEN: This Fri 22 May
TIME: 5pm to 6pm
WHERE: Crown Street mall
ADDRESS: Crown St, near the corner with Kembla St (close to the Church)

John Passant, a member of ‘A Community for Peace & Justice’, urged people to attend and show support for those fleeing persecution.

“The turn-back-the-boat policies of regional governments have resulted in the death of around 200 people”, he said. “That policy is a failure.”

“Australia is a wealthy country and could take in these people fleeing persecution, and the tortures, rapes and murders that often arise from such persecution,” Mr Passant said.

“We have the resources to mount a rescue and resettlement mission for these people,” he added.

“A good attendance would send a clear message that our government and governments in the region need to welcome refugees and asylum seekers and not turn their boats back. We can’t address humanitarian crises with brutality,” Mr Passant said. “Our humanity demands that we welcome those like the Rohingya people and others fleeing persecution.”

Mr Passant also pointed out that “Australia has a ban on accepting UNHCR refugees from Indonesia. UNHCR refugees have been recognised by the United Nations refugee body as being legitimate refugees, and we need to demand that the Australian government not discriminate against these UNHCR refugees.”

Community support DETAILS:
WHEN: This Fri 22 May
TIME: 5pm to 6pm
WHERE: Crown Street mall
ADDRESS: Crown St, near the corner with Kembla St (close to the Church)



Comment from Kay
Time May 23, 2015 at 7:35 am

Indonesia has estimated that only 30% to 40% of the boat people are Rohingyas. The rest are Bangladeshis looking for work – i.e. economic refugees. The Bangladeshis are really hoping to find work in Malaysia.

Why are they a mixture? Because the Rohingyas have been held in people-smuggler camps in Bangladesh while the filthy rich smugglers extract as much money as possible from them. Then they are abandoned at sea hoping that someone will rescue them.

Are you seriously suggesting that Australia should step in, give refuge to unemployable, unskilled Bangladeshi economic refugees who would just pick up the dole for the rest of their lives? And giving haven to any of the boat people would be a fantastic boost to the coffers of the filthy rick people smugglers as more and more of the people clamour to hop on boats. The only policy that puts the people smugglers out of business is Abbott’s. You can see how Italy’s refugee-embracing activities seriously backfired on it, resulting in many many hundreds of deaths at sea.

No, far better to keep pressure on Myanmar to amend its policies towards its Rohingya population, and to take back its own asylum seekers. Or for Bangladesh to accept them – after all, there has been a long history of movement of Rohingyas between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Ditto re the Bangladeshi workers – leave it up to Malaysia what they want to do with them – offer work or send them back. They are not being persecuted!

The Rohingya people practice Sunni Islam with elements of Sufi worship. Because the government restricts educational opportunities for them, many pursue fundamental Islamic studies as their only educational option. Mosques and religious schools are present in most villages. They also tend to have huge families, as opposed to the much smaller families of local Buddhist citizens, causing concern in Myanmar that Buddhist Myanmar will be overwhelmed by Muslims, completely changing the demographics of this traditionally Buddhist country. Hence Myanmar’s policy of restricting Rohingya families to two children – not unreasonable under the circumstances. Rohingyas are only exacerbating their problems by producing more children than they can support.

Comment from John
Time May 23, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Unverified reports. The US says more than 50%. You and the Indonesians are using the same language the dictatorship in Myanmar uses to describe the Rohingya who have been in the country for generations. And you declare them economic refugees before processing. Good to see your bigoted opinion jumps in before the facts are established. I frankly don’t give a tinker’s cuss why people are fleeing. Welcome them with open arms. If capital can cross borders unhindered labour should be able to do so too. And your last paragraph is an apologia for genocide. Keep up the good work. We are reliving the dark days of the 1930s and hearing exactly the same arguments that were used to reject German Jews fleeing the Nazis.

Comment from Kay
Time May 24, 2015 at 7:53 am

“And you declare them economic refugees before processing.” No, I didn’t! I said the Bangladeshis were looking for work in Malaysia. That is well established. That comment did not apply to the Rohingyas – or can’t you read?

“…. the Rohingya who have been in the country for generations.” I said “after all, there has been a long history of movement of Rohingyas between Myanmar and Bangladesh.” The Rohingya originally came from Bengal, now Bangladesh! Because they are Muslims, they were subject to persecution in Hindu India and Buddhist Myanmar. I acknowledged that.

“And your last paragraph is an apologia for genocide.” Bullshit! Or are you suggesting China’s 1-child policy is genocide?? This is a 2-child policy – more generous. May I ask if you have a problem with families in poorly developed countries producing huge families, only to see them starve or be killed? Apparently not!

I actually stick to the facts. You, on the other hand, are so determined to abuse anyone who dares to ruffle your feathers by having a different view, that you go off on your usual non-relevant crap! You are obsessed with defending Muslims, any Muslims, so you shut your eyes to any reasonable discussion. What a load of unsubstantiated crap your response contains. You haven’t even read what I said!

Comment from John
Time May 24, 2015 at 9:15 am

You don’t stick to facts. The US for example says more than half are Rohingya. Fact. You, along with our evil government, adopt the language of the genocidal maniacs in charge of Myanmar to tar all the refugees as Bangladeshi migrants. Fact. You are a bigot. Fact. You jump in to adopt whatever the latest bullshit this government uses to describe the Rohingya or tar them by association. Fact. I suggest you read this. If you want to side with the dictatorship in Myanmar and the Australian government feel free to spread your bile elsewhere.

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