Rohingya Vision

Turning back the boats: Australia’s integrity lost at sea

Image by:AFP

Turning back the boats: Australia’s integrity lost at sea
June 22
12:05 2015

Australia has abandoned its principles, along with those seeking asylum here.

The alleged authorization of cash payments to people smugglers during a recent boat turn-back operation adds to a growing list of unethical and damaging “by hook or by crook” asylum-seeker strategies adopted by the Australian government since Tony Abbott came to office.

Dubious activities to disrupt people trafficking are not new. Nor is the secrecy surrounding these operations. Over many years, reports suggest payments to informants and other covert operations in the region have been practised by both major parties.

The argument that we have to be cruel and crooked to save lives at sea is one of the great political lies of our time.

But handing over bundles of cash at sea to the people Abbott constantly refers to as “evil” takes us into more dangerous territory. If true, it means the government is not only risking lives at sea with its crude turn-back operations, it is now directly funding its own version of an unsafe people-smuggling venture.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key this week said the boat had been on its way to New Zealand and had put out a mayday call. He said there were sick people on board. But instead of offering humanitarian aid and safe transport to land, Australian authorities instead provided insufficient provisions for the return journey. One of the boats ran out of fuel and the other reportedly crashed on to a reef at Landu Island.

One Indonesian official called it “a suicide mission”. Many on board were able to swim ashore, but women and children were stranded and had to be rescued. “They looked exhausted,” the Rote police chief said. “One female passenger is pregnant; we took her immediately to the hospital, but she is OK now.”

It is only fortunate no one died as a result of the Australian operation.

Abbott’s recent “nope, nope, nope” response to refugees starving on boats in our region was a stark signpost to the moral vacuum that now passes for policy in Australia. As images emerged of terrified toddlers desperate for food and water, of Rohingyas swimming for food dropped by helicopters not intending to rescue them, Australia’s belligerent rhetoric ultimately separated us from the regional and global pack. Australia’s inhumane response to the suffering and deaths of those human beings left in tatters government claims that stopping boats was ever about saving lives at sea.

The levels of abuse inflicted on women, children and men detained in the Australian-run Nauru detention centres have gone beyond shocking. The murder of Reza Barati in Papua New Guinea, along with the neglect and abuse of other men inside the Manus centre, has perhaps been worse. Australia’s corrupted and soulless approach to asylum seekers also includes a blind-eye approach to human rights abuses and corruption in countries willing to take our cash and do dirty work.

Earlier this year, Sri Lanka’s new leader Ranil Wickremesinghe revealed the price of a stop-the-boats deal under the previous Sri Lankan government had been Australia’s silence on human rights abuses – in my view, one of the lowest and most shameful acts we have seen from an Australian government.

Note:Changes have been made,The Pacific Solution is not responsible for these.

Source:The Pacific Solution.



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