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Issue #1557      25 July 2012

Call for guaranteed resettlement

The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC NSW) has condemned the Minister for Immigration for dismissing calls for asylum seekers to be processed in Indonesia.

RAC’s submission to the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers stresses the importance that speedy processing in Indonesia be combined with guaranteed resettlement in Australia of those found to be refugees.

“We are dismayed but not surprised that the Minister has already ruled out processing in Indonesia. The Minister’s announcement has pre-empted the findings of the expert panel. He has turned the expert panel into a sham. Either it is a government set-up or it is set up to fail,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The Minister’s rejection of processing asylum seekers in Indonesia and resettlement shows just how much the government’s push for off-shore processing is driven by domestic politics, not by concern for asylum seekers.”

He said any “regional solution”’ that does not guarantee resettlement in Australia is just a way of outsourcing Australia’s responsibilities to asylum seekers and turning poorer regional neighbours into dead end dumping grounds.

“Chris Bowen’s fixation on the policies of deterrence will only ensure that the pointless, toxic debate between Labor and the Coalition over off-shore processing will continue. The Labor government is about to miss another opportunity to implement a humanitarian policy.

“Pakistan has just announced that it intends to repatriate 2.7 million Afghan refugees by December this year. Combine this with the repression of Hazaras in Quetta and you have a push factor far bigger than any deterrence the Minister could manufacture.”

The Refugee Action Coalition (NSW) has called a rally on Sunday August 12, 1.00pm at Sydney Town Hall to protest against off-shore processing before the August sitting of federal parliament.

Meanwhile, refugee groups have rejected the Immigration Minister’s assertion that refugee boat arrivals take the places of refugees in camps as a convenient untruth.

“The Minister is responsible for setting the number of refugees taken from camps each year. It has been 6000 for many years. That number could, and should, be increased,” said Rintoul.

“It is not boat people depriving others in refugee camps; it is the Minister.”

“The Howard government deliberately linked the number of boat arrivals to the special humanitarian program to try and turn refugee and migrant communities against boat arrivals. This cruel measure should have been dropped by Labor when it was elected in 2007, but shamefully it was kept in place.

“No other country in the world links its onshore and offshore refugee programs in this way. Just as Howard’s use of temporary protection visas pushed family members onto boats, and led to the sinking of the SIEV X, Chris Bowen’s use of this policy is pushing families onto boats.”

He noted that Opposition Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says nothing about maintaining the Howard policy. But Chris Bowen is now using the Howard government’s policy to turn community opinion against boat arrivals.

“Even more dangerously, because refugees’ family members are artificially excluded from the humanitarian program, there is no alternative for them but to get into boats. Just as Howard’s use of temporary protection visas led to the refugees’ families drowning on the SIEV X, Chris Bowen policies are pushing refugees’ relatives to get on to boats. Chris Bowen is creating a ‘SIEV X’ effect.”

He said that if the Minister was really concerned about the safety of asylum seekers, he would de-link the off-shore refugee program from the special humanitarian program. If he was really concerned about refugees in camps in Africa, he would increase the pitifully small quota of 6,000.

“But hypocrisy rules the day. Truth is also a casualty in the war against refugees. Chris Bowen is more interested in abusing the rights of asylum seekers and promoting off-shore processing and the Malaysia Agreement.”  

Next article – Police brutality exposed by case

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