Tag Archives: children in detention

Labor is the despicable winner in the Triggs affair.

27 Feb

 

The Abbott government’s attacks on President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, have served the ALP’s interests more than any other.

They certainly have done nothing to ease the ongoing plight of the 1,129 children successive Australian governments have kept in mandatory detention in appalling circumstances. Many of the children suffer long-term damage from the experience of being treated as criminals for no reason other than that they exist. The conditions under which the children have and continue to be incarcerated would likely make Charles Dickens flinch and look away, yet since the release of the AHRC report, nobody in the major parties has bothered so much as to mention their suffering.

Abbott’s attacks on Triggs have done nothing for the

233 assaults involving children
33 reported sexual assaults
128 incidences of self-harm
34% who require psychiatric support

documented in the recent AHRC report.

However, what the government’s latest lunacy has done is to hand the ALP on a silver platter access to a high moral ground which they do not for one moment deserve, having been as despicably callous towards asylum seekers for their own political gain as has the LNP. There is not a bee’s dick of difference between the two major parties in terms of their ill-treatment of those they consider less worthy than the rest of us, and therefore infinitely exploitable in their mutual pursuit of power.

The ALP is now bellowing self-righteously about the government’s treatment of Professor Triggs, but not, of course, about the contents of Professor Triggs’ report. About that they cannot bellow, as the report condemns equally ALP asylum seeker policies implemented under the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd incumbencies.

Labor has now referred Attoney-General George Brandis to the AFP for allegedly inducing Triggs to leave her position at the HRC for something less disturbing to him. Carefully worded denials have ensued, reminding us that language can be used for ill, and in politics, invariably will be. In case we forget what was said about the Triggs “inducement” at the estimates hearing:

 

If this disgraceful fracas surrounding Professor Triggs tells us anything, it’s that the majority of our elected members on both sides of the house care nothing for the lives and fates of asylum seekers, and logically, it is only a matter of time before they care nothing for the lives and fates of many of their own citizens. Once a government makes scapegoats of one group for political expediency,  they’ll have no qualms scapegoating any other for the same motive. Indeed, there are those who could put up a good argument that this is already the case.

We do not, in this country, have a good record for the treatment of children by authorities. The history of child abuse unfolding before us in the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, for example, demonstrates as nothing else ever has the prevalence and consistency of the savage mistreatment of children across all demographics, from institutions that house the most underprivileged child, to institutions that house the children of the wealthiest and most influential citizens in the country. It is inevitable that our cruelty seamlessly extends itself to children of asylum seekers.

We are in dire need of politicians of calibre, who are capable of and willing to refuse the lure of political gamesmanship and instead do what they are elected to do, and represent the interests of those who gave them their trust. The ALP has no high moral ground on which to pitch its tents on the matter of the Triggs report and the ensuing unseemly brawls. Given its own foul record, the ALP has no choice but to either admit its failures and undertake reform, or make whatever miserable and poisoned political capital it can from the government’s sickening attacks on Gillian Triggs.

All in all, we are one of the most fortunate nations in the world, cast adrift in a tumultuous sea aboard a ship commanded by fools.

 

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2002: UN condemns Australia on refugees. 2011: UN condemns Australia on refugees.

27 May

Mandatory Detention

Australia, 2002: The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Mary Robinson, requested Justice P.N. Bhagwati, Regional Advisor for Asia and the Pacific, to visit and report on the treatment of asylum seekers in detention in Australia in 2002, specifically focussing on the Woomera IRPC in South Australia. This report focused on ‘…the human rights issues related to the conditions of detention and the treatment of persons in the immigration facilities…’ (Bhagwati, 2008). Under ‘General Impression’ the first paragraph of the report reads as follows:

Justice Bhagwati was considerably distressed by what he saw and heard in Woomera. He met men, women and children who had been in detention for several months, some of them even for one or two years. They were prisoners without having committed any offence. Their only fault was that they had left their native home and sought to find refuge or a better life on the Australian soil. In virtual prison-like conditions in the detention centre, they lived initially in the hope that soon their incarceration will come to an end, but with the passage of time, the hope gave way to despair…He felt that he was in front of a great human tragedy. He saw young boys and girls, who instead of breathing the fresh air of freedom, were confined behind spiked iron bars…these children were growing up in an environment which affected their physical and mental growth and many of them were traumatised and led to harm themselves in utter despair.

Australia 2011: Change the names, dates and detention centres.

filipspagnoli wordpress.com

A DECADE OF COMPLETE FAILURE ON THE PART OF ALL POLITICAL PARTIES 

How to stop the boats

18 Feb

Three children wounded by US bombs in Nangrahar Province, Afghanistan

 

I‘ve said it before and brought down a load of trouble on myself, but I’ll say it again.

Australia is entirely responsible for boat arrivals. Doesn’t matter which political party’s in ascendency.

Because we are signatories to the UN refugee convention, we are known in  the world as a country that accepts asylum seekers for refugee assessment and resettlement.

Domestic law supports  the Convention. Australia invites anyone anywhere to claim asylum here, and seek refugee status.

No one who does this is acting illegally, no matter how they arrive, and whether they have papers or not.

Therefore, they come. Of course they do. Wouldn’t you in their place?

They have done nothing more than accept our invitation.

God help them.

Reading the comments on various articles the last few days, I’m pretty sickened by the overwhelming number of callous posts, blaming the asylum seekers for coming here in the first place, and blaming the government for not stopping the boats.

The answer is simple. We withdraw from the Convention, which we are not upholding anyway, and we change domestic law.

We then cease to be a country known for accepting asylum seekers, and asylum seekers will not endanger their lives trying to get here.

To continue to issue the invitation, and then to treat  those who accept it as sub humans, reveals a worrying sadistic streak in the Australian psyche. Clearly, we are not in the least hospitable towards those arriving in boats, yet we keep on inviting them.

Why?

If we aren’t prepared to withdraw from the Convention and change domestic law, then we obviously are  prepared to keep on extending the invitation.

Basic rules of human decency require that we treat those we’ve invited with hospitality and respect. We’re inviting them into our home.

What kind of host holds the guests in mandatory detention?

If nothing else, can we at least be honest about what we’re doing? Can we at least come clean about our two faced duplicitous position? Can we at least own up to the fact that we’re solely responsible for the situation, and not the asylum seekers?

They don’t know we don’t mean what we say.

It’s time to make a decision. It’s not rocket science. Get in or get out. But stop pissing about complaining, and tormenting our invited guests while we’re at it.

Of course, then we’d have to find somebody else to despise.

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