Human rights lessons from Turkey?

Learning human rights lessons from Turkey?


Gerard Oosterman

Turkey promised to keep its borders open for the people fleeing the violence in Syria. Many thousands of Syrians have crossed into Turkey and footage shows men and women, children walking into that country.

Even though Turkey is a country with a large population of over seventy million and already coping with an overflow of many other nationalities, it has not lost its humanity in doing the right thing by extending its hospitality to those so much worse off. They are quickly opening disused buildings and building camps, constructing a temporary hospital.

If Turkey can do it, where is our compassion?

Lack of ‘humaneness’ is what seems to doggedly divide Australia from most of the rest of the world with a deeply engrained hostility towards others. It is especially directed to those hapless victims of endless wars that somehow managed to make it anywhere near our shores.

Our present minister and previous Government ministers have exalted in, ‘we must make conditions here as harsh as possible as a deterrent’. The general gist of the messages from our ‘Leaders’ has been very constant, ‘No-one, we repeat, no-one should come here under the understanding they will be treated with compassion or care if they jump the ‘queue’ or come ‘illegal’ by boat,’  is what they mainly are saying. The political leaders are well aware that those sentiments will be well rewarded with the approval of thousand of voters.

The latest threat of sending at least 800 refugees to Malaysia just about takes the cake in the manoeuvring of our desperate Government keen to further whip up our xenophobia. The fact that this whipping might be translated to a caning in Malaysia was just seen as a mere bagatelle, easily overcome with a few soothing words of a promise that that would most likely not happen. The UNHCR seems less convinced.

While the conversation is continuing and a flurry of visits to New Guinea and Nauru intending to underline our tough stance once again, some might question where this dreadful fear comes from. Is there something in our history that gives us clues?

We couldn’t do much wrong by visiting our most recent history of how we treated children, both in our mother country of the UK and in our own.

Just having seen the film Oranges and Sunshine and previously read David Hill’s, The Forgotten Children, I wonder if  one day we might admit there was something rotten going on in our culture dating back perhaps hundreds of years. I know of no other country that exported and deported over 130,000 children in recent times. I also know of no other country that then allowed the further destruction of those children in the institutions they arrived at.

Is it is the history of bullying children and sending them into the hierarchical system of the English Boarding Schools, the Public (Private) Schools with its whipping masters and the degrading of all those coming into contact with the ‘British system’ of parenting and educating?

This seems to go to the very heart of why Australia has never managed to shake of that bullying that defined us from the very start.

Yet, when it comes to cattle or suicidal whales we all get teary eyed, ban the export of cattle or stand in the sea for days stroking dying whales. Where is the stroking for the flotsam of humans cast on our shores?

Last Monday’s Four Corners: again ‘bullying and degrading’ at the very core of our armed forces. It is totally ‘us’ and not just the isolated few of ‘them’. Howard, Ruddock, Abbott, Gillard, Morrison, Bowen. What chance did they all have growing up and indoctrinated into a system of bullying? No Government except the British conduct parliament so appallingly and again, bullying is at the very heart of it.

In the meantime we should take a leaf out of Turkey’s book. We will not turn them away, is what the Turkish Minister for Immigration is reported as saying. They are human beings in distress.

I can’t even imagine one of our politicians saying that.

Gerard Oosterman blogs here.

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9 Responses to “Human rights lessons from Turkey?”

  1. nick ryan Says:

    Gerard, could it be that Turkey are trying to make good what they have done in the past? I suggest you do some research regarding Turkey’s recent history, google for instance;



    We are not talking about events centuries ago, this is all as recent as the 1980’s 30 YEARS AGO !!!!!!

    There has been deportation of children here but they were not murdered, and the Turkish atrocities have happened since your concerns regarding child exportation.

    Civil War in Syria has forced the ordinary peoples of Syria to flee for their lives, most if not all are expected to return after the Wars end, meanwhile Sanctions by the Arab League, Australia, Canada,the European Union, (as well as the European countries of Albania, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, and Switzerland) Georgia, Japan, Turkey, and the United States only hit the Syrian people harder.

    The cause of the problem is yet another war, the Syrian people have been fighting wars for hundreds of years, the population is predominantly Muslim. The civil war is between Sunni Muslims & the Alawite Muslims. These bitter feelings towards each other resulting in Civil war never go away, history has proven this. Moving to another country does NOT solve the problem.

    The vast majority of Turkey is Muslim, they will probably have a better understanding of the Syrian immigrants than say Australia.

    I don’t know what the answer is, But surely it is better for these displaced people to be near their own country to return at a later stage than shipping them 5,000 km’s plus to a strange country.

    The whole world, me included, hopes for an end to the Syrian war and peace so the people can return and pick up the pieces.


  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    If Turkey is making good for the past; so much the better.


  3. nick ryan Says:

    As a sceptic & engineers are the worlds worst, are there ulterior motives? Yes, so much the better if Turkey is making good, but in a country with many more problems of their own, lack of water, lack of sanitation to name a few they will compound their issues. I cannot see any good in that. Somehow the root of the problem needs sorting, Stop the civil war, mostly everyone will return and they can get help from countries currently sanctioning them.

    I hope it is resolved soon.


  4. gerard oosterman Says:

    At least I don’t seed them surrounded by wire fences as here.


  5. nick ryan Says:

    Well Gerard it takes time to process them, and you know as well as I that if they were allowed to wander around they would ‘disappear’ and then were would we be, I do believe in the processing, it helps them as well, locate them, find them work, assess their skills, make sure they are not wanted terrorists hiding under some pseudonym.

    All very necessary unfortunately, they do need to be secure while they are processed. They should understand that and be thankful they are in a country that is NOT under military rule & law.

    Starting riots and destroying public property, to my mind shows that the mentality and disrupt-fulness that made them leave their country has arrived with them. Do we really want that type of person living here, that demonstrates when they don’t get what they want, destroys other peoples property, I don’t.

    Two years ago I drove my Jaguar up to Sydney, I was coming home, again through Parramatta, I stopped at a set of traffic lights on red, there was a group of middle eastern youths on the far side of the road, one of then threw an object at the side of my car, I did not say anything, or even look at them, I drove off and then at a garage stopped and had a look and found a small dent and paint chip in my door. Now that group of lads could have been any nationality. What had I done to provoke that? Owned a nice looking car I assume & nothing else.


  6. gerard oosterman Says:

    What do you mean with ‘that type of people’? In the rest of the world they pour in by tens of thousands on a daily basis as a result of wars and mayhem, most of it caused by the Yanks and their murderous intend on power and oil. Those countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Libya and Turkey have millions in camps and millions more roaming and ‘walking’ around.
    You seem to be in the grip of a well run campaign of turning fear of the unknown into panic; a great political art well practised by the Liberals, especially during the ugly period of J.Howard. They well knew how to stack the bonfire, find the kindling and chuck a bucket of kero over the lot.
    Australia: by David Marr, ‘ a people damaged and a damaged country. Try and get the book called ‘Panic”.
    Still, back in the forties and fifties, it was the same fear towards the Italians, Germans and Eastern block countries. The same camps , the same Nissan Huts, the same suicides and wire fences and the same army trying to put down discontent.
    Look up the Bonegilla Riot of 1952.


  7. nick ryan Says:

    I said what I meant by “That type of person” I don’t want individuals that gang together and cause mayhem to other peoples property That’s the type of person I don’t want here, no matter what their race or creed. Everyone is responsible for their OWN actions,

    I am not in a grip of fear of any sort of campaign, I just believe in control of entry. Maybe 18 years in the military has made me over cautious. Don’t you feel, as an inhabitant of Australia that someone should be screening those who enter? I was screened, I was not locked up, but then again I did not arrive here illegally and in a large group, when groups arrive they are processed as a group for whatever reason. I would hate to think that Australia was harboring War Criminals amongst the very people it is trying to help.

    I agree with you over the way the Americans fail to handle situations but in the scale of things, these religious wars in eastern countries have been fought long before the Americans were even a superpower.

    Many thousands of Turks were brought into Germany after WWII to assist with the clean up as cheap labour, for 7 years I lived amongst a lot of the children of these migrant workers, they have been abandoned by the Germans after they did so much to help them, the children are now outcasts in their own country.

    As I said Gerard I do not know what the answer is, You are happy to let everyone into Australia, so am I, I just want to know who it is that is coming in, really the same rules I apply to my house, I do not mind who visits but I do need to know the visitor to allow them to wander round willy nilly.


  8. gerard oosterman Says:

    Control of entry soon establishes they are people in need of care. Move them in the community a s ap. Let them work earn money and pay tax. Surely, this would make more sense than locking them up for long periods under the most horrific and isolated conditions , drive them mad and finally over 90% get accepted anyway.
    The whole issue is used politically and nurtures xenophobia and fear of the unknown.
    Finally; NO One seeking asylum arrives here illegally. EVERYONE who seeks asylum, has the right to do so. This question was put to Abbott who refused to answer knowing full well that the term used ‘illegal’ in reference to those seeking asylum is wrong.
    The tens of thousands of tourists ( mainly English) overstaying their visas and often staying here for years are the ones that really are the ‘illegals.’
    It seems to be a difficult thing to get across, but Australia is seen more and more as a racist country. A pity. Just watched Roxon on the ABC. What a feat for her to have managed to get the plain packaging of cigarettes through. The whole world is in awe of that achievement.


  9. Samm Says:

    We done, its handy for them to gloss over the point your making, they like to think they are logical but still cant bring themself to consider their stance on people coming by boat to the people who fly in with their money buying everything and sending the profits back home, the people flying in are pushing the cost of living higher for ordinary citizens, I wouldnt waste my time trying to explain this to argumentative people who can only focus on the one point they can USE to push their idealology, the ignorant are always comparing Australia to 2nd and 3rd world nations to make themself feel better, going by history any aussie armed forces may as well be American, always doing their bidding like the lackys they are while making heaps of money then want to be called heros, heros help people, whats happend in the middle east has made their lives worse, most people who flee war are usually fleeing wars we are associated with, illogical iilogical iilogical


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