Posts Tagged ‘UNHCR’

Will Australia finally face its own trial over refugees?

April 27, 2017

The court decision to award damages to a girl held in detention on Christmas Island when she was just five years old must send panic through our Government. The fact that the Government offered compensation on the first day of the trial speaks volumes. The Government must fear that many now will also seek compensation for having been held in detention. The case of the girl started as a class action but the Court refused on the grounds it was lacking in common or shared issues.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-26/iranian-asylum-seeker-wins-payout-detention-christmas-island/8472718

For some years now the Australian Government has been accused of criminal neglect in keeping asylum seekers in detention under harsh conditions. The UN and the UNHCR have repeatedly warned Australia it was in breach of Human Rights. All to no avail. This Government stubbornly sticks to its mantra  that;

1. It is all the fault of the opposition the Labor party, in setting up the detention centres in first place.

2. To stop the boats coming and prevent drownings we need to give a good example to those that are contemplating escaping the horrors of war.

It seems that those that did not drown are now being punished. The refugees are in their fourth year of detention!

Australia is now trying to trade with the US administration some of the refugees still held in Nauru and Manus Island in exchange for some Latin American refugees held in the US. It is all shrouded in secrecy. Donald Trump said the deal  ‘was the worst he ever heard of.’  The obvious solution is for those refugees to be accepted in Australia. This is being fought tooth and nail against by the architects of indefinite detention on Manus and Nauru, Scott Morrison and now Peter Dutton. Our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is whipping us into a nationalistic fervour. ‘We must all stand-up and defend our ‘unique Australian Values’ . ‘He goes on about ‘the fair go and respect for law.’ The hypocrisy is just dripping so copiously from him it is actually showing.

I have reached the stage I try and not show my Australian passport. How can I keep my head up high?  How can I be proud of a country that has done such a terrible deed  and continues to do so, on the most vulnerable?

I hereby copy a recent post on my Oosterman blog by a man who worked as a guard on Manus;

Beau Mitchell Says:

“It is not a military run operation although its no coincidence that the vast majority of the workers, including myself were ex military and like myself ex special forces. unfortunately you can mistreat people like this when its off shore like this. There have been 2 companies that worked in Manus G4S and Wilson Security, I worked for both. This ABC story was the 2nd story I actually spoke to 10 Eyewitness news first. There was a media injunction slapped on me within 48 hours of speaking to 10 and in that 48 hours I spoke to ABC with the above report. No we do not have freedom of speech in Australia, you have watched to many American TV shows if you think this. in the event this message gets traced back to me I face up to 15 years in a federal prison for the crime of empathy. On Manus the Security company Wilson is the Judge, Jury and Executioner when it comes to discipline of the refugees located there. In the event a refugee does something wrong there is a make shift prison made from shipping containers, there is no trial or interaction with the local police, Wilson management makes the decision on the punishment one particular incident I recall a refugee lost his temper and started trying to hit people with a lump of wood (did not actually hit anyone) his punishment was a week in the Chauka (name of secret prison) where he was beaten each night (6 times in total) until unconscious during this time period, I was given the task of guarding the prison, I was posted at the main gate, and did not go in the Chauka. The smell was terrible of human feces and urine but being that I was on the outside I did not know why. I eventually saw”

LikeLikeBeau Mitchell Says:

 

 

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Go and figure this one out!

February 5, 2017

 

Most of the world knows about  refugees. Italy alone took in 180 000 during 2016. More than three years ago anyone trying to reach Australia by boat would from then on be locked up. Manus and Nauru were the places agreeing to house refugees. Australia vowed never to let those into Australia.There are  more than 1200 refugees still on those Islands. Most have been granted refugee status.

The cost in housing refugees has been in the billions. Private contractors are the main beneficiaries as well as New Guinea  and Nauru. The idea in not letting the refugees ever into Australia was that letting them in would result in an armada of refugees coming to Australia, clamber over our dunes, take our jobs or bludge of welfare! They would covet our  women and make cliterectomy compulsory for all.

The idea of locking the refugees up had to be seen as harsh enough to deter the so called ‘people smugglers.’ At present refugees trying to flee to either Europe or elsewhere in primitive boats have a chance of 1-100 in drowning. We know that many are desperate enough to take that gamble. The Australian Government knew that risk of drowning wasn’t enough a deterrent. The idea was born that the punishment for not drowning had to be far more severe. Teach the survivors a lesson they won’t forget. More importantly, the message would go out. “Don’t think of coming to Australia.”

That’s why the conditions for refugees locked up  indefinitely had to be far more stringent and better thought out. The refugees were not charged with any crimes. They just had to be kept locked and deprived of the most essential need of all. A future to look forward to. For children not to grow up in freedom and get an education. Teach them a lesson.  After several suicides and many incidents of self harm, even by children, the Government rejoiced and proudly stated that no boat had arrived. The prime minister Turnbull was jubilant; “We are the envy of the world dealing with refugees,.” he announced proudly.

It was decided that after the UNHCR, the UN, and Amnesty International had become vocal in condemnation that Australia tried to fop off the refugees elsewhere. Forty million dollars was spent to bribe Cambodia in taking just three refugees. Two have since left.

Now Trump and Turnbull ( Trumble) have locked themselves into horse -trading over allowing 1200 refugees from Manus and Nauru  into America. The vetting will be extreme. Americans are justly asking why Australia can’t take them in. It must be a mystery. Per capita Australia has far more space than the USA. So what about that deterrent?

If you dare to come to Australia you might go to America?

More importantly, what about those people? You know the people on Manus and Nauru?

Go and figure!

Peter Greste is freed. What about the Manus Island refugees?

February 2, 2015
Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Australian journalist Peter Greste is freed through the intervention of the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Could Abbott show similar compassion and free the refugees held in detention on Manus Island, Christmas Island and Nauru?

Peter Greste was at least charged with something, yet the refugees, some of them locked up for well over one year have never been charged.

Nauru

Nauru


I mean, are the refugees going to be locked up forever, totally forgotten?
It is a stain so reminiscent of Auschwitz footage I saw on TV just last Friday.”

No matter on how we look at the situations of refugees in indefinite detention under the ‘care’ of Australia. We can’t go into the future without dealing with the past.

It might help again to point out the following.

Here a partial extract written by Paul Toohey; ‘That sinking feeling.’

“The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, to which Australia is a signatory, defines a refugee as:

“Any person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country”.

This definition is used by the Australian Government to determine whether our country has protection obligations towards an individual. If a person is found to be a refugee, Australia is obliged under international law to offer protection and support and to ensure that they are not sent back unwillingly to the country of origin.

An asylum seeker is a person who has sought protection as a refugee, but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been assessed. Every refugee has at some point been an asylum seeker.

Those asylum seekers who are found to be refugees are entitled to international protection and assistance. Those who are found not to be refugees, nor to be in need of any other form of international protection, can be sent back to their country of origin.

As of 30 June 2014 there were 24,500 asylum seekers who had arrived by boat (including 1,870 children) who had been permitted to live in the community on Bridging Visas while waiting for their claims for protection to be processed.

As at June 30 2014 there were 3,624 people in immigration detention facilities and 3,007 people in community detention.

MYTHS ABOUT REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS
There are many myths about refugees and asylum seekers. These are some of the common ones.

People who come by boat are illegals. The UNHCR states that a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution should be viewed as a refugee and not labelled an ‘illegal immigrant’ as the very nature of persecution means their only means of escape may be via illegal entry or the use of false documentation or having no documents at all. The right to enter without prior authorisation is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which Australia helped to draft.

Boat people are ‘queue jumpers’. Some believe that people who arrive by boat are taking the place of more deserving refugees waiting in resettlement camps. The reality is that there is no orderly queue, only a small proportion of the world’s refugees are registered with the UNHCR and in many places there is no opportunity to register at all.

Boat arrivals aren’t genuine refugees. Asylum seekers who arrive by boat are subject to the same assessment criteria as all other asylum applicants. Recent figures show that over 90% of asylum seekers arriving by boat have been found to be refugees and granted protection here or in another country.

We take more refugees than our share. Australia is one of only about 20 countries who participate in the UNHCR’s resettlement program and we accept a quota of about 13,750 per year. However this is only 0.03 per cent of the worlds 4 million refugees. The UNHCR’s program currently only resettles 1 per cent of the world’s refugees, with most remaining in developing countries neighbouring the countries from which they have fled.

Refugees receive higher welfare payments than Australian citizens. There is no truth to this myth, which has been widely circulated by email. Refugees living in the community have only the same entitlements as all other permanent residents. They do not have their rental bonds paid for by the government, nor do they receive a lump sum payment on arrival. Asylum seekers are not eligible to receive financial assistance through Centrelink but some can be eligible for the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme administered by the Australian Red Cross and other contracted service providers. The scheme provides a basic living allowance equivalent to 89% of Centrelink payments.”

The Terrorists in Government.

September 24, 2014

0041

Yes, what are we going to do? Australia will not make a living from keeping out boatpeople or ramping up fears. The scraping the top layer off our continent and selling it wasn’t exactly very taxing.

What are we going to do? A youth unemployment of 15% doesn’t auger well for keeping murderous attacks under control.

I sometimes wonder what people are doing in those gigantic city office buildings. I know we have one the highest densities of litigation lawyers and Big M. burger arched take away, but what about making things? You know actually producing stuff?

We could have been the world leaders in alternative energy with the world at our feet wanting solar panels, wind towers, etc. Even the Rockefellers are getting out of fossil fuel, But us…What have we done?

What are we going to do?

We could ease up on exercising our pyrotechnical bath-tub toys above and in far away sandy countries and save the $ 500.000.000 yearly.

We could also save even more doing away with the Government using ADF’s insane ‘stopping the boats’ policy. Billions in fact. Just imagine what that money could achieve?

The following from Andrew Kaldor; http://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/node/386

Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott

“Australia now spends the same as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) spends on its entire global refugee and displaced persons operations.

The UNHCR is responsible for helping and protecting some 50 million displaced persons around the world, including 11.6 million refugees. It expects to spend about $3.5 billion (US$3.3bn) in 2014. To cover 10,000 staff and all relief for the emergencies in Syria and Iraq, and Africa, as well as the protracted situations worldwide.

Tow back boats by Australian Navy

Tow back boats by Australian Navy

Compare that with the $3.3 billion Australia spent in 2013-14 on the detention and processing of boat arrivals. It has been the fastest growing Government programme over recent years, increasing from $118 million in 2010 at the average annual growth rate of a staggering 129 per cent.

Next year, the Department of Immigration’s budget is about $2.9 billion for that operation. But this number probably understates the total costs. It appears to ignore the extra aid to Papua New Guinea for signing the Manus Island deal, $420m over four years. It also ignores the costs of the AFP, ASIO, and State judicial system. Moreover, the value of current contracts issued by the Immigration Department, just for offshore detention for the 2014-15 fiscal year, has been estimated to be $2.7 billion [Source: data compiled by Nick Evershed, The Guardian, 25 August 2014].”

This money could have helped with our 15% youth unemployment. A terrible situation. Perhaps easing disillusionment and desperate ,perhaps even murderous situations arising.

Just imagine?

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/08/28/boats-may-have-stopped-what-cost-australia

Australia’s treatment of refugees.

September 3, 2014

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-04/isolation-units-being-used-to-control-asylum-seekers-on-manus-i/5718084

“Leaked security reports written by the company contracted to provide security and catering services on Manus Island, has describe frequent self-harm, suicide-watch and the use of isolated confinement at the Australian-run detention facility for asylum seekers.

Transfield Services staff report that “major incidents” are happening almost every day at the centre, including fights between detainees, attacks against guards, self-harm and suicide attempts.

The leaked documents are daily security and intelligence reports from July obtained by refugee advocates Humanitarian Research Partners (HRP) and shared with media.

In the most serious case of self-harm reported, a man cut himself with a razor, requiring 20 stitches to his chest and refusing treatment for two long cuts to his head.

The report said the asylum seeker had recently been told he could not voluntarily return to his home country because he was a witness to the killing of Reza Barati in February and had to stay on Manus Island until the investigation was complete.

“Due to this, [he] has been on Whisky watch since 26 July,” said the report.

Whisky watch is the term used at the centre for monitoring asylum seekers showing mental health problems and can be every three hours, every 30 minutes or constant observation.

HRP said an average of 14 asylum seekers were placed on Whisky watch each day.

On July 21 a man tried to commit suicide and when he was stopped he bit his own arm.

In a separate incident on the same day, an asylum seeker cut himself with a razor.

The reports show that at the end of July there were 18 asylum seekers staying in Australia and six staying in Port Moresby, out of the total 1,145 men considered part of the Manus Island detainees.

Several asylum seekers have been transferred to Australia for serious medical treatment but it is not clear why so many others have been moved off Manus Island.

Human rights group notifies UN of ‘harmful practises’

The Transfield Services reports describe how aggressive or “non-compliant” asylum seekers are taken to an isolated area known as “Chauka”.

Chauka compound is not listed on the official map of the Regional Processing Centre, but HRP said it is located at a different part of the Lombrum navy base, several hundred metres away from the main accommodation.

The group describes Chauka as three shipping containers forming a triangular courtyard covered in shade cloth, with a guard posted at the entry. HRP said each shipping container contains one single bed and nothing else.

“It seems as though part of the purpose of Chauka compound is to encourage more compliant behaviour through the visible punishment of a few key detainees,” wrote HRP.

Transfield Services denies that the “Managed Behavioural Area” is for solitary confinement.

“The claims in the media are unsupported and deliberately misleading to create a negative public opinion,” was a comment in the July 21-22 report.

HRP has written to the United Nations Special envoys for Torture, Human Rights Defenders and the UN Office for Human Rights with concerns about the “use of harmful practises based on fear to manage behaviour”.”

Slippery Values.

April 22, 2012

Once again, there is turmoil in Australia. The Panadeine Forte might again be called upon to relieve a huge headache for the Government hoping to survive the latest scandal. Over 30 soldiers have now lost their lives In Afghanistan. Our surviving soldiers are now being called back one year earlier. What a dreadful mistake, was it not, to get involved in yet another useless war? No wonder our Government is having a headache. It should never have happened in the first place. Then there are all those unresolved issues about which the UN and UNHCR have been pointing the finger at us for a number of years. Is our dreadful treatment of the boat people finally coming home to roost with the suicides and compulsory detainment of refugees including children in hellish camps on a lonely island or amongst the dust bowls of the outback?

The future of aged care is going to cost billions; our carbon pricing might cost more than the tax revenue it is supposed to deliver from the CO2 emitters. The Euro zone problems might well affect our banks. What will lurk next around the corner for Australia? It just never stops.

Hang on; the headache is not about those issues at all. It is to do with rumours of an open shower door and strange cab fares with hints of sexual misdemeanors by a man who was given the task of doing funny shouting ‘order and order’ during sittings of parliament.  Forget about the drowning of ‘children overboard’ or the Australian Wheat Board shenanigans. They are mere bagatelles. What really gets a head of steam is our distaste for anything to do within our under- pants. Oh, the scandal of someone being asked to leave the shower door open and, and… the crosses in text-messages. Oh, no… What… crosses… that’s kisses isn’t it? Very dirty. What next?

The opposition is in heaven. An open shower door, gee, that must spell the death knell for Labor now.  Abbott must be going through the yellow pages getting quotes from furniture removalists with the plates being wrapped up in old copies of Murdoch’s The Australian.

Nothing is more disheartening than to see Australian politics blown up to what is at present occurring. Our indignation is being fanned by an opposition relying more and more on blown up paper bags. An entire government is now hanging on by a threat of fried air, a non scandal. This is at best a mere little quarrel between two people, nothing to do with Governing or running a country.

What does it say about the opposition that refuses to engage on real policies and prefers to focus on someone’s supposedly predilection for open shower doors in private? What depth can they still sink to? What about an unpaid parking ticket or bending over in private to pick up the cake of  soap from the shower floor? Should we get suspicious of someone coming home with a bunch of flowers? Perhaps the AFP should be permanently on stand-by outside Parliament house, just in case.

I would have thought that the abuse by Mr T Abbott on a man dying of asbestos induced fibrosis (Bernie Banton) a few years ago was far more telling of the character of a politician than Mr Slipper supposedly asking for a shower door to be left open.

You wonder where all this silly stuff comes from? Is it just a follow up from those Anglo Private School tactics? You know, it starts with a nick name and sniggering in the showers, those masters with repressed sexuality, next, if taken a bit further, a solid stint at bullying the weaker. Shit happens, they say then afterwards.

The moral of all this is?  Never leave a shower door open in Australia. It could bring the Government down.

Orang-utan and Boatpeople

August 2, 2011

Orang_utan


Orang-utans and boat people.

Does anyone see the irony of the complaints by Malaysians about Australia’s treatment of Orang-utans at Melbourne zoo and the habit of caning people in Malaysia, or even more relevant, the treatment of our boat people in detention?

The latest news tells that a representative of a Malaysian Palm oil counsel had made complaints about the Orang-utans’ treatment at a Melbourne zoo. They were horrified about the Orang-utans being somewhat cold. They had heard sounds of sad crying and signals of distress from the animals. The Orang-utans were shivering and a picture was even shown of one of them carrying a coat. Melbourne Zoo retaliated and stated that the outside and inside temperature in their environments was kept at a cosy constant 20celsius. “They are the happiest Orang-utans in the world,” they replied. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-08-01/orang-utans/2819534

At the same time, we are all being reassured that the latest boat arrivals to Australia that will be sent back to Malaysia will not be caned. We also are now being told on the news that those unwilling to board the plane back to Malaysia might be forced to do so with full authority given to the Federal Police to use whatever they can muster for the boat people to comply. There are lawyers busy on a formal protest about the possible use of force on people already traumatised.
Are we getting care for Orang-utans and people somewhat mixed up or confused? If the Orang-utans are the ‘happiest’ in the world, I wonder about the level of ‘happiness’ of boat people being returned to Malaysia.

The federal police have been given ‘carte blanche’ by our PM Julia Gillard to ensure the boatpeople would board the plane back to Malaysia. This, we were assured might involve whatever the federal police have at their disposal. This, it was suggested, could well include the use of ‘potential lethal force’ with no ‘blanket exemptions’ even for unaccompanied children. This lethal force has been used on Christmas Island already. We are not shy from using lethal force when it comes to boat people. Bean bag bullets fired from shotguns, batons, tear gas, capsicum spray, handcuffs, the whole arsenal at the Feds disposal has been used to force compliance on more than just one occasions. So far our treatment of boatpeople and refugees is not showing the world much about our compassion towards the less fortunate.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-08-01/gillard-asylum-seekers-malaysia/2819786

While we don’t cane people in Australia, we are not far from it, edging inexorably closer. Not the cane, instead the possible use of electric Tasers or cattle prods instead. It could be debated whether being stunned by a Taser or bean bag bullet is better or worse than a caning. The concern by the Malaysians about treatment of Orang-utans in Melbourne could perhaps be best answered by giving a Malaysian delegation a grand tour of our own Australian refugee camps in isolated Australia’s outback and on Christmas Island. Let’s show them how we do it so much better, so much more humane!

I am not sure about the percentage of self harm by our zoo inhabitants including the alleged shivering Orang-utans but I bet it is a lot less that amongst our own boat people locked up for long periods, living in uncertainty, in isolation, behind gates, fences and barbed wire. The ombudsman had all the figures, mind numbing it was.
Was it fifty a day, twenty or was it a hundred a month or just a couple of real or attempted hangings daily? Did it include lip sewing, roof jumping, wrists slashings and hunger strikes? Razors for shaving are taken away after the shower. Just in case. All points of possible hanging are removed. Suicide has been made harder as well. It has not only become mind bogglingly numbing, it is now heart numbing as well. We just let it go on and we shut our hearts and prefer to focus on royal weddings or the passing of a bill in the US.

It’s getting harder and harder to push away images of the Holocaust whereby people were also traumatised and pushed onto transport by the use of force. Most countries are coping with refugees in the tens of thousands, some in the millions. Even overcrowded Malaysia is coping with over eighty thousand refugees registered with the UNHCR. We seem unable to just treat people like we do with the Orang-utans at Melbourne zoo. We are using the same Jack Boots methods that were so popular in dealing with another traumatised and defenceless people some seventy years ago.

One can just imagine within the next day or so, footage of boat people being herded by force into the plane. Journalists will have their cameras focussed and the world will again learn about us.
When did we lose our hearts?

Daffodils and Go Back where you came from

June 26, 2011


The SBS program on Go Back where you come from has certainly caught the watchers by surprise, World -wide viewing by tens of millions and it even made some people change from watching Footie, Alan Jones or Derryn Hinch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHjVTCRKLFU

Last night’s episode was shown to even have two Australian men helping the Malaysian ‘Polisie’ ferret out some hidden hapless refugees and the Australian Girl ‘Raquel ‘waxing about how we should do the same in Australia.’ Let’s forgive and just think it was Stockholm syndrome. The same Raquel baulked at using the toilets at the African refugee camp and seemed determent not to go to the toilet for the next few days. The best of luck to her. It was riveting viewing when she was interviewed on what she actually did in Australia, “nothing”. Do you work? “No”. What do you do? “Nothing”. The interviewing UN official smiling and nodding, he fully understood.

Did anyone not feel the humaneness and warmth of those refugees in Kuala Lumpur, especially the kid’s eagerness to go and learn at schools? The place, despite the terrible overcrowding, kept spotless, kids in clean clothes and big smiles.

We have our three flush toilets, surround sound and plasma, our recycle bins full of empty wine or coke bottles just out of sheer luck of birth and that’s all that separates us from the African refugee with his hacked up face and missing limb.

Of course the program is very ‘Big Brother” and similar to the format used on many of those type of programmes, including many of those cooking competitions and seems mostly based on some form of humiliation, expulsions or put-downs. We all become in a way perverts on failures, misery and bullying.

The good thing about watching so much world misery unfolding has been the opposite of it and the joy and emergence in our garden of the bulbs which I keenly planted some weeks ago. A single jonquil has almost started to flower and at least another dozen or so are getting buds. Can you believe it? Each morning I go out and check both front and back. The back garden where we have the cloth line, I planted both tulips and Dutch Irises. The twelve Irises have all come up and I am now waiting for the tulips to poke through any day. The shortest day is now behind and already we have more sun, the volcanic ash has moved on and the carbon tax is now more likely to get the go ahead. Life goes on.

A furtive glance at Socialism

April 13, 2011

A furtive glance at Socialism

 

.May we just ponder what Trotsky said back in 1937 and Quote:

But all those for whom the word ‘Socialism’ is not a hollow sound but the content of their moral life – forward! Neither threats nor persecutions nor violations can stop us! Be it even over our bleaching bones the future will triumph! We will blaze the trail for it. It will conquer! Under all the severe blows of fate, I shall be happy as in the best days of my youth; because, my friends, the highest human happiness are not the exploitation of the present but the preparation of the future.”

— Leon Trotsky, ‘I Stake My Life’, opening address to the Dewey Commission, 9 February 1937 [60][61]

We know that the Socialist-Communist system of workers getting a fair share of the pie didn’t quite work out. The pie grew fatter and richer but the portions were still unequal. There wasn’t any tom- sauce with it either. Some did not get any pie.  The mean Stalin and his gulags with Siberian winters and the Babushkas wheel barrowing the frozen bodies of sons and husbands out of trenches were not the rewards that Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) promised the world’s peasants while he was roaming around London during 1902-1906. Nor did the highly idealistic Trotsky envisage coming to his end with an ice pick embedded in his brain many years later.

The failure of communism has been expanded upon by many historians, writers and students of political science. The general idea was that Russia would get rid of its Czars and that its long suffering peasantry would rise up, change and revolutionize the status quo. The poor would gain their share and the rich lose much of their share. They would finally chuck off the shackles of the Czar’s imposed grinding poverty, be given plots of land and everybody would share. The hammer and sickle, a symbol of the alliance of workers and peasants finally bringing riches and tickets to freedom.

 The idea was noble but the execution of it was marred by wars and power struggles between those that meant well and those that didn’t. The result was the inevitable implosion of the ideals matched with an equal rise of opportunistic tyrants. The whole sorry saga of its failure was due to infighting and relentless squabbling by those seeking power and control. The counter revolution against the proletariat was taken over by power hungry future proletarians. And so it went.   

In another part of the world, freedom of expression and the right to rewards for individual efforts were being trail blazed by T-ModelFord,Socialism,cowboys on horses and cowboys behind the wooden steering wheels of T-.Model Fords. Westinghouse fridges soon followed. Everybody was also given the freedom of a gun to protect all that hard-won glorious liberty as well.

 God bless America. Land that I love, Stand beside her, and guide her…To the oceans, white with foam…My home sweet home

. And so on… And America kept on dreaming. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Bless_America

 Millions still believe that today, but many more are getting a bit skeptical as well. Despite its Constitution enshrined freedom and the protection of that by gun and law, there are more prisons in the US than universities, more incarcerations per capita than anywhere in the world. America’s poverty is growing, expressed by the millions living in the over 35000 trailer parks and even more millions of sick and disabled without a health insurance.

Can we still say that democracy and capitalism is working in the US and other developed countries? Is it still the success it was so enthusiastically touted many years ago, today? Globally, there are signs that the promised wealth is getting bigger but into fewer and fewer hands. Somewhere I read that some individuals are so rich, they own as much as the GDP of entire countries. In fact, many probably own entire countries.

The level of poverty in many undeveloped countries is as bad as ever. Millions still have to walk for miles to get a bucket of water or scrape together enough food to keep their children from dying. The idea of rewards for individual efforts doesn’t seem to have spread to those.

In Australia the richest man now owns more than he could possibly ever spend or use up, even if he ate stone crabs at $60.- a claw, for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a 1952  Grange Hermitage  (at $ 12.500 a 375mls bottle) and drove a brand new Ferrari every day.

 What’s more, his riches have come compliments of resources that I thought belonged to Australia and therefore to all of us. How can that be right? This single individual could supply Australia’s entire Mental Health budget at present about 100 million a year for the next 40 years. That’s just one individual’s wealth against tens of thousands of sufferers with Mental Health problems for forty years. How did the spreading of goodies pan out in such an unfair manner>.

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2011/s3164029.htm

Let’s not be jealous, but the top 10 wealthiest in Australia now have a kitty of over $27 Billion. Could we reflect also, that the richest man was also the most vocal in opposing the resource tax not long ago? A bit rich, don’t you reckon?  The latest sad news for the majority of those on wages and paying fair taxation is that there is a promise in the air by the present Government for the big companies to even pay less taxation in the future. Hoorah, I can hear the top ten richest roar in unison; pop the champagne once more…

Is there an answer to this seemingly endless inequality in sharing that which we all own?

 The second largest economy, China, seems to have propelled its population to a better life for hundreds of millions astonishingly fast. Yet, it has achieved this as a Communist country with a Communist Government. The people seem happy; they talk on mobiles, wear jeans and go to nightclubs. Sure, there are issues of human rights. We have our human rights abuses as good as anywhere. The unresolved, year in year out struggle we have dealing with boat people at detention and ex-army camps, the plight of indigenous people. The UNHCR points this out repeatedly. The US was no saint with the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the ongoing Guantanamo Bay detention camp with over two hundred people still languishing without trial for years. We are on shaky grounds if we cast stones or call for black kettles to Communist China on that ground.

Perfection is elusive, none more so than in political ideologies. In our own domestic world, the greens no doubt will offer some hope for a better future world. The liberals are hell-bent on sending the world into an environmental death throe.  Labor will have to make up its mind to lead or dither.

Cowboys and Indians: shooting at Detainees

March 31, 2011

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21 March 2011

Police fired tear gas and synthetic bullets at a group of 250 asylum seekers who had burned down accommodation buildings

Cowboys and Indians: shooting at detainees

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Gerard Oosterman

Gerard Oosterman

TV footage shows tear gas and ‘soft’ bullets tracing through the night sky, aimed at the rioting Christmas Island boatpeople, fired by armed police force from the back of trucks.

One wonders how long it will be before we will finally admit that the present way of handling and treating boat people is not working, and that our detention or care for those unfortunate people with families is cruel in the extreme?

Don’t we care, is that why we now shoot them? For how much longer will the UN commissioner point out our failures?

The overcrowding, the isolation and the length it takes to process the claims are given as the main cause for the riots.

Of course dealing with people landing on our shores has often been accompanied by riots. Back in 1952 it took 200 soldiers to restore order at Bonegilla Migrant camp. Three young men had committed suicide. The reasons for the riot then were the same as the present discontent today: overcrowding and inhumane living condition.

The Nissan hut migrant camps have long disappeared… only to be replaced with a more modern variety, but with still the same aim: to provide housing but also to isolate and to keep detainees separate, away from ‘normality and if possible from scrutiny.

What more proof do we need that the process is de-humanizing? Why do we persist in our punitive way of dealing with boat people and refugees? The detainees are desperately trying to tell us something. Why are we not listening and taking it in? They have done nothing wrong. Why are they being detained and separated from other people and normality? While violence and riots are not tolerable, neither are keeping people detained who have done nothing unlawful.

Rest assured though that TV footage of the shootings has raced around the world and that our treatment of detainees would have sunk a notch lower, if that was still possible. The tension amongst the asylum seekers is never far from the surface. Mix that in with isolation, the despair of endless waiting for progress about their claims, the utter boredom, heat and cold, the sheer deliberate forbiddingness of surroundings, jail-like architecture, fences, guards and you have created very tortuous conditions that no one could possibly accept as normality.

The response by our Immigration Minister Chris Bowen must be very encouraging to the detainees when he stated that the fire arms used were a bit like shooting ’mini bean bag pellets’ coming from ’gun-like weapons’. They might cause a bit of bruising, he added.

However, David Manne of the Refugee Legal Centre said police had used a modified shotgun ‘that can cause serious injury or death’.

With just a few thousand trickling in per year, we can hardly claim to be overwhelmed by boatpeople and as we have some experience in settling migrants for some decades it is indeed surprising the whole issue has became so unmanageable.

What is the problem and why can’t we settle them in normal circumstances in assessing their status? I mean, Australia is an Island and after harrowing and hazardous boat journeys, they are hardly likely to jump on a boat again and escape. Escape from what? What Governmental stupidity and obstinacy prevents them to not just do what most countries are doing and simply have them living amongst other people, letting them work, earn money, go shopping and process their applications. European countries are coping with thousands of refugees on a daily basis. We have trouble with a few thousand a year, spend hundreds of millions to keep them detained and separated from a functioning society. Why?

How often does the UNHCR have to put to Australia that we are in breach of basic Human Rights by keeping them in detention when no crime has been committed?

Of course, the real reason apart from the ingrained xenophobia by some of political parties’ leaders and the usual ramping up by hysterical coterie of radio and other media flotsam is the risk of losing votes. It’s all about that, isn’t it?  Let human suffering continue but not risk upsetting the voters who for years have been indoctrinated with ‘our shores’ are under siege from hordes of ‘illegal queue jumpers’. We mustn’t be seen to take sides of humanity and change course midway, must we?

Is it still preferable to continue to de-humanize a few thousand boat people than to losing voters and an election?

Come on Australia. Enough is enough. Our minister for immigration looked genuinely uncomfortable discussing the riots on Christmas Island. It shows he still has a heart. Perhaps over half the population still have hearts as well. We can’t shoot boat people just because they happen to have come to our shores and need a leg up from misery and wars.

They want a leg up from their misery, not to be shot at.