Issam Jameel —In Australia, immigration policy become tougher day after day against the illegal immigration, especially after the new legislations which were issued last year as one of the programs of prime minister Julia Gillard. The new legislation allows deporting asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea and Malaysia instead of keeping them in the detention centers.
Australian organizations advocating for human rights protested this new legislation, alleging that providing better life for asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea and Malaysia is out of reach; Malaysia not being a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Refugees in Malaysia are subject to arbitrary arrest, or they might be deported back into the danger which they fled. So the mentioned countries can not give a guarantee to provide better life for the deported refugees. Fingers were pointed at Gillard that she wanted to get rid of her troubles in any way, even if the solutions were aggravating the wretched lives of those refugees.
Indeed, it was one of tough problems that Australia has been facing and was at the top of the list of any voting program of the compatible parties system.
Australians do not like people to reach their land through some illegal way, but most of them also have empathy for the anguish of those refugees and the risks which they encountered to reach the Australian shores. However, in politics, there is no empathy and the tougher new policy is aimed at discouraging and stopping the flow of asylum seekers to Australia because it has been swamped with asylum seekers in the recent years as a result of the soft enforcement policies. According to Gillard, this was good reason that gave her the power to proceed on to her policy.
In the meantime, both major political parties in Australia are insisting on offshore processing to “stop the boats”. The difference between both parties is that Labor prefers its Malaysia Agreement while the Coalition prefers re-opening Nauru detention Centre on the South Pacific Island. Nevertheless, both parties became close to each other after Labor introduced new legislations allowing to reopen Nauru Island.
Yet, politicians in Australia do not encourage asylum seekers’ refugee boat, neither do they like the large number of refugees registered with UNHCR in Indonesia. UNHCR records show that Australia took only a tiny number of refugees from Indonesia—in the first three months of 2012, Australia took only 17 UNHCR registered refugees out of an estimated 3200. Many Australians believe that this policy is one of the reasons that encourage refugees to use boats instead of legal ways.
About the Author
Born in Iraq, Issam Jameel worked for Iraqi army’s newspaper Al-Qadesia while studying art and gradually achieving the status of a dependable theatrical critic. Earning a degree in theatrical studies in Baghdad, he later moved to Jordan and became a Christian. Now residing in Australia, Jameel has authored a book Iraq Through A Bullet Hole: A Civilian Wikileaks about his visit to post-war Iraq. Besides his regular job, he takes time for creative writing and reading.