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letter to editor from Dr M Blockey - disappearing refugees

                         'Disappearing' refugees

In a letter last week I concluded that the Pacific solution and turn back were almost identical in that they sent boat people to detention camps on either Manus/Nauru or in Indonesia. Where the two policies are hugely different, however, is what we do with them  in these camps. In the Pacific solution, refugees had their claims for asylum heard, 92% pass this 'test' and were settled here. In turn back, we 'disappear' refugees!

'Disappear'? The Coalition refuses to send Immigration Department (ID) staff to Indonesia  to hear the refugees' claims for asylum. The result is that they stay in the camps forever. Without ID approving their claims to asylum, they can never come to Australia and nor will   the Indo government release them into the Indo community. The Coalition is paying it a 'billion or two' for 'caring' for our refugees and the Indonesians want this 'arrangement' to continue.

The Coalition won't send ID staff to Indonesia because it fears most will be so appalled by the brutality in these camps, they will tell refugee activists on their return. An Australia-wide campaign could lead to the Indo government closing the camps and refusing to accept 'turned back' refugees back into Indo. This would mean the end of turn back and turn back is a great vote winner for the Coalition!

The Coalition has a problem. If it hears the refugees' claims for asylum, turn back unravels as does its chances of re-election in 2019. If it doesn't hear their claims for asylum, it condemns them to a life, and death, behind razor wire.

How many refugees are in Indo camps? Some 1474 refugees have been in Indo camps for 4 years, another 1500 for 3 years, a further 1400 for 2 years and 1450 refugees have been in camps for a year, a total of 5500/6000.

I have borrowed the word 'disappear' from Argentina. In their Dirty War in the 1970s, some 10 to 30,000 activists were plucked from the streets by the Army and imprisoned for the rest of their lives. Their family and friends had no idea where they were. They all died in prison.
Our 5500/6000 refugees have been 'disappeared'. And they will die in prison! And why? To protect turn back!!

Dr Michael Blockey, Scotts Head

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