The real face of asylum seekers

Pat Kirkman writes: Re. “Rundle: in a Yazidi refugee camp, a liminal people lost, pining for anywhere” (yesterday). Thank you for Guy Rundle’s article on the plight of the Yazidis. It was most insightful and thoughtful. Rescued by a so-called terrorist group, the Kurdish PKK, people also familiar with persecution. I was very touched and thankful that even in these dark days and dark places, this story can give us a glimmer of hope. We could do with more like it.

Our international shame

Ed Klavins writes: Re. “Illegal, incompetent — either way, the bribery won’t be investigated” (Thursday). I am an Australian citizen and have been living in Switzerland for the last 20 years or so, but am always catching up with Crikey. In short, the Australian position to refugees disgusts me. The secrecy, the denigration, inhumane treatment, the intolerance, the utter lack of backbone of any of the major party politicians to do the humanitarian thing.

Anyone with an interest in world affairs will be aware of what is happening in Europe, with hundreds of refugees arriving (or trying to, and being rescued) by boat every DAY. Every month, THOUSANDS of boat arrivals are received, in full view of media cameras, and processed humanely. The discussion here (in Europe, in Switzerland, because many thousand end up here also every year) is not of how to stop the boats, but of how to integrate these people into our communities. When the refugees arrive in Switzerland, they are put into arrival centers, and have full freedom of movement until their case is processed. The behaviour of Abbott and co and the opposition absolutely disgusts me; my kids are Australian, and I have to end up answering questions like “why does Australia do that to refugees?”. What should I say?

Disclaimer: I am a first generation Australian, son of WW2 refugees from the Baltic states who fled to Australia to escape persecution from the Germans and Russians, who at that time were destroying their country. My parents integrated totally into Australian life, paid their due (at that time, that was the due) by working in the cane fields in northern Queensland and as nursing assistants in Victorian hospitals. Fifty years ago, we (Australia) gave refugees a chance (because they were from “Europe”?). I am so, so, so ashamed of our government now.

What about environmental terrorism? 

Richard Middleton writes: Re. “Abbott versus wind farms and the RET” (June 17). Abbott is quite happy to be known as a climate change denier. He and his fellow anti-science anti-sense acolytes of the church of the filthy fossil fuel must think themselves very funny to have passed off destroying our remaining forests, to be burned for power as carbon neutral, as a green measure. I bet they all had a really good larf at that one, as they kicked back in the party hard room. Given the catastrophic consequences that are yet to come from AGW, the resulting climate disruptions and the environmental calamities that will follow, can we look forward to Abbott and his pious co-denialists being stripped of their Australian citizenship, when such denialism is classed as eco-sabotage and terrorism? Surely stripping of citizenship is the very minimum for anybody engaging in such crimes against humanity? Exile to Mars would be more fitting.

On Labor leadership

Ronny Cook writes: Re. “Only impotent are pure” (June 18).  The belief that the bribes are OK because the boats get turned back overlooks the fact that by paying the people smugglers, we are supporting a business model where their boats continue to leave their ports of origin. In essence, we are paying them to put lives at risk. If we are to pay them, surely we should do so before they ever leave port.

The Australian public’s response to treatment of “irregular maritime arrivals” tells us only that they have been convinced by the media and government that stopping the boats is worth any price. With the price actually paid being our self-respect plus several hundred thousand dollars per person stopped, I can’t agree.

A party willing to sell its soul for the chance to govern surely does not deserve to do so. Unfortunately, at present both major parties appear to find this approach acceptable. Bravo to the Greens for at least standing on principle.

Patrick Barnes writes: Re. “Doing whatever it takes isn’t the same as doing the right thing” (June 17). May be there is some rather dodgy stuff re Shorten and AWU but can Crikey please define the difference between employers paying funds to unions for members and the same employers paying funds into Liberal party coffers at election time?

John Kotsopoulos writes: It’s not about doing a Richo, John Gleeson.   If you want to see a real walkover, try running an election campaign that has you wedged between the crazies on the right and the  hand wringers on the extreme left. How about directing  your vitriol at Abbott and his rightwing media cheer squad or is that to hard?

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Peter Fray
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