Nov 1, 2017

Rundle: the moral case for illegal counteraction on Manus

Will the refugee groups put a general call-out to those of us willing to be arrested, in organised collective action?

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


So it is happening: the next stage in our offshore detention regime, in which a widespread indifference to how the 600 detainees on Manus Island live has been replaced by a widespread indifference to the idea that some of them might die, violently, or through untreated illness. Greens Senator Nick McKim has used the strongest language, accusing Immigration Minister Peter Dutton of being “racist … and fascist”.

There is more than a touch of Mussolini about the way that has gone down, across governments of both parties, the systematic creation of a group of people as “social enemies”, their penning in camps as non-citizens, and the shift by which their non-personhood becomes the guarantor of our citizenship; anything can be done to them, to make meaningful our rights and protections. Mussolini, yes, but this goes back before that, to British concentration camps against Zulus, Boers and others in the Boer War, Spanish camps in Cuba in the 1890s, French camps in Algeria in the 1830s. The detention camp is the mode by which the modern state guarantees itself.

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27 thoughts on “Rundle: the moral case for illegal counteraction on Manus

  1. old greybearded one

    This however, goes bag to the mongrel Abbott who refused to back a Malaysia solution because it would have taken away his slogan. The Greens also need a kicking, because had the Malaysia solution stood, we might well have seen none of these people in such a sorry plight. Malaysia after all is a more or less orderly, though corrupt society and was part of Big Mal Fraser’s long term solution to make the queue orderly but accessible. PNG is disorderly and getting worse, Nauru is a bed of crooks. These racist scum want no part of anything that helps.

    1. Venise Alstergren

      OLD GREYBEARDED ONE: Excellent. Of course the Malaysian solution was the correct one. But leave it to Inquisition Abbott to screw it.

      GUY RUNDLE: I like the beard. It makes you look less intimidating.

      1. Venise Alstergren

        It was still better than the hideous mess it has become.
        I don’t care if you have a sewer in your mouth. But what comes out obscures whatever grain of truth you are trying to convey.

    2. Joe Black

      The Malaysia ‘solution’ was a thousand times ‘less worse’ than the current atrocity but it was just Labor’s particular version of political irresponsibility. At the margin, Labor share accountability for this humanitarian nightmare.

      1. Marilyn J Shepherd

        No, the ALP are not at the margins, it’s their fucking policy 100%

        1. Joe Black

          Marilyn, good on you for your anger but what is happening under the current Government’s watch is a truckload worse than what Labor put in place or tried to put in place. That’s not an excuse – Labor were cowardly and capitulated to racists, and those who cynically exploited racism, for base political reasons. They absolutely continued us down the path to where we are now but they didn’t bring us all the way here.

          1. Marilyn J Shepherd

            Gillard reopened the prisons, stripped refugees of all rights to get around the high court. IN WHAT FAIRY TALE ARE THEY NOT AS BAD AS THE LIBERALS.

        2. Joe Black

          Marilyn, in the fairytale where they did not lock them up indefinitely, where they did afford them proper medical care, where they kept them relatively safe, where they didn’t prosecute whistleblowers (or anyone who talked about the atrocities in the camps), where they didn’t turn around boats or kidnap people at sea, where they didn’t open the gates and tell these people to fend for themselves. Marilyn, Labor suck for their role in this but if you think they are as bad as the current lot you need your head read.

          1. Marilyn J Shepherd

            They are as bad as the liberals, FFS what is wrong with pple who claim otherwise.

          2. Joe Black

            Marilyn, everything’s not binary – there is a difference between bad and worse.
            I appreciate people who get angry about the things they care about; however, your particular brand of anger is beyond the pale. Given you either shout at, swear at or insult everyone you speak to, how would you go if everyone responded to you in kind?

          3. Decorum

            I admire your persistence with MJS, Joe, but Dilbert was right: you shouldn’t argue with nuts because you’ll just get angry and they’ll still be nuts.

            MJS makes it very clear that there is only one satisfactory outcome in her worldview – complete global freedom of movement for all refugees – and, while that’s lovely, it does mean she disqualifies herself from any discussion over incremental changes. Everything is worse than that nirvana, of course, so she dismisses everything and is incapable of understanding shades of grey (for yes, grey they all are). But very clearly, in my view, the Malaysian option would be better than what we have now; permanent protection visas are better than an indefinite series of TPVs; a refugee’s arrival mode has nothing to do with the legitimacy their claim; rapid processing is better than indefinite detention etc etc. These are all morally equivalent, to MJS, and therefore, apparently, equally unacceptable. No asylum seeker I know (and I do know a few) would share that view, not in a million years.

            Mind you, she does swear a lot and strenuously abuses her interlocutors – you very generously admire her maintained anger, but I don’t share that charitable viewpoint, I’m afraid. I think she’s quite vicious, appallingly smug and expressive of an un-budging viewpoint that, as a matter of realpolitik, actively harms refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.

    3. Marilyn J Shepherd

      Malaysia was not a frigging solution, are you morons brain dead? Since we started up this racist bullshit again 36 million more people have had to flee war and persecution and 40 million kids under 5 have died of starvation and disease while we have squandered up to $12 billion to keep out 2,000 refugees.

      FFS, they are allowed to come here by sea, air, on water skies, hot air balloon without fear of punishment or being shoved into some prison somewhere else.

      Since Gillard’s racist adventure to try and get Malaysia to go along the death camps for Rohingya have been discovered and still moron ALP people think the deal was worthwhile.

      We don’t get to trade around humans to appease racists.

    4. Pamela

      The Malaysian solution was a nonsense. We send them 800 parcels and they send 4000. It is time for tough solutions like accepting responsibility not playing cat and mouse games.
      Malaysia is a tough place for refugees- 118 people have died in two years in their detention camps holding 87,000 people. Many are stateless sick starving Rohingyans who die in the camps. Just because journalists are not reporting and NGOs dare not speak out about the abuse of human beings does not mean that it is not happening.
      There are around 12000 refugees in Indonesia – half starved, no rights to work, children denied education, some asked to be put back in detention in order to eat. They are waiting for a chance to come down. The week Labor is elected the boats will try. Then LNP will start screaming about boats. The navy will try to push them back. A different Indonesia might not be so amenable this time. Disaster waiting to happen. The script is so predictable and horrible.
      Labor with no guts or imagination to accept that a solution is needed will walk into this trap and the whole bloody mess continues.
      You don’t need to be a genius to look at ways to make it different- let’s hear from Crikey thinkers.
      If we don’t change we will ensure that we become a pariah nation which could harm us all.

      1. AR

        Pamela – no Pamella in your doubleplus good doublethink, distinctly unhoneyed honesty.
        There is No Balm in GileALPd, can the Apparatchik change his shorts?
        Sure, for an emollient or three. Bugger those in the Wilderness.

  2. Draco Houston

    Hear hear! Borders are a bit like copyright, they only mean something if enforced. Also like copyright they’re unnecessary and should be abolished for the good of humanity. If people want to put Aussie jobs first or ban Piss Brown from touring here they have to deal with concentration camps.

  3. graybul

    That it should come to this . . . . whereby the Australian Government having step by step laid out an action designed to end in bloodshed of innocents; who through no fault of own are cast as offenders where in fact from the beginning, always victims. Politicians, aided by Military strategists and headed by Minister’s prepared to besmirch, devalue, destroy even women and children in order to secure both political/personal goals. Guy’s reminder of past atrocities; who, how and toward what ends ensures outcomes followed by much public washing of hands . . . nothing has changed.

    I stand with the innocents.

  4. zut alors

    This latest egregious behaviour of the Immigration Minister & the culture of border protection beggars belief. What have we become, Australia? A nation of apathetic jerks.

    This morning I telephoned Dutton’s ministerial office in Canberra & urge others to do likewise. This is delivers strong feedback directly into the lion’s den. Don’t send emails, these are too easily ignored by his departmental staff & will never be answered.

    Telephone: force them to answer a barrage of critical calls & listen to the electorate challenge the Minister’s policies. The more civil your call the more difficult it makes to be dismissed as ‘a nutter’. We must be heard.

    1. billie

      The office of the Prime Minister phone number is 02 6277 7700

      1. zut alors

        And Dutton’s department: (02) 6277 7860

  5. billie

    Of course the locals hate the refugees, they hate Port Moresby as well because none of the money Australia pays PNG gets to Manus in the Admiralty Islands, are they the same ethnicity as Port Moresby fellas?

    The locals were bypassed for jobs in the camp and there is no money being spent on their communities.

    If I was in their shoes I would hate the intruders too but unlike the Manus people I wield a keyboard not a machete

  6. Michael O'Donoghue

    My fear is that these people will be harmed because Australian decisions are putting them at risk. Foreigners with money can buy Australian land and other assets with very little restriction. Foreign invasive pest animals, invasive pest plants and foreign disease organisms (ask a prawn farmer, citrus farmer, banana farmer) are so poorly regulated it is costing our country dearly. In contrast asylum seekers and refugees are treated so badly it appals me.
    What about a fair go? What is wrong with bringing them to our country at this stage to ensure that they are not harmed?

    1. silviacosier

      They should have been brought to Australia in the first place and imperative that they are brought here now.

      1. silviacosier

        Correction: What I meant to say is that ‘they should never have been sent there in the first place and imperative that they are brought to Australia now.

  7. Ewie

    I think the only way attacks on innocent refugees and asylum seekers will be stopped is when current and previous governments of both colour are held to account on an international level. That might mean a minister or former prime minister being dragged before the Hague for crime against humanity. The Tampa Incident in August 2001, sickened me. Now in 2017, we’re all watching what is occurring on Manus holding our collective breaths hoping the worst excesses of violence will be avoided. Those 600 men are Australia’s responsibility and should be treated as such.

  8. AR

    Just what this country needs, 600 fit, mostly muslim males of military age with a sense of victimhood & entitlement, enraged by years of ill treatment.
    We’ve sown the wind when it was a mere zephyr, it will be fun reaping the whirlwind engendered.

  9. John Hall

    We play tag with the US destabalising countries in the Middle East then complain about the refugee (and terrorist) crisis we made. We then have the morals of a rat and refuse to treat the resulting human wreckage under our UN Charter obligations. Both major parties have had a role to play in this mess & there is only a little to differentiate them. Terror/Scare politics is contemptible and opens us up to the worse in the human psyche. We must continue becoming an inclusive NOT exclusive society if we are to become a good world citizen and a democracy to be proud of. Where’s the Good Samaritan when we need one?

    1. Venise Alstergren

      I think even the Good Samaritan would have buckled under the dead-weight of Australian inertia about moral issues. Gosh though we are good followers. The English invented concentration camps-the Boer War-and obviously we think them to be a splendid idea. And the Americans-in their efforts at Empire-revel in bombing and invading foreign countries, mostly the ones which have oil, and we meekly fall into line. Is there no cloaca too filthy, or too deep, for our politicians-insert the Party of your choice- to splash about in?

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