Questions for politicians on treatment of asylum seekers

Written by Claire O’Connor, Adelaide Barrister on 20 April 2022 on Facebook (shared here with her permission)

Can candidates not say they support off-shore processing of asylum seekers?

Can they be honest and say they support the detention of innocent asylum seekers – indefinitely – in conditions every human rights organisation nationally and international has said are cruel and dehumanising?

Can they stop saying they’ll turn back boats?

Can they say if a boat of asylum seekers makes it to Australian waters at Christmas Island or Ashmore Reef- usually in flimsy unsafe vessels following days at sea – they’ll support endangering the passengers further by forcing them away from safe haven knowing the closest land is back to Indonesia – and knowing the craft won’t have enough fuel or food to make it?

Can they not pretend to care for those fleeing bombing and battle in the Ukraine where they will open arms and take photo opportunities with shell shocked refugees from that war while being proud of their support for locking up children for years and years in flimsy tents in searing heat on Nauru just because those innocents come from a different battleground?

Can the same politicians stop calling asylum seekers illegals when it’s legal under the Migration Act to seek asylum in Australia?

Can the press shut up about whether a PM got the day v week pension figure wrong or a PM candidate didn’t know one of the official unemployment figures and, instead, concentrate on the greatest human rights disaster in this country that has been occurring now for 20 years?

Ask every candidate about their support for this insane cruelty instead of a gotcha on numbers.

Can the press stop allowing politicians to pretend to the electorate that the turn back is about saving lives?

I acted in the inquest in the SIEV 221. I’m fully aware 49 people died as their flimsy craft smashed into Christmas Island. I know the survivors did not include anyone under 9. I know the largest maritime disaster in our waters was the SIEV X. Over 250 drowned.

Don’t pretend you can get away with locking innocent people up for years and years to prevent drownings.The best way to save the lives of asylum seekers is to rescue them at sea. Everybody knows that.

But we are kidding ourselves it’s about saving lives.

It’s about

Not

Wanting

Those

People

Here.

It’s racism. No asylum seeker on Manus – on Nauru – was white. Australia still has a white Australia policy. Still.