The question of ‘who belongs where?’ has really been highlighted in today’s media and its focus on the poor and inhumane treatment dealt by the Australian Government to asylum seekers and refugees entering Australian territories. How can we decide where someone does or does not belong? Our fear of ‘the other’ is nothing more than prejudicial racism and a violation of basic human rights. In SBS Q&A episode, panel member and musician Nitin Sawhney deems the Australian government’s ‘fear of foreigners’ surpasses their concern for the welfare of those seeking asylum and how they are being stigmatized. At a time when “there are more displaced people in the world than since the end of second world war” (Gordon 2014), we feel it just to turn them away from safety or punish them with off-shore detention for trying to reach it? Fellow panel member and well-known comedian Angry Anderson blames the press and their ability to dehumanize refugees in their relaying of biased news that instills fear and clouds opinion. He believes, as do I, that without proper, unbiased education on this issue, people cannot truly understand it.
This article on ‘who’s driving the asylum debate’ discusses the insistent nature of the Australian Federal Government in their depiction of asylum seekers to its mediated sphere and population. They continue to associate asylum seekers and refugees with words like ‘threat’, ‘illegality’ and ‘burden’, such a negative construct has been contracted through the media, reinforcing this pessimistic perception. It outlines how the refugee council of Australia even expressed concerns that “the media has helped to produce a climate of fear that was being used to legitimize the introduction of draconian policies” (Klocker & Dunn 2003).
Australia’s foreign policy is nothing more than a xenophobic social structure depriving asylum seekers and refugees, who are fleeing life-threatening conditions, from a secure environment where they are able to regroup and rebuild their lives in safety. An excellent example; the new budget and its cut of overall foreign aid by a staggering $1 billion, a completely surprising and totally not spiteful 40% cut of aid to Indonesia in particular (please excuse my sarcasm) while the Refugee Council of Australia saw a loss of $140 000 of government funding PedestrianTv 2015. In light of current events, which dealt the harsh capital punishment to Australian drug smuggling ‘Bali 9’ pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on the 28th of last month, caused total uproar amongst the Australian population and saw governmental pleas and offerings to retract the sentence in response. But how could we expect Balinese leader Jokowi to spare our criminals the death penalty for drug smuggling when we cannot do the same for innocent foreigners? “You can’t abuse human rights in defiance of international law and then criticise others for doing the same” exclaimed ABC reporter Sunil Badami.
“Substitute the words “people smuggler” for “drug smuggler” and ask yourself this: how is Indonesia’s unjust, hard-line, domestically focused mistreatment of foreigners any different to ours? Australia too has refused to acknowledge the humanity of foreigners; Australia too has mistreated people in defiance of international law; Australia too has defended its policies using hyperbolic language – all on the basis that punishing a few will save many more.”
-Aslym Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) Facebook page
-Klocker N & Dunn K, 2003, ‘Who’s driving the asylum debate? Newspaper and Government representation of asylum seekers’, Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 109, pp.71-92
Date accessed: April 7 2015
-Campbell E, 2015, ‘Asylum seekers experiences in Australia between 2012-2014: The structural-Personal Interaction Process’, School of Political Science and International Studies
Date accessed: April 2 2015
-Q&A Episode, SBSchannel, 2012, ‘Australians on Asylum Seekers and Multiculturalism’.
Date accessed: April 4 2015