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June 8, 2011

Not Malaysia, Not Nauru – Refugee group condemns Abbott’s refugee-bashing trip to Nauru

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

The Refugee Action Coalition has condemned Tony Abbott’s trip to Nauru as a cheap publicity stunt.

“No doubt Abbott hopes the media will follow him to Nauru and he can get another sound bite or two to pursue his anti-refugee politicking,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Off-shore processing has no place in a humanitarian refugee policy – not in Malaysia, not in Nauru, not on Christmas Island. There is no choice to be made between Nauru and Malaysia. Asylum seekers should be welcome at Australia’s borders to be processed on the Australian mainland while they live in the community.

“Refugee policy should not be about stopping the boats or how can the government most effectively violate asylum seekers human rights.

“Nauru was a hell-hole under the Howard government. It was a place of mass mental health problems, notorious for lip-stitching, self harm, dengue fever and mass hunger strikes. It was notorious for the abuse of human rights that took place under the guidance of Australian immigration authorities and the International Organisation of Migration. No third country would take refugees that were Australia’s responsibility so they languished there. It was the worst form of long term detention.

“Twenty-eight babies were born on Nauru to asylum seekers’ families. Hundreds of unaccompanied minors were kept in appalling conditions away from any scrutiny, or oversight. More than forty minors were coerced into returning to Afghanistan.

“Tragically, the only think that is giving Tony Abbott political oxygen, is the Gillard government’s disgraceful Malaysia Solution. Abbott is seizing the opportunity to propose even harsher restrictions while he recycles myths about asylum seekers destroying identity documents.

“His comments to the Lowy institute reveal how little Tony Abbott really knows about asylum seeker policy. Australian law already imposes mandatory prison sentences on people smuggling – something which has been condemned by refugee advocates and even judges. And there is no time limit on ASIO security clearances – that’s the reason there are refugees still waiting almost two years after being told they have been accepted.

“Humanitarian policy demands that government upholds the rights of asylum seekers. The debate of Nauru versus Malaysia is being driven by the race to the bottom politics between Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard looking for more and more imaginative ways to violate asylum seekers human rights.”

World Refugee Day rallies demanding “No Malaysia Solution; End Mandatory Detention are scheduled for 19 June for Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and 25 June in Brisbane.

For more information contact Refugee Action Coalition: Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.

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