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June 5, 2012


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Predictably enough, the Four Corners people smuggling program has resulted in an outpouring of anti-refugee sentiment.

Both sides of politics have taken the opportunity to renew their calls to violate the human rights of asylum seekers and establish off-shore third country processing in Malaysia or Nauru.

The Minister has announced an investigation into allegations that people in Australia are assisting asylum seekers to get from Indonesia to Australia by boat.

“The Four Corners’ allegation that a people smuggler ‘posed’ as a refugee when he arrived in Australia is entirely unsubstantiated. But it would not be the first time that refugees have been involved in helping to organise boats from Indonesia,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“In fact it is most common that so-called ‘organisers’ convicted of people smuggling are refugees. This puts the lie to the idea that informal travel to Australia is arranged through transnational criminal networks. It is driven by the need for protection.

“Under the Howard government, convicted people smugglers were not been denied protection visas, but served their time and went on to become Australian citizens.

“The hysteria about the role people smugglers and their supposed business model simply does not fit the facts. At least four boats this year carrying Tamil asylum seekers have come directly from Sri Lanka – no people smugglers required. But the vast majority of asylum seekers need to use the people smugglers’ services to get to safety from Indonesia.

“The people smuggling laws do nothing but make an already dangerous situation, more dangerous. They were introduced by successive governments for domestic political purposes. That’s why the people smuggling laws should be scrapped.”

“If Captain Emad has been as successful a business person as the program implied, he could have bought his way into Australia and permanent residency with a business visa.

“What really needs investigation is the role and political direction of the Federal Police. The Fairfax media has already revealed that the Federal Police had extensive connections with people smuggling networks and withheld information from rescue operations for fear of compromising their sources.

“It is clear that the AFP disproportionately targets Indonesian boat crew and refugee families in Australia. It seems the political motivation for the introduction of people smuggling laws may have compromised the Federal Police itself.

“People smugglers provide needed services to people fleeing persecution. The government’s demonisation of people smugglers is aimed at diverting attention from its own persecution of asylum seekers.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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