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The Forum > Article Comments > Asylum seekers or economic refugees? > Comments

Asylum seekers or economic refugees? : Comments

By Mike Pope, published 23/10/2009

Are the Sri Lankans genuine asylum seekers? Or are they economic migrants, aspiring to socio-economic conditions they could never enjoy in India or Sri Lanka?

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Stimulating thought from Mike Pope. Last night the ABC hosted the usual panel of pollies and journalists who launched into the pros and cons of Rudd and Tuckey and in general made cringing apologists for Australia to uphold decent humanitarian consideration for, in this case the Sri Lankans held in Indonesia. Australia, on a per capita basis has made reasonable effort to accomodate refugees. However, I agree Pope's view that given the geographical, historical and cultural closeness of Tamil Nadu India, if this current load of "boat people" are genuinely fleeing opression in northern Sri Lanka why on Earth did they choose to pay a lot of money to come very far to a very foreign place? Surely immediate relief and protection would be achieved in a 6 hours boat trip across the Palk Strait to Tamil Nadu?

The very point that emerges here is the silence of India. India is a strong democracy, a growing economy and well versed in dealing with humanitarian crises. Why is there not an overt offer to assist? Surely a joint UN India multinational effort could be arranged to mitigate the worst of the oppression suffered without the victims handing over their life savings to people smugglers and imposing what appears to be staged managed emotional blackmail on both the Indonesian and Australians.
Posted by RAFEX, Friday, 23 October 2009 9:30:12 AM
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Well said Rafex. I'm tired of this double standard that seems to exist. we are now continually told of how India and other comparable countries are developed countries with thriving economies, fast catching up to the 1st world. Indians often tell me how there country is just as good as Australia now. Yet why is there no call for them to accommodate these people. We are told we have a responsibilty to our local pacific neighbours, so why does'nt india have the same local responsibility. No matter what happens there is always a group of whinging refugee advocates that will blame Australia for everything.
Posted by ozzie, Friday, 23 October 2009 9:50:12 AM
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Actually a lot of what the writer says is nonsense. For the Sri Lankan Tamils to go to Tamil Nadu they would need the permission of the INDIAN GOVERNMENT not the Tamil Nadu state government.

The writer is effectively suggesting that a state government can decide on a federal matter. Would the NSW state government be allowed to grant citizenship to refugees??

Mike Pope clearly has a shallow understanding of the situation in Sri Lanka.

Further, the Tamils in Tamil Nadu are the same as the Sri Lankan Tamils. Its the same race. Tamils have been in Sri Lanka and South India for 5000 years. Thats why the "Aryan" Sinhalese are so scared - they are scared that 80 million Tamils will begin to carve out a Tamil nation. Fear and insecurity drives racist violence.
Posted by David Jennings, Friday, 23 October 2009 10:30:56 AM
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Interesting article, Mr Pope. Pity about the dog-whistling title, but I assume that was an editorial 'enhancement'.

You raise some interesting and pertinent questions, but you avoid completely mentioning the appalling and well-reported conditions from which Sri Lankan Tamil refugees are fleeing. Further, you fail to mention that India is not a signatory to the UN Convention on refugees, while Australia is.

Indeed, India is already harbouring thousands of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees and is currently considering whether to grant them residency.

Your point about the likely expansion of refugee numbers due to climate change is a good one, but I can already hear the selfish bleating of the refugee-bashers who will want to label them "economic immigrants", "potential terrorists" or some other pejorative term. If people are hysterical about the Tamils, imagine how they'll sqwawk if boatloads of predominantly Muslim Bangladeshi climate change refugees appear on the horizon.

It seems to me that the claims of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers are very likely to be legitimate under the terms of the UN Convention, but they are currently attracting the same kinds of fear and loathing from some Australians that every wave of refugees has since Vietnam.

Obviously, we can't take them all but we will have to take our share. We can't lock them all up and nor can we build a big fence around Australia to keep them out. We can, however, improve the processes by which we process asylum seekers and do far more to address the 'push' factors, certainly in the case of Sri Lankans Tamil asylum seekers.

And we can certainly stop demonising those who are far less fortunate than ourselves by showing some compassion and decency towards them.
Posted by CJ Morgan, Friday, 23 October 2009 10:35:46 AM
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Itís likely that immigration officials are being conned by economic cheats. The interrogation methods are kept secret, and it has been show in the past that Australian officials canít tell the difference between Australian citizens, Australian residents and illegal immigrants. (The German/Australian resident et al)

The UN is much more efficient, and that is why these illegals dodge any chance to front up to a UN office as they pass through several countries which have the facilities on their way to Australia.

Despite the screeching of those who encourage illegal entry to Australia, we were second only to America (11,000 to 16,000) in the number of UN-processed refugees we accepted in 2008.

The only way to ensure that we are not getting self-interested country-shoppers is to turn illegal boats around, and stick to the method that was agree to.

As for the authorís concern about population explosion, Rudd was quoted this morning as saying that he really liked the idea of a Ďbigí Australia, and he made no apology for it. Once again we can see that the true enemies of Australia are our politicians. Both of the major parties are population maniacs.

Mad Dog Morgan,

I couldnít post again in the last thread where you asked if I had ever been called a truly hateful person. The answer is yes. By you, a few days ago. Poor chap: you either have dementia or you hate so many people that you donít remember what you said to whom
Posted by Leigh, Friday, 23 October 2009 11:04:18 AM
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I'm just wondering who's the biggest terrorist - a Sri Lankan refugee or a Wilson Tuckey who is waiting to throw something at them from the pier. Seems like we've got more than our fair share of cultural "terrorists" in our midst already.
Posted by RobP, Friday, 23 October 2009 11:06:04 AM
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