“Video of asylum seekers being loaded on to flights to Malaysia will be posted on facebook and Youtube as a scare tactic to frighten off other refugees from coming to Australia illegally on boats”, according to Sky News Australia.
“Every step of the 54 latest arrivals, picked up off the coast of Western Australia on Sunday, will be filmed and then immediately posted online”.
The Australian government’s crude attempt to terrorise would be asylum seekers from making the hazardous see crossing from Indonesia to Christmas Island is but a further example of the Gillard government’s increasingly inhumane approach to the treatment of undocumented migrants.
The Age newspaper reported that as many as 19 unaccompanied minors are due to be processed for deportation to Malaysia – one third of a contingent of 55 that had arrived by boat on Christmas Island since the ‘get tough’ policy had been announced.
To ensure that no passengers can escape their forcible removal to Malaysia, local riot police had been sent to the recently reopened Phosphate Hill detention centre in Western Australia along with a contingent of Royal Malaysian Police.
‘The United Nations’ children’s agency said it was extremely concerned unaccompanied minors may be deported from Christmas Island and called on Mr Bowen not to send them to Malaysia for processing’.
The Australian Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the children should not be used as a deterrent for people smugglers. ”None of the 19 should be sent to a country where there are not guarantees that they will be protected from harm,” she said, saying the policy left a ”sick feeling in the stomach”.
Disturbing news from Australia reveals that Julia Gillard, the Welsh born Australian Prime Minister, intends to send hundreds of asylum seekers, including many unaccompanied children, to a Tenko-style detention centre in Malaysia complete with watch towers, punishment cages and razor wire.
According to Australia’s Green Left magazine, UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay has denounced the Malaysia deal and called Australia’s policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers “a practice that can, and has, led to suicides”.
The Malaysian government has also been accused of using the brutal punishment of the rattan cane on thousands of foreign detainees in recent years. In 2002 the Malaysian government declared ‘illegal’ immigration to be a criminal offence, which means the cane can be used on ‘illegal’ refugees and migrants many of whom are fleeing human rights abuses or war in Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Burma.
The so-called “Malaysia solution” in which it is proposed to swap 4,000 ‘genuine’ refugees held in Malaysia for 800 asylum seekers who have sought refuge on the Australian territory of Christmas Island is an attempt to frustrate the use of the Indian Ocean as a stepping stone to the Australian mainland. By forcibly removing vulnerable women and children to Malaysia the Australian government plans to deter would be refugees from making the perilous sea crossing from Indonesia.
Commissioner Pillay has warned that Australia is in breach of international law for its use of arbitrary detention with respect to asylum seekers, including many hundreds of children who continue to be detained for several months. Commissioner said that
Mandatory detention is also a practice that can – and has – led to suicides, self-harming and deep trauma
This new policy would further undermine Australia’s reputation as a guardian of human rights because it could not ensure “no real risk of breach of the principles of the 1951 refugee convention and the convention against torture, which Australia has ratified and Malaysia has not”.