A post by Nayano at a Possie in Aussie drew my attention to a story in The Agedetailing a visit by a Federal Government’s security adviser “to Malaysia and Sri Lanka to negotiate ways to stop the flow of asylum seekers to Australia.” Many asylum seekers go via Malaysia to Indonesia where they try to apply with the UNHCR for recognition as a refugee and/or try to get on a boat to Australia.
This post at my Crikey blog provides graphic detailof some of the serious human rights abuses which asylum seekers in Malaysia face. Major human rights abuses in Sri Lanka have also been widely documented over many years.
A policy approach to asylum seekers focused only on stopping all boat arrivals, regardless of all the related issues, risks entrenching a view that the victims of major human rights abuses, even in our near-neighbourhood, are someone else’s problem as long as we can keep them out of Australian territory.
Apart from being of questionable morality, I find it difficult to see how such a policy could work without great expense. Even then, I doubt it could be sustainable in the long-run. A blind eye can only be turned to unpleasant realities for so long, before that reality has a way of forcing itself in your face one way or another.