Tag Archives: Refugees

Manus, Nauru and an Australian Detention Legacy by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

It could be called a gulag mentality, though it finds form in different ways. In the defunct Soviet Union, it was definitive of life: millions incarcerated, garrisons of forced labour, instruments of the proletarian paradise fouled. Gulag literature suggested another society, estranged and removed from civilian life, channelled into an absent universe. Titles suggested as much: Gustaw Herling’s work was titled A World Apart; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago likewise suggested societies marooned from the broader social project. But these were intrinsic to the bricks and mortar, in many cases quite literally, of the Soviet state. 

In the case of countries supposedly priding themselves in the lotteries of exaggerated freedom, the influence of this carceral mentality is less obvious but still significant. In Australia, where offshore processing of naval arrivals and its own offerings of gulag culture were made, six years has passed since Nauru and Manus Island became outpost of indefinite detention.

manus01_400During the years, legislation has been passed encasing these outposts in capsules of secrecy, superficially protected by island sovereignty. Whistleblowing has been criminalised; concerned doctors have been expelled; suicides, sexual assault and psychological mutilations have been normalised in the patchwork monstrosity that involves compromised local officials, private security firms and funding from the Australian tax payer.

A most obvious consequence of this is the cultivation of a thuggish lack of accountability. Australian politicians keen to visit the handiwork of their government have been rebuffed. Greens Senator Nick McKim had been trying to splash out some publicity on the anniversary, paying a visit to Manus Island. He noted a deterioration in conditions since his 2017 visit.

On Thursday, he was approached by two immigration officials who informed him that he would be deported. He had been attempting to see East Lorengau camp, was denied entry, and his passport confiscated. To SBS News, he expressed his disappointment “that they are threatening to deport me because I am here to expose the truth about the treatment of refugees, to lift the veil of secrecy that’s been draped over Australia’s offshore detention regime.”

A mistake is made in assuming clear dates of commencement in terms of a distinct Australian approach. Australia was, after all, itself a penal colony, an experiment in distant punishment and obsessive control. It made, in turn, prisoners of the indigenous population. Brutally, its various authorities relocated individuals to missions, camps and compounds. A paternal mentality, one that has never left, took hold: we know what is best for you, be it the Bible or the dog tag. Infantilism, exploitation and dispossession thrived as mentalities.

Despite being an active participant in the post-war movement to establish an international refugee regime protecting human rights…

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Eureka: What is exactly an immigrant? by Akli Hadid

migran01_400Now that leaders around the world are talking about deporting illegal immigrants and restricting immigration, what exactly is an immigrant?

Roughly, there are seven types of foreign nationals that can reside in your country. Such foreign nationals can move from one category to another during their stay in your country, such as someone who came as a student, found employment, then married a local. Others come as students and start businesses, dropping their studies, while others come as tourists or short-term students and overstay their visa, while still others did not have authorization to enter your country, and came by hiding in a car or vessel that entered the country legally.

Now to the different categories of immigrants.

Type 1: Foreign government officials and dignitaries

They used to be the most common form of immigrant, and it’s safe to say they are now among the least common type of immigrant. Governments, armies or state-owned businesses can send dignitaries or officials to work in your country. It’s difficult to find sub-categories as some of them can be quite blurry: in the United States embassy staff can not assist local business or find business opportunities and can only serve as go-betweens and there’s a clear line between business, the military and government. In East Asia for example the line between diplomacy, business and the military is a lot more blurred, that is you can have an army official who has an office at the embassy but also actively seeks clients for his country’s mobile phone company or construction company among others. The length of stay varies from dignitary to dignitary and from country to country. African and Middle Eastern states are famous for sending dignitaries to a foreign country for a lifetime, while other countries like to change their rosters frequently.

Read the whole article in Ovi Magazine, HERE!

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Syrian children: we also have dreams

life_0020We are children from Syria; some of us came to Lebanon two years ago, and others came three or four years ago.
We suffer from many problems; one of them is being beaten by others. For example, in the school, we are beaten by Lebanese students. In the streets, we are beaten as well and some people make fun of us. A friend and his brother are sometimes beaten by the owner of the house where they live.
We also suffer from big economic problems. For instance, there is someone in the group whose brothers sell tissues in the street to bring money to help their parents. But sometimes Lebanese children steal the tissues from them or the money they gained from the selling. Some children cannot register at the school due to economic conditions and others because they lack legal papers. 
Despite all this, we still have dreams. Our dreams are like the dreams of all other children. We hope that no one will beat us on the road, in the neighborhood, at school, or at home. We hope that no one will speak to us in a bad way, and we would like to be treated by the Lebanese and the Syrians in a good way.
In Syria, we used to live in a house, and we live now in a tent. We wish to go back to our homes and our countr, and that the war is over and that our parents can find a job to work just like any other parents. 
We also dream that the truth will come to light in order to go back to Syria and all the problems will be over. Coming back to Syria is like the re-entry to paradise. 
All of us have dreams for the future:
– I dream to become a football player and help people through sports (Ahmad)
– I dream to be a doctor in the future (Haitham)
– I dream to be a professor (Muhannad)
– I also dream to become a teacher (Fatima)
– I would love to become a police officer to help people (Wael)
– I would love to become president in order to help everyone (Madiha)
Finally, we want to thank you for all your efforts and your concern about us. Thanks you for coming here and helping us, and we wish if you can make all our dreams come true. We would like that this message could reach all decision-makers in the world in order to help us in achieving our dreams. 
-Noah, Mouhanned, Thanaa, Doha, Wael, Hiba, Fatima, Madiha, Ahmad, Saleh, Haitham, Ahmad

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Greece: STALAG 13 by Nikos Laios

ovicover_05_03_16Greece has been turned into an open-air internment camp, a German style stalag where increasingly tens of thousands of refugees are finding themselves trapped in Greece unable to continue their journey northwards to Germany. Poor desperate souls who are streaming into Europe to find asylum and an escape from the hell of war, starvation and privation with a vision of an idealized utopia that they are unfortunately finding is not real. Families, young people, the aged and crippled with some making the journey to Europe in wheel chairs. All these poor bedraggled souls who thought they could find humanity and compassion in Europe, who now find their dreams and visions foundering on the white-washed dazzling shores of the Aegean. Where only this last week two refugees attempted to hang themselves in a downtown city square in Athens out of desperation at the shattering of their illusions.

While the rest of Europe haggles and argues over their obligations as civilized nations to the human rights of these poor wretches, poor Greece goes about the job in humility every day at plucking refugees out of the cold wintery waves by fisherman who should be harvesting the seas to feed their families, who are now harvesting the ocean of the unwanted human detritus. Not flinching for one moment at their moral and ethical obligations to show compassion to their fellow human beings; the old and weathered Greek grandmothers who sit in their chairs of the courtyards of their homes in their easterly Greek islands caring for the very young refugee children. Providing some warmth and shelter to young families – where though language is a barrier – find that love knows no boundaries; or the everyday Greeks who volunteer and provide the refugees with the basic necessities. These same Greeks who have seen their wages cut, or their pensions drastically reduced, these same Greeks who can barely feed their own children who sometimes go to school without having eaten. These Greeks who are labouring under the cruel and inhuman enforced punishment of fiscal and economic austerity by their callous fellow Europeans and the international banking system. It is my fellow Greeks who whilst labouring under this austerity are unflinching in showing warmth, compassion, humanity and dignity to the desperate war-torn refugees.

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