Saturday, July 20, 2002

OUTCOMES, NOT JUSTICE.

The Sydney Morning Herald was lost it. Again. What was once a paper of record is now largely a student-level advocacy rag of opportunism and spite.

Again, we have the new cultural cringe of “what will the world think of us” in
The images of the two weeping boys being hauled out of the British Consulate-General in Melbourne has sparked renewed international attacks on Australia's treatment of children seeking asylum.

This must be Serious! International (hey, North Korea is international) attacks! Worth looking for, you’d think. And you’ll have to look for them yourself, since the worthies writing the lead, the editorial, or any of the six or seven follow up pieces don’t see fit to quote A SINGLE BLOODY ONE.
Let’s try Britain:
The British government is basically sympathetic towards the Australian government's position.

Nope, no international attack here. Over to you, New York Times:
The saga degenerated into farce when, after learning his sons were back in Woomera, Ali Bakhtiyari tried to enter the German consulate-general in Melbourne but was turned away.

Bugger. Washington Post anyone?
An official with Britain's Home Office in London said that since both Australia and Britain have signed a U.N. refugee convention, they judge asylum applications using the same criteria.
Therefore, "there are no grounds for anyone to seek asylum in Britain from Australia," she said on condition of anonymity.

Damn! Surely Central Europe will have something … anything …. (sound of wind whistling)

You know what? Screw it. I am not going to waste my time searching newspaper sites for some indication of these mythical “international attacks”. If these journalists (and I use the term loosely) have ANY evidence of ANY country that wants to stick its head up and say something, I’m open to it.

Moving on to the editorial, we have gems like this
The Minister for Immigration, Philip Ruddock, says he is not an Afghan farmer fleeing persecution but a Pakistani tradesman. In other words, not a refugee but a queue jumper.
There will be differing views about how fairly the Bakhtiari family's claims for asylum have been dealt with.

Differing views? DIFFERING BLOODY VIEWS?? There is a simple choice here: to believe the Bakhtiari family is, in fact, from Pakistan, and as such has TAKEN a refugee place from some poor bastard in an actual refugee camp in some god-forsaken country, who are the genuine refugees and presumably the people these Refugee Collective gits are supposed to be standing up for.

OR, you can believe that there is a very efficient conspiracy going on inside the Department of Immigration, which has examined the claims of Mrs Bakhtiari on several occasions, by different people, and (I’m willing to bet) the Federal Court, and still managed to convince all the officials involved to keep quiet about the cover up. And yet be so clumsy as to let the kiddies escape. So cruel as to deny refugee status, but not cold-hearted enough to ship them back to Pakistan.

None of the activists, defenders, collectives, lawyers, concerned citizens or other assorted basket-weavers have to integrity to say what they really think: that there is no outcome acceptable here but what they want, and that is permanent refugee status for the family. Courts may decide, appeals may fail, processes followed. It matters not a jot. The law? Irrelevant. Public Opinion? Bah! Due process? Sorry, gave at the office.

Tripe like this
Without an open system of determining such claims, the public is in a poor position to assess the conflicting claims of the Bakhtiari family and their lawyers on the one hand and Mr Ruddock and his department on the other.

simply points out the fundamental lack of consistency at play. What kind of open system does this entail? I can trot along to the Federal Court anytime I like, read the court papers, listen to the procedures. Does the Herald want every hearing, every interview, every Appeal, broadcast live? When the Refugee Action Collective starts letting non-members sit in on their policy meetings, then maybe they get to spout off.Is there a lawyer working for the family that can show where the law wasn’t followed? They can’t because it was. Law cannot be replaced with trial by photo opportunity.

Where to from here?

When the Bakhtiari family is shown to be from Pakistan, and I predict that will happen, the refugee industry should (if they had the slightest shred of integrity) turn and fall on them like ravening wolves. These people will be shown to be the lowest of the low. The Bakhtiaris will have taken time and resources away from genuine people in need, in the full knowledge of what they were doing, and to whom they were doing it. The father has obviously travelled into Afghanistan using his position as a Pakistani citizen to come and go as he pleased. He has done some research on the plight of the Hazari people, with the express purpose of appropriating their misery to improve his own economic position, and that of his family. Remember those leaky boats, crammed with desperate people? Well four of them are still on the beach, thanks to this family.

These are the very people the system of mandatory detention was set up to catch. The system worked, and worked in favour of genuine refugees awaiting legal entry into Australia. Had the Bakhtiaris slipped through, there would have been four less places for real refugees.

I wonder if Phillip Adams would volunteer to travel to an African refugee camp, and pick which four don’t get a visa?

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