There are many in the Brexit campaign who are not only happy to whip up racism as a byproduct of their campaign but for whom it is the main goal. And following on the back of a viciously racist campaign against Sadiq Khan, xenophobia and bigotry has been legitimised in a way it hasn’t been since the 1970s. One of the latest twists is the promotion of the Australian points system which is projected as an apparently logical and efficient system which operates smoothly – unlike the horrors of the very visible deaths in the Mediterranean. But campaigners for migrant rights in Australia – and migrants themselves – have the same struggles and tell many of the same stories as they do across the globe – especially in richer countries who take a smaller proportion of those fleeing war, climate disaster, malnutrition and disease but build the highest fences. Here we reprint an article from the Australian socialist paper Red Flag about the struggles of refugees:
A young woman under the custody and control of the Australian government set herself on fire on 2 May. Within 24 hours of Hodan Yasin’s desperate protest against her detention on Nauru, and while she clung to life in a hospital burns unit, immigration minister Peter Dutton launched an extraordinary attack on refugee rights supporters.
Appearing at a press conference on 2 May, he accused advocates of giving refugees “false hope” and blamed them for incidents of suicide and self-harm committed by those imprisoned in the government’s internment camps.
“I have previously expressed my frustration and anger at advocates and others who are in contact with those in regional processing centres and who are encouraging some of these people to behave in a certain way, believing that that pressure exerted on the Australian government will see a change in our policy”, he said.
Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist who fled Iran and sought asylum in Australia three years ago, wrote this response:
“To Peter Dutton: This letter is being written from Manus, the Guantanamo of Australia. In the recent days, you have blamed the advocates who are the main supporters of the tormented humans at Nauru and Manus prisons, for encouraging people to do self-harm and self-immolation.
“I would tell you openly, the one who deserves blame is you, yourself, no one else. As a person who has lived under this dictatorial system for years, I would tell you that this language and this type of targeting the civil society, media and human rights activist, is the language of dictatorial system and dictators.
“Mr Minister, if it is supposed to put somebody in the position of culprit and ask him to respond, that person is only you, no one else. Because you are the one who has designed the horrendous prisons on the remote islands and stuck people under a systematic torture.
“You are the one who has imprisoned women and children, you are the one who has officially taken 2,000 people as hostage and even don’t allow them to leave the islands and move to the other countries that are happy to host them.
“You are the one who is happy for producing violence and exquisite agony, happy for advertising and exporting it to the world, Mr Minister.
“You are the person that has spent $5 billion for shaping prisons and incarcerating innocent women and children. Surely you know better than others that Reza, Omid, Hamid, Fazel, Hodan and many others are the victims of your cruel and inhuman policy controlling your prisons.”