Direct Action Fund appeal: Fighting for refugees
By Jon Lamb
The hysteria about refugees and asylum seekers has not skipped a beat since the racism-driven election campaign. Nearly 5000 refugees are being held in detention centres in deplorably inhumane conditions. Many have to wait 10 months or more before their claims are even assessed.
Mandatory detention is taking an enormous psychological toll on those who have lost nearly all hope. Desperate for some resolution of their plight, asylum seekers are resorting to hunger strikes and other acts of physical self-harm. Little wonder that rooftop protests and detention centre break-outs have increased.
Australia officially accepts around 14,000 refugees a year — a pitifully small proportion of the 30 million plus refugees and internally displaced persons around the globe. Since World War II, Australia has resettled a little more than 600,000 people. The hyped-up xenophobia and racist policies of both major parties since the late 1990s have resulted in only a trickle of refugees being accepted into Australia, while the numbers of refugees internationally have been steadily increasing. In 2009-10, the number of asylum seekers that made up Australia’s migration intake was the lowest in 35 years.
Of course, the country’s “leaders” claim that being tough on some of the most oppressed and traumatised peoples in the world is for the national interest. Such base racism is a key ideological weapon — to divide “us” and “them”, to perpetuate the myth that our lifestyle, our culture and our way of living are overwhelmingly superior. It is a deliberate ploy to break solidarity between workers and the oppressed “over there” from workers and the disenfranchised here.
The same ideological weapon is used to whip up nationalist fervour in support of imperialist wars and occupations. These are the wars that so many of the asylum seekers are fleeing when they head for Australian shores, only to face the rigid and dehumanising experience of Australian immigration law.
Direct Action is committed to combating this racism and the attacks on refugee and asylum seeker rights. We need your help to keep the paper in production and play a part in helping to build a movement for fundamental change and solidarity, for socialism of the 21st century. Please make a donation to the Direct Action fund appeal and help us reach our $35,000 target. So far we have raised $19,827.54 thanks to the generosity of readers like you. You can make a donation by sending a cheque or money order to Direct Action, Suite 72, 65 Myrtle Street, Chippendale NSW 2008.