Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Those forgotten in this election

In case you hadn't noticed yet, there is an national election going on in Australia. Are you suffering from election fatigue yet? Or turned-off by the blatant attempts of both the Government (Liberals) and the Opposition (Labor) to buy your vote with financial "incentives"? Or are you still "making up your mind" about which party's promises of tax-breaks, health funding, private school subsidies, rebates and more is going to suit your personal interests? There are lots of blogs and websites out there following the election closely. I'm not going to join them. I do, however, what to urge people to please spare a thought for one of the groups that has received very little attention this elections: refugees.

Compared to the last general elections in 2001, when the
Liberal government's racist scare campaign of a tide of refugee boat people poised to "invade" Australia's shores in rickety boats (and the associated "security" threats they posed) tapped a xenophobic undercurrent in Australia that returned the Libs to power, this year's election has been shatteringly silent on Australia's treatment of assylum seekers and refugees. At least amongst the main political parties that is.

There are still those who are trying to keep the issue of Australia's inhumane treatment of refugees alive in our minds as the nation poises to cast its votes.

This includes a report on the Howard government's terrible treatment of the assylum seekers it deports, including the dangers they've faced when deported to the countries they fled in the first place!
According to Phil Glendenning, director of the organisation who prepared the report:

"It's fairly clear from this particular study that Australia has been putting people into situations where their lives are at risk once they've been removed from this country."

There is also Clara Law's (director) and Eddie Fong's documentary film, Letters to Ali – the story of an Australian woman and her family who began writing letters to a boy locked up in mandatory immigration detention in the desert, and the bond they developed with him. Importantly, the story allows us an insight into how Australia's policy of locking up assylum seekers who come to the country without the "correct papers". Check out a review, find out why Law and Fong made their film, or catch the film yourself!


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