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The unanswered question on asylum seekers

June 18, 2015

The Asylum Seeker issue is one of the issues that makes me the saddest as an Australian and a human being. What it must be like to be sweltering on Nauru, with no security or certainty at all in your future, I’ll never know.

One of the underlying, subconscious arguments of the whole thing, is that people are trying to get to Australia to enjoy the economic benefits Australians enjoy. Now why Australia is so wealthy is one question I’ll leave for now, but has mainstream Australia considered that the asylum seekers who come here are from a few select regions around the world. Rohingyans from Burma, Iranians, Hazaras and Pashtuns from Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tamils from Sri Lanka, then people from the politically disintegrating Middle East- they are all from warzones where many people fear for their lives.

If asylum seekers, or “boat-people” were just coming here to steal our wealth, why from so few places? Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines are full of the world’s poorest people. Whilst not starving, you wouldn’t call what most of them have as a life as “vast economic opportunity”. If asylum seekers are trying to take our jobs, steal our wealth or make us hard working white people poor, why are they all exclusively from war zones and not from our brutally poor neighbours?

The answer is, that asylum seekers aren’t at all seeking a monetarily rich life. They’re seeking safety, seeking asylum from warzones that our global economic system helped create. They’re not mindless creatures intent on stealing our dollars and making us all Muslim. They’re people, like those photographed in the last few days crossing the border into Turkey:

Asylum seekers, boat people are leaving areas where their life is at risk to places in the world who made laws saying that we will look after them. We made these laws and ratified the UN Refugee Convention because we used to believe that if your life is in danger, if your family is threatened with death, we’ll take care of you.

Now we believe the rhetoric of lazy politicians and the shadowy fear in our own hearts that looks to this Australian, like selfishness of the most ignorant kind.

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