Tuesday, 8 September 2015

If good enough for Syrians, why not for Rohingyas?

Abbott's recent and paltry gesture in favour of a few hundred Syrian families - to accept more refugees from persecuted minorities who are coming out of the desperate Middle East country - is in fact a hollow sham, in light of his "nope, nope, nope" decision vis-a-vis refugees from the persecuted minority community of Rohingya coming out of Myanmar back in May.

At that time, you might remember, he refused to give succour to thousands of refugees whose claim on Australia's good offices was as strong - if not stronger - than that of the Syrians today. Even though those refugees were being sent back out to see in the boats they arrived on by authorities in countries such as Indonesia and Thailand.

Because of the actions of people like the prime minister, Australia is not honouring its obligations under international law to provide shelter to legitimate refugees. Abbott emerges from the shadow of these events as the gaunt spokesperson of a legacy of disgusting xenophobia that should be the deepest cause of shame for all Australians. We can do more, and we must do more.

We cannot allow Abbott to use the focus provided by global scrutiny now to hide the actual policy deficiencies that are being created by his government with regard to legitimate refugees in our part of the world.

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