HR activist in Australia condemns freezing asylumn to Tamils

[TamilNet, Friday, 09 April 2010, 23:24 GMT]
The Australian Government has introduced a suspension of the processing of new asylum applications from Sri Lanka. The suspension has been made as a result of the "evolving circumstances" said a joint media release from the Australian Ministers for Immigration and Citizenship, Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs on Friday. Meanwhile, Julian Burnside, an Australian barrister and a human rights advocate, has condemned the move in an article published in The Age, stating that Tamils from Sri Lanka are fleeing because they face genocide in Sri Lanka.

Julian Burnside was reacting to a comment by the Opposition Leader that Australia cannot be a ''lifeboat to the world''.

Extracts from the reaction of the human rights activists follow:

"The rate of people arriving here by boat has always been tiny. The largest number to arrive in any 12-month period over the past three decades is 4100. Compare that with about 200,000 new permanent migrants every year. Boat arrivals so far this year amount to less than three days' worth of ordinary migration."

"Pakistan, India and Indonesia are not signatories to the United Nations refugee convention. Stopping in those countries affords refugees no protection at all."

"Any refugee who reaches Indonesia must live in the shadows, with no right to education or employment, and constantly at risk of arrest. Those assessed as refugees by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees have to wait decades before they can hope to be resettled in a country that offers them protection."

"Tamils from Sri Lanka are fleeing because they face genocide in Sri Lanka, after the collapse of their long-running attempt to establish a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka's north."

"During the final push against the Tamils, the Sri Lankan government bombed hospitals, killing thousands of civilian men, women and children. Since the hostilities ended, more than 100,000 Tamils have been held in crowded camps with hopelessly inadequate facilities. One camp had a single bore to provide water for 2000 people; it had no flushing toilets. Girls who went to wash themselves in the stream in the camp disappeared without a trace. Men who were thought to have been involved in the separatist movement were ''disappeared''; a number of them were executed. Some Australian commentators have suggested that the Tamils could simply go to India, but India is not a signatory to the refugee convention."


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