It is legal to arrive by boat seeking asylum. So-called ‘boat people’ are not breaking the law. Several prominent people, including members of the Liberal Party (not to international readers – this is the largest conservative party in Australia), business leaders and right-wing journalists such as Andrew Bolt continue the lie that they asylum-seekers arrive here illegally. They do not. See this fact sheet on asylum seekers and the law: http://www.asrc.org.au/media/documents/it-not-illegal-seek-asylum.pdf
People seek asylum because they are desperate – not desperate as in grasping, avaricious yuppies from brown countries, but desperate as in their lives have been threatened, their wives and daughters raped, their next-door neighbours tortured or their homes torched. Their persecution has been political (they’re not a victim of a mugging or a participant in a riot in their town) and deliberate, with no human rights standard to protect them in their country of origin. They may be a part of a cultural or religous group that has been persecuted, with no option of not being part of that group.
Very frequently, there is no queue in the town they come from, or in any of the places through which they escape.
They use their very last dollars, sell all the family assets, do whatever it takes, to get themselves and their children to safety.
This is exactly what any other Australian would do. We value our families, we love them. We have set up our society so that we can nurture all the members of the family.
We want people in our culture who care so much about their families that they are willing to do whatever it takes to firstly get their family to safety and secondly participate in a society that holds the same values that they do.
People doing whatever it takes – including getting on a dangerous boat – to live a decent and safe life are people we want here.
Next time you’re tempted to think about asylum seekers as the 22nd century’s answer to the yellow peril, read this.
‘Asylum seekers: the story that doesn’t get told’: http://www.watoday.com.au/comment/asylum-seekers-the-story-that-doesnt-get-told-20130412-2hpcm.html#ixzz2QJ8TiK9O
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre: http://www.asrc.org.au/learn-more/
ASRC blog, Champions of Change: http://www.championsofchange.org.au/
ASRC resources for asylum seekers themselves: http://www.asylumexplained.asrc.org.au/
Go Back to Where you Came From, TV show on SBS: http://www.sbs.com.au/goback/