rc-am on Sat, 22 May 1999 19:35:14 +0200 (CEST)

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The Australian Government is only allowing 4,000 refugees from Yugoslavia to
stay on an explicitly temporary basis - that is, less than 1% of the refugees
from Kosovo.  They are to be confined in camps, mostly in former or
still-operating military camps, kept away from the rest of the population,
making their way out of the camps only in the cosy TV image of the
endlessly-grateful, but not-overstaying, guests.  Every presentation of the
refugees is reduced to their gratitude to 'us'.  On TV, a Government
politician uses the word 'grateful' eighteen times in a five minute interview
about the refugees; she says: "They don't know much English, but they know
how to say 'thank you'".

It has already been made clear that none of these refugees will be able to
apply for residency through an application for refugee status.  In order to
do this, they must first return to Yugoslavia (or go elsewhere) and then
apply.  Australia has not made space, it has contained.  The Australian
Government has conducted a rather inexpensive, and thus far  quiet effective
its seems, exercise in covering over the monstrosity of its policies on
refugees and immigrants.

One does not have to go far to see the contradictions.  The nightly news has
had two featured stories relating to refugees and immigrants over the last
month:  the miniscule numbers of refugees being brought here from the
Yugoslav border, and the arrivals of refugees aboard ships.  Both groups have
been sent to camps in remote locations.  But there the similarities in
treatment ends.  The latter are depicted as the threat of coastal invasion,
as threat to 'our way of life' - the 'integrity' of national borders and
identity.  We are told they are here to 'take our jobs'.  They are
automatically criminalised and incarcerated under recently introduced laws.
These laws have removed the ability of the courts to adjudicate on refugee
claims, they penalise those who seek to appeal refugee tribunal decisions,
they effectively remove the rights of refugees to legal representation in the
presentation of their cases, hearings of the tribunal are conducted in secret
with no ability to call witnesses, and they have reduced the definitions of
refugee significantly, thus broadening the capacity for deportations which
have also increased more now than at any other time.  Immigrants are no
longer able to claim welfare benefits during the first two years.  All
potential immigrants to Australia are told that here we abide by the Rule of
Law.  The changes to refugee laws means that the government, not the courts,
can decide who stays or who is deported, since it has been the courts who had
ruled time and again that certain deportations have been illegal.  They are
told that we are an egalitarian country.  We are, but not where refugees,
newly-arrived immigrants or indigenous peoples are concerned.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation may have suffered an electoral defeat, but only
because other parties were able to give effect to the same policies without
the vulgarity of Hanson's accent.

This miserable approach to refugees is not confined to Australia (see below).
However, it seems only in Australia is there a gleeful rush to paper over the
rather obvious contradictions and peddle warmed-up nationalist stories about
how compassionate 'we' are to others (see Kevin Murray's post to nettime "The
Unanswered Phone pt4 'Warmth of Strangers' ", Thursday, 20 May 1999).

- Angela:  rcollins@netlink.com.au
An article from the Irish Sunday Business Post:

Refugees reach Ireland of the wary welcomes

By Emily O'Reilly

"Designer refugees'' was the phrase that crossed my mind last week as I
watched the oddly unsettling TV reports of the arrival of 150 Kosovar
refugees at Farranfore airport.

It wasn't that the refugees themselves were unique. They were the usual sad
mix of young and old, poorly dressed, blinking into the camera lights as they
landed in this strange and very foreign land dragging with them the memory of
unspeakable suffering. Rather it was the welcome that attracted the
"designer'' tag as the state authorities orchestrated a showcase "ce" ad
mišle fašilte'' for the refugees.

We had a "personal'' welcome from the Justice Minister John O'Donoghue, the
happy-clappy locals flapping out their welcome banners (all beautifully
translated into Albanian, of course), the homely touch of flowers in every
bedroom and brand new teddy bears for the children. Then there were the
refuges themselves, bright and pleasant top-of-the-range hostels in the
sylvan settings of Killarney and Millstreet respectively. We heard in great
detail the plans that had been put in place for the refugees to enable them
to settle into the country, the services that would be put at their disposal,
the fact that the entitlements of the Kosovar children would be "exactly the
same as those of Irish children''.

To anyone who has never set foot inside this green and pleasant land of ours,
Ireland -- on the basis of the welcome for the Kosovars, would appear to be
refugee heaven. Sadly for John O'Donoghue -- fresh from a lovely
photo-opportunity with lovely, grateful, Kosovar children -- the attendant
media forced him to rain on his own parade. Once again he spelled out his
"We're taking 850 more and that's it'' line while allowing some room to
increase this figure should Liz O'Donnell decide to get stroppy about it. One
thousand is a lovely round (and above all small) figure. One thousand
Kosovars can be neatly housed in just a handful of hostels and army barracks
well scattered through-out the country.

One thousand Kosovars won't frighten the horses. The leader of the appalling
Immigration Control Platform, Aine Ni Chonaill, has gratifyingly illustrated
my point. According to a report in last Tuesday's Examiner, Ni Chonaill "has
extended the hand of friendship to hundreds of Kosovar refugees fleeing to
Ireland from the war-torn Balkans.'' Clearly John O'Donoghue has pitched his
"welcome'' perfectly.

Ni Chonaill perceptively noted that the arriving Kosovars were genuine
refugees i.e. their suffering has been sufficiently brutal and degrading to
pass the litmus test of the Immigration Control Platform refugee police.
Perhaps instead of damning Slobodan, the Kosavars should be grateful that he
went about his ethnic cleansing in such a pleasingly thorough way. A few less
rapes, a few less genocidal murders, a few less orphan babies and Ms Ni
Chonaill might not have been among the banner-wavers. The lady was further
pleased by the "controls'' that will be placed on the new refugees, noting
that they "are coming here under a strict programme of control and as such
would be monitored by the government.''

Already, the refugees have been told that they are here on a temporary, one
year basis and will be sent home should conditions improve in Kosova. It has
not been made clear what will happen if the Kosovars get carried away by the
sheer luxury of their surroundings and decide to stay. Perhaps the
teddy-bears will disappear overnight. It's not that the welcome given to the
Kosovars -- by the local people as opposed to the politicians -- wasn't
genuine. No doubt those who stayed up late to greet them are genuinely moved
by their plight and do genuinely wish to help them.

But I suspect that some were caught up by the "romance'' of it all, by the
fact that those people whose plight had made the front pages of virtually
every major newspaper around the world and whose faces had beamed and bounced
through every global satellite channel, were actually coming to their town.

What makes one even more uncomfortable with the whole thing is the contrast
between the Kerry welcome and the more traditional one meted out to the less
"glamorous'' immigrants who have managed to come into the country through
more mundane means. Over the last few years there has been a steady trickle
of news reports of racist attacks, of state indifference and callousness
towards the abysmal situation of many of our "guests'', of the failure to
provide the most basic educational and language learning services to these
people, and essentially of a state bureaucracy intent on keeping their
numbers as low as possible by maintaining the outward veneer of a kind,
gentle, and welcoming Ireland.

The government will deny it, but it is clear from private soundings of
cabinet ministers and civil servants that an ideological battle is being
waged on this issue within the government.

Some, though not all, Fianna Fail ministers believe -- possibly rightly --
that a majority of the electorate do not want immigrants and refugees in this
country and that the politically sound thing to do is to endeavour to keep
their numbers as low as decency and our international image will permit. This
is why such a tough battle has been fought over the issue of the right to
work for immigrants awaiting refugee status, over the mechanism through which
the refugees are processed and over the numbers of refugees that should be
allowed into the country in the first place.

Liz O'Donnell does appear to be genuinely championing the immigrants and
refugees that have come here and she should be commended. She should also
have been the only minister allowed on the plane to welcome the Kosovars.
John O'Donoghue should have been told to stand on the tarmac and count them
as they emerged, ready to reassure Aine Ni Chonaill and her ilk that not a
single stowaway had slipped the net.

(Emily O'Reilly is editor of Magill magazine)

and the UK:
-----Original Message-----
From: Alan MacSimoin <amcsmoin@tcd.ie>

A total of 34,775 persons were kicked out of the UK in 1998 - 668 persons
per week - 4 persons per hour.

A 25 year old Kosovan student arrived at Heathrow en route for Canada in
February. She was pregnant with her first child and still traumatised by
seeing the Serbs destroy her home.Although she was with her husband, she
had been forced to leave the rest of her family behind and had no idea
whether they were alive .However, the couple had made the mistake of
becoming Kosovan refugees before the war with Serbia had made them
politically fashionable.

When they were caught at Heathrow using false Greek passports, they said
they wished to claim asylum, but instead were arrested for using false
documents in transit, separated and sent to prison. She has just been
released from Holloway, where the insanitary conditions made her ill and
the isolation made her depressed. Her husband was sent to Wormwood Scrubs
where he remains, although he may be released with an electronic tag this
Article by Anarchist Black Cross - Innsbruck. Austria
e-mail: abcibk@hotmail.com

AUSTRIA: Marcus Omofuma dies (killed?) during his deportation
All over Europe and also in many other countries in the world people are
being deported just because they don't have the "right" passport or
nationality. And from time to time some people even die because of the
inhuman deportation practices, or they commit suicide because they don't
want to go be submitted to terror, murder, dictatorship, repression and
torture again.

On May 1st 1999 the 25 year old Marcus Omofuma (originally from Nigeria) was
also being deported from Austria. He had come to Austria in September 1998,
in order to seek asylum, as he was being persecuted and threatened in
Nigeria. In December 1998 the answer he got on his asylum proposal was
negative. On the same day Marcus was being put into deportation-prison, in
order to be expelled some time later. Marcus' appeal on this decision was
also being denied.
The deportation plane with Marcus should have gone to Lagos in Nigeria, with
a short interruption in Sofia (Bulgaria). As Marcus was protesting against
his deportation, some passengers in the plane complained about his loud
cries. So the cops, escorting Marcus to his unknown future in Nigeria,
closed his mouth with some adhesive tape. They had already fixed his hands
and feet before. Marcus was suffering of bronchitis, a disease of which you
normally don't die. When the cops took of the adhesive tape in Sofia, they
noticed that Marcus had died of asphyxiation.
Unfortunately Marcus is not the first one to die because of such inhuman,
extreme deportation practices. Last year in Belgium a women was killed by
cops through a pillow, because she was screaming to loud too. And there have
been similar cases in Germany, Italy, UK, USA, France etc. over the last
years. Such practices, i.e. to close the mouths of people seems to be a
normal way to deal with deported people.

Deportation is torture! Deportation is murder! It's just as simple as that.
There is no need for a reform of the deportation laws and practices, but
there is a need for a complete stop of expulsions of people. Who gives the
states and cops the right to deport people just because they haven't got the
right passport? The western, rich countries are guilty of lots of misery all
over the world, either through their colonialist history, or their momentary
capitalist, neo-liberal economy politics. But they don't want to share their
wealth with other people, from which they have stolen it.
The reasons why people leave their homes, their families, their friends,
i.e. all their daily lives behind them are not included in all the
discussions about the asylum politics. You only hear and read of people who
want to overflowe "our rich countries", in order to have a good living here.
But who would really accept all those problems that you have to face when
coming to the rich countries, just in order to make some money here? Who
would face such risks as being shot-wounded at the border, being put into
prison, being deported or even being killed? The price for a small
participation in the capitalist way of living is too high. No! People flee
because they are tortured, repressed, threatened to death etc. (And
personally I don't mind if someone wants to enter "our fortress" to have a
better living standard...)

Here in Austria the bourgeois medias are completely supporting the
government and its deportation politics. You only hear some people
criticising the practices, but they nearly never criticise the deportation
customs as such. It seems as it was normal and accepted that people are
being deported and put into prisons. So it is most necessary to show our
solidarity with all asylum seeking, deported, imprisoned and fleeing people.
We also have to show the responsible people, i.e. the government, the
capitalists, the cops etc. that we don't tolerate such practices any longer.

It is also important that the Austrian government notices that the whole
world is looking on its racist and inhuman politics, concerning asylum and
deportation. So please organise demonstrations and other protest actions in
front of Austrian Embassies, send protest e-mails or letters, tell other
people what's going on here... We mustn't leave the murderers of Marcus and
all other refugees alone! NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL!


        Rainbow Antiracist Organisation (Norway)

        National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC)
101 Villa Road
Birmingham B19 1NH
E-mail ncadc@ncadc.demon.co.uk
Web  www.ncadc.demon.co.uk/

        'Crimes of arrival: immigrants and asylum-seekers in the new Europe'
by Frances Webber Essential reading on the European wide
criminalisation of asylum seekers. Available from Statewatch, PO Box
1516, London N16 OEW Tel 0181 802 1882 http://www.statewatch.org/

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