Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Inside Australia's KZs

It's something I'd never thought much about before,  but it's obvious really:  Australia's "detention centres",  which is where we put any sad person desperate enough to try to seek asylum in this country,  really are worse than our prisons.  In other words,  we treat refugees worse than we treat convicted criminals.

The comparison with the way the Vietnamese refugees were handled in the 1970s is interesting:  we didn't throw them in prisons indefinitely,  we processed their claims quickly,  and managed to do so even though five times as many were arriving each year.  What caused the change?  How much of it can be blamed on the consistent and deliberate demonisation of asylum seekers by John Howard's government,  with the willing co-operation of most of the Australian media?  How much is due to a general rise in xenophobia,  perhaps common to other Western countries?  Or is it just an increase in selfishness  -  as we become wealthier relative to others,  we become more afraid of them wanting what we have??