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A form of kidnap, torment and piracy

October 17, 2009

The Age : We should accept Tamils
BOB ELLIS, October 16, 2009

It is hard to see why we won’t take these Tamils. They are fugitives from a lost civil war, recent massacres and the threat of genocide. They are beautiful, intelligent and English-speaking. There are no Tamil triads menacing western Sydney. There are few Tamils in our gaols. One of our most successful citizens is a Tamil. His name is Kamahl.

Yet we think it better they starve to death rather than come here. We have subjected them to rendition in a country that does not recognise their rights under the Geneva Convention. We treat them as the English treated fugitive Jews in 1941. Just go away, they said, go away. Go back to Germany. Go now.

It is certain that if processed here they would be admitted. It is certain that their cause is just. So with Kafka logic they must not be admitted, lest their just cause bring them just reward. Philip Ruddock could not have expressed it better.

It is said that their journey is ‘illegal’ though it is not. Anyone fleeing persecution can flee anywhere to avoid it, under international law. It is said they are ‘economic migrants’ but it is hard to say which migrants are not. All seek a better life for their children. How is this contemptible, or even unusual? Why does it merit the death penalty? More

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  1. Australians for Tamil Justice permalink*
    October 19, 2009 12:23 am

    The Age : We should accept Tamils
    BOB ELLIS, October 16, 2009

    It is hard to see why we won’t take these Tamils. They are fugitives from a lost civil war, recent massacres and the threat of genocide. They are beautiful, intelligent and English-speaking. There are no Tamil triads menacing western Sydney. There are few Tamils in our gaols. One of our most successful citizens is a Tamil. His name is Kamahl.

    Yet we think it better they starve to death rather than come here. We have subjected them to rendition in a country that does not recognise their rights under the Geneva Convention. We treat them as the English treated fugitive Jews in 1941. Just go away, they said, go away. Go back to Germany. Go now.

    It is certain that if processed here they would be admitted. It is certain that their cause is just. So with Kafka logic they must not be admitted, lest their just cause bring them just reward. Philip Ruddock could not have expressed it better.

    It is said that their journey is ‘illegal’ though it is not. Anyone fleeing persecution can flee anywhere to avoid it, under international law. It is said they are ‘economic migrants’ but it is hard to say which migrants are not. All seek a better life for their children. How is this contemptible, or even unusual? Why does it merit the death penalty?

    It is said that ‘people smugglers’ are ‘the scum of the earth’ and ‘they should rot in hell’. How, if they bring good citizens here, can they be this, any more than Qantas pilots? Rick in Casablanca, I wearily repeat, was a people smuggler; Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind; Sidney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities; the Scarlet Pimpernel; Oscar Schindler; Moses; the Kentish fishermen who came in their tiny boats to Dunkirk; and those scum of the earth who smuggled the Holy Family into Egypt in another time of massacre, flight and rescue.

    It is said they are ‘only in it for the money’. Since most of them end in gaol doing twenty years while their boats are burned on the beach by Australian authorities, they are very poor businessmen, it seems to me. Most of them opt to do this so their children may prosper while they grow old in prison. They sound pretty saintly to me. But the Prime Minister says they are scum, and the Prime Minister is an honourable man.

    What we are doing is a form of kidnap, torment and piracy; rendition, persecution, and child abuse. If we do not want these beautiful people (and what harm would they do us?) we should pay their air fares to Canada, where they will be welcome, or Obama’s America, if he will have them. Or New Zealand. Or Madagascar. Or Sweden. If we opt instead to shell out millions for what now must be called the Arafura Solution, we will worsen our already smirched image as racist tormentors of desperate children before the civilised world.

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