Asylum seekers, refugees, boat people, illegal immigrants… If you’re Australian there is no doubt that you would have heard these words bandied around in the past few years; they are words with which the media edits into Hollywood blockbuster reports and words that wins/loses elections. Because of this they also divide a nation, but let’s start using facts as a basis for opinion and conversation. Admittedly it’s hard to have a educated debate when our political leaders are calling asylum seekers ‘illegal immigrants’… Tony Abbott blatantly uses language like this all the time and unfortunately he is not alone, but the fact of the matter is that these people are not illegal – a fact by international law:
“Of key significance to the issue of detention is Article 31 of the 1951 Convention. Article 31 exempts refugees coming directly from a country of persecution from being punished on account of their illegal entry or presence, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.” (UNHCR)
Perhaps if Julia Gillard & co. knew a little bit more about international law and human rights and stopped bickering like school children; less men, women and children would take their last breath in the ocean. The truth is this issue is not just an Australian one – so please do yourself a favour; have a quick read over these facts and then have an opinion because mainstream media outlets (or your Prime Minister for that matter) won’t tell you.
THE FACTS IN BLACK & WHITE
It is not illegal to seek asylum in Australia, even if arriving by boat.
In Australia, there is 1.1 refugee for every 1000 people.
In 2010, 6879 asylum seekers arrived in Australia by boat. That’s only 6.8% of the seats in the MCG.
Australian Centrelink benefits for a refugee single mother $611.90
Australian Centrelink benefits for a non-refugee single mother $611.90
Australian Centrelink benefits for an asylum seeker $0
The number of refugees who have arrived by boat, who have been terrorists = 0
In 2009, 8427 people sought asylum in Australia. UK had 45197.
Asylum seekers who arrived by boat make up less than 2% of Australia’s annual immigration.
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their country because of persecution, war or violence.
An asylum seeker is someone seeking protection but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been assessed.