Yesterday, two senior Liberal MP’s – Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop – held a press conference to announce their belief that Australia should send all Sri Lankan asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka without hearing their claims.
This extraordinary announcement is perhaps the most significant step away from basic human rights in Australia’s history and deserves nothing less than a full and unqualified retraction.
Ranjini’s case is just one of the many examples of people who have been granted asylum in Australia, people who have been found to be genuinely in fear of their life, who would be sent back to their death under this heartless proposal.
The danger that still exists in Sri Lanka was evident only a few months ago, when a deported Sri Lankan citizen went missing upon his return home. Mr. Morrison and Ms. Bishop must consider how many people they will send to their death in order to avoid the cost of assessing these claims.
Whilst they will likely mention the tragedy of drowning at sea, it is worth considering the desperation that would force someone to get on a boat.
They also make the point that the Sri Lankan civil war has ended, which apparently makes it impossible that anyone should be persecuted. This leaves us with two possible outcomes, either Sri Lanka is now safe enough as to make fleeing it on a boat unnecessary (believe it or not, people actually like to live in their own country), or, if that is not the case and people are still getting on boats in Sri Lanka – what is there to suggest that, if we close the door entirely, people will not simply continue their boat journeys to alternative countries such as New Zealand?
Either way, the proposition that this will save lives is laughable.
The greatest deterrent we have to stop people getting on a boat hundreds of kilometres of unforgiving ocean – this policy will only ensure that Sri Lankan people in danger will die further away from us, without hope.