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Living hell for asylum seekers

This article is over 17 years, 4 months old
New Labour’s plans for asylum and immigration borrow heavily from Australia’s draconian policy. Rose Gruber looks at what this has meant for refugees in "Fortress Australia".
Issue 1938

Australia’s right wing government has consistently used images of hordes of brown people flooding into the country to whip up fear and racism towards asylum seekers. This has created nothing short of a living hell for those who wish to seek refuge in Australia. Asylum seekers are imprisoned in detention centres built in desert areas or remote islands, miles away from the eyes of the public.

Detainees are held in these centres indefinitely – some have lived in detention for as long as three years. The centres are run by private contractors with a record of abusing and neglecting detainees. Those asylum seekers lucky enough not to get thrown into detention in the desert are granted “temporary protection visas”. They live in Australia with reduced civil rights and are not eligible for the same welfare and services as “full” citizens.

Asylum seekers who fail to win their immigration appeals face forced deportation, usually under police escort in the middle of th e night. Often they are sent back to the very country they were seeking asylum from. And if you are sent back, the Department of Immigration will charge you for the privilege – and for any time you spent in one of its detention centres.

Rose Gruber campaigned against Australia’s Woomera Detention Centre. She now lives in London

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