News / Asia

Australia Goes Online to Dissuade Asylum Seekers

Phil Mercer

Australian immigration officials say they have a new plan to deter asylum seekers from making the trip to Australia by boat.  The immigration department says it will film the first group of asylum seekers processed under the new refugee swap deal with Malaysia and post the video on YouTube.

How it works

The Australian navy intercepted 54 detainees, early Sunday. They are the first boat people to be taken into custody since Canberra agreed to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia.

In exchange, Kuala Lumpur will transfer to Australia 4,000 refugees whose claims for asylum have been approved.  The authorities in Canberra say the agreement will deter asylum seekers from making the perilous journey by boat into Australia’s northern waters and will disrupt the activities of people smugglers.

The 54 recent arrivals are being taken to an offshore detention center on Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. They will be filmed as they are flown from the island to Malaysia, a move expected to take place in the next week.  The video of their journey will be Yes.posted on YouTube.

Discouragement

Immigration officials hope Australian diaspora communities including Iranian, Iraqi, Afghan and Sri Lankans will watch the film and discourage family and friends who are considering making the journey.

An immigration department spokesman says the Internet film will be a “very potent message” that shows the “futility” of trying to reach Australia by sea, only to be put on a plane to Malaysia.



For security reasons the faces of the asylum seekers will be pixilated.  The government says 10 clips posted online will be available in up to eight languages: English, Tamil, Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Pashto, Sinhalese and Bahasa.

Tough stance

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says those sent to Malaysia may have to be forcibly deported.

“Obeying instructions here is not a question of volunteering.  We are determined to get this done," Gillard said. "The Australian Federal Police can speak on operational matters, but we will do what is necessary to ensure that people who should be taken to Malaysia under the agreement are taken.  Well, it means taking appropriate steps to get people to board the plane and to disembark the plane the other end.”

Criticism

Human rights groups have criticized the deal with Malaysia, insisting that Australia may be in breach of its international obligations.  There are also concern  about possible mistreatment of asylum seekers in Malaysia, which is not a signatory to the United Nations convention on refugees and imposes harsh punishments for illegal entry, including caning.

Border protection is a high priority with Australian voters, although United Nations figures show their country receives less than a half-percent of the world's asylum seekers.

Australia grants about 13,000 humanitarian visas each year.  Among the recipients are refugees from Burma, Iraq and Bhutan.

A quarter of the Australian population was born overseas.   The country attracts large numbers of migrants from neighboring New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Australia’s former colonial master.  In recent years migration from Asia has increased significantly.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs