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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora