Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/220/9171
Expose Asylum Lies: Unite Against Bosses' Racism
THE CRISIS surrounding refugees aboard the Tampa and at the Sangatte Red Cross refugee camp in France has allowed the media and governments to intensify their racist divide-and-rule tactics about asylum.
The Australian government has used the crisis to try to divert attention from their domestic problems in the run-up to an election.
In Britain a Labour government - facing mounting opposition to its proposed privatisation of public services and growing unpopularity - uses the issue to divert attention from its inability to solve the problems of either workers in Britain or the asylum seekers.
Undoubtedly, fears exist among sections of working-class people that Britain cannot cope with an influx of asylum seekers.
Public services are already overstretched and decent housing is in short supply. But it's the Labour government through its lack of funding that is responsible for these shortages not the asylum seekers.
The Western leaders are mired in hypocrisy. Their policies of globalisation and neo-liberalism have created the appalling conditions that force millions of people worldwide to move from their homeland hoping for 'a better life'.
They continue a modern-day 'slavery', which sees the world's poorer countries paying out $42 million a day to service debts of the world's richer countries.
Many refugees are fleeing instability following wars and civil wars or oppressive regimes like the Taliban in Afghanistan, which Western capitalist governments hold a major responsibility for creating.
Other refugees, it is claimed, are middle-class professionals, the very people the government claims to want to bring in to plug so-called labour shortages in key public services.
Many refugees are drawn to advanced capitalist countries because they believe there is an economic boom.
They are desperate to escape recession and economic collapse in Asia or Eastern Europe, caused by the very capitalist system the Western leaders uphold.
Asylum laws are so restrictive that nearly every refugee now has to enter 'illegally'. Those who can afford it are left at the mercy of unscrupulous gangsters - human traffickers. Those who can't afford to pay end up taking potentially fatal risks to get to their destination.
On arrival asylum seekers are dealt with in an oppressive way, denied basic human rights and treated as criminals, not allowed to work or entitled to the basic requirements of human life and dignity.
HOWEVER, IT is not enough just to expose the hypocrisy of Western leaders. Socialists need to address it in a way that undercuts any fears or prejudices that exist among workers in Britain, Europe or internationally.
We must advance the interests of all working-class people, showing that workers worldwide have more in common than divides them; fighting a common foe in the capitalist class worldwide.
The fate of millions forced to flee their home countries should not be left in the hands of those who uphold the interests of big business against working-class people worldwide.
The bureaucratic procedures implemented by Western governments are barbaric and shambolic. Instead of increasing repression, refugees should be treated humanely and allowed to enter legally while their applications are processed.
Instead of continually further restricting the right to asylum, Britain should be striving to give humane, practical effect to this basic human right.
All applications should be dealt with in a reasonable time and applicants given a right to a full public hearing before their case is decided.
If rejected, applicants should have a right to appeal to an elected tribunal, including representatives of trade unions, community organisations, welfare and legal rights organisations etc.
While waiting for a decision applicants should be able to work, rather than stigmatised as 'workshy' people or 'benefits spongers'.
In fact asylum seekers are forced to live on half the level of minimal income support, using the humiliating voucher system which should be scrapped.
We feel such an approach will undercut the lies and distortions of the right-wing media and governments.
Otherwise, when economic recession begins to bite, the tensions already whipped up against asylum seekers will be utilised by the capitalist class to divert working-class people away from struggling against their real enemy - the bosses and capitalist class internationally.
In The Socialist 7 September 2001: