Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/220/9175
HAVING ENDURED shipwreck and then detained by armed SAS troops aboard a sun-baked Norwegian freighter, many of the 438 mainly Afghan asylum-seekers, instead of finding refuge in Australia, will now end up on the largely uninhabitable island of Nauru in the south Pacific.
This dreadful treatment of people fleeing civil war is part of Australian Prime Minister John Howard's election strategy, as JIM O'CONNOR from the Australian Socialist Party explains.
Refugees Are John Howard's Scapegoats
RECENT STATE election results and opinion polls indicated that John Howard's Liberal Party was likely to lose the next Federal election expected in November.
In desperation, Howard appears to have decided to use refugees as scapegoats and attempt to build his popularity and steal votes from Pauline Hanson's racist and xenophobic One Nation party.
He has been aided and abetted by the capitalist media in creating an atmosphere of near mass hysteria against the refugees.
In the past week, as a result of his cynical manipulation of the fears of the voters, his popularity has increased to the extent that now he could retain government.
The Socialist Party condemns the Howard government's refusal to allow the 460 refugees on board the Tampa to land on the Australian territory of Christmas Island.
Howard has spent A$21 million in the past week keeping the refugees off shore - that's $50,000 per refugee! The argument of Howard that this is about saving taxpayers' money is therefore destroyed.
THE AUSTRALIAN state built on land stolen from the indigenous inhabitants, has a long track record of genocide, racism and xenophobic exclusion of immigrants.
Since 1992 asylum seekers have been kept in detention centres most of them in remote desert areas. Asylum seekers wait for months and in many cases years in these camps. They are operated by private corporations, subsidiaries of the American multinational prison operators ACM.
The Socialist Party has played its part alongside other organisations campaigning to free the refugees from the detention centres.
We have advocated the method of mass civil disobedience and promoted the idea of a sanctuary network.
In the last week we put out a call for a High School strike and walkout on the issue. Although not well, attended because of the short notice, many passers-by stopped to sign our petition.
We recently initiated and participated in a 24-hour sit-in in a city square inside a cage as an act of solidarity with the detainees.
Our members in the Construction Union were also recently successful in obtaining union funds to participate in a "Freedom ride" by bus to the outback town of Woomera [where a detention centre is located] later this month.
The Australian national anthem proudly boasts of "endless plains to share" as well as "wealth for toil".
Socialists understand that it is no coincidence that the capitalist class, that is so determined to exclude newcomers at present, is the same class that takes the lion's share of the wealth created by the toilers - both workers and small farmers.
It is the task of the Socialist Party to patiently explain these facts to young people, trade unionists and working-class communities.
We understand that it is workers' struggle and solidarity that is the best antidote to the poison of rascism and xenophobia that the capitalist class and its lackies use to divide us.
In The Socialist 7 September 2001: