Media Release: Refugee Action Collective condemns the Malaysian solution

For immediate release:
Refugee Action Collective condemns the Malaysian solution

July 24, 2011

The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) condemns the Australian government’s agreement to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in an agreement to be signed with the Malaysian government tomorrow. We insist that arrivals by boat be processed in the Australian community. We should also accept more refugees from the camps in Malaysia, increase the quota and actually abide by it instead of deporting people who risk their lives to get here.

RAC Victoria would like to reiterate that it is not a crime under the UN Refugee Convention to apply for asylum. A refugee’s claim should not be affected by the method in which they arrive. The Australian government is playing politics with people’s lives by demonising refugees who arrive by boat and playing them off against other refugees who arrive in other ways.

“From Australia’s perspective, there is no problem with people coming here seeking protection,” Refugee Action Collective spokesperson Benjamin Solah said. “Refugees have a right to seek asylum in this country. They aren’t a threat to us. All they want is our help, but instead the government is locking them up and shipping them overseas. It’s disgraceful.”

RAC Victoria is also concerned with the increased militarisation of Australia’s borders. “Australia’s border protection regime makes it much more dangerous for people to arrive here by boat, which is why we see boats crash and sink like we did in December on Christmas Island. And for all of Gillard’s condemnation of people smugglers, the Malaysian “solution” makes the Australian government the biggest people traffickers in business.”

We are concerned that asylum seekers will rot in detention camps in Malaysia where refugees are regularly caned and beaten by authorities. The Malaysian government treats refugees as “illegal” migrants, even if they have already been recognised as refugees by the UNHCR. “The “Malaysian solution” threatens to plunge Australia’s treatment of refugees to new depths – deporting refugees to one of the few countries in the world that treats asylum seekers worse than those in Australia,” said Corey Oakley from the Refugee Action Collective.

For further comment contact Benjamin Solah on racvicmedia@gmail.com or 0402 766 009