With the closing of the Manus Island detention centre refugees detained there are being given dire options. Some of the refugees have been offered to be temporarily relocated to a “transit-centre”, but those already at this centre have reported that the conditions are appalling and that, like Manus, they are attacked and mistreated regularly.
The other option given to those on Manus is to return to their country of origin. In other words, the place they fled from out of fear for their lives. Pressure has been put on these vulnerable people by offering them “cash incentives” that expire in August, forcing them to make a lose-lose decision now.
The decision of being mistreated in a detention centre or mistreated at home is not a choice, it’s blackmail. Every “solution” put forward by the Australian government has been a sham. At best, they have been bandaids for bullet wounds, from a gun they pulled the trigger of. This includes the refugee swap deal made with the US government, which is full of holes.
The Manus Island detention centre cost over $550,000 per refugee a year to run. This money should have been used to resettle people on shore in Australia instead of what the refugees themselves describe as abusive concentration camps.
Bringing refugees to Australia and settling them in the community would be much cheaper and more humane. The reason they refuse to do this is because they want to use refugees as scapegoats, blaming them for problems created by capitalism. We need to reject this attempt to pit refugees against other ordinary people.
The pathetic refugee policies of both the major parties highlight a clear fault with the system they defend. There is no real solution to the refugee crisis under capitalism and ordinary people must fight for their rights and for a different way of running society.
By Kai Perry