The paranoia exhibited towards asylum seekers is one of the biggest shames of the western world. It is institutional as well as societal. It is displayed in the highest places including national legislatures. In New Zealand It is driven by a frightful fear of people who are coming here because we, once a leader in tolerance are kow towing to the fear based policies of Australia, Britain, the U.S. – nations that are supposed to be freedom loving and tolerant of diversity. Mainly the irrational, uneducated fear is limited to groups such as Right Wing Resistance, but unfortunately also populist Members of Parliament have expressed concerns too.
In Australia the government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott has taken it to a level of blatant xenophobia that is unbecoming of New Zealand’s oldest and most loyal friend. His attack on the asylum seeker boats has done nothing to stop them trying to leave their ports of origin and a humanitarian disaster is only a matter of time. In Britain and the E.U. decades of failing to comprehend the consequences of western imperialism in Africa, and carry out necessary socio-economic planning has led to deepening resentment in a part of the world that just seventy years ago was seeing the end of a war that nearly brought it to its nadir. The resentment is stoking anti-immigrant parties and escalating social tensions and in a bid to stave them off, political parties, worried for their future are trying to act tough.
France is a particularly bad case. The right wing are on the march, with Marine Le Pen’s National Front now one of the premier players in French politics. France is also struggling to reconcile with its imperial past in Africa, like several other E.U. powers. Its decades of failure to plan for the flood of immigrants has already caused a couple of major boil overs, with riots amongst young men of North African descent who moved to France and could not find work. More are inevitable.
It is caused by the systemic failure of western foreign policy where morals have been swapped for dollars; where the enemy of an enemy is being wrongfully considered a friend. Such is the case in Afghanistan where first in the 1980s with the Mujahideen, who were considered the most capable of the groups fighting the Soviet invasion and then other groups such as the Northern Alliance when the U.S. led coalition began fighting the Taliban after 11 September 2001. The people who genuinely become asylum seekers are fleeing from regimes with no regard for human rights. A woman in Afghanistan is no safer now than they were during the days of the Taliban dominating the country; executions, torture and corruption are rampant.
These same governments are regimes that western allies of ours helped arm with no thought for who might get hold of the armaments. They are the products of the inability of the United Nations Security Council to address fundamental differences between the old (and reviving)Cold War blocs in dealing with international crises. The disregard shown by people such as Hamid Karzai, the American-backed elected leader of Afghanistan, for western concerns and the progress made by the Taliban since the U.S. withdrawal also suggests that the sea change in Afghan society that would make it a more stable place was only superficial.
China and Russia are unfortunately not exempt either. Both have funded and armed regimes and militant groups for the purpose of fighting proxy wars against American/Western-backed foes. One group is the Janjawid in Sudan, which was responsible for the genocidal act that has killed over 250,000 people. In return for Chinese armaments to wage a brutal campaign against dissident groups, Sudan permitted Chinese oil companies to explore for oil and gas. Russia supplied arms to Syria prior to the start of the civil war and currently supplies arms to Iran. Both Russia and China vetoed U.N. attempts to deal with the Syrian conflict, which the rest of the world appears quite willing to forget about.
Both have attempted to suppress nationalist movements in separatist regions with brutal results. Russia fought a violent war in Chechnya in the 1990’s, where both sides committed atrocities and no one was held to account. China in the interim has been attempting to stamp out an Uighur nationalist movement which wants autonomy from Beijing for its ancestral lands in Mongolia. Again the growing suppression has brought with it an array of human rights abuses, refugees and
Just remind me again who are the moral ones when it comes to dealing with refugees and asylum seekers?