Subject: [Stop-traffic] NEWS/AUSTRALIA: AUSTRALIA WARNS ILLEGALS OF PERILS OF MIGRATION.
From: Melanie Orhant (email@example.com)
Date: Fri Jan 26 2001 - 09:19:11 EST
10/Jan/01 AUSTRALIA: AUSTRALIA WARNS ILLEGALS OF PERILS OF MIGRATION.
By Michael Christie
SYDNEY, Jan 10 (Reuters) - An Australian campaign to deter illegal
immigrants by warning them they face racial hatred, family disunity and a
life of crime and prostitution in foreign ghettos provoked dismay among
human rights groups on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said he had cancelled
plans to distribute a glossy kit warning of the perils of people-smuggling
during a Middle East tour.
The pack, translated into various foreign languages, would be issued once
it had been revised to make clear it did not specifically refer to
Australia, she said.
Its wording, however, had rights groups concerned Australia had resorted to
exaggerations and scare-mongering in its latest bid to keep increasingly
unwelcome boat people out.
"It's really alarmist," said Margaret Piper of the Refugee Council of
Australia. "By Australia creating these walls around ourselves, we are not
resolving the problem."
The media pack, replete with an already famous video showing Australia
bedevilled by man-eating sharks and deadly snakes, was prepared for
Ruddock's trip to Iran, Dubai, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and three European
countries, which began on Friday.
His tour was aimed at stemming a recent influx of Middle East boat people,
coming via Indonesia. The government says it is alarmed after 800 illegal
immigrants arrived in the last two weeks of 2000, compared with 4,000 in
the year to June 30.
"RACIAL HATRED, SLUMS AND PROSTITUTION"
The kit highlights the dangers refugees face if they decide to use
people-smuggling gangs to get into other countries, and the hardships they
confront once they reach their destination.
It warns that they "face racial hatred and violence because citizens are
angry at having to support them. They end up living in slums, and depend on
begging and crime to survive."
Smugglers are often "pirates" who rape women, threaten clients with hand
grenades and may force them to sell drugs or become prostitutes to pay off
The fact sheets also warns illegal immigrants they may "lose control of
their children, who abandon their traditional values for modern Western
culture." Finally, they lose "everything and are sent back home in
disgrace, facing a lifetime of debt."
Original plans to distribute the kit during the Middle East and European
tour were put on hold after complaints it painted a false impression of
Australia, the spokeswoman said. Ruddock ordered it redrafted to make clear
the perils it mentioned did not refer specifically to illegal immigrants to
"The rest remains the same," she said.
Australia has recently come under fire for detaining all undocumented
arrivals, some for up to five years.
Rights groups say Prime Minister John Howard's conservative government has
turned its back on decades of generosity toward refugees. While still open
to "good" refugees resettled under multilateral programmes, they say it is
whipping up hostility toward boat people, which its calls "queue-jumpers."
The Australian newspaper on Wednesday quoted Marion Le of the Independent
Council for Refugee Advocacy as saying the government was treading "a very
fine line" between deterring illegals "and inciting racial violence" in its
latest information pack.
Amnesty International's Australian refugee coordinator Graham Thom said
some of the dangers warned of were real enough.
"But Amnesty's real concern is that it fails to ask why these people are
fleeing," Thom told Reuters.
He doubted refugees facing torture or death in a crisis zone would pay much
attention to the warnings.
(C) Reuters Limited 2001.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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