Liberal Immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison has made his career out of bashing asylum seekers and stoking Islamophobia in Australia. It was therefore revolting to see him use his trip to Malaysia to push the Liberals’ plan to re-establish offshore processing on Nauru, and feigning concern for asylum seekers and refugees in Malaysia in order to claim that Nauru is a humanitarian alternative.
However, this agenda hit a snag when he met volunteers from the Malaysia Social Research Institute (MSRI), which courageously provides material and legal support for Afghan, Iraqi, Palestinian, Iranian, and other Middle Eastern asylum seekers and refugees.
At her meeting with Morrison, MSRI convenor Lia Syed confronted him. “It [Nauru] is a hare-brained idea”, she later told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Why am I so concerned about Nauru? Well, how long are they going to be there? What happens if they are rejected [as refugees]? It’s the end of the world.”
Regarding both Labor and Liberal’s offshore proposals, she said: “You just can’t do this. It makes us the human traffickers. We are the traders. These are real people, not numbers.”
As refugee advocate Phil Glendenning told the ABC, Nauru is no alternative: “The situation on Nauru, frankly, sent people crazy.
“There were 42 unaccompanied minors—children—sent back into the war zone that was Afghanistan. Others were sent back to the danger they sought to flee. We know that 11 of those people were killed and I believe that number is far higher… including children.
“There were no checks and balances, there were no judicial reviews, it was outside the reach of Australian law. Terrible atrocities were done to people out on Nauru.”
By Mark Goudkamp