Tampa — 11 years on

Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution


They put lives at risk.
They twist the law.
The have the head of the military decide the fate of boatpeople.
They muzzle the press.
They detain children for long periods.
They misuse intelligence services, defy the United Nations and international covenants, antagonise Indonesia, bribe poverty stricken Pacific states.
They close Australia to refugees and turn back the boats.

Of whom do we speak?

  1. John’s Liberal National party government in 2001 during the Tampa election?
  2. Julia Gillard’s Labor Government in 2012 re-introducing the Nauru solution?
  3. ‘People Smugglers’ criminalised because they bring people on boats who are exercising their rights under Article 14?
  4. International Arms dealers who supply drones, aircraft and munitions to de-stabilise countries from whence boatpeople come?

What is the role of the parliament in achieving a humanitarian solution to people fleeing from war?

We address these issues here.

Dark Victory
In late August 2001, John Howard and the Australian government refused 438 refugees, who had been rescued by freighter ship Tampa, access to Australia. Instead the asylum seekers were sent to Nauru, a tiny island, where they languished for months and years afterwards. Howard used this incident to whip up racism and to further strip refugees of their rights.

Playing on Australians’ fear of boatpeople Howard won the 2001 Australian federal election for the Liberal National party.

Today we see Labor and the Liberals competing to deny the rights of refugees, and attempt to dump them in other countries. Labor wanted Malaysia, the Liberals Nauru. Now that the so-called “panel of experts” has recommended re-opening the hell-holes of Nauru and Manus Island, this has become the immediate prospect for hundreds, maybe thousands, of unfortunate traumatized and vulnerable human beings.


On this night like any other night
Maybe raining maybe clear
In a world exploding is any heart open?
Can you hear us? Can you hear?

— from ‘Article 14′ by tony mockeridge.

[This was broadcast on Paradigm Shift, 4ZZZ fm 102.1 Noon on Fridays, Brisbane on 24 Aug 2012. Many thanks to Steve and Jess for their input and comments , doing the interviews and helping broadcast the show. A special thanks to Brisbane’s Woody Guthrie, tony mockeridge for his song ‘Article 14’ and to robbie stewart for a great guitar riff in the song.]

Answers 1, 2 and 4. Why? Because both main parties have criminalised the ‘people smugglers’ who are following Article 14.

The LNP and Labor are cynical and delusional. They base their policy on market research which does not reflect what juries are doing when confronted with a people smuggler in court. They acquit. Of the so called people smuggler is a child (see comment from Mark P below). They have manufactured crime where there is none. Neither deserve to govern. The media is culpable also because they have not outed the myth of people smuggling.

The arms dealers have profiteered off the willingness of the US government to play out the geopolitical game escalating conflict in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

Ian Curr
24 Aug 2012

2 thoughts on “Tampa — 11 years on




    A Brisbane rally called by the Refugee Action Collective for 1pm,
    Sunday 26th August, Brisbane Square to mark Tampa Day will also
    declare its support for the protesting asylum seekers on Christmas
    Island. (Details below).

    Messages from Christmas Island indicate that there are around 67
    Afghan asylum seekers on hunger strike on Christmas Island.

    The 80 asylum seekers who arrived at Christmas Island on 16 August
    were told on the afternoon of Friday 24 August that the government
    intended to send them to Nauru to be processed.

    Scores of Federal Police have been mobilised to occupy the North West Point detention centre on Christmas Island. A large number of thepolice are in the compound housing the protesting asylum seekers.

    One Iranian asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition that they “are like special forces in Iran, we see these kind of forces when there are protests against the Islamic regime.”

    The hunger strikers say that their treatment is unfair – they were not aware of any changed policy by the Australian government, and they were actually rescued on the 12 August on their way to Christmas

    “We are not happy to go to Nauru island, as far as we know this rule was passed by Senate in 17 August but we arrived in 16th August,” one hunger striker said.

    The rally will call for an end to the Gillard government’s Pacific Solution 2.0 and an end to off-shore processing.

    “It is black political irony that the 11 years after the Howard government turned back hundreds of Afghan asylum seekers on the Mv Tampa, a Gillard Labor is holding 80 Afghan asylum seekers to expel
    them to Nauru,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition.

    Speakers at the Brisbane rally include, Andrew Bartlett, former Senator and visitor to Nauru; Father Pan Jordon – Tamil Community; Michael Cope – President Queensland Council of Civil Liberties; Ian Rintoul – Refugee Action Coalition and Ahmad Hamid – Human rights activist from Brisbane’s Ahwazi Community.

  2. Brisbane barrister Mark Plunkett told a Senate inquiry on Friday that his clients, Indonesian minors accused of being people smugglers, were kept in detention for long periods while the cases were investigated.

    One of his clients, later found to be a minor, spent 465 days in detention before being charged “as a result of the brutish indifference of the commonwealth” and the “incompetence” of the prosecution and defence, he said.

    Mr Plunkett said it was a “long bureaucratic process”, involving customs, police and immigration authorities, which could have been easily avoided.

    He is calling for judicial oversight of the process and an apology from the authorities to the children that were held in detention in such cases.

    “No one in the commonwealth took responsibility for these children,” he told the hearing in Canberra.

    “It was, as I said to the court, a form of institutionalised child abuse by the commonwealth and I say it here to the Senate committee.”

    Mr Plunkett said these cases made it harder for the Australian government to voice concerns about its citizens caught up in prisons in Bali, such as Schapelle Corby, who is serving time for drug smuggling. MORE at http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/lawyer-accuses-australia-of-child-abuse-20120824-24qk3.html

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