Social media is awash with outrage today after the release by the Immigration Department of photos of refugee arrivals who have just been told of the new PNG Solution policy.
The photos show the refugees in obvious distress, and the whole incident appears to be manufactured by the Department of Immigration to support it’s tough new position on boat arrivals. It seems hardly likely that photographers would just happen to be on hand to photograph the refugees at the same time they were told of their being moved onwards to PNG. The photos are likely an intentional part of the government’s PNG Solution propaganda.
The photos can be seen here.
In what appears to be a wildly misinformed statement, Steven Karras, action Regional Manager for the Department of Immigration said of the refugees reactions “I’m sure they’re now thinking about whether it was wise to come in the first place. And I think in fact over the coming days … they will start to contemplate very seriously whether in fact returning home is a better option.”
Refugees spanning an ocean on substandard vessels, having spent their life savings and having endured untold hardships just to escape their circumstances, are unlikely to consider returning to their homeland to be more preferable than being processed on PNG. Of course if the conditions are so bad on PNG that it would act as a deterrent, then Australia is in dire breach of it’s obligation to the UN Convention on Refugees. Indeed, just this policy alone is almost certainly a breach of the convention.
ABC Radio Transcript discussing the photos: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-22/immigration-dept-publicises-asylum-seeker-reaction/4836284