Tampa Anniversary – Australia: Migrants & Refugees

26/8/09 – Various Items

– In the Tampa confusion, we lost our moral bearings
Julian Burnside QC; 28/8/06
On 26 August 2001, MV Tampa rescued 438 people whose boat, the Palapa, had sunk. It rescued them at the request of Australia. It acted according to the tradition of sailors the world over. Apart from the 5 people smugglers on the boat, the people rescued by Tampa comprised for the most part terrified Hazaras from Afghanistan, men, women and children. They were fleeing the Taliban. We knew all this. We also knew that the Taliban were a brutal and repressive regime. We knew that Hazaras, one of the three ethnic groups in Afghanistan, had been persecuted for centuries, but that the persecution had become increasingly harsh under the Taliban who come from the Pashtun ethnic group. The captain of Tampa asked for medical help. Many of the women and children were ill or injured. When Tampa entered Australian territorial waters at Christmas Island, Australia sent the SAS and took control of the ship, to prevent the refugees from coming ashore. The arrival of the Tampa in Australian waters was misrepresented to the public as a threat to our national sovereignty. The notion that 438 terrified, persecuted men, women and children constitute a threat to national sovereignty is so bizarre that it defies discussion.

See: http://blogs.news.com.au/news/index.php/ news/comments/in_the_tampa_confusion_we_lost_our_moral_bearings/desc/
– See: http://www.sievx.com/documents/20050927PMsOfficeToRothfield.pdf

– Tampa: A defining moment in Australia’s treatment of refugees
Robin Rothfield Guest Ed Polly Bush: On August 25, on the eve of the fourth Tampa anniversary, representatives of the Tampa Anniversary Remembrance Committee delivered an open letter to Prime Minister John Howard. The Convenor of the Committee Robin Rothfield was asked by Webdiary to write a piece outlining the Committee’s aims. Included with Robin’s rundown of the Committee process, is a copy of the open letter sent to the Prime Minister, plus the signatories and member organisations associated with the Committee and their letter.
See: http://webdiary.com.au/cms/?q=node/789

– See http://www.rac-vic.org/html/05OpenLetter.htm

– Refugee advocates write to PM on Tampa anniversary
26/8/03; http://bananasinpyjamas.com/news/stories/2003/08/26/932048.htm
A coalition of refugee advocates, human rights and religious groups has written to the Prime Minister, calling for the reunification of families of asylum seekers on the anniversary of the Tampa stand-off. The crisis in which a Norwegian freighter was prevented from entering Australian waters with more than 400 asylum seekers on board two years ago led to the creation of the ‘Pacific solution’.The coalition, led by Amnesty International, says a legacy of the policy is the detention of nine women and 14 children on Nauru while their fathers and husbands live in Australia on temporary protection visas.

– Let Tampa Day Remind Us
Malcolm Fraser; http://australiansall.com.au/archive/post/let-tampa-day-remind-us/
Tampa and children overboard were the pointers that made us realise those in power cared little for the basic rights of those seeking help – or for our international obligations. On 26 August 2001 the Norwegian vessel MV Tampa picked up 433 asylum-seekers from a boat sinking in international waters between Australia and Indonesia. On the sixth anniversary of the day that Norwegian ship made its rescue, it is important that Australians remember the turn taken when the government put heavily armed, special forces troops onto the Tampa. Since then, we have seen a steady and significant erosion of basic rights in Australia.Tampa and children overboard were the pointers that made us realise those in power cared little for the basic rights of those seeking help – or for our international obligations. Since then, there has been a long series of unhappy events involving the excision of territory from Australia to make asylum harder to obtain along with incident after incident of abuse of asylum seekers and refugees.