The two asylum seeker boat disasters of the past week are the tragic outcome of the Australian government’s policy towards refugees. Approximately 90 people lost their lives in Thursday’s sinking, and in Wednesday’s tragedy at least one person has drowned, with several others still missing.

These deaths were preventable. They are the result of the Gillard government’s harsh policy towards asylum seekers arriving to Australia by boat. The Gillard government invests in detention centres to imprison asylum seekers and demonises people smuggling — and argues that these ‘deterrence’ strategies are to stop people getting on boats to ‘save lives.’ Any asylum seeker that gets on a leaky boat is fleeing for their lives because it is their only option for survival — it is unlikely government policy will ‘deter’ them from that.

If the Gillard government was serious about the safety of people embarking on these perilous boat journeys, then the government should be attempting to make this boat journey safer — therefore eliminating the need for desperate people to risk their lives on leaky boats. Instead, the government has spent the last 2 days of Parliament attempting to resurrect the failed ‘Malaysia solution’ — yet another policy designed to ‘deter’ asylum seekers from making the boat journey to Australia.

The Refugee Rights Action Network calls on the Gillard government to end this rhetoric of ‘stopping the boats’, and instead focus on solutions that stop the need for boats.

Join the RRAN to remember the latest victims of Australia’s refugee policy and speak out for a humane refugee policy this Friday evening (29th June) 5pm, Murray Street Mall (outside the underground train station). Please bring a candle to light in remembrance of those people who have lost their lives in search of freedom and safety.

No crime to seek asylum! No offshore processing! End mandatory detention!

For more information, call RRAN on 0417 904 329

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