Security, People-Smuggling, and Australia's New Afghan Refugees

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This article was downloaded by: [University of West Florida]On: 05 October 2014, At: 21:56Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UKAustralian Journal ofInternational AffairsPublication details, including instructions for authorsand subscription information:, People-Smuggling, andAustralia's New Afghan RefugeesWilliam MaleyPublished online: 09 Jun 2010.To cite this article: William Maley (2001) Security, People-Smuggling, and Australia'sNew Afghan Refugees, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 55:3, 351-370, DOI:10.1080/10357710120095216To link to this article: SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, orsuitability for any purpose of the Content. 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In classical conceptions of security, derived from a realist paradigmof international relations, the relevant agent about whose security one should beconcerned was the sovereign state, and insecurity sprang from the anarchical orderin which sovereign states subsisted. But with the notion of sovereignty provingincreasingly problematical,1 new ways of thinking about security have surfaced. Onthe one hand, debate has focused on the nature and signi cance of non-traditiona lsecurity threats, with candidates including intrastate con ict, population shifts, andorganised criminal activity (Maley, 1998a). On the other hand, increased attentionhas been paid to human security, restoring individuals to the moral core of debateover the roles and powers of the state. One phenomenon which has brought thesetwo discourses into con ict is that of people-smuggling , which some see as anon-traditiona l security threat, but which arguably enhances the human security ofthose in need whom it assists. In todays terms, Oskar Schindler might have beencalled a people-smuggler . In this article, I shall argue that preoccupation withsecurity threats and with control as a dimension of sovereignty has dominatedAustralias response to people-smuggling , and that the consequences have beendire: not only is the human security of vulnerable people neglected, but theunimaginative and unsophisticate d policy responses which the people-smugglingpanic has generated are unlikely to be effective in preventing population move-ments, but risk evoking memories of earlier Australian policies of exclusion inways which do Australias foreign relations no good at all.On 6 July 1938, a conference was held at Evian in France to consider how theinternational community should respond to the out ow of Jewish refugees fromNazi Germany. The Australian representative was the Minister for Trade andCustoms in the Lyons Government, T. W. White. His intervention was to sendshivers down the spines of the more compassionate delegates. It will no doubt beappreciated, he said, that as we have no racial problem, we are not desirous of* An earlier version of this article appeared in March 2001 as Australian Defence Studies Centre Working Paper no.63.1 On the complexities of sovereignty, see Philpott, (1995); Barnett, (1995); Krasner, (199596); Fowler and Bunck,(1996); Osterud, (1997); Croxton, (1999); Krasner, (1999); and van Creveld, (1999).ISSN 1035-7718 print/ISSN 1465-332X online/01/030351-20 2001 Australian Institute of Internationa l AffairsDOI: 10.1080/1035771012009521 6Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 352 W. Maleyimporting one (Gilbert 1986: 64). In some ways Australia is reliving those darktimes. Faced with the arrival by boat of asylum seekers from Iraq and Afghanistan,Australian political leaders have found in ammatory ways of scorning them. Thus,on 17 November 1999, the Australian Minister for Immigration and MulticulturalAffairs, Philip Ruddock, claimed that if it was a national emergency two weeksago, its just gone up ten points on the Richter scale. On 7 January 2000, thePremier of Western Australia, Richard Court, went even further, responding to therelease from detention of Afghan refugees with the assertion that Were not talkingabout genuine refugees, were talking about people who are smart alecs, adding forgood measure that they should be turned around straight away (PM, ABCRadio, 17 November 1999; The Australian, 8 January 2000).From a European perspective, these responses must seem somewhat frenzied.While European states have been moving to close their doors to asylum claimants(Joly 1996; Hansen and King 2000), this is in the context of a vastly greater volumeof applicants than Australia has ever had to confront. According to the most recentstatistics of the Department of Immigration and Multicultura l Affairs (DIMA),issued on 4 July 2001, the total number of boat people arriving in Australia from1989 on was only 12,327. Even the total for 19992000, namely 4174 persons, istrivial compared with those confronting other liberal democracies (Department ofImmigration and Multicultura l Affairs 2001b). In 2000 in Europe, a continentwhich does not enjoy the protection of being girt by sea, the United Kingdomreceived 97,660 asylum applications; Germany 78,760; the Netherlands 43,890;Belgium 42,690; and France 38,590. The number of asylum applications in Europefrom Iraqis was 34,680 and from Afghans was 28,790.2 Numbers alone can hardlyexplain the ferocity of the Australian political and bureaucratic response. At leastsix other factors need to be taken into account.First, domestic political considerations have prompted an anti-refugee rhetoricamong Australian politicians. In the 1998 Australian election, the far-right OneNation party, led by Pauline Hanson, capitalised on a general disillusionment withpolitical elites to win 936,621 votes, or 8.43% of the total votes cast (AustralianElectoral Commission 1998: 29). One policy in her platform was to grant refugeesonly temporary residence, rather than the right of permanent residence which theyhad traditionally received if their claims to be refugees were upheld (Kukathas andMaley 1998). Bitter in ghting subsequently broke the One Nation party intopieces, but paradoxically, the result has been a heightened attention by Australiasmajor parties to ways in which they might lure back those who defected to OneNation in 1998. Scorning refugees is an obvious tactic,3 and asylum seekers from2 See United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2001). The populations of the Netherlands and Belgiumare 15,785,700 and 10,161,200 respectivelyboth substantially lower than Australias population in June 1999of 18,966,800 . For further discussion of Europes experience, see Schuster (2000).3 McAllister and Bean (2000) conclude at p. 398 that the predominant motivation voters possessed for defectingfrom the major parties was One Nations stance on immigrants and Aborigines. See also Goot andWatson (2001).Note, however, that the landslide defeat of the Western Australian State Government of Richard Court at theFebruary 2001 election shows that merely scorning boat people is not a fail-safe technique for winning secondpreferences from ultra-right groups; the ultra-right may well be satis ed with nothing short of a policy of immediateforced repatriation.Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 Security, People-Smuggling, and Australias New Afghan Refugees 353the Middle East and West Asia have unfortunately been the rst victims. Thisphenomenon has recently attracted the attention of no less a gure than the UnitedNations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers. In a strongly-wordedarticle in an Australian newspaper, the High Commissioner warned that Asylumseekers have become a campaign issue in various recent and upcoming electionbattles, with governments and Opposition parties vying to appear toughest on thebogus asylum seekers ooding into their countries. In some nationsAustralia,Austria, Denmark, Italy and Britain, for exampleindividua l politicians and mediaappear at times to be deliberately in ating the issue. Statistics are frequentlymanipulated, facts are taken out of context, and the character of asylum seekers asa group is often distorted in order to present them as a terrible threata threat theirdetractors can then pledge to crush. Politicians taking this line used to belong tosmall extremist parties. But nowadays the issue is able to steer the agenda of biggerparties Genuine refugees should not become victims yet again. Surely, there areother ways to win elections (Lubbers 2001).Second, in DIMA there is a well-entrenched culture of control,4 which spurnsas illegals those who arrive on Australian shores without bureaucratic approval.Such persons, even if they are refugees as de ned in the 1951 ConventionRelating to the Status of Refugees, must by law be detained until their applicationsfor protection visas are processed, even though it is not a criminal offence to enterAustralia without a visa.5 This culture reinforces the climate of opinion amongstvote-maximising politicians. The obsession with control is by no means limited toAustralia. In a recent detailed study of European policies, John Morrison hasargued that the imposition of visa restrictions on all countries that generaterefugees is the most explicit blocking mechanism for asylum ows and it deniesmost refugees the opportunity for legal migration (Morrison 2000: para 3.2.1,emphasis added). Given such restrictions, it is no wonder that people-smuggling ourishes. This obsession with control has been at the expense of more creativethinking about refugee issues, as an interesting April 1992 extract from the Cabinetdiaries of Dr Neal Blewett makes clear: Immigration remains a disaster area, withhasty ad hoc expedients cobbled together to stem the ood. The Minister forImmigration Local Government, and Ethnic Affairs, Mr Hand supported hisproposals with his usual blend of vivid anecdotes about the wickedness of the boatpeople and their sinister manipulators (Chinese tongs this time) and attacks on theself-righteous attitude of the churches and the do-gooders. The Attorney-General,Mr Duffy, told me that he likes Hand but that over the last week or so he has been4 See Cronin (1993). This is not to say that all DIMA of cers approve of recent policies in the refugee area; on thecontrary, to my certain knowledge there are DIMA of cers who are extremely perturbed by the direction that policyhas come to take.5 See Crock (1998: 210). Since it is not an offence to enter Australia without a visa, it is preferable to refer to thosewho do as unauthorised arrivals rather than as illegal immigrants, since the latter expression can lead thosewithout legal training to assume that some criminality on the part of the unauthorised arrivals is involved. As amatter of international law, such unauthorised arrivals may be refugees under the Convention before even arrivinginAustralia, since thebetter view is that de nition of refugee in theConvention is constitutive, rather than dependen tupon a determination by a state party: seeGoodwin-Gill, (1998: 141). For further background on refugee protection,see Kushner and Knox (1999); Nicholson and Twomey (1999); and Maley, (2000a).Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 354 W. Maleyall over the place and more than usually excitablepartly, Duffy believed, becausethe advice coming out of his department is so unreliable and changeable (Blewett1999: 106, emphasis added).Third, Australian ministers and of cials may genuinely believe that people-smuggling threatens civilisation as we know it. They are certainly vocal incampaigning against people-smuggling in international fora. The Minister forImmigration and Multicultura l Affairs in the year 2000 visited Jordan, Syria, Iran,Pakistan, and various South-East Asian states in pursuit of this campaign, althoughwithout securing much high-level access in the key transit states involved. He madea repeat visit to some of these states in January 2001. People-smuggling is ofcourse a legitimate issue to discuss, since people smugglers are not in the least bitaltruistic, on occasion engage in traf cking of persons in ways which brutallyexploit the vulnerability of those who are being moved,6 and tend to be connectedwith organised crime more generally (McFarlane 1999; International Migration2000). But that said, given the complexity of state structures and the threats to statecapacities of which recent political experience has provided abundant evidence(Migdal 1988; Migdal 1994; Chehabi and Linz 1998), it might be questionedwhether people-smuggling as a danger to regional stability and Australian nationalsecurity should be even remotely as worrying as a whole range of other problemsof political development which complicate the politics of the Asia-Paci c region,such as weak accountability of rulers to ruled, uctuating state revenues, imbal-ances between military and social spending, and patrimonialism and elite predation.Fourth, that public bureaucrats may seek to maximise individual or organisa-tional rather than public welfare is hardly a novel claim (Niskanen 1971: 3642),and a cynic might wish to note that playing up the dangers posed by people-smug-gling has proved an effective way of winning monies in a time of economicstringency, with the May 2000 Australian budget allocating A$116.8 million overfour years to tackle people smuggling and illegal arrivals and to establish newdetention centres.7Fifth, while numbers remain trivial, there is an inclination in policymakingcircles to interpret every trickle as the precursor of an imminent ood, often6 People traf cking is not the same as people smuggling, and the two should not be confused. Traf cking isstringently de ned in Article 3 (a) of the December 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Traf ckingin Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing theUnited Nations Convention Against TransnationalOrganized Crime as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of thethreat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power orof a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or bene ts to achieve the consent of a personhaving control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, theexploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slaveryor practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.7 See MPS 046/2000 (2000). The conditions endured by detainees in existing centres have come in for scathingcriticism: see Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1998); Flood (2001); CommonwealthOmbudsman (2001); Parliament of theCommonwealth of Australia (2001). In each case, the authors of these reportsmet with both detainees and those responsible for their detention. A defence of mandatory detention has recentlybeen offered by Klintworth (2001). Klintworth relies very heavily (at pp. 1418) on another ParliamentaryCommittee report, (Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia 2000), but unfortunately fails to inform hisreaders that this Committee did not formally meet with or talk to the detainees (Parliament of the Commonwealthof Australia 2000: ix).Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 Security, People-Smuggling, and Australias New Afghan Refugees 355illustrated with reference to large percentage increases in the number of asylumseekers from particular areas (although rarely with reference to the low basenumbers from which the large percentage increases are calculated). Such primalfears are dif cult to address, in part because they are not often supported withserious analyses of the sociology of forced migration, which balance such fears byalso taking into account the potency of complex sociocultural ties which candissuade people from eeing even the most abominable of situations. This discon-nect is unfortunate, but in no small part it re ects a wider pathology of the policyprocess, namely that popular myths can become realities for vote-maximisingpoliticians, and sceptical or critical social science is not a popular guest at thisparticular party.Sixth, there remains in Australia a serious ignorance of the circumstances whichforce people such as Afghans, who make up a large proportion of recent boatarrivals, to leave their homeland to seek protection in another, and of the problemswhich they confront on arrival. To shed light on the complexities of dealing withthose who are forced to resort to the services of people-smugglers , it is useful toexamine the experiences of some of these Afghans, as a way of highlighting anumber of more general aspects of the refugee experience.Fleeing AfghanistanIn some ways Afghanistan has an unfairly bleak reputation. Not all of Afghanistanis unstable, not all Afghans seek asylum abroad, and the 1990s actually witnesseda substantia l voluntary repatriation of refugees from neighbouring countries (seeMaley 1999). But it is also important to note that most of those who returned inthe 1990s were ethnic Pushtuns, whereas the bulk of those arriving in Australia arefrom non-Pushtun minorities. The explanation lies in the dynamics of Afghanpolitics.Afghanistans lethal encounter with communist ideology has been well-docu-mented, and there is no need to retrace it here.8 When Afghanistans communistregime collapsed in April 1992, the ruins of the country fell into the hands of theAfghan resistance. And ruins they were. By conservative estimate, roughly onemillion Afghans had perished from a prewar population of just over 13 million, anda great deal of the countrys infrastructure was wrecked. The schools system wasin a state of disarray, and much productive land was contaminated by anti-person-nel mines. Millions of Afghans remained as refugees outside their country, fromwhich they had been driven by the ferocity of the war which was fought onAfghanistans soil. The country had no legitimate political institutions . Rarely hasa popular resistance movement received so miserable and elusive an inheritance.The authority of the new Afghan regime, headed from June 1992 by Burhanud-din Rabbani, was challenged by the Pakistan-backed extremist Hezb-e Islami of8 There is now a large literature on the events of this period. See Hammond (1984); Arnold (1985); Bradsher (1985,1999); Roy (1985); Girardet (1985); Huldt and Jansson (1988); Hauner and Can eld (1989); Urban (1990); Saikaland Maley (1991); Rubin (1995); Akram (1996); Borer (1999); Dorronsoro (2000); Giustozzi (2000).Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 356 W. MaleyGulbuddin Hekmatyar, which rocketed the capital with stockpiled munitions,causing thousands of deaths and reducing the southern suburbs to rubble.9 How-ever, Hekmatyars party proved incapable of occupying and holding territory, andfrom 1994, Pakistan increasingly threw its weight behind another force, theso-called Taliban movement, which without Pakistans instrumental support wouldhave remained socially marginal and politically irrelevant. With backing fromPakistan and from the Saudi extremist Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban nallysucceeded in taking Kabul in September 1996. The US, keen to see a stableAfghanistan in which US energy companies could invest, reacted with remarkablecalmness to the Taliban takeover.10The results, however, have proved perverse, as a close examination of theTaliban should have led their supporters to expect. The Taliban, overwhelminglydrawn from one ethnic group, the Pushtuns, consisted of a curious mixture ofextremist Sunni Muslim clerics of Deobandi persuasion, students from madrassas(Islamic colleges) who had been denied anything like a normal family life as aresult of two decades of war, and Pushtuns who identi ed with the movement outof ethnic solidarity rather than ideological af nity (Maley 1998b). This led to anincreased ethnicisation of the Afghan con ict (Saikal 1998: 11426).11 The remark-able and bizarre restrictions on women which the Taliban sought to impose, soblatantly at odds with the approach to gender in so many in uential capitals,blocked the movements attempts to secure international respectability (Maley2000b: 1821).12 The Talibans hospitality to Bin Laden, a principal target of USinterest since the bombing of US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August1998, made their regime an international pariah (Khalilzad and Byman 2000),resulting in a rst round of mandatory sanctions from November 1999 pursuant toUN Security Council Resolution 1267, and a second round from January 2001pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1333. Those who lauded the securitybrought by the Taliban seemed not to notice that smugglers and drug barons wereamong the main bene ciaries.The main losers were the Hazara ethnic group. The Hazaras, concentrated in themountainous central Hazarajat region but found in many urban centres as well, arephysically distinctive , having typically a Central Asian rather than southernEuropean phenotype, and are mostly Dovazdah Imami (Twelver) Shiite ratherthan Sunni Muslims.13 For much of the twentieth century, Hazaras experienced9 For more detailed analysis of these events, see Maley (1993b, 1997).10 On US policy, see Mackenzie (1998); Rashid (2000: 180).11 Afghanistan is an extremely diverse country from an ethnic perspective, see Orywal (1986).12 For a detailed critique of the Talibans gender policies, see Physicians for Human Rights (1998). The depth ofthe chasm between the Taliban and the international community can perhaps best be illustrated by a report of aSeptember 2000 meeting between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Dr Sadako Ogata, andthe Taliban Governor of Herat, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa. According to UN aides who attended the meetingswith Ogata, she devoted 90 percent of her agenda to the issue of womens rights At one point, the aides said,Khairkhwa used an analogy to make his point, noting that many Afghans generally abhor dogs but treat them wellif they are trained to obey commands. The aides said Ogata responded with silence. See Constable (2000).13 On the background of the Hazaras, see Edwards (1986); Harpviken (1996); Sayed Askar Mousavi (1998); Emadi(1997).Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 Security, People-Smuggling, and Australias New Afghan Refugees 357signi cant discrimination, grounded in both sectarian antagonism and social clos-ure. Within the Taliban one can nd powerful gures who regard the Hazaras asboth heretics and Untermenschen . In February 1995, the Taliban killed Abdul AliMazari, leader of the Hazara-backed Hezb-e Wahdat (Party of Unity). In August1998, some 2000 Hazaras were slaughtered when the Taliban took the northern cityof Mazar-e Sharif; the killings were fuelled by incendiary broadcasts by the TalibanGovernor of Mazar, Mullah Muhammad Niazi (See Human Rights Watch 1998;Cooper 1998). The position of Hazaras in the Hazarajat itself has been complicatedalso by the desire of nomadic Pushtun tribes allied with the Taliban to obtaincontrol over land in the region, or recover old debts (Rubin 2000: 1799). For theHazaras, the future in Afghanistan appears anything but bright. Such victims of theTaliban are no longer welcomed in neighbouring countries. Pakistan, which is nota party to the 1951 Convention, closed its borders to Afghan refugees in late 2000,in a move widely viewed as an attempt to support the Talibans military objectivesby increasing the vulnerability of civilian populations in areas outside Talibancontrol, and as we shall see shortly, Iran too has been forcibly deporting Afghanrefugees to Afghanistan.Afghans in AustraliaThe Afghans who have been arriving in Australia by boat since late 1999 arelargely of Hazara background, although some are former residents of Iran eeingthe threat of forced repatriation, and others are anti-Taliban Pushtuns or membersof other persecuted ethnic groups. Most of the Hazaras are young men, driven fromtheir homes and families by concerted pressure applied by the Taliban, acting inconcert with people-smuggling networks and elements of the Pakistani state.14Faced with the threat of the forced seizure of their lands and sequestration of theirassets, they are casuistically offered a safe way out in exchange for cashpayments, with the Taliban, the smugglers, and the Pakistani groups all taking acut. The cash in question typically comprises the pooled life savings of elderswithin a lineage, who recognise that it is the young men of military age in thelineage, the bearers of its future identity, who are in greatest danger. These youngmen are trucked to Karachi, transported by air to Indonesia, and then conveyed byboat to Australian islands and reefs close to the Indonesian archipelago. For thosewho have transited Pakistan, Indonesia or Malaysia, Australia is the rst state theyhave encountered which is a party to the 1951 Convention. Most have had to leavewives and young children behind. A large number are fully aware that they aretaking their lives in their hands to escape: they simply see no other way ofsurviving.Given the persecutions which the Taliban have directed against Hazaras, theHazaras in Australia have hitherto had little dif culty in establishing a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of which eld of cers of DIMA nd them14 My interviews with smuggled Afghans strongly suggest that thus far, in contrast to the situation commonly facedby those smuggled by Chinese snakeheads, the entire cost of being moved is paid upfront.Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 358 W. Maleyto be genuine refugees.15 While conditions in detention centres add to the traumawhich the refugees have already experienced in Afghanistan,16 as does slowprocessing of claims, upon release from detention the Hazaras face a new set ofdif culties. This re ects a deliberate desire by the Government to make life asdif cult for them as possible , in order to deter others from arriving by the sameroute.As a matter of conscious policy, echoing the One Nation platform, suchrefugees are only given three-year Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs). No onewith any understanding of the destructured situation in Afghanistan seriouslydoubts that the Hazaras will eventually remain in Australia on a permanentbasissomething which is to be formally revisited thirty months after the grant ofa TPVbut in the meantime it is manifestly the intention of the Government thatthey live on the margins of society. Their basic human rights are basic indeed.They are forbidden to sponsor wives and children to join them (even if they knowwhere they are),17 and if they leave Australia for any reason, they cannot re-enter.While the 1951 Convention requires that TPV holders be granted the right to work,they are not permitted to attend English classes funded by the Commonwealthgovernment, and the income support which they receive is rudimentary. Until veryrecently, to obtain access to Australias universal health care system (Medicare),they have been obliged to apply for a permanent visa, which is a procedurallyhorrendous task unless a registered migration agent can be found who will supplythe necessary assistance for free. Upon release from detention, they are virtuallydumped in major cities, typically with less cash than is needed to survive untilSpecial Bene t becomes available through the banking system. The burden ofassisting them has fallen on hard-pressed state and territory governments, voluntaryagencies and charities, and sympathetic Afghans.18 The consequences of thisapproach for the wellbeing of the individual refugees concerned were foreshadowed15 In some cases, DIMA has sought to claim that individual Hazaras either originate from Pakistan, or have spentmany years in that country, typically relying on linguistic analyses from a company called SkandinaviskSpra kanalys AB. However, the quality of these analyses is dubious: the identities of the individual authors arenot disclosed, the reports contain some very obvious translation errors, and the stated evidentiary base for theconclusions offered is on occasion extraordinarily thin.16 For excellent studies of the traumatising effects of detention, see Silove, Steel andWatters (2000) and Silove, Steeland Mollica (2001).17 This policy has had two inadvertent effects. First, as people smugglers have advertised the policy to potential clients,more women and children are accompanying their husbands/fathers on boats. Second, for those who cannotimmediately raise enough money to pay for their wives and children to accompany them, it provides an incentivefor them to maintain contact with criminal networks, as their only hope of being reunited with their loved ones.The policy of seeking to block family reunion is atly at odds with the spirit of Recommendation IV.B of the 1951United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons, namely that theunity of the family, the natural and fundamental group unit of society, is an essential right of the refugee: seeUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (1996: 12).18 The response of Afghan communities has been far from uniform. A number of younger Afghans have performedoutstandingly , while a number of older Afghans, including some who support the Taliban, have shown a scornfor the Hazaras which may re ect longstanding attitudinal dispositions. But it would be dangerous to generalise,since as yet there is no study of Afghans in Australia which could compare with Omidian (1996) or Zulfacar (1998).On the post-detention experiences of TPV holders, see Mann (2001).Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 Security, People-Smuggling, and Australias New Afghan Refugees 359in a speech on 20 August 1998 by the Commonwealth Minister for Health andFamily Services, Dr Michael Wooldridge: this Minister noted the spurious claimthat Australia should only be a temporary haven for refugees before they are sentback again when things get better, and described these views as deeply awed anddangerous. He went on that creating insecurity and uncertainty as these viewsundoubtedly do is one of the most dangerous ways to add to the harm that torturersdo. He concludedoveroptimistically as it turned outthat we must not and willnot turn our backs on those who come here for refuge. To do so would be to betrayour moral obligation as a community and to betray that great Australian traditionof helping out those in need (Wooldridge 1998).In keeping with his deterrence strategy, the Minister for Immigrationand Multicultura l Affairs has set out to denigrate the refugees, a movestrikingly at odds with his statement to a Parisian audience in July 2000 thatcompassion should continue to guide our approach to the genuine needs ofthose who are truly refugees (Ruddock 2000). When speaking to domesticaudiences, he has accused TPV-holders of using our good feelings to get moneyto send out of Australia,19 and using the money that is provided for food tobuy mobile telephones and then go to charities to try to top up their income.20While these wild claims met with ferocious criticism (for example, Haigh 2000;Horin 2000a, 2000b; Lagan 2000), they doubtless struck a chord in certainrightwing political circles. An even more bizarre developmentthe launch by theMinister of a video of snakes, sharks, and crocodiles to deter refugees fromembarking upon the voyage to Australian shoresmay also have been intended fora domestic audience.21 How any of this could send a signal into the Hazarajat wasnot explained.A further rationale offered by government of cials for this treatment of theHazaras comes in the form of a claim that they are queue jumpers. However, the1951 Convention does not establish a queue for refugees to join, and to describethose who arrive by boat as queue jumpers is a complete non-sequitur . Australiadoes have a Refugee and Special Humanitarian Program as part of its widerpolicy of selecting migrants for resettlement to Australia, and the Ruddock-Courtapproach is premised on the view that the only deserving refugees are those wholodge applications under this program. This also suits the bureaucratic mindset of19 TheWorld Today, ABCRadio, 9 August 2000. Pressed by the interviewer, the Minister admitted he had no prooffor this claim. Hazaras I have interviewed have been fearful of attempting to initiate any contact with their families,lest it expose the families to further danger from the Taliban. As a result, they are typically wracked by feelingsof profound anguish and uncertainty about the future.20 Sunday, National Nine Television Network, 13 August 2000. Again, the Minister offered no evidence to supportthis assertion.21 As conversations with this writer have shown, this remarkable video caused considerabl e anger in various sectionsof the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, because the paranoia which it re ected ran the risk of remindingkey circles in Australias Asian neighbours of the paranoia which for years fuelled the White Australia Policy.Given the dismay caused inAsia by the rise of Pauline Hansons OneNation, thiswas the last thing that Australiandiplomats needed.Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 360 W. Maleya number of key DIMA policymakers.22 But for Afghan Hazaras, it is absurdly outof touch with reality. There are a number of reasons why.First, an applicant under the Global Special Humanitarian Program faces incred-ible processing delays: the average processing time for such a visa in Islamabad on31 May 2001 was 122 weeks.23 Yet those at the greatest risk cannot risk waitingthat long. In Iran, for example, Afghan refugees still run the risk of being pickedup in the street and forcibly deported to Afghanistan, despite the move by UNHCRto put in place an orderly system for the registration of refugees.24 In just one weekin December 1999, Iran deported 1682 Afghans (UNOCHA 1999:1), vastly morethan the global annual total of offshore resettlement visas granted to Afghannationals in any recent year. In March 2000, Amnesty International reported that inthe past week, Iranian police have carried out mass arrests and forcible deporta-tions of possibly thousands of Afghan men, women and children, denying themrefugee protection (Amnesty International 2000a). Despite this, in the AustralianEmbassy in Iran, until very recently, there has not been a single so-calledAustralia-based DIMA staffer in residence, and the newly-arrived Australia-based DIMA staffer appears to be responsible mainly for compliance liaisonrather than visa application processing.Second, in Pakistan, the situation is nearly as dire: hundreds of Afghans haverecently been deported to Afghanistan (Agence France-Presse, 30 January 2001(Jalozai)). Yet Australia allocates in a year hardly more places than this forresettlement to Australia of Afghans who apply at the Australian High Commissionin Pakistan, and because very many are Special Humanitarian Program rather thanstrictly refugee places, the applicants, to succeed, must have some prior connec-tion with Australia, established through nomination by a proposer. Apart from therecent arrivals, there are few Hazaras in Australia, and as a result, the proceduresof the Special Humanitarian Program covertly discriminate against the very groupin greatest need. Indeed, since an applicant need not meet the stringent Conventionde nition of refugee in order to qualify for a Special Humanitarian Programplace,25 one can argue that the people smugglers are actually going a better job thanthe Australian Government in assisting those Afghans in greatest danger, since the22 It is notable that the queue jumper label is scarcely ever attached to asylum seekers who apply for refugee statusin Australia after arriving with a temporary visa issued for some other purpose, such as business or tourism. Thisreaf rms ones sense that the government concern is more with obedience to procedures per se, rather than withfairness to people located in some notional queue overseas.23 The 2000 Budget included provision for $5.3 million over four years to accelerate the processing of offshoreresettlement applications. How effectively these monies will be used remains to be seen.24 A report for The Straits Times, 15 July 2000, raises doubts about the nature of the voluntary repatriation underthis program: A woman refugee waiting in a bus that will take her home said: Lets say we were obliged tovolunteer. Shortly before the program got underway, police raided an Afghan community and extradited morethan 1,400 to send a strong signal to those who refuse to volunteer. See also Amnesty International (2000b).25 This seems to have been lost on the External Reference Group on People Smuggling, which in a December 1999booklet asserted that those who arrive by boat and obtain refugee status are stealing places from those who arein more urgent need of resettlement (p. 4), but offered not a word to explain why Special Humanitarian Programvisa holders should be considered more urgently in need of resettlement than Convention refugees who arrivedby boat. Interestingly, the average annual number of offshore refugee visas granted from 199495 to 19992000was 3961.The target gure for refugees from overseas for 20002001 is 4000: see Department of Immigrationand Multicultural Affairs (2001a).Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 Security, People-Smuggling, and Australias New Afghan Refugees 361vast majority of recent boat arrivals from Afghanistan and Iraq have been found tobe Convention refugees.Third, even those who do nd a proposer can still be refused entry if they (orany of their dependents) have medical problems. The tragic death in 2001 of aPakistani-Australian who set re to himself outside Parliament House in Canberrabecause his daughtera cerebral palsy suffererhad been unable to obtain a visadrew this issue to the attention of a wide audience, many of whom may haveerroneously believed that the purpose of medical checks was simply to excludethose suffering from communicable diseases, rather than to save money. Refugeegroups have long known otherwise: I think here of an elderly Afghan refugee inPakistan of my acquaintance, Dr Y, who, after being approved in principle to bereunited with his son and daughter in Melbourne, was rejected because ofdeteriorating eyesight, and died of heatstroke in the erce summer of the subcon-tinent (Maley 1993a: 185). Those who arrive by boat cannot legally be refusedprotection on such grounds.Fourth, according to Transparency International (TI), Pakistan is one of the mostcorrupt countries in the world,26 and the presence of Pakistani staff in theAustralian High Commission in Islamabad has prompted great suspicion amongAfghanswhether justi ably or notabout the integrity of the processing ofresettlement applications . To counter this, letters from the Of ce have recentlybegun to carry the message that only Australian of cers nalise Afghan applica-tions, but the scepticism of potential applicants may take some time to dispel.Fifth, the UNHCR Of ce for Afghans in Pakistan is poorly resourced todischarge UNHCRs protection function with respect to particular endangeredindividuals.27 In September 1999, UNHCR in Pakistan reportedly urged therefugees from war-torn Afghanistan not to approach its of ces for resettlement.According to Reuters News Agency, it added that UNHCR simply does not havethe capacity to handle the increased volume of people demanding to be sent to theWestern countries, concluding that We cannot cope with it, and our daily workon behalf of refugees has been seriously disrupted by this outpouring (Reuters, 20September 1999 (Islamabad)). Even prominent and sophisticated Afghans haveenormous dif culty in securing an interview with a properly-trained legal of cer,and for understandable reasons, they are disinclined to accept locally-employedPakistanis as an adequate substitute , since the perils they confront often arise fromtheir criticisms of Pakistans creeping invasion of Afghanistan. Hazara villagers,despite the great dangers they face on ethnic and sectarian grounds, have very littlehope of being properly interviewed, and Afghans are by now deeply (and under-standably) cynical about the interest of UNHCR in their individual circumstances.Sixth, while no one would envy the task of having to select a few hundredapplicants for resettlement from thousands of deserving individuals , egregiouslapses of judgment on the part of Australian of cials do not lift the credibility of26 In the listing of the TI 1999 Corruption Perceptions Index, Pakistan ranked 87th out of 99 countries listed. SeeTransparency International (2000: 13).27 On UNHCR and protection more generally, see Goodwin-Gill (1999).Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 362 W. Maleythe programsuch as that which in 1993 saw a distinguished former professor ofKabul University, Professor H, who had been adopted as a prisoner of conscienceby Amnesty International (Amnesty International 1984: 3), rejected for resettlementwhen he applied to be reunited with his daughter in Sydney. This blunder was latercorrected (although only after a delay of several years), but the suspicion remainsthat it may have been the tip of the iceberg. At the same time as deservingapplicants have been rejected, applicants with KhAD connections have beengranted resettlement places.28 The system of offshore selection is a human system,and is only as strong as its weakest link. That there are undoubtedly many able,conscientious and dedicated DIMA of cers is of little value or comfort to thosewho fall victim to the misjudgments of the less impressive or acute. As the RefugeeCouncil of Australia recently observed, the Governments Offshore resettlementprogram does not offer a place in a queue, but a ticket in a lottery (RefugeeCouncil of Australia 2000: 53).To illustrate this, I would cite the recent experience of two further Afghanacquaintances, whom I will call Dr L and Mr A. Dr L, a US-trained socialscientist, held a very senior position in the Afghan Foreign Ministry between 1992and 1996, and was actually one of UNHCRs main interlocutors in the Afghancapital during the period. Mr A, Dr Ls brother, was a staffer of the Afghan RedCrescent Society. When the Taliban took Kabul, Dr L did not ee, but stayedbehind with his staff. Unable to locate Dr L, the Taliban instead seized his brotherMr A (who bore an uncanny resemblance to Dr L), and held him in prison inKandahar. In late 1997, the Taliban came close to locating Dr L, and because ofthe urgency of his plight, his escape from Kabul was nally engineered, and he wasspirited to central Afghanistan, whence he made his way on foot to Pakistan. MrAs release was shortly thereafter procured as part of a prisoner swap, and he toomade his way to Pakistan. They were reunited there with their wives and children.However, given Dr Ls past role as a very prominent critic of Pakistans supportfor the Taliban, the situation for them in Pakistan was nearly as perilous as that inAfghanistan, and Dr L and Mr A therefore lodged applications for resettlement inAustralia, where a family member acted as proposer. Each had a remarkably strongcase.In separate letters dated 3 February 1999 and 4 February 1999, the FirstSecretary (Immigration) at the Australian High Commission in Pakistan wrote toboth Dr L and Mr A, rejecting their applications without even the bene t of aninterview. On the bottom of each rejection, the First Secretary wrote UNHCR haveadvised that you have been submitted to another country for resettlement. That DrL and Mr A had been so submitted, it turned out, was completely untrue: when Imade some inquiries after learning in May 1999 of the plight of Dr L and Mr A,I was supplied with a formal statement from UNHCR dated 23 August 1999 which28 For a recent discussion, see Schwartz (2000). One such KhAD of cial managed to evade proper scrutiny and enterAustralia because, as a Deputy Secretary of the then-Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs explained toa Senate Committee, there was clearly a breakdown in our procedures, which apparently did not recognise thatcertain letters in the Persian or Pushto alphabets could be transliterated into English in more than one way: SenateHansard, Estimates Committee F, 23 June 1994, p. F 231.Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 Security, People-Smuggling, and Australias New Afghan Refugees 363inter alia read: Please be advised that according to our records, [Dr L] and hisfamily have notto datebeen submitted by UNHCR for resettlement to a thirdcountry. This triggered a veritable merry-go-round of communications, which notonly saw pressure from the UNHCR Head Of ce in Geneva on the UNHCR Of cein Islamabad to conduct proper interviews with Dr L and Mr A, but also strongrepresentations to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultura l Affairs from oneof his Cabinet colleagues, who, along with another current minister in the HowardGovernment, had actually hosted a dinner for Dr L at Parliament House in Canberrain September 1992. Mr Ruddocks of ce acknowledged the representations the dayafter they were made, but Dr L and Mr A heard nothing further from DIMA. It wasonly in December 1999 that Dr L was interviewed by UNHCR, and only in January2000 that Mr A secured an interview.Does the story have a happy ending? Not really. On 4 September 2000, Dr L andhis wife and children nally left Pakistannot for Australia but for anotherWestern country, which, after an approach from UNHCR, handled his case with anexpedition which contrasted sharply with DIMAs bumbling. However, the relief ofescape was inevitably tinged with sorrow. Just after I had seen Mr A in May 1999,his wife had suffered a sudden seizure, and died because emergency medicaltreatment was unobtainable . For Mr A it was a shattering blow. By the time he wasinterviewed by UNHCR, he was decidedly unwell, but he was reluctant to seekmedical treatment. When nally he was driven by unbearable pain to see a doctor,he was at deaths door, and he lost his life to cancer two days later. He and his wifeare survived by ve children, four of them only in their teens. It is a damningre ection on the international system of refugee protection that had Mr A soughtthe services of a people smuggler, he and his wife might be alive and well today.And if gures as politically prominent and in such peril as Dr L must still struggleto capture the attention of those who manage resettlement programs, how muchmore dif cult is it likely to be for poor Hazaras, or poor Tajiks, or poor Afghanswith any Convention-based fear of persecution, to secure protection?Panic measuresThere is some recent evidence that panic over people-smuggling has reached newheights in government circles. On 5 January 2001, the Minister for Immigration andMulticultural Affairs left Australia for a tour of the Middle East. On the day beforehis departure, the Public Affairs section of DIMA released to a member of thepublic a copy of the kit which had been prepared for distribution by the Ministerduring his travels, not only in English but in Persian and Arabic.29 At some point,the Minister decided not to distribute the material further (Haslem 2001a, 2001b),but it deserves some attention, if only for what it reveals about the mindset ofpolicymakers in this areasince it must have been cleared by senior DIMA29 Some of the translated material had been bound into a booklet with a coloured photograph on the cover of detaineesat the Woomera camp. Unfortunately, the Department seems not to have realised that Persian and Arabic scriptmoves in the opposite direction fromEnglishand as a result, what should have been on the front cover was printedon what to a reader of Persian or Arabic would be the back cover.Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 364 W. Maleyof cials or staff in the Ministers of ce in order to be released to the public; it wasunembargoed; and it bore no markings to suggest that it was a draft.The most startling document in the kit was entitled Questions and Answersprovided by the Australian Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs MrPhilip Ruddock and dated January 2001. In response to the question But wontmy family have a better life?, the following answer was offered: No. Even if youcan bring your family to join you, your children will abandon your traditional wayof life in favour of modern western ways. You will lose control of your children,who will rebel and question your authority and your religious beliefs. The authorseems not to have appreciated that such comments build on a very regrettablestereotype which depicts Muslim or Middle Eastern parents as authoritarian andrepressive; and convey the covert message that Australia is really only a countryfor westernersan unfortunate message to project from Multicultura l Australia,and from a Department of Immigration and Multicultura l Affairs, especially in thewake of the Hanson imbroglio. Furthermore, as a universal proposition about lifein Australia, it is plainly false. Many refugees and their families from countriesbeing targeted by the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs havesettled very successfully in Australia. Indeed, if it were true, any non-westernermight feel fearful of migrating to Australia.Nearly as startling was a Fact Sheet on Illegal Travel, which claimed, interalia, that people who arrive in countries illegally have found that they face racialhatred and violence because citizens are angry at having to support them.30 Theempirical basis for this assertion was not made clear, and it is dif cult to imaginethat it could have any, since the mode of a persons arrival in a country is notmarked by a readily-discernible label. More disturbing, however, was the im-pression created by this document that an Australian Government was preparedactually to exploit the spectre of racial hatred and violence against refugees inorder to deter people from exercising a right set out in Article 14.1 of the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights, namely the right to seek and enjoy in othercountries asylum from persecution.As well as this, the Sheet asserted that people who arrive in countries illegallyhave found that they end up living in slums and depend on begging and crime tosurvive. Interestingly , the videotape of sharks, snakes and crocodiles whichaccompanied the printed kit was packaged in a plastic case with a cover photoapparently designed to convey the impression that Australia contains vast slumsnear the central business districts of its major cities, to which TPV holders couldexpect to nd themselves consigned.The Fact Sheet on Illegal Travel also stated that Australias tough new lawsprovided for mandatory detention in campsa word which DIMA normallyshrinks from employingand for no access to welfare bene ts. What madethis last point odd was that on a television program on 5 October 2000, the Minister30 While this assertion did not speci cally mention Australia, the fact that it came in a folder with The AustralianGovernment on the cover, and on a sheet of paper with an outline map of Australia in the top right-hand corner,would lead any normal reader to conclude that this reference applied to Australia.Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 Security, People-Smuggling, and Australias New Afghan Refugees 365for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, to counter the claim that TPV holderswere being badly treated, asserted that they are given access to Medicare, theyregiven access to a full range of social security bene ts (Insight, SBS Television,5 October 2000). As will be obvious from my earlier discussion, neither of thesestatements is strictly accurate. What is clear is that they are totally incompatiblewith each other.ConclusionThat such a preposterous collection of aphorisms could be prepared for a travellingminister is a depressing indicator of the grip which paranoia, and perhaps evenfanaticism, have secured on this area of public policy. But undocumented asylumseekers from countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan will most likely continue toarrive on Australian shores as long as the fear of intense persecution haunts theireveryday lives. It is a failure to recognise the overwhelming potency of pushfactors which lies at the heart of the Governments misguided response. There areno quick and easy solutions to the problem of people-smuggling : as a phenomenon,it will disappear only when the need for sudden ight is ameliorated.If the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs wishes to dissuadedesperate people from using desperate means to escape the threat of persecution, heand DIMA will need to think much more seriously about the complex issuesinvolved. It is time to put an end to the people-smuggling panic, which is more athreat to bureaucratic hubris than to security in any useful sense of the term, andleads to ill-considered measures that are likely to prove both embarrassing andineffective.31 A good start would be to recognise that the supply of resettlementplaces in wealthy developed countries, once equal to meeting the need for urgentresettlement, now falls far short of what is required, and that comprehensivepolitical solutions are required for trouble spots such as Afghanistan, a bleedingwound which Western countries, including Australia, neglected while it becameinfected. This requires a whole-of-government approach, not a maladroit DIMA-crafted foreign policy. A policy of treating genuine refugees as if they were thescum of the earth will not work,32 because as miserable as such policies can makelife in Australia for Hazaras, it is still preferable to life under the Taliban. Thefailure of this approach is already apparent: the number of boat arrivals in200020014145 personswas scarcely lower than the total of 4174 in 19992000, and the numbers for the rst six months of 2001, namely 2482, weremarkedly higher than for the last six months of the previous year, namely 1663(Department of Immigration and Multicultura l Affairs 2001b).Refugees, whatever their mode of entry to Australia, are human beings whosedignity should be respected. It is simply not good enough that those who arrive onour shores and cry for help are treatedin Boris Pasternaks memorable wordsas31 Some parallels might be drawn with international narcotics control policies, which also have had signi cantunintended consequences : see Seccombe (1995, 1997) and McAllister (2000).32 Being so treated is a painfully familiar aspect of the refugee experience: see Arendt (1973: 267).Downloaded by [University of West Florida] at 21:56 05 October 2014 366 W. Maleynameless numbers on a list that was afterwards mislaid.33 All that limiting thesupport for these refugees will do is blight Australias reputation for humanity, anddamage their resettlement prospects. And all that the Ministers ventures intoforeign policy are likely to do is convince Australias neighbours that Hansonismis still alive and well, and that the ghost of T. W. White continues to haunt thecorridors of power in Canberra.ReferencesAkram, Assem,1996. Histoire de la guerre dAfghanistan (Paris: Editions Balland).Amnesty International, 1984. Summary of Amnesty Internationals Concerns in the DemocraticRepublic of Afghanistan (London: Amnesty International, ASA 11/07/84).. 2000a. Hundreds of Afghan Refugees Forcibly Removed from Iran (London: MDE 13/06/00, 17March).. 2000b. Iran: Are Returning Afghan Refugees Properly Protected? (London: MDE 13/028/2000,26 September).Arendt, Hannah, 1973. The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich).Arnold, Anthony, 1985. 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