Target: Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia
Goal: Stop turning away asylum seekers from Australian ports
The Australian government recently turned away a boat full of refugees, sending them back to their country of origin to face the lingering dangers of violence from a past civil war. For almost a year the country has been turning away refugees, but until now it has sent them to Indonesia where they had a chance to seek asylum in another country. This time, however, 41 Sri Lankan refugees were sent straight back to officials in their home country, some of them ethnic Tamils who are at risk of ill treatment by the Sri Lankan military. Now, all 41 of the asylum seekers face charges of illegal departure from Sri Lanka.
According to a group of scholars from various Australian universities, Australia’s quick and careless examination of refugee claims during processing did not meet the minimum requirements defined by international law. Since 2012, over 1,000 refugees have been returned to Sri Lanka after seeking asylum in Australia, sometimes even after reporting that they had been tortured in their home country.
Australian courts are currently deciding the fate of another boat filled with 153 asylum seekers, mostly Tamils who fear torture and even death if returned to their country. Due to public outcry the court has temporarily halted efforts to return them to Sri Lanka, but a hearing will have final word. Until then, the refugees are barred from entering the country and must stay at sea while waiting for a court hearing.
It is imperative that peaceful and developed countries extend hospitality and generosity toward citizens of other countries facing poverty, violence, and the threat of torture at home. Rather than lend a hand, Australia has turned a blind eye to refugees, leaving them in the hands of abusive officials and citizens. Your signature will demand that Australia immediately examine its refugee handling procedures, and open its doors to Sri Lankan refugees once again.
Dear Mr. Tony Abbott,
A group of Sri Lankan refugees was recently sent back to their home country after attempting to seek asylum in Australia. In Sri Lanka, the refugees face torture and violence at the hands of officials, and have been charged for attempting to leave the country without permission.
Rather than turning away refugees, Australia should be making every effort to help them escape violence and enjoy a better quality of life. I demand that all refugee policies are reviewed and that Australia accept Sri Lankan refugees once again.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Robert R. McRill via Creative Commons