No to offshore detention: Not here, not Denmark, not anywhere

| May 24, 2021 | Reply

Australia has pioneered a virus of human rights abuse that is now spreading across the globe.

Australia was the first developed nation to implement mandatory offshore detention of refugees in third-party countries, when it opened detention centres on Nauru and Manus island in 2001, reopening them in 2012. The government’s elaborate system of border authoritarianism, operation Sovereign Borders, is based on brutalising asylum seekers who attempt to come to this country by boat, in order to deter others from attempting the same thing.

The Australian method is to violate human rights obligations by paying poor countries to “process” refugees. But “processing” is a euphemism for what really happens: imprisonment, confinement to squalid camps, direct abuse, deportations to danger, medical neglect, suicide, rape and murder. When refugees die at the hands of the regime, Australia tries to blame the locals, as was done when Reza Barati was brutally beaten to death on Manus Island in 2014.

Now, it is reported that Denmark is moving to follow Australia’s shocking example, and have asylum seekers who arrive in Denmark, processed in Rwanda. Early this month, the Danish government signed a deal with the Rwandan government to co-operate on matters of migration. According to the agreement, “[it is] the vision of the Danish government that the processing of asylum applications should take place outside of the EU, in order to break the negative incentive structure of the present asylum system”.

Like Australia, Denmark want to shift its responsibilities, and to a poor country and try prevent any refugees from reaching their borders. For the Rwandan government, such a deal means a lot of money. For the refugees though, it only means misery.

The Rwandan government itself is guilty of a number of severe human rights abuses, including the detention of journalists, the repression of political opponents, and – of most concern – crimes directed squarely at refugees. In 2018, policemen in western Rwanda opened fire on unarmed, predominantly Congolese refugees protesting a cut to food rations. At least twelve were killed, and dozens more injured. These policemen are the kinds of people who will be overseeing them.

Not a single police officer has been brought to justice, and the government has accused the protesters of being violent rioters. A number of refugees were arrested and charged for participating in the protests.

Denmark will be complicit in the Rwanda’s human rights abuses. Just as the ultimate responsibility for brutality on Manus Island and Nauru rests with the Australian government, responsibility for abuses in Rwanda will rest with the Danish government.

The UNHCR has long called for an end to Australia’s offshore “processing” of asylum seekers, and for all asylum seekers and refugees in PNG and Nauru to be brought to Australia. If anything, it seems even more appalling to expel asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Refugee Action Coalition Sydney is a group of activists dedicated to putting an end to Australia’s border protection regime. We demand an end to mandatory and offshore detention of asylum seekers, cruel Temporary Protection Visas – policies that are now being exported to other western nations.

We call on the Danish government to abandon its plans to offshore asylum seekers. We give our full support to Danish people fighting the introduction of these policies. We stand in solidarity with the refugees across the world that are the victims of these brutal schemes. The only way to resist is to rebel.

Contact the Danish embassy to express your opposition to Denmark’s shocking plans
Sydney: (02) 9247 2224 email : sydgkl@um.dk
Canberra: (02) 6270 5333; cbramb@um.dk

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