Heroes face court. Some of the, over 150, refugees arrested over the July uprising in Nauru, face court. Nearly all the 540 asylum seekers imprisoned in Nauru took part in the struggle which saw the hellhole detention complex burn to the ground (below). The Australian Left and trade union movement must call for the immediate dropping of all charges against the arrested refugees and for the granting of immediate asylum to them and all the other asylum seekers. The Australian workers movement could do well with the injection of people with the audacity and defiance as those who participated in the courageous July 2013 Nauru resistance struggle.
Sydney, 20 July 2013: Protestors in Sydney join others all around the country in the first defiant response to Kevin Rudd’s announcement of his cruel and racist “PNG Solution.”
SMASH RUDD’S RACIST SCHEME!
IMMEDIATE ASYLUM IN AUSTRALIA FOR ALL REFUGEE ARRIVALS!
July 20 – Many of us know that Liberal shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison is whipping up hardline racism against refugees. Yesterday, ALP Prime Minister Kevin Rudd totally trumped him. Rudd yesterday announced a scheme that is considerably worse than anything the racist Howard regime ever implemented and more extreme than what Abbott’s right-wingers have up till now been proposing. Under the Rudd plan, all asylum seekers arriving by boat will be processed at the malaria-infested camp on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island or elsewhere in PNG. More significantly, all those granted refugee status will have to settle in PNG. No asylum seeker arriving by boat in Australia will be allowed to settle here. This filthy racist measure would even make a European fascistic group, like the British National Party, proud.
The Rudd plan is all the more hideous because many fleeing for asylum are doing so as a result of suffering caused by the Australian imperialist ruling class and its U.S. senior partner. Thus, Iraqis are leaving a country that was first starved by imperialist sanctions, then destroyed by the 2003 U.S./Australia invasion and then torn apart by sectarian bloodletting fostered by the divide and rule policies of the invaders. Tamil refugees, meanwhile, are fleeing the results of Sri Lanka’s brutal war on the Tamil rights movement – a war that was backed by Australia and other Western governments which assisted their servants in the Lankan regime by banning the Tamil Tiger separatist movement. Meanwhile, the Lankan regime’s murderous scapegoating of the Tamils was aimed at buttressing a system that allowed Western multinationals to super exploit Lankan workers. Among the most prominent of these corporations – and the ones with the worst record of exploiting Lankan workers – are Australian ones like Ansell. Indeed, immediately after the Lankan military’s genocidal victory over the Tamil resistance in mid-2009, the Lankan division of Ansell (which owns a huge sweatshop making surgical gloves) made a high-profile donation of money and gifts to the Sri Lankan military!
It is especially outrageous that the Australian government will not allow refugees arriving by boat to settle here given that this is a resource rich country that is sparsely populated. Of course, those refugees who have managed to settle here have never been a burden on this country in the least. Refugees work (at least when they are allowed), pay taxes and buy goods and services – they create as many jobs as they take up and produce as many services as they use. Now they will be dumped in PNG, a country that, because it has been bled so dry by Australian neo-colonial exploitation (including having its natural wealth plundered by Australian mining giants like BHP, Newcrest Mining and the part Australian-owned Rio Tinto) suffers from poverty and social dysfunction – including high rates of violence and crime. Thus refugees, many of whom have suffered so much in their home countries, will now be thrown into an entirely new form of suffering.
Today, refugees imprisoned on Manus in an Australian-controlled detention camp already live in atrocious conditions when there are less than 150 locked away there. Imagine the horror that refugees will face when Manus reaches its proposed capacity of 3,000 under the Rudd plan. The government says that it will be providing resources to PNG for the scheme. However, this will only allow the Australian ruling class to further increase its neo-colonial stranglehold over PNG – a country whose judiciary and bureaucracy is littered with Australian officials. Yet all that is a Rudd wet dream. Rudd the aggressive imperialist – who proclaimed his vision for capitalist Australia as an “active middle power” “punching above its weight” – swaggers around the region with all the colonial arrogance of the Australian District Officers that lorded it over the local people during the period of direct Australian colonial rule over PNG.
UNITE THE STRUGGLE AGAINST RACISM WITH THE WORKERS STRUGGLE AGAINST THE CORPORATE BOSSES!
The ALP government’s racist scheme must meet with mass opposition. It is great that activists have called an emergency protest rally for 12 noon today at Sydney’s Town Hall. We must demand that everyone who makes it to this land is immediately granted residency with the full rights of citizens. Free all the refugees! Close all the detention camps!
Crucial to efforts to crush the ALP government’s latest racist measure is the need to mobilise the industrial power of the organised workers movement behind the struggle. There is potential to do this because ultimately the blows against refugees are blows aimed against the working class. The scapegoating of refugees is aimed at whipping up racism to divide the working class. It is aimed at diverting working class people’s frustrations at rising unemployment, poor public services and a lack of affordable housing away from the true cause of these problems – the capitalist exploiters – and onto a vulnerable target. This diversion serves to weaken workers’ resistance to the business bosses that exploit them and thus make it easier for the corporate owners to cut jobs and attack working conditions and for the governments that serve these greedy tycoons to neglect social services and slash social welfare.
Yet for the potential for linking up the needed trade union struggle with the refugee rights campaign to be realised the refugee rights movement must re-design its slogans such that they appeal to the class interests of the working class. So we urge all anti-racists to join today’s emergency rally but to do so bearing signs calling to unite the needed union struggle against the corporate bigwigs with the defence of refugees and 457 Visa workers. Now, if some upper middle class elements concerned about refugee rights are put off by this … that’s tough! For the workers class struggle and the anti-racist struggle will either go forwards together or fall back separately. The struggle against racism cannot ultimately triumph unless it becomes part of the struggle against the capitalist system that actually breeds racism.
There is, however, an obstacle to mobilising the working class in defence of refugees … and, indeed, in defence of its most direct economic interests. And that obstacle is the ALP’s leadership of the workers movement. The Labor Party social democrats act as the agents of the exploiting class within the workers movement. They pretend to stand for workers’ interests but, in fact, act to stifle workers struggle while all the while diverting workers’ hostility against their exploiters into nationalist resentment against refugees, guest workers and overseas producers. Speaking at the Second Congress of the Communist International, Russian Revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin aptly described how the social democrat opportunists within the workers movement “defend the bourgeoisie better than the bourgeoisie itself.” Rudd’s announcement yesterday proves that yet again. It was Paul Keating’s ALP government that first introduced mandatory detention of refugees in the early 1990s and now it’s Rudd’s ALP that has taken the cruelty of Australian asylum seeker policy to a new low.
All this underscores why none of the current parliamentary parties should be given any support at all at the upcoming elections. The many nominally socialist groups (most openly today the Solidarity group) who ritually call for a vote for the ALP – either openly or backhandedly by calling for them to be preferenced ahead of the Liberals – and who are already calling for such support for the ALP at the coming election had better re-consider. For a vote for the ALP is a vote to legitimise the racist Rudd plan, not to a mention a vote to legitimise the war in Afghanistan, a vote for the slashing of payments to low-income single mothers, a vote for cutting higher education funding etc. It is simply a political crime for any supposedly socialist group to in any way advocate a vote for Rudd’s ALP. If any left-wing group is asking you for your vote then first ask them if they are calling for preferencing the ALP (no left group would, of course, ever consider preferencing the right-wing Liberals). Only those left groups standing in the elections that refuse to give any support to any of the pro-capitalist parliamentary parties should be under consideration as being possibly worthy of your vote.
Sisters and brothers, the social climate is getting uglier and more racist. As unemployment rises and the capitalist crisis spreads into Australia, the political servants of the exploiting class are increasingly scapegoating refugees and 457 Visa workers. Let us politically prepare a serious fight back against the reactionary policies of the current ALP regime and against the inevitable racist and anti-working class attacks of whichever party wins the next election. Let us do this by convincing class conscious youth and anti-racist activists that they don’t have to resign themselves to choosing between which party is going to kick them in the guts less hard. For there is another road! The road of mobilising the industrial muscle of the working class united together with all of the oppressed. One that builds a true political alternative. A socialist road that completely rejects this decaying and racist capitalist system and all the parties that prop it up!