Asylum Seekers and Iran

26 July 2013

Perhaps if we restored past legal opportunities to reach our shores, however remote, Iranians would be less inclined to travel here via boats, writes Professor Mary Crock.

In an opinion piece published in ABC Online's The Drum and co-written with PhD student, Daniel Ghezelbash, they assert that one of the favourite strategies used by politicians to make refugees disappear are pronouncements that asylum seekers are not refugees but economic migrants.

"In 1989, refugees fleeing post-genocidal violence in Cambodia were denounced by then foreign minister Gareth Evans as "economic refugees". "Bob is not your uncle on this issue," decreed then prime minister Bob Hawke.

"Now, while attention is focused on Labor's risky new Regional Resettlement Arrangement with PNG, Foreign Minister Bob Carr has been deploying the same rhetorical tactics - first on the Tamils and most recently on Iranians who are presenting in unprecedented numbers among the boat arrivals.

"As in years past, the political pronouncements have been accompanied by policy and "country information" directions aimed at encouraging decision makers to reject the protection claims made by asylum seekers from those countries.

"It is disingenuous of the Foreign Minster to be making any statements about the current maritime asylum seekers from Iran.

"He is well aware that refugee status must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

"He also knows that economic status does not influence eligibility for refugee status.

"Both the rich and the poor can be persecuted.

"He is also aware that people from majority ethnic groups can suffer persecution just as surely as those from minority groups.

"It is a defining feature of the 1951 Convention that refugee status extends to political and other dissidents."

View the entire article - What is a persecuted Iranian to do?

Contact: Greg Sherington

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