note: changed date and time
Collaboration and resistance in Australia’s war on refugees
Nick Riemer, University of Sydney and Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney.
27 May, Friday, 17:00, G7, Pavilion Parade
For over two decades, Australia has fashioned the most punitive and inhuman asylum policies in the Western world. For refugees themselves, this has brought a litany of despair, self-harm, suicide and destroyed lives. Within Australia, the policies have fed, and fed off, the nationalistic, racist and authoritarian inclinations deeply lodged in the political establishment. In a striking demonstration of social democracy’s inability to hold its most repressive and pathological tendencies in check, international condemnation, periodic outbreaks of public revulsion, and an energetic protest movement, including among refugees themselves, have so far been unable to trigger any fundamental alteration to this pattern; in some ways, indeed, the recent EU-Turkey deal represents a generalization of aspects of the Australian model. In this talk, which is offered strictly from an activist perspective, I will draw on my involvement with the Australian refugee rights movement to consider the current balance of forces over refugees in Australia. In particular, I’ll concentrate on the material and ideological collaboration which the most powerful echelons of Australian society provide to the detention regime. This collaboration constitutes a powerful, structurally embedded ‘counter-mobilizing’ force that systematically dampens resistance, and that has many analogues in societies outside Australia itself.