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Asylum seekers deserve some compassion: nzherald

Written by kumaran   // July 18, 2011   // Comments Off

ny asylam seekers

The Prime Minister was uncharacteristically blunt about a boatload of asylum seekers expressing a wish to come to New Zealand. “They are not welcome here,” he said. He believes he had to be that blunt. The boatpeople may have been no closer to these shores than any have been when they were intercepted by the Indonesian Navy last Saturday – and they were heading for Australia – but John Key says he has intelligence that New Zealand was their intended destination.

It is hard to believe; they and their craft did not look prepared for the swells and squalls of the ocean in these latitudes. But the words on their placards and the New Zealand flag they displayed were enough to bring this global problem closer to home than it has ever been.

The 85 Sri Lankans on the boat obviously believed that, if caught, their best prospect was to appeal to New Zealand. Clearly, the compassion Helen Clark displayed to the Tampa refugees, fully a decade ago now, has made a lasting impression on asylum seekers, or at least on those who take their money and put them to sea in small boats.

The New Zealand Government’s attitude contrasted sharply with Australia’s then, though it acknowledged the difficulty of Australia’s position. New Zealand, being so much further from those seeking refuge, could afford to be sympathetic to them. That was not a view shared by the National Party at the time and it is sending a different message to desperate refugees now. [Read More]


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