World Bulletin/News Desk
The new asylum-seeker policy of Australia which says that all asylum seekers who arrive by boat without visas will be sent to Papua New Guinea (PNG), a relatively tiny island country to the north of Australia, caused mass protests in the country.
Protests were held across the country against PNG asylum plan of the ruling Australian Labour Party targeting Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for his hard line stance on asylum seekers.
Rudd recently announced his "PNG Solution" with the aim of stopping the increasing number of unauthorised boat arrivals of asylum seekers to Australian shores.
With the new plan, all asylum seekers arriving by boat would be sent to PNG and no asylum seeker coming by boat would ever get permanent resettlement in Australia.
Protests against the new policy on asylum seekers keep on
Demonstrators said they would continue the protests until the government has revoked the recent decision on asylum seekers.
Organised on social media, non-governmental organisations as well decided to keep on the massive protests and announced a protest due on August 2 in Melbourne in addition to the one in Sydney on August 4.
Rudd, on the other hand, defended his new policy despite all the protests and criticism and said, "Our policy is pretty clear; asylum seekers sent on boat by human smugglers will not be able to settle in Australia."
Accepted as the strictest policy over asylum seekers, the new decision may or may not reduce the number of people arriving in Australia to seek asylum.
Non-governmental organisations concerned over new policy
Many lawyers and non-governmental organisations expressed their concerns over Rudd's new asylum-seeker policy and pointed out that the living standards in PNG were not appropriate at all.
A Turkish-origin lawyer Samli Ozturk spoke to Anadolu Agency and said there were many problems in PNG in terms of human rights.
"Human rights in PNG are not preserved as in Australia, and we know that crime rates are much higher there, which will be a big problem for those asylum seekers who have already hard lives," he said.
Labour Party defends the new policy
Member of the Labour Party and the chair of the Parliamentary Australian Turkish Friendship group Maria Vamvakinou supported the new policy saying the matter was beyond the problem of asylum seekers.
"The problem is that people pay a lot to human smugglers and are placed in boats. The smugglers do not care about the people and their needs," said Vamvakinou. "Australian government cannot just sit and watch what is happening. We should recheck our policies. There are many people in Africa, Middle East waiting in the camps to come here. I support the decision of the government and the prime minister. We should save the lives of innocent people and search for why they would like to come here."
Stressing many people in Australia including herself were born abroad, she said a strong message should be sent to human smugglers.
Liberal senator Scott Ryan, on the other hand, criticises the practises of Labour Party and believes that the decision is an election arrangement, not a solution to stop the boats.
"We have said we will work with PNG to stop the boats. The Australian people know we stopped the boats, our record speaks for itself and the Australian people know the Labour Party started the boats again," said Ryan on Monday. "This is a stunt, a stunt to get Kevin Rudd to the election. The way it was formulated in the exchange of letters last week shows there’s nothing, nothing in that stunt that guarantees people who arrive in Australia unlawfully on boats will be sent to PNG."Last Mod: 30 Temmuz 2013, 15:04