The Guardian September 12, 2001


Fawning subservience and "shared values"

In the US this week Prime Minister John Howard put in a boot licking 
exercise that was excessive and embarrassing even by his standards. 
Pictured in the news at a gathering of Washington elites, where he droned 
on about "shared values", his fawning subservience was made all the more 
glaring by the earlier news coverage of asylum seekers held prisoner by the 
Australian military aboard the HMAS Manoora. The meaning of "shared 
values" was clear: warmongering and neo-colonialist arrogance.

A memorandum of understanding was used to buy off the government of Nauru, 
which will receive $20 million in "assistance" for taking refugees, 
including a further 237 as well as those from the Norwegian freighter 
"Tampa".

The deal includes $13 million worth of fuel and power generation plus 
education and sporting scholarships and the writing off of some medical 
debts incurred through the island's use of Australia's health system.

Well, that what's being made public, anyhow. The final wash-up is that the 
people of tiny Nauru, their home already devastated by the British ripping 
phosphate out of the island's interior for decades, are being treated as 
second rate human beings by big brother Australia.

Their home is being turned into an island prison for refugees so that the 
Government can get around Australian law. 

Up to this point the Government has spent around $115 million in its 
refugee bashing exercise and is now attempting to exclude Christmas Island 
and Ashmore Reef from Australia's migration zone. 

This has brought criticism from the UN, with the UN High Commission on 
Refugees stating: "We don't support preventing people on the high seas and 
elsewhere from pursuing their flight. We believe it circumvents the 
substantive provisions of the Refugee Convention. The UN believes 
international protection obligations are engaged as soon as someone enters 
the territory of a country, so self-proclaimed migration zones are 
irrelevant."

The Victorian Council for Civil Liberties is continuing its case in the 
Federal Court against the Government's treatment of the refugees and is 
likely to include the latest refugees in its action.

Back in the USA, the world's biggest rogue state with its more than two 
million prisoners and its "poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe 
free", Howard's pathetic kowtowing continued while his Government, like the 
Administration of George W Bush, ruthlessly violated international law.

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