Deterrence 3a - 19 July: The Policy of 'deterrence'


19 July and the policy of ‘deterrence’

A cartoon by the artist Eaten Fish, depicts himself two different scenarios in a boat. The top shows the date 18/7/2013. Here hands reach towards him welcoming him and offering flowers. The sun is the sky smiles down on him. He appears happy and at peace. The bottom depiction shows the date 19/7/2013. Here hands point guns towards him, rain falls from the clouds and the sun glares. He appears distressed and upset. [imagecaption] 19 July. Artwork: Eaten Fish. The cartoonist Eaten Fish was incarcerated in the Manus Prison for more than four years. His freedom became the subject of an international campaign by cartoonists and advocates for his release. This cartoon, along with others, was published in New Matilda. On the day of the 19 July announcement, riots broke out on Nauru largely due to ongoing uncertainty surrounding the delivery of Refugee Status Determinations. Eventually, everyone sent to Manus and Nauru pre-July 19 was brought back to Australia; however, most who arrived after that date remain there. In 2013, the Manus Island RPC which previously detained men, women and children became a men-only facility. Women, families and children were thereafter sent to Nauru. Several of the people currently imprisoned on Manus and Nauru were in transit at the time of the 19 July announcement and arrived only days later. In some cases families were split between boats and now potentially face permanent separation. [/imagecaption]


‘Somewhere beyond its borders and on the accursed Manus and Nauru Islands, Australia is currently producing and examining violence and advertising it to the world. Simply put, Australia wants to tell the world that for anyone who comes to Australia by boat, the destiny that awaits them is life in a hellish prison on one of these islands.’

Behrouz Boochani, Kurdish journalist and human rights defender [imagecaption] As Boochani highlights, the transmission of narratives and testimonies relating to the violent treatment of people seeking asylum on Manus and Nauru are critical to producing zones of terror and supporting the Australian government’s ‘deterrence’ agenda. [/imagecaption]

In September 2012, the Labor government reopened the Manus Island and Nauru prison camps. On 19 July 2013, then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd announced that anyone who arrived by boat would never be allowed to live in Australia. They would be sent to PNG for ‘processing’ and eventual resettlement there. His address drew upon the long rehearsed rhetoric of ‘saving lives at sea’, ‘orderly migration processes’ and ‘breaking the business model of people smugglers’. It relied on the logic that it was possible to ‘deter’ prospective asylum seekers by denying asylum to those who had already arrived. This so-called policy of ‘deterrence’ and ‘no advantage’ has been criticised for instrumentalizing the sufferings of one group as objects of  putative deterrence to others and for displacing deaths to other sites rather than actually decreasing deaths at sea as claimed.


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