New Bush Telegraph Independent Stories since 1987
COMMUNITYSUSTAINABILITYENVIRONMENTPOLITICSCOUNCILARTSCLIMATE CHANGE

The Tamil Family - Cruelty that Beggars Belief

June 11, 2021

By Stuart Rees 

Continued detention of the Tamil Biloela family, let alone the threat to deport them, confirms the government’s fascination with cruelty as policy.

To demonstrate their bravery in defending Australia’s borders, Ministers claim to have an obligation to protect comfortable and fortunate Australians, but they show a wanton disregard for the lives of the powerless and vulnerable.

Displayed on a daily basis, the cruelty beggars belief. As with any serious disease, diagnosis should be made and explanations given about the persistence of such a poisonous disorder. 

Government politicians, bureaucrats and the law are culpable. So too the opposition if, with Christina Keneally and the Greens as worthy exceptions, it stays lukewarm in demanding the family be returned to their friends in Biloela.

Marise Payne and Karen Andrew’s cowardly muttering about options to possibly send the family to the US or New Zealand is the latest sadism operated by a government which spends a fortune to detain the family on Christmas Island.

Payne and Andrews are muttering the script given by their so called Christian leader but are unable to show a vestige of courage by thinking and saying enough is enough. 

Payne and Andrews are muttering the script given by their so called Christian leader but are unable to show a vestige of courage by thinking and saying enough is enough
Karen Andrews is unable to show a vestige of courage by thinking and saying enough is enough. Bring the Bioela family home. Photo supplied


Let’s not play with words. You can’t claim respect for human rights, mateship, Pentecostal fervour for the underdog, let alone a semblance of Sermon on the Mount principles and then collude in the apparent denial of immediate hospital treatment for a serious ill child. Three-year-old Tharnicaa was not flown the six hours to a Perth hospital until she was considered dangerously ill. Cruelty beggars belief. 

The Department of Home Affairs bureaucracy contributes to the disease. We might not blame individuals shuffling papers in a Canberra office, though the supposed strong man Secretary Pezzullo sets the cultural norms about fortress Australia, and even likes to pose with warnings about the prospect of war. 

Be clear. Throughout history, massive cruelties have depended on the efficient operation of invisible and inaccessible public servants. For the sake of efficiency, the Holocaust death trains needed an army of bureaucrats to ensure that resources were available and everything ran on time. Let’s not mince words. The analogies are apt.

Bullying cruelty to punish the vulnerable leaves no exception to the rule. Yet in almost all social policies, there are exceptions, otherwise a country would be run by robots. Let’s taste a touch of courage in a simple exception for this worthy Tamil family. It only needs a little bit of imagination and a touch of humanity. It beggars belief not to do so. 

The Prime Minister speaks with grovelling repetition that in the case of the Tamil family’s appeal to stay in Australia, the law has run its course, all legal avenues have been exhausted. Morrison’s behaviour confirms a one-dimensional abuse of power and uncritical consideration of this phenomenon called ‘the law’, presumably a reference to deliberations of the High Court. Let’s not avoid criticism of establishment interests. Let’s demystify a high and mighty administration of justice. What justice? 

The Murugappan family Priya, Nades and their two young daughters Kopika (5) and Tharnicaa (3) have been detained on Christmas Island for over three years. Your love gives us hope. Photo supplied

Legal deliberations remain a mystery to most citizens, the wisdom of judges almost taken for granted, yet legal decisions are too often made to reflect a government’s policies, otherwise Murdoch media outfits join in supporting Coalition derision of the judiciary.

When one courageous and principled public servant criticised the cruel operations of the Department of Home Affairs, Immigration at the time, (she wrote under a pseudonym as La Legale) the High Court ruled she was in the wrong and could not do so. What price justice? 

Let’s be clear. There are numerous rules of international law which forbid cruel and inhuman punishments. May judges of every level recall those humanitarian principles and summon the courage to go home satisfied that they have decided to speak about humanity by allowing exceptions to the rule. In the case of this Tamil family, it beggars belief they would not do so. 

The Labor opposition has a chance to speak about justice, not as a piece of opportunism to embarrass the government for its cruelty, but because, post Covid, there is an immediate cultural and policy need to craft non abusive, socially just ways of living together. 

Influenced by commitment to universal human rights and to life enhancing uses of power, the long overdue return of the Biloela family would be a first step vaccine to suppress this cruelty pandemic. 

It beggars belief that all powerful operatives, in political circles, in bureaucracies and in the highest operations of the law would not take the vaccine themselves and encourage others to do so.

Stuart Rees

Stuart Rees OAM is Professor Emeritus, University of Sydney, recipient of the Jerusalem (Akl Quds) Peace Prize and author of the new book “Cruelty or Humanity”. A human rights activist, poet, novelist, and Founder Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation.

Feature image: Support banner asking the Prime Minister to bring the Biloela Tamil family home, enough is enough. Photo supplied

If you liked this article help us to plant trees in its honour. The New Bush Telegraph practices community journalism and plants a tree for every article published, although we hope to plant a whole lot more trees than just one. You can contribute as little as $5. 

FIND OUT MORE / DONATE

This article is in the following category/ies:

  • Categories

  • Archives

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Join us

    For only $20 (per annum, $10 concession) you can become a member of The New Bush Telegraph Incorporated. Membership to an incorporated association shows your support and gives you voting rights at annual general meetings, access to volunteer opportunities and special member events.

    FIND OUT MORE
    Subscribe to our newsletter
    Keep up to date with all the news from The New Bush Telegraph and be notified of new articles when they are published. It’s the best way to stay in touch and never miss out on those important local issues. You can unsubscribe at any time.
    * indicates required

    Donate to the New Bush Telegraph

    The New Bush Telegraph is a not-for-profit community initiative.

    Support us to grow and reach our goals by considering making a donation.

    COMMUNITYSUSTAINABILITY
    ENVIRONMENTPOLITICS
    COUNCIL
    ARTSCLIMATE CHANGE
    ABOUTLETTERS TO THE EDITORCONTACT

    Archives

    #125 Spring 2019#120 Winter 2018#109 Spring 2015#108 Winter 2015#107 Autumn 2015#106 Winter 2010#105 Late Spring 2009#104 Winter 2009#103 Autumn 2009#102 Summer 2008#101 Winter / Spring 2008#100 Late Autumn 2008#99 Late Summer  2008#98 Summer 2007#97 Spring 2007#96 Winter 2007#95 Autumn 2007
    New Bush Telegraph - Independent Publishing Since 1987
    Privacy PolicyTerms & Conditions
    Copyright © New Bush Telegraph Incorporated ABN: 42106732072
    linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram