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m.i.a weighs in on australia's poor treatment of refugees

Imploring our airlines not to aid in their forcible deportation.

by Briony Wright
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22 September 2018, 5:19am

M.I.A has spent much of her career drawing attention to Sri Lanka's 26 year civil war and the resulting humanitarian crisis in the country her parents were born. The recent film made about her, Matangi/Maya/M.I.A, examines her efforts and the reluctant acceptance of her message by the British and American people. Seeing this in the context of the film, it’s clear what a powerful campaigner for change M.I.A is and how incredibly frustrating her journey has been. Now she's turned her focus to Australia, joining human rights activists to call for Qantas and other Australian airlines to boycott migrant deportations.

Speaking to The Guardian , she explained, “Deportation is not an option. In the case of Tamils in Sri Lanka, several organisations including the UN have outlined ongoing torture and intimidation of the community. Thousands of Tamils remain unaccounted for or forcibly disappeared in Sri Lanka…By refusing to participate in the forced deportation of fleeing asylum seekers, airlines have an opportunity to play an active role in protecting human rights.”

Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers is notoriously inadequate and, as Keren Adams, the director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, puts it, “internationally condemned as putting lives at risk.” She adds that, “Businesses, including airlines, that actively facilitate and profit from this system are complicit in abuse…”

In a country where the former Immigration Minister Peter Dutton labeled asylum seekers “fake refugees” and where the current Prime Minister brags about "turning back the boats", we need more voices like M.I.A's to help protect basic human rights.