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Refugee boat tragedy at Christmas Island's Rocky Point -The year 2010 ended in terrible tragedy for many asylum seekers, less than one kilometre from their destination, when their boat was smashed on razorsharp limestone rocks at the north end of Christmas Island. The boat may have carried up to 90 passengers. Just 42 people were rescued, amongst them children. See our page on the event on our website here.

Archived pages 2010

Perhaps 2010 started already with a growing feeling of unease. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who had been so celebrated when he came to office, started the year with a silence of not speaking when he should have, about climate change policy commitments following Copenhagen.

We could have known Rudd was already losing his cool: the Oceanic Viking and Merak boat dummy spit were signs his leadership was coming unstuck.

By World Refugee Day the signs were clear, and following the August election Australia had a new Prime Minister in Julia Gillard.

For the world, the earthquake in Haiti in January was probably the most devastating event; for human rights in Australia, 2010 was the biggest year for boat arrivals. A High Court case demanded better standards for refugee assessment, and the cataclysmic shipwreck drama off the coast of Christmas Island (see video above) were the marked and dramatic events.

Below are all pages added to the website during the calendar year 2010, followed by our 2010 press releases.


30 December 2010: Another asylum seeker boat went missing; or had it arrived? - We were very wrong about an 'arrived' yet vanished boat. During the December 2010 Christmas weekend, two newspapers broke the news that a boat with asylum seekers was feared missing. We didn't believe them. Sadly, we were very wrong.

22 November 2010: High Court demands process fairness for boat refugees - The full High Court ruling of the M61 and M69 cases in November 2010 was a significant reprimand of Australian politicians by the highest court in the land - but before we jump for joy, it's imperative to remember that the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is prepared in the kitchen of those same politicians.

24 October 2010: Remote Islands and Penal Colonies - Australia's response to boat refugees is marked by dehumanisation, regimentation, incarceration and isolation. The way we respond to those seeking shelter is similar to the way the British expelled thousands of their own unwanted in the 18th Century: those on the First Fleet were sent to the penal colonies on the far-away island of Australia.

2 October 2010: Dear Australia: a letter from Human Rights Watch - Just before the 2010 Election, the international human rights group wrote to all political leaders. Except for a brief media mention, the letter was not ever referred to by political leaders. Perhaps media outlets were too busy jealously scooping exclusives of the modern-day Punch and Judy, the Tony and Julia Circus Show.

2 October 2010: Behind the Story of The Sun Sea Tamils - Gisele Gauthier's fantastic summation of the journey and background of the MV Sun Star also mentions it: the ship with Tamils, now docked at Canada's Esquimalt Base, was turned away by Australia during the 2010 Federal election campaign. Here it is.

2 October 2010: Hadi Ahmadi's People Smuggling Trial - To incorporate that farcical National Indignation with that nagging Breach of Sovereignty, Australia has created extreme punishment for those who bring refugees to safety. We call these punishment mechanisms our "people smuggling laws". The collection of media reports around trial and punishment from 1/6 to 24/9 2010 of Mr Ahmadi: a Perth Court hears about moral duty and bribed police witnesses.

9 August 2010: MV Sun Sea: Tamils wandering the oceans - There's a boat wandering across the world's oceans, with reports that at the start of the Federal election campaign, Australian authorities boarded the ship and told the captain to move on and 'bugger off' - in the underlying spirit of "sorry folks, we have an election on". This page tells the story.

5 July 2010: Karzai Solution a dangerous Afghanistan Theatre - PM Julia Gillard may be announcing the Karzai Solution, where in a "pact" with Afghanistan she expects guarantees for safety for Hazaras from the Karzai government. If reports about this are accurate, then the Prime Minister is either dreaming or lying about the prognosis of safety for Hazaras to the Australian electorate.

20 June 2010: Rudd and Readings for World Refugee Day 2010 - It may all have started with the Australian version of Yes We Can with Kevin07, but not much seems to have survived the onslaught of the nasty monster of Parliamentary politics. Are Kevin Rudd's human rights troubles irretrievable? Around 2010 World Refugee Day and Refugee Week, several writers link with the issues.

1 June 2010: The 2009 missing Hazara boat - On October 2, 2009, a boat with 105 refugees sailed from an unknown Indonesian port to Australia. One of the passengers phoned his New York family to tell they were on their way now. Nothing more was heard of the person who called or from anyone else on board. This is the page for those passengers.

8 May 2010: Laws for smugglers are jailing the ferrymen - Australia's nasty laws jail innocent Indonesian fishermen instead of smugglers: By marginalising the fishing communities that used to fish around Ashmore Reef for centuries, we contribute to their availability to smuggling networks as sailors. Australia supplied and 'trained the bus drivers for the bus company' - the sailors we jail as people smugglers.

7 May 2010: A Time to Burn: The End of Kevin Rudd's Bonhoeffer Confessions - Under his new anti-people smuggling laws Prime Minister Kevin Rudd would prosecute his spiritual hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian who spiritually inspired him, as a people smuggler - and throw him in an Australian jail for up to twenty years. We organise a protest action at a RRAN Event at the Perth Airport detention centre

21 April 2010: Rudd re-opens Derby's Curtin detention hell - Temps climbing to 44 C. Guards that treat refugees with violence and disdain, telling them they're illegals who will never make it into 'Australia proper'. Immigration officers who screw up formal requests for medical or other assistance and throw them in the rubish bin. That's how many remember the Curtin detention centre...

19 April 2010: The 2010 Anti-Smuggling Legislation - Punishing smugglers, or finding a covert way to lock Australia's borders? "In view of commitments given by Australia under the UN Refugee Convention, also to refugees arriving by boat, this legislation gives the appearance of being highly manipulative in nature."

18 April 2010: World Outrage about Kevin Rudd's Big Asylum Freeze - From psychiatrist Jon Juredini to Malcolm Fraser, from human rights lawyer Greg Barns to Andrew Bartlett, outrage swelled fast around Kevin Rudd's processing freeze of Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers. The anger did not stop just there, it went international within a week.

17 April 2010: Labor compassion and decency freezes over in Election Hell - Some had expected it sooner, but finally Labor has buckled under the weight of the attack dogs. In a joint and televised joint press conference by Stephen Smith (Foreign Affairs), Chris Evans (Immigration) and Brendan O'Connor (Home Affairs) - a sad affair where they resembled The Three Stooges - they announced Canberra's Big Freeze.

1 April 2010: Is Mr Hadi Ahmadi a people smuggler or escape organiser? - Mr Hadi Ahmadi assisted in bringing four boats to Australia. His passengers were not 'illegal immigrants' but asylum seekers: of the 900 passengers, no less than 866 were declared genuine refugees once their claims were processed. That's a success rate of 97%. Does that make him a people smuggler or a UN Convention enabler - or an "escape organiser"?

We Tube Too  25 March 2010: Al Jazeera TV: Seeking asylum in Australia - Nick Lazaredus reports from Christmas Island, and interviews Amnesty International Australia's refugee team co-ordinator Graham Thom, Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services Laurie Ferguson, Christmas Island Shire President Graham Thomson and human rights advocate Jack Smit.

11 March 2010: SBY in Canberra: smugglers will be crims - but the passengers? - Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's remarks were reported after the morning press conference by AAP, but no media outlets picked them up or read between the lines. What the Indonesian President gave away after closed-door talks in Canberra was more than we heard from Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

4 March 2010: Uninvited and unheard: Australia's case of post-Tampa boat arrivals - Author's copy of a peer reviewed paper by Project SafeCom's Jack H Smit in TAMARA, Journal for Critical Organization Inquiry, 8(2), pp. 207-224 - Special Issue: Refugee and Migrant Integration in Developed Nations: The Discovery of Discourse, September 2009.

2 March 2010: To Catch a People Smuggler, to Wade through Brine of Spin - Anyone who tries "to catch a people smuggler" needs to first peel off the many layers of spin and labelling. This page, primarily about 'Captain Bram', one of the Australian government's "notorious" people-smugglers, wonders why he has not been extradited to Australia.

Media Releases 2010

17 December 2010 'Evil Smugglers' tag nicely hides our own political evil and toxic debate
10 December 2010 Human Rights Day suicide attempt reaffirms detention centres as the Immigration Killing Fields
16 November 2010 Advocates demand Parliamentary Discourse changes following refugee suicide
11 November 2010 High Court declares Excision Zone to be "Terra Nullius"
12 September 2010 "Stop the Boats to Get More Votes" hypocrisy will mark Gillard refugee policy
9 September 2010 Commonwealth DPP "smugglers' mules" decision is first crack in much-needed law review
3 September 2010 Darwin refugee protest: human rights advocates suspect political interference in assessment
3 September 2010 500th asylum vessel in 34 years arrives: time to reset the debate
1 September 2010 Darwin "mules" protest: People smuggling laws need full review
29 August 2010 Darwin detention unrest: Freeze processing, create detention limbo at your own peril
29 July 2010 Australia refused boat: St Louis drama and Fraser's Huey Fong denial repeated in MV Sun Sea's aimless sail
24 July 2010 500th refugee boat may coincide with August 21 Polling day
9 July 2010 Processing Centre concept is 32-year old Immigration Department pipedream
8 July 2010 Does new-fangled refugee "solution" come with new Ministerial language?
5 July 2010 (website) Gillard's Karzai Solution as dangerous as Afghanistan Theatre
9 June 2010 UK Border Agency & Kevin Rudd Kabul Reintegration plan shows political callousness
3 June 2010 Petro Georgiou's departure marks end to Liberal asylum decency
12 May 2010 Rudd the Humanitarian killed off with Ghastly Border budget Squander
5 May 2010 Kevin Rudd will jail Bonhoeffer, Schindler, Arne Rinnan under cover of Budget week
22 April 2010 Smuggling laws may be first to fail under new government human rights test
19 April 2010 (website) Proposed laws undermine Smuggling Protocol, says Submission
9 March 2010 Rudd and SBY should use chance to shake Labor's 2001 Tampa Neurosis
8 March 2010 Boat Stopping falsehoods, lies and misrepresentations come in thick and fast
10 February 2010 Rudd's Merak refugees admission a welcome development
29 January 2010 Christmas Island Mass Protest 'inspired' by Prime Minister's Oceanic Viking political posturing
27 January 2010 Christmas Island "mental illness clock" moves to One Minute to midnight
17 January 2010 Grave concerns held for missing asylum boat feared perished