TIME Australia

These Are Some of the Most Australian Political Sound Bites Ever

Prime Minister Holds Joint Press Conference In Sydney
Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks to the media at Sydney Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices on September 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Mark Metcalfe—Getty Images

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has threatened to knock Vladimir Putin to the ground. Hey, that's just another day in Aussie political discourse

“Look, I’m going to shirt-front Mr. Putin … You bet I am. I am going to be saying to Mr. Putin, ‘Australians were murdered. They were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian-supplied equipment. We are very unhappy about this.’”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott isn’t exactly known for his oratory. But Russian President Vladimir Putin – and most Australians – were left scratching their heads over what exactly Abbott, who enjoyed a brief but successful stint as a heavyweight boxer, plans to do to the Russian leader’s shirt when he visits Australia for the G-20 meeting in Brisbane next month.

According to slangdictionary.org, shirt-fronting is a term from the Australian rules football code, and it happens when a player executes a “head-on charge aimed at bumping an opponent to the ground.” AFlrules.com.au adds that a shirt-front is “quite aggressive” and “illegal.”

Abbott’s comments were made in the context of increasingly loud calls to ban Putin from visiting Australia because of Russia’s apparent indifference to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July. Of the 298 passenger and crew who lost their lives in the disaster, 36 were Australian residents — making them the third largest group of nationals killed after the Dutch and Malaysians.

As a ninth-degree black-belt in taekwondo who could probably hold his own against Abbott, Putin did not dignify the Australian Prime Minister with a response.

While Abbott has since toned down his rhetoric, saying he simply plans to have a “robust conversation” with Putin, he is by no means the first Australian politician to put his foot in his mouth on the international stage. Products of a culture in which frankness is placed on a pedestal, spin-doctoring is despised and politics is sport, their propensity for speaking their mind is a large part of what endears them to the Australian public.

Here are some other famous gaffes uttered by Australian politicians over the years.

1. “The Chinese bastards”

“They’re communists, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country. I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it.” —Mining magnate and MP Clive Palmer during a live debate aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in September.

2. “Swamped by Asians”

“I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40% of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. Of course, I will be called racist, but if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country.” —Former MP Pauline Hanson delivering her maiden speech to parliament in 1996.

3. “Islam as a country”

“I don’t oppose Islam as a country, but I do feel that their laws should not be welcome here in Australia.” —Stephanie Banister, a candidate for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, during a interview with Channel 7 in the lead up to Australia’s 2013 federal election.

4. “Put him down”

“The Leader of the Opposition is more to be pitied than despised, the poor old thing. The Liberal Party of Australia ought to put him down like a faithful old dog because he is of no use to it and of no use to the nation.” —Treasurer Paul Keating to Opposition Leader Andrew Peacock, 1984

5. “Walk to Bourke”

“I would walk to [the New South Wales town of] Bourke backwards if the gay population of North Queensland is any more than 0.001%.” —MP Bob Katter in 1989. Katter’s half brother Carl later came out as gay.

6. “A bum”

“Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.” —Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, following Australia’s victory in the 1983 America’s Cup.

TIME MH370

Underwater Search for Missing Plane Resumes

Malaysia Missing Plane
A member of the Kechara Buddhist organization offers prayers for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 at Kechara Forest Retreat in Bentong, outside Kuala Lumpur, on April 13, 2014 Lai Seng Sin—AP

Crews will use sonar, video cameras and jet fuel sensors to scour the seabed for the Boeing 777

(SYDNEY) — The hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 resumed Monday in a desolate stretch of the Indian Ocean, more than six months after the jet vanished.

The GO Phoenix, the first of three ships that will spend up to a year hunting for the wreckage far off Australia’s west coast, is expected to spend 12 days hunting for the jet before heading to shore to refuel.

Crews will use sonar, video cameras and jet fuel sensors to scour the seabed for the Boeing 777, which vanished for reasons unknown on March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The search has been on hold for four months so crews could map the seabed in the search zone, about 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) west of Australia. The 60,000-square kilometer (23,000-square mile) search site lies along what is known as the “seventh arc” — a stretch of ocean where investigators believe the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed. Officials analyzed transmissions between the plane and a satellite to estimate where it entered the water.

Two other ships being provided by Dutch contractor Fugro are expected to join the Malaysian-contracted GO Phoenix later this month.

The ships will be dragging sonar devices called towfish through the water about 100 meters (330 feet) above the seabed to hunt for the wreckage. The towfish are also equipped with sensors that can detect the presence of jet fuel, and are expected to be able to cope with the dizzying depths of the search zone, which is 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) deep in places.

If anything of interest is spotted on the sonar, crews will attach a video camera to the towfish to film the seabed.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan, whose agency is leading the search, has expressed cautious optimism that the plane will eventually be found.

“We’re confident in the analysis and we’re confident that the aircraft is close to the seventh arc,” he said.

TIME Australia

Australia Will Commit Troops and Jets to Iraq, PM Says

Tony Abbott
Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. Jason DeCrow—AP

There will be 200 special forces troops deployed alongside 8 fighter jets

Australia will put troops on the ground in Iraq and assist in airstrikes to help fight ISIS (also known as ISIL) — the first time the nation has committed itself militarily in Iraq, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a televised news conference that 200 Special Forces troops will be deployed to “advise and assist” the Iraqi army as it seeks to scorch out the terrorist group. Meanwhile, up to eight of the nation’s Super Hornet fighters will be flown in for airstrikes, the Herald reports.

“I have to warn that this deployment to Iraq could be quite lengthy, certainly months rather than weeks,” Abbott said. “I want to reassure the Australian people that it will be as long as it needs to be, but as short as it possibly can be.”

Until now, Australian aircraft have flown into Iraq to contribute humanitarian aid, as well as distribute arms to Iraqi forces, Reuters reports. Abbott said that the mission should not be understood as a “war” — since the forces will be fighting an insurgency and not a state government — but as an expansion of Australia’s humanitarian mission, the Herald says.

“It is an essentially humanitarian mission, yes, it is a combat deployment but it is an essentially humanitarian mission to protect the people of Iraq and ultimately the people of Australia from the murderous rage of the ISIL death cult,” said Abbott, reports The Herald.

Though it was anticipated that Australia would join the U.S.-led effort bombing campaign against Islamic State targets Iraq, it was less expected that Australia would commit to putting troops on the ground, Reuters said.

Australia officials have joined with other Western governments in expressing heightened alarm at the number of their citizens who have gone to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS, as well as at evidence that some of those people have since returned home — battle-hardened and indoctrinated.

Reuters reports that 160 Australians are believed to be fighting in the Middle East, 20 of whom have come back to Australia, according to Australian official estimates.

TIME animals

Watch a Great White Shark Attack Another Great White Shark

Cue the Jaws theme

Some truths are self-evident, like the fact that a video of a great white shark attacking another great white shark is the rowdiest thing you will watch today, probably this week, maybe ever.

You’re welcome.

WATCH: This Video Shows What It’s Like to Come Face-to-Face With a Great White Shark

MORE: Beachgoers Beware: The Great White Shark Population Is Growing Again

MORE: TIME’s Shark Cover

TIME Australia

Australian Police Arrest 1 in Counterterrorism Raids

Australia Terrorism
A police officer, left, speaks with two people outside of a house where a man was taken into custody during a counterterrorism raid in Seabrook, suburban Melbourne on Sept. 30, 2014 Julian Smith—AP

Police say the raids came after an eight-month investigation that began with a tip from the FBI

(MELBOURNE) — One man was arrested in counterterrorism raids in the Australian city of Melbourne on Tuesday after police said he provided money to a U.S. citizen fighting alongside extremists in Syria.

Hassan El Sabsabi, 23, appeared briefly in a Melbourne court on six counts of intentionally making funds available to a terrorist organization. He did not enter a plea or apply for bail.

El Sabsabi’s arrest comes a week after Melbourne police fatally shot a terror suspect who had stabbed two officers. Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said Tuesday’s arrest was not connected to that incident.

Police say the raids came after an eight-month investigation that began with a tip from the FBI. El Sabsabi is accused of giving about $12,000 to a U.S. citizen to fund his travel to Syria, where he is currently fighting, Gaughan said. The two men are not related and know each other primarily through social media, he said.

Gaughan declined to release details about the American in Syria, except to say he’d been fighting there for “a number of months.”

El Sabsabi was not involved in planning an attack, and there was no specific threat to the public, Gaughan said. Police believe he was operating alone, and was about to provide additional funds.

State and federal police officers raided seven properties in Melbourne on Tuesday and collected a large amount of electronic data, Gaughan said.

“This is a terrorism financing case — we didn’t assess there being a significant community safety risk, or a significant risk to our officers,” Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton said.

Prosecutor Andrew Doyle said the evidence against El Sabsabi includes 25,000 pages of material from social media accounts and 500 telephone calls and messages.

El Sabsabi’s lawyer Trieu Huynh told the court that his client had never been in custody before. He asked that a doctor examine El Sabsabi as soon as possible for a medical condition, which Huynh declined to detail in court.

El Sabsabi said nothing and was ordered to reappear in February. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.

Earlier this month, Australia raised its terror warning to the second-highest level, citing the domestic threat posed by supporters of the Islamic State militant group.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament security agencies know of 100 people within Australia who are supporting terrorist groups overseas through recruitment or funding. He said 630 million Australian dollars ($550 million) in new spending on intelligence, law enforcement and border protection agencies over the next four years would include AU$20 million for the anti-money laundering agency AUSTRAC to help prevent terrorism funding.

“Anyone who supports terrorists is complicit in the dreadful deeds they do,” Abbott said.

Last week, terror suspect Numan Haider, 18, was killed after he stabbed two police officers during a routine meeting outside a Melbourne police station. Both officers are recovering.

TIME Hong Kong

Global Support Pours In for Hong Kong Democracy Protests

AUSTRALIA-HONGKONG-CHINA-POLITICS-DEMOCRACY
Notes from supporters of the thousands of protesters who paralyzed parts of Hong Kong to demand greater democracy from Beijing are seen in Sydney on Sept. 29, 2014 Peter Parks—AFP/Getty Images

Rallies in the U.S., Australia, Taiwan, Europe and elsewhere have been held to express solidarity

As tens of thousands of protestors flooded the streets of Hong Kong over the weekend, their struggle for democracy captured the imaginations of supporters across the world.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a group called the Hong Kong Overseas Alliance organized protests Saturday in various cities to show their solidarity with the Occupy Central movement — now being dubbed the Umbrella Revolution because of the ubiquitous umbrellas being used by protesters to shield themselves from police pepper spray.

Demonstrations were held by the group in New York City, which saw 200 people march on the Chinese consulate. Smaller protests were held in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

Another group, calling itself United for Democracy: Global Solidarity With Hong Kong, conducted a rally in London on Saturday that drew over 400 people. The protesters, mainly Hong Kong citizens and students, marched to the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in the city’s plush Mayfair district, and tied yellow ribbons on the building’s railings.

The yellow ribbon has been adopted as the symbol of Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy, and has inspired a movement in Australia called the Yellow Ribbon Campaign. The campaign reportedly collected 500 signatures from 12 Australian universities for a petition of support.

“My heart sinks, as my brother and sister are participating in Occupy movement. I am worried for their safety,” organizer Chrisann Palm, a Brisbane-based Hong Kong citizen who teaches at Queensland University of Technology, told the Journal.

According to Global Solidarity’s social-media accounts, there were rallies in Perth, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne on Monday, as well as in Kuala Lumpur and Paris. Demonstrations are planned for Dublin, Seattle, Auckland, Copenhagen and Stockholm on Oct. 1.

A petition urging support for Hong Kong’s push for democracy has also made its way onto the White House public petitions site. “We hereby strongly appeal to the U.S. government to make it clear to the Beijing authorities that any effort to crackdown peaceful demonstrations by force will be strongly opposed and severely punished,” said the petition, which has already reached more than 183,000 signatures in response to its goal of 100,000 by Oct. 4.

Meanwhile Mashable reported that a group in Ferguson — the Missouri town where the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown sparked protests and police crackdowns — held up signs in Chinese to express their solidarity with Hong Kong demonstrators.

Closer to home, solidarity protests have been convened in Taiwan’s capital Taipei, with the Straits Times reporting that a group of protesters led by student activist Chen Wei-ting demanded that their President condemn the situation in Hong Kong and cease all dealings with the Chinese government. Pro-democracy protesters also reportedly crowded a Hong Kong trade office in Taiwan, and briefly scuffled with police.

TIME Australia

Australia’s Plan to Outsource Its Refugee Problem to Cambodia Won’t Work

Refugee Deal Signed Off By Cambodian & Australian Ministers
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng hold a flute of champagne after signing a deal to resettle refugees from Australia to Cambodia at the Ministry of Interior on September 26, 2014 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Omar Havana—Getty Images

Impoverished, repressive and corrupt Cambodia is no place for an asylum seeker

“Let them eat cake.” Australia’s Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison did everything but utter the unsavory phrase attributed to Marie Antoinette when he clinked Champagne flutes with Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng, a former cadre of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, at a ceremony in Phnom Penh last week.

The toast celebrated the signing of a controversial memorandum of understanding to resettle in Cambodia asylum seekers intercepted at sea while attempting to make landfall in Australia. Those asylum seekers are currently languishing in an offshore detention center in the Pacific island state of Nauru.

Morrison refused to answer questions from the local and foreign press corps packing the garishly decorated room. However, in a written statement released at the signing, he commended Cambodia for “making countless efforts to develop the country after civil war [and for] demonstrating its ability and willingness to contribute positively to this humanitarian issue.”

His Cambodian counterpart Kheng likewise remained mum but could do little to hide a beaming smile as his government pocketed a $35 million signing fee from Australia plus an allegorical blank check to cover the cost of resettling up to 1,233 predominantly Middle Eastern asylum seekers.

The deal was quickly condemned by a wide range of pundits as a diplomatic stunt that, if actioned, will see one of the world’s wealthiest nations outsource its refugee problem to one of the poorest.

“It’s shameful, despicable and unconscionable. It makes me sick,” Hong Lim, a former Cambodian refugee and MP in the Australian state of Victoria, tells TIME. “Scott Morrison has earned himself the title of the most notorious human [trafficker] of the year.” He adds, “Cambodia has a terrible record of treating refugees.”

Lim points to the 2009 deportation at gunpoint of 20 Uighur asylum seekers to China. On their return, China sentenced 17 of the Uighurs to lengthy sentences in kangaroo courts and rewarded Cambodia with $850 million worth of trade deals — a story that lampoons Morrison’s claim that Australia’s asylum seekers will “now have the opportunity and support to re-establish their lives free from persecution.”

According the U.N., there are only 68 refugees residing in Cambodia. But the number fails to take into account the country’s 750,000 ethnic Vietnamese who, despite being born in the country, are considered illegal immigrants. Deprived of citizenship and voting rights, shut out of normal jobs, housing and schools, they are regularly subjected to public lynchings and scapegoating by political candidates trying to whip up nationalistic furor during elections.

Life for regular Cambodian citizens is not much better. While cutting my teeth as a cadet journalist in Phnom Penh a decade ago, I witnessed almost daily incidents of violence perpetrated by security forces who exhibited pathological contempt for the working poor. And while Cambodia’s economy has improved significantly over the years, with gross national income per capita rising from $400 per annum in 2004 to $950 in 2014, the culture of impunity inherited from the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime remains wholly intact.

In its 2014 World Report, Human Rights Watch accused Cambodia of repeatedly using “excessive force to suppress” protests following last year’s general election. In January, when tens of thousands of underpaid garment workers marched in Phnom Penh to demand a living wage, police opened fire with machine guns, killing four people and wounding dozens more. As recently as Friday, Cambodian protesters attempting to protest the refugee deal in front of the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh were met by riot police who knocked at least one woman unconscious, as this video appears to show.

“Cambodia is not a place to resettle refugees, because the local people in this country cannot lead decent lives,” Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy told the Cambodia Daily. “They are deprived of fundamental rights and living conditions, so how could we accommodate people from other parts of the world?”

Adds U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres: “It’s crucial that countries do not shift their refugee responsibilities elsewhere. International responsibility sharing is the basis on which the whole global refugee system works. I hope that the Australian government will reconsider its approach.”

If Australia’s last attempt to outsource its asylum-seeker problem to an aid-dependent neighbor is anything to go by, Guterres may get his way. Before he was voted out of office last year, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stitched together a deal with Papua New Guinea (PNG) — an impoverished state where the maltreatment of refugees (in this case West Papuan), police brutality and corruption rival those in Cambodia — to resettle 1,000-odd male asylum seekers currently held in an Australian-run detention center on PNG’s Manus Island.

At the time, then Shadow Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison decried Rudd for “not being upfront,” ignoring the practical difficulties of resettling refugees in PNG and for signing over $400 million in taxpayers’ funds in return “for a blank sheet of paper.”

In the two years that have passed, not a single Australian asylum seeker has been resettled there. The reasons for the failure were manifold, but, as Morrison eruditely opined, PNG was unable to provide anything resembling a durable and secure solution for refugees. The country also lacks a basic legal framework to determine the refugee status of asylum seekers.

The only place where Australia’s Regional Resettlement Arrangement has ever been put into action is Nauru. There, 51 Shi‘ite men from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, recognized by Australia as genuine refugees, are living outside the island’s detention center in a community tellingly known as Fly Camp.

“We are living in a camp in the jungle. This is where they resettled us. This is no place to live. If we are refugees why are we not living in community? We have no neighbors here. Our neighbors, our relatives are mosquitoes and flies and dogs,” a refugee who could not be named for legal reasons told Suvendrini Perera, a professor in cultural analysis at Curtin University.

Said another: “Scott Morrison, he wants to sell us, sometimes to one country, sometimes to another country. But no one is ready to [welcome] us.”

And while Cambodia appears willing to break the status quo, it will do so on the caveat that Australia’s asylum seekers migrate on their own volition. And that’s an unlikely possibility, given that some of those in Nauru have said they would rather die than go to Cambodia — literally. After watching a video where Morrison announced the deal with Cambodia, a 15-year-old asylum seeker drank a bottle of washing liquid. She was one of half a dozen inmates who recently attempted suicide in the offshore detention center and was flown to Australian with her mother for emergency medical treatment.

Seen in this context, the Cambodian resettlement plan, like the PNG resettlement plan before it, is destined to fail and unlikely to help a single asylum seeker find refuge in a safe and productive environment. But here’s what it will do.

First, it will fuel corruption in Cambodia by providing a pool of tens of millions of pilferable dollars.

Second, it will, like the detention centers themselves, provide another cruel and calculated deterrent for other asylum seekers considering riding a leaky boat from Indonesia to Australia, by creating conditions that are just as bad, if not worse, than those they fled from.

And third, it will hamstring Australia’s ability to win international support for the critical foreign policy issues it is championing, like stopping the Japanese from resuming whaling in Antarctica, the war against ISIS and seeking justice for victims of the Malaysia Airline’s MH17 tragedy, 36 of whom were Australian residents.

“Only last month, [Australian] Prime Minister Tony Abbott told off Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Crimea. He told Putin, ‘You shouldn’t do something simply because you can,’” says Cambodian-born Australian lawmaker Hong Lim. “But now Australia is paying Cambodia to take part in this ridiculous, immoral plan just because they know they can get away with it. They are bestowing legitimacy to members of a regime who will just take their money and run.”

TIME movies

Mia Wasikowska on Finding Her Own Way in Tracks

Though she’s onscreen the entire time, Mia Wasikowska has surprisingly few lines in her new film Tracks. That’s because she plays Robyn Davidson, who trekked 1,700 miles across the Australian desert in 1977, mostly in the company of three camels and a dog.

“I think there’s a tendency to over-explain things in films, and spell it out for the audience,” she said. “I like that it left some of the word up to the audience.”

Directed by John Curran and co-starring Adam Driver, Tracks is based on Davidson’s best-selling memoir about her desire to be alone in nature. She embarks on the trip specifically to avoid seeing people, and is constantly annoyed by the fascination with her trip. “The film shouldn’t make people want to necessarily want to get a camel and go into the desert,” Wasikowska said, “but it should make people realize they can create their own path and their own life.”

TIME Australia

Australian Plan to Resettle Refugees in Impoverished Cambodia Sparks Concern

Australia Edges Closer To Cambodia Refugee Transfer Deal
A lotus-flower seller stands underneath the Australian flag along the riverside in Phnom Penh on Aug. 13, 2014. After months of negotiations Australia and Cambodia look set to agree on a deal that will see 1,000 refugees transferred from Australia to Cambodia Omar Havana—Getty Images

Poor and repressive, Cambodia is better known for generating refugees than accepting them, but under a pact with Canberra that will soon change

Australia is to ink a deal on Friday to resettle refugees in Cambodia, despite the Southeast Asian nation’s poverty and appalling rights record.

The forthcoming pact comes just months after Canberra scolded Cambodia at the U.N. for a litany of human-rights abuses including the killing of peaceful protesters, the crushing of political opposition and use of extrajudicial detentions.

The controversial arrangement — thought to be for the initial permanent resettlement of 1,000 people, although there is apparently no upper cap — will be signed in Phnom Penh between Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

“We are world renowned for what we do on refugee resettlement so, who better is placed than Australia to work with a country such as Cambodia to help them develop that capability to do the job as well,” Morrison told Australia’s National Press Club earlier this month.

There are unconfirmed reports that Australia will pay the Cambodian government $40 million to seal the deal; requests to Canberra from TIME for clarification went unanswered.

The UNHCR has raised “strong concerns” as the plan “goes against the whole idea of the international asylum system,” says Bangkok-based spokeswoman Vivian Tan. “We have asked both sides to reconsider, but it looks like it is going ahead.”

Australia’s new Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott was elected partly on the back of promises to stem the flood of asylum seekers arriving by boat on his nation’s shores.

Fetid and overcrowded immigration detention centers in Papua New Guinea, and the nearby island nation of Nauru, established by the preceding Labour government, are used to house new arrivals.

Of the 1,233 asylum seekers currently detained in Nauru, 250 status determinations have been carried out, leading to 206 declarations of genuine refugee status, according to Human Rights Watch.

“In Nauru, they were identified as refugees and not just irregular migrants trying to find work,” says Tan. “These are people with a demonstrated need for international protection.”

Authoritarian Cambodia is listed as “not free” by advocacy group Freedom House, and, after decades of poverty owing to civil war, genocide and Vietnamese occupation, is better known for generating refugees than accepting them.

Even today, a sizable proportion of Cambodia’s 15 million population is driven to neighboring countries like Thailand in search of work.

According to Ou Virak, president of the Cambodia Center for Human Rights, “Everybody knows we are not well equipped to accept refugees,” pointing to the fact that “no refugees themselves are coming to Cambodia.”

There is an unavoidable catch-22, he adds, as not providing refugees with basic support would be a “gross violation” of their rights, but fulfilling their needs will enrage impoverished Khmers, many of whom struggle to survive. Already, violent attacks against Cambodia’s Vietnamese community, measuring around 5% of the total population, are relatively common.

“They will be in a state of limbo for many years, if they can integrate at all,” says Ou Virak, adding that there are huge questions over how long Canberra will keep providing financial assistance. “Giving food to refugees and sustaining their calorie needs is not enough.”

TIME Australia

Gay Asylum Seekers Could Be Resettled in Papua New Guinea, Which Outlaws Homosexuality

(FILE) Manus Island Detention Centre
This handout photo provided by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, shows facilities at the Manus Island Regional Processing Facility, used for the detention of asylum seekers that arrive by boat, primarily to Christmas Island off the Australian mainland, on October 16, 2012, in Papua New Guinea. Handout—Getty Images

The men had originally sought refuge in Australia

Several gay people, who fled persecution in their home countries and sought asylum in Australia, are reportedly to be resettled in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where homosexuality is a crime.

The asylum seekers are currently held by the Australian immigration officials on Manus Island in PNG, where they could eventually live permanently, the Guardian claims.

Homosexuality in PNG is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The Guardian says it has seen what purport to be letters written in Farsi by four gay Iranian men in the Australian-run detention center on Manus Island. The authors appear to detail persecution in their home country and the fear of being resettled in PNG.

“I thought Australia and its people would be my protector, but they taught me otherwise,” one letter reads.

“I am hoping that I will not be sent to PNG prison because I don’t want to be killed by indigenous people living in PNG like my fellow countryman did in February,” reads another.

The authenticity of the letters has not been confirmed.

A December report by Amnesty International says the detainees at the facility have been told that anyone found engaging in homosexual acts will immediately be reported to the PNG police. The report also details numerous other human-rights violations at the detention center.

Amnesty had “consistently raised the issue of gay men on Manus with the [Australian] immigration department” but “never had a clear response,” Graeme McGregor, Amnesty Australia’s refugee-camp coordinator, told the Guardian.

Ben Pynt, director of Humanitarian Research Partners, estimates there are around 36 gay men detained at Manus and several others who are too afraid to reveal their sexual orientation, the Guardian says.

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, who did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment on the purported letters, said in December he was unaware of any claims of homosexuality among Manus inmates. He also denied that it was the Australian government’s policy to report homosexual activity among asylum seekers to the PNG government.

[Guardian]

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