Published 14 October 2009 · Main Posts all honorable men Jeff Sparrow Sometimes, you almost find yourself wishing for the utter collapse of Western civilisation, if only because it might mean that Philip Ruddock and others of his ilk might have themselves to seek asylum. Here’s the old vampire in the Oz this morning. The government then argues that the worldwide security situation has deteriorated. This is also not true. Indeed, in some places it has improved. The situation has always been difficult in source countries such as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, and it is arguable that Afghanistan was significantly less safe under the Taliban than it is now. Likewise, Sri Lanka was long beset with a Tamil insurgency that now appears to have been defeated militarily. You see, there’s nothing to flee from in Sri Lanka. Everything’s just peachy. Never mind that there’s currently a quarter of a million people interned in camps. Never mind that those camps are off limits to human rights organisations and the media. Never mind that, insofar as we know anything about the situation there, it seems that the detainees lack adequate food, housing and medical attention. That’s why a boatload of asylum seekers are threatening to blow themselves up rather than be returned to Indonesia. Here’s the testimony of one of them. If the authorities in Sri Lanka know this is me on this boat, they will hunt down my wife and children in Jaffna and kill them. I have been waiting for my wife and children to follow me here. As soon as possible, we need to get to Australia. […] We are civilians, not Tamil Tigers. Every day there are Tamils being killed and raped in the refugee camps. Men are blindfolded and shot in the back of the head. “In Sri Lanka if you are Tamil there is no opportunity – the government can detain you without cause, and take you to trial without evidence. […] [W]e had to flee somewhere. Ah, but Philip Ruddock says that the situation has improved and Ruddock is an honorable man. So are they all, all honorable men, our politicians, staunching a flow, a flood, a tide or whatever organic metaphor you prefer. What, then, could that man on the boat be talking about, with his wild rhetoric about killings and rapes? Well, perhaps something like this (be warned: it’s utterly ghastly). Jeff Sparrow Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland. More by Jeff Sparrow › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 10 November 202311 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the final day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s most important members get to have their say Editorial Team BORIS A quick guide to another year of Overland, from your trusty feline, Boris. I liked the ginger cat story, though it made my human cry. I liked the talking cat, too, but I’m definitely in the “not wasting my time learning to talk” camp. But reading is good. And writing is fun, though it’s been challenging […] 1 First published in Overland Issue 228 9 November 20239 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the second-last day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s co-chief editor Evelyn Araluen speaks truth to power Editorial Team To my friends and comrades, I’m not sure if there’s language to communicate how this last month has utterly changed me. This time a few weeks ago the busyness and chaos of bricolage arts and academic labour had so efficiently distracted me from my anxiety about the upcoming referendum that I forgot to prepare myself for its inevitable conclusion.