Wednesday, 20 January 2010
By Grant Morgan The refugee issue is almost certain to rise from near invisibility in New Zealand politics to become a strategic battleground. Waves of refugees will be thrown up by the poverty, strife and ecotastrophes of global capitalism’s end times. The Right & Centre & much of the Left in New Zealand politics will seek to portray these waves of refugees as threats to “our way of life”. This could open the way towards authoritarian nationalism which jackboots the NZ working class as well as offshore refugees. NZ socialists and our allies must show that offshore refugees are a resource, not a threat, to the majority of Kiwis under the thumb of corporate bosses and politicians. Refugees are a resource for our side because they are fleeing the poverty, wars and other calamities caused by the same world system which kicks most Kiwis around. They are our natural allies against the unnatural forces of global capitalism. In addition to our duty of solidarity with victims of a hateful system, socialists have a duty of foresight to see the near inevitability of the refugee issue becoming a strategic battleground in Aotearoa. So it was very good to see different socialist groups (Socialist Worker, Workers Party, Communist League) represented at the Auckland protest on 18 January in solidarity with Tamil refugees. These refugees are being held hostage by Indonesian state forces in collaboration with the Australian and New Zealand governments. (See media release by protest organiser Priyaksha Pathmanathan below.) Cooperation among NZ socialist groups on the refugee issue is a positive sign for the future. And so too is the international cooperation among socialists and other activists around the Tamil refugee issue. The Auckland protest was just one small event in a seven-country campaign which embraces Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, United States and England as well as New Zealand. This is a real step forward for practical solidarity among various socialist groups in both the global South and the global North.