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19 Dec, 2019 13:14

Australian govt uses comic strips & FAKE horoscopes to scare off asylum-seeking Sri Lankans

Australian govt uses comic strips & FAKE horoscopes to scare off asylum-seeking Sri Lankans

A series of fake horoscopes and comic strips used by the Australian government to discourage Sri Lankans from seeking asylum have been shared online, to the outrage of many who claim they miss the point entirely.

The Australian government has run a multimillion dollar series of multimedia advertising campaigns to dissuade people from seeking asylum there, deploying billboards, online ads, comic books and now, fake horoscopes.


Astrology is quite popular in Sri Lanka and the fake horoscopes are replete with doom and gloom predictions for each star sign if they attempt to travel to Australia illegally by boat; Geminis will lose their wife’s jewellery, Taurus will “face the humiliation of failure in [their] community,” Virgos will have legal problems, Pisces will lose their family’s land back home, and so on. 

Judging by reaction online, not everyone agrees with Australia’s zero-tolerance approach to asylum seekers who arrive by boat, nor do they agree with attempts to emotionally manipulate would-be migrants and refugees with negative propaganda campaigns. 

“That is truly sick. And I don’t mean in that new hip sort of way. It is sickening, through and through,”wrote one disgusted commenter.  

“Who the bloody hell are the people that make up this government? Unbelievable is right,” agreed another.

Others used the opportunity to skewer the Australian government over perceived failures closer to home. “Don’t they need people to rebuild the country after it burns down?”

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Comic strips and ‘no nonsense’ videos

The Department of Home Affairs also produced a comic strip depicting a Sri Lankan man who pays a people trafficker for passage to Australia, but ends up in a processing center “on a small country in the Pacific,” having humiliated his family after his return to Sri lanka is broadcast on the news. His wife bemoans the loss of “all our hard-earned money.” 

“No amount of propaganda or films or graphic novels is going to stop people from fleeing for their lives,” said Asher Hirsch, a senior policy officer at the Refugee Council of Australia and yet the government continues to pump funds into online media campaigns to dissuade refugees from trying.

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs has publicized a number of its migrant boat interceptions, including five between May and August 2019, though an unknown number have managed to slip through the border security net. Under the Operation Sovereign Borders policy, Australian border patrols will turn back all boats, without hearing any asylum claims. 

By September 2019, the Australian government claimed to have returned some 204 people to Sri Lanka since September 2013, while also stating that the last boat to complete the perilous voyage landed in 2014.

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