By Emily Howie –
Over the past 18 months, Sri Lankans have boarded boats for Australia in record numbers. Stories from boat migrants depict complex political and economic motivations for their journeys, contrary to the statements by both governments that the boats are filled solely, or primarily, with “economic migrants”. In fact, the economic concerns that are motivating people are themselves inextricable from political problems, persecution and other forms of discrimination and injustice. Rumours of the Sri Lankan government’s complicity in people-smuggling operations create a dilemma for the Australian government, whose survival at this year’s federal election depends on stopping the boats.
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This article appeared in the Economic Weekly / Vol – XLVIII No. 35, August 31, 2013