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Canadian activist slams Australian treatment of refugees as “insane and racist”

Naomi Klein drawn comparisons between Donald Trump’s plans for a wall between Mexico and the US and Australia’s offshore processing of refugees.

Being compared to Donald Trump is a little frightening – but that’s what Canadian activist, journalist and author Naomi Klein did on the ABC’s QandA last night (Monday) when discussing Australians hardline treatment of refugees.

“I think that Donald Trump talking about building the wall with Mexico is insane and racist, but I also think what Australia is doing on Nauru and Manus is as well,” she said.

“You're actually doing it, he's just talking about it."

She also described the Australia’s offshore processing as an “international atrocity”.

"I find it shocking that people on Nauru and Manus are lighting themselves on fire, sewing their mouths shut, so they can be heard," Ms Klein said.

"They're so desperate to have their freedom of speech heard that they're self-immolating. I want to know where the outrage is in this country about their freedom of speech and the freedom of whistleblowers - the doctors, the teachers - who are speaking out against this atrocity. This international atrocity."

The comparison was also made by a questioner from the audience, who asked: "What is the difference between Australia's Operation Sovereign Borders and Donald Trump's wall?"

The offshore processing policy is supported by both major parties but the Coalition Government wants to introduce even stricter controls and block any refugee who once attempted to reach Australia by boat from ever visiting the country again, even decades down the track on a tourist or working visa.

Ms Klein, author of This Changes Everything, described seeking asylum as a “core human right” – “I think (Australia) has to be better than this” – and said Australia was focusing too much on sending a message to the people smugglers.

“What message are you sending refugees? What message are you sending about Australia? And the implication that the only way people die is at sea. They die in warzones when they can't flee. That's why we welcome refugees.”

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