The Government Is Using Pacman To Deter Asylum Seekers From Coming To Australia

It's unclear how much the Home Affairs Department spent on the campaign.

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The Department of Home Affairs has launched a new initiative to deter asylum seekers from attempting to flee to Australia, this time, using web browser flash games.

As part of the Zero Chance initiative, which stresses that “Australia’s borders are closed to illegal migration”, the government has built a new website to deter refugees — specifically from Sri Lanka — from seeking asylum by boat.

Many Tamil people — like the Murugappan family who have been fighting for the right to live in Biloela for years now — have been forced to flee Sri Lanka due violence and persecution in their home country.

This is far from a new problem, and has been going on since the country gained independence from Britain in 1948. However, it made worse at the end of the 37-year civil war between the Sinhalese-dominated government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the Tamil Tigers) that concluded in 2009.

Both sides were accused of committing some pretty serious war crimes, and more than 100,000 people — mostly Tamils — were killed throughout the war. Despite the war officially ending in 2009, violence, and militarisation is still a serious issue, yet Australia has deemed the country safe for Tamils.

It’s also worth noting that Australia’s assessment of the situation starkly contradicts those of the UN, US, and EU.

But instead of allowing Tamils — who some international law experts believe to be victims of genocide — to resettle in Australia, safe from persecution, the Department of Home Affairs is spending money on flash games and filmmaking competitions to deter them from leaving Sri Lanka in the first place.

The Zero Chance website features flash games (spoiler alert: no matter how hard you try, you always get caught by border patrol, get caught in a storm or suffer another unfortunate fate) and “true stories” from those who have tried to come to Australia by boat.

zero chance

Additionally, there’s a short film competition open to Sri Lankans, with prizes including a new camera or a drone — neither of which are particularly useful if you’re fleeing violence and/or genocide.

The entire campaign website is plastered with the slogan “don’t willingly destroy your life”, which is particularly ironic considering the Australian government has a long and documented history of committing human rights violations and breaking international law with its treatment of asylum seekers in detention, which is pretty life ruining in itself.

Junkee has reached out to the Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews for comment.