Australia made fake horoscopes to stop asylum seekers
Poster suggests grim consequences for Sri Lankans travelling to Australia by boat
The government-branded poster, which appears to be directed at people coming from Sri Lanka, predicts a number of dispiriting outcomes for people who attempt to illegally travel to Australia, such as never-ending debt, humiliation and family breakdown.
It was obtained by a freedom of information request by Buzzfeed asking for copies of advertising material used to dissuade people smugglers and asylum seekers between 2013 and 2019.
“If you risk everything you and your family have built together to pay for an illegal boat voyage to Australia, you will be stopped and returned to Sri Lanka,” the poster told people with the Aquarius star sign.
“You will suffer hardship and have nothing but bad luck.”
For Sagittarius asylum seekers, the advert predicts they will “be in debt forever”, while for those who are Pisces, it suggests their “family’s land will be wasted right before [their] eyes."
In most examples, the poster predicts that asylum seekers will be stopped and returned back to their country.
The Australian Department of Home Affairs has been contacted for more information on when and where the advert was used.
Horoscopes have an enthusiastic following in Sri Lanka, where astrologers have been known to play a significant role in the lives of people from Tamil and Sinhala communities.
Australian Border Force has said more than 200 people since 2013 have been returned to Sri Lanka after attempting to enter Australia.
Under the Operation Sovereign Borders policy, the Australian military is able to stop and turn away boats carrying asylum seekers to the country.
The government has also run aggressive international advertising campaigns in countries where asylum seekers often come from, warning them that they will not succeed if they attempt to travel to Australia.
Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, was instrumental in designing the country’s strict border policies and notably had a metal model of a migrant boat emblazoned with the words “I stopped these” in his government office.
In 2018, Australia was condemned by a group from the UN Human Rights Council over its indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers.