Brandon Huntley, the South African refugee from racial persecution.
Brandon Huntley's refugee status
Refugee status is granted to those who meet the following United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees criteria:
A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it
Brandon Huntley's refugee status is thus granted because he feels that:
- He is being persecuted in his own country due to his membership of a particular ethnic group.
- The South African government is unwilling or unable to protect him.
We can determine whether the Canadian government made a proper ruling without applying political pressure. It is a simple matter of answering the following questions:
- Do other members of Brandon Huntley's ethnic group in South Africa agree that they are being persecuted due to their race?
- Is the South African government unwilling or unable to acknowledge that they feel this way?
The feeling of white South Africans
The majority of white South Africans feel that the government's affirmative action and BEE policies amount to persecution for the sins of Apartheid. This is judging by the main reasons given by those who are leaving the country in drones, namely the high rates of violent crime in South Africa and the government's employment policies.
65 % of the participants in a recent South African newspaper survey answered that they do believe that applying for asylum on the basis of race is justified ("Is applying for foreign citizenship on racial grounds justified?").
It is hard to determine whether these figures have a racial basis, but it is clear that the majority of those who leave the country are unhappy about the South African government's interference with the labour market and that the majority feels South Africans are justified to apply for foreign citizenship on racial grounds.
Clearly, Brandon Huntley is not alone in feeling persecuted in South Africa because of his race. It is thus not a case of determining whether or not some ethnic groups feel that they are being persecuted in South Africa. Rather, it is a matter of determining how the government is dealing with the problem of this feeling of racial persecution in South Africa.
The South African government's response
This is where things get really interesting. Recall that asylum status depends on the feeling of being persecuted and the inability of a government to respond to these feelings.
The South African government responded to the news by labelling the Canadian decision racist. Way to go, South Africa. You just legitimised Brendan Huntley's claim that your government is unable or unwilling to accept that some of your citizens feel persecuted because of their race.
The South African government is now in talks with the Canadian government to review the decision. Way to go, South Africa. You have now also shown the world that your legal system is so entwined with your political system that your politicians can attempt to overturn independent if embarrassing court rulings - even when they are from another country.
Is the refugee status justified?
What we have here now is a South African population that feels applying for asylum based on your race is justified and a government that denies them the opportunity to apply for asylum from foreign governments, going so far as to use diplomatic pressure to seek to overturn independent court rulings regarding asylum. In my opinion, the refugee status has been legitimised not by Brandon Huntley's asylum status, but by the response of our government. I think Minor Threat said it best but Slayer did it best:
Slayer's cover of Guilty of Being White. Taken completely out of context and whatever other lame excuse you may find to try and undermine its message.
Syd Kitchen is right: Africa is after all, not for sissies.