• An image from the graphic novel published by the government targeting asylum seekers. (Customs)
Refugees in Australia have reacted angrily to a new graphic novel campaign by the federal government aimed at deterring asylum seekers.
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UPDATED 11:04 PM - 13 Feb 2014

The 18-page graphic novel is being distritbuted abroad and appears to specifically target Afghan asylum seekers.
 
It also appears to contain the first official concession that the Australian Navy has been ordered to turn back the boats.
 
SBS showed the graphic novel to a group of Afghan Hazara refugees in Sydney.

"It doesn't show any security threat," Shukufa Tahiri said.
 
"There's no element of force or desperation or force that leads someone think about fleeing the country."

(Customs)

Miss Tahiri says the comic badly misrepresents the situation in Afghanistan.
 
The document is currently being distributed in several languages around transit countries such as Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Indonesia.
 
It was first published on the Customs and Border Protection website in November.

"For me and for the rest of the community, we think, it's just not going to work," Hazara Afghan Youth Worker Ibrar Hassani told SBS. 

"The people who are coming here are not economic migrants, they're coming to have a safer, peaceful life here."

The comic is part of a broader campaign launched on the Department for Immigration and Border Protection website and on the Customs and Border Protection website.

A section of the Department of Immigration website says: "Don't waste your money - people smugglers are lying. The Australian government has instructed the Australian Defence Force to turn back boats where it is safe to do so."

The graphic novel also shows images of people suffering medical problems and depression in offshore detention centres.


Refugee lawyers say the campaign shows the federal government is advertising that asylum seekers are intentionally mistreated.
 
"It is very clear that we are subjecting them to abuse of the worst kind and we're doing it deliberately and I want to say to the government you're not doing that in my name," Marion Le from the Council for Refugee Advocacy told SBS.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the government would continue to send an anti-people smuggling message across different platforms.
 
"People smugglers should know that our communication activities will be sustained and ongoing, using a range of channels and languages, including television, radio and press advertising, social media, other internet-based communication tools such as blogs, as well as direct engagement through community liaison officers," the Minister's office said in a statement.
 
While the Coalition was in Opposition, Mr Morrison criticised the Labor government for running a multi-million dollar advertising campaign purportedly aimed at dissuading asylum seekers from arriving in Australia by boat.