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Fixing Australia

Australia is broken. Democracy has holes in it, cracks in it, and it needs fixing. Since the 2004 Federal election we know that our government is not going to fix it. I think we need to do that fixing, and this blog is a start of getting some ideas together.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Bakhtiari family taken: Deported to danger

Narrogin 30 Dec 2004 11:33am - As the phone calls came one after another yesterday evening from folks on the ground in Port Augusta, from people in networks in Melbourne, Sydney and other places, the Bakhtiari family boarded the chartered nearly white BA-146a with its strangely drooping wings, seemingly burdened by the sheer weight of its four Rolls Royce engines.

Alamdar looks once more through the window, while Amina seems to pull down the sunvisor shutter to keep the cameras of the TV men from peering at her, but an adult hand does the bidding for her. Then, off they are.

I speak to a television reporter at the airport, and ponder aloud about the voracity of Ruddock and Vanstone's claim that the family is Pakistani, and how this voracity is about to be tested when the family will check in with Immigration in Lahore or Karachi, and I suggest a lot of money will have to change hands between the Australian government and the Pakistani authorities. Reporter replies by suggesting it's not a new concept, and he estimates about ten thousand dollars per person for a three-month permission to reside peacefully in Pakistan. That makes eighty-thousand for the entire family.

The reporter does not mention the issuing of eight Pakistani passports, you know, that small pile of those fresh and new booklets you get to pick up, when your country, the country where you're a citizen, has responded to your paid application for a new passport. I don't have that picture entering my mind either. Vanstone has never thought of mentioning those passports either. Pity, it would have gone down well with the millions of viewers looking at the last episode of the family's reality tv show.

I want it to be known at this place, that Alamdar held up and seriously delayed the deportation procedure in a surprising but determined way. He insisted on writing a signed declaration, his last will on Australian soil, while he officially declared all of his artwork and all of his paintings, to be from now on and forever the property of his best friend, Robert M.

He got what he wanted. The next morning, the man who had stood by Alamdar in an unwritten but truly and unbroken held covenant of a promised life-long commitment to the ongoing welfare and education of the boy, received a call from DIMIA in Baxter to inform him of his young but true friend's intention. The paintings are on the way to Victoria. Good for you, Robert, Alamdar was well off with the support you've given him.

The furtive hand of Howard

John and Trish Highfield
Sydney NSW


So, once more the furtive hand of the Howard Government at work, its institutional abuse of children conducted, as directed, by the politicised servants at DIMIA and the hired mercenaries from the globalised rendition rackets.

The Australian taxpayer funding the payoff to Pakistan - and the night-flight of a four-jet charter, hustling detention-damaged, traumatised children to the uncertainty of a country they do not know.

Our Prime Minister tells us we are a humane and compassionate country. Except to those the Government declares unworthy of its protection.

No humanity when the rough handling by officers includes denying a little child the dignity of a change of underwear after wetting her pants with fear after being woken by a stranger prior to a 3-hour trip to renewed incarceration in Port Augusta. No nappy change for a baby either - nor an early morning calming bottle. These agents of the night know their duty. Child Protection authorities powerless, bending to the bullying from Canberra.

And the anonymous hand of the Stern Officer, pulling down the shade of the aircraft window when one of the young Bravehearts dares to take one last look at those who cared.

John Howard, Philip Ruddock, Amanda Vanstone - and those in the shadows - remember the injunction from another victim of injustice, an old Jewish man about to face death at the hands of the Einsatzkommando in Poland. "My Children", he said, "God is watching what you do."

[The Past is Myself - Christabel Bielenberg 1968]

Leaders' family values go out the steel-barred window in Bakhtiari case

Sydney Morning Herald
December 29, 2004


There's no room at the inn, nor for any compassion for unwanted asylum seekers, writes Julian Burnside.

As you read this, the Bakhtiari family awaits its likely removal from Australia to Pakistan. It will be the final act in a drama that has been played out over four years.

The essential elements of the plot were scripted by the Government: unauthorised arrivals must be detained, and must remain in detention until given a visa or removed from Australia.

To determine whether they get a visa, a single member of the Refugee Review Tribunal receives all manner of evidence - reliable and unreliable, direct and hearsay, speculation and rumour. If that person gets the facts wrong, the courts can do almost nothing to correct the mistakes.

In accordance with the script, Roqia Bakhtiari and her children were locked in a cage in the South Australian desert, behind razor wire. Locking up innocent people for years has fairly predictable consequences, especially if the prisoners are children. Depending on their age, resilience and personality, children will retreat into depression and incontinence, or they will take charge by harming themselves or attempting suicide. Either way, the effect of prolonged detention is devastating.

One part of the drama was not scripted. In July 2002 two of the Bakhtiari children escaped from Woomera and made their way to the British consulate in Melbourne, where they sought to be protected - from Australia. (Their claim will be heard by the House of Lords early next month.) At the consulate the boys were filmed by TV crews and revealed something terrible: they were just ordinary kids, like the kids next door, but we had locked them up for years and driven them to attempt suicide.

The public reaction was one of widespread sympathy. The Government had to ad lib the next act: it decided that the boys' father was not a refugee after all and revoked his visa.

Whether the family comes from Afghanistan or from Quetta in Pakistan is a matter of debate, and the rival claims will never be resolved. However, it is worth noting that the Bakhtiaris are Hazaras, from an ethnic group whose territory runs diagonally across Afghanistan and into Pakistan, near Quetta. The Hazaras have been persecuted in both countries for centuries. Debating which side of the border they come from is as arid as debating in 1939 whether a Jew came from Poland or Germany.

From that point on, the essentials of the drama were more or less inevitable, because the Bakhtiari boys had done the one thing the Government could not forgive: they had exposed the undeniable cruelty of imprisoning children. After that, no legal manoeuvring had a chance of success.

So to the final act, removal, but - another unscripted element - it coincided with Christmas. The Government had the legal power to grant visas, even if it had doubts about aspects of the Bakhtiaris' story.

What should it do? Regardless of doubt about which country they fled, one thing is clear: we damaged these children. They are not to blame. The harm they have suffered was the obvious and predictable consequence of the treatment we inflicted.

It continued last Saturday morning when their house in Adelaide was raided and they were taken to Port Augusta in preparation for removal from Australia. The baby had a dirty nappy; the mother was not allowed to change it. The younger girl wet her pants in fright; she was not allowed to change before the five-hour drive. Alamdar Bakhtiari - his face familiar to us from TV as he screamed through the steel bars at Woomera - is afraid to sleep in case of another wrenching raid. All the children are haunted by terrors childhood should never know.

The Australian Government had a choice this week: to enforce the policy rigidly, or to show kindness to a few damaged children and their parents.

What were the calculations in such a choice? The Government's policy of punitive deterrence has succeeded in shutting off almost completely the trickle of unauthorised arrivals on Australia's shores. The drowning of 353 people who were on board the ship SIEV X effectively ended the people smugglers' trade. It is difficult to imagine that sparing the Bakhtiari family would have triggered a spate of new arrivals, eager to spend years behind razor wire. From here on the cruelty is pointless.

On the other hand, showing compassion to the family would have gone a small way to restoring this country's name for decency and humanity. Unfortunately, the Government seems concerned that mercy and compassion set a bad precedent. Given that it has a discretion to allow the family to stay, it is hard to understand why it insists on removing these people it has damaged so badly, unless its purpose is to send a message - not to people smugglers, but to us. Its message to us is this: we hold absolute power; we do not have to acknowledge public sentiment; we can crush anyone who messes with us.

John Howard, Philip Ruddock and Amanda Vanstone are personally responsible for the shocking damage suffered by these children. They hold themselves out as Christians; they embrace "family values". But at Christmas they denied kindness or compassion to six children whose lives they have blighted. What a performance.

Julian Burnside is a Melbourne barrister.

Link to the Sydney Morning Herald article

a PDF documentIdentity evidence from Afghanistan - documentation presented to the Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone by lawyers for the Bakhtiyari family, faxed to the Minister's office on 21 January 2004. (right-click, choose "Save As" to download)

a PDF documentSolicitor Paul Boylan's letter to The Australian: Your comment in today's edition of your paper that "nobody can suggest that the courts have not had a good look at the family?s claim" grossly misleads the Australian public. [....] clause provides in part that Mr Bakhtiyari's Refugee Review Tribunal decision "must not be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed or called in question in any court". (right-click, choose "Save As" to download)

The Bakhtiyari Files

Hundreds of news articles have appeared in Australian and International media about the Bakhtiari family since Andrew West revealed the story of the family in the Sun-Herald in February 2002, shortly after their uncle, the now deported "crown witness", clearly a Hazara from Afghanistan, jumped on the razor wire at Woomera. At Project SafeCom, we collected them all (well, most of them). They are brought together in four WORD documents, zipped up for security from viruses. Simply use the "Right-click, Save As" command of your mouse on the images or on the linked text.

Bakhtiari family enroute to Pakistan

Project SafeCom Inc.
Media Release
Thursday December 30 2004 10:20am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes


The high-proffile Bakhtiari family was flown last night at about 3am local time from Port Augusta airport, the aircraft believed to be a BA-146A, a craft with STOL (short take-off and landing) capabilities.

The aircraft is believed to be a charter flight by National Jet Systems, a subsidiary of Qantas International.

At the moment it cannot be confirmed whether the family will make a stop-over at any Australian airports. The most likely places for a stop-over would be Cairns, Darwin or Perth airport, because they are all places of transit for international passengers.

Refugee advocates are monitoring several places and contacting allies in these cities in a last-ditch bid to prevent the government from deporting the family to Pakistan, because senior migration agents believe the family is at risk of abuse and persecution by members of population groups hostile to Hazara in Pakistan, from the Taliban or from authorities in Pakistan.

Project SafeCom insists that the Bakhtiaris are not Pakistani, and that the documents backing travel for the family are so flimsy that it is likely that Karachi immigration authorities will not accept the family into Pakistan, unless a large sum of money has been or will be supplied as a bribe by the Australian government.

Bakhtiari family to be deported within the hour

Project SafeCom Inc.
Media Release
Wednesday December 29 2004 11:20pm WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes


Word has just been received that the Bakhtiari family is about to board a chartered aircraft out of Australia.

Mr Bakhtiari has just been "taken" from his compound at the Baxter detention centre, and he was told when authorities collected him, that all his children are 'waiting for him at the airport'.

Earlier in the evening, a supporter had reported that a charter flight, most likely with about 20 seats, was likely to be expected during the night from Port Augusta. This supporter also expected this charter flight to directly fly outside Australia.

Project SafeCom's Jack Smit commented, that "this game-in-the-dark, probably the final round of playing around with the lives and wellbeing of the Bakhtiary family is not just adding to the multiple layers of trauma Mr Howard, Mr Ruddock and Minister Vanstone have inflicted on this family, it will be something that will haunt the government for a long time - and so it should."

"The evidence the government has used to paint the Bakhtiaris as a Pakistani plumber's family is unbelievably flimsy, and it remains to be seen whether the Pakistani authorities will let them into the country at all. It is not the first time that "deportees" come bouncing back to Australia after having been sent all over the world by immigration authorities."

"And, even while the family may be able to enter Pakistan, the claims peddled in the Australian media by the Minister as well as the former Minister about suspected 'lies' of Mr Bakhtiari, are just that - spurious claims, and in addition they bear no relation to the fact that they are and were genuine refugees, because they are Hazaras, a point nobody disputes, while Minister Vanstone has happily peddled the accusation in the media, to defend herself, that the family are not refugees."

Bakhtiari family 'to be deported today'

Sydney Morning Herald
December 30, 2004 - 7:57AM


Australia's highest profile asylum seekers, the Bakhtiari family, were being deported today, a federal government spokeswoman said.

"I can confirm that the removal is currently underway," a Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) spokeswoman said.

Ali and Roqia Bakhtiari and their six children are being deported to Pakistan, after failing in legal bids over four years to secure refugee status in Australia.

The family claims to be Afghani, but the government says they are from Pakistan.

Mrs Bakhtiari and her children - ranging in age from one to 16 - were taken from their house in Adelaide to immigration detention in Port Augusta on December 18.

Mr Bakhtiari was held at the nearby Baxter detention centre.

The six children and their mother had been living in a Port Augusta housing project while their father was being held in the centre.

The DIMIA spokeswoman would not reveal the current whereabouts of the family or whether they have already left Australia.

She would also not confirm whether a chartered plane or commercial flight was being used to deport them.

Refugee advocacy group Project SafeCom said it had received word the Bakhtiaris have boarded a chartered flight out of Australia.

"Mr Bakhtiari has just been taken from his compound at the Baxter detention centre, and he was told when authorities collected him, that all his children are waiting for him at the airport," group spokesman Jack Smit said.

Last night, a supporter reported that a charter flight, most likely with about 20 seats, was expected during the evening from Port Augusta, he said.

The supporter also expected this charter flight to directly fly outside Australia.

Justice for Refugees South Australia chairman Dr Don McMaster said the department's deportation of the Bakhtiaris over the Christmas holiday period was a ploy to avoid media coverage.

"It's doubling distressing for them because one, they don't want to go to Pakistan, and the way it is being done is very cloak and dagger," he said.

"It's not a very good Christmas present for the Bakhtiaris. They would be very distressed about it, they don't want to go to Pakistan."

He said their removal would have repercussions in the wider Adelaide community because the family had a large support group there.

Meanwhile, Catholic welfare agency Centacare director Dale West said security guards took Mr Bakhtiari out of the Baxter detention centre at 1am (AEDT) today.

His wife and children were removed from their accommodation at the same time.

"They have been the public face of the way people are treated in our detention system and people don't realise that one o'clock in the morning is the standard approach," he said.

"My understanding is they were taken to the Port Augusta airport and they were flown out from there."

Mr West said supporters at the scene told him there were about 20 guards to remove Mr Bakhtiari and "masses" of guards to take Mrs Bakhtiari and the children.

AAP

Link to the article in The Sydney Morning Herald

Bakhtiyari's 'removal underway'

The Age
December 30, 2004 - 8:03AM


Australia's highest profile asylum seekers, the Bakhtiyari family, were being deported today, a federal government spokeswoman said.

"I can confirm that the removal is currently underway," a Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) spokeswoman said.

Ali and Roqia Bakhtiyari and their six children are being deported to Pakistan, after failing in legal bids over four years to secure refugee status in Australia.

The family claims to be Afghani, but the government says they are from Pakistan.

Mrs Bakhtiyari and her children - ranging in age from one to 16 - were taken from their house in Adelaide to immigration detention in Port Augusta on December 18.

Mr Bakhtiyari was held at the nearby Baxter detention centre.

Bakhtiyari family being deported says govt spokeswoman.

The six children and their mother had been living in a Port Augusta housing project while their father was being held in the centre.

The DIMIA spokeswoman would not reveal the current whereabouts of the family or whether they have already left Australia.

She would also not confirm whether a chartered plane or commercial flight was being used to deport them.

Refugee advocacy group Project SafeCom said it had received word the Bakhtiyari have boarded a chartered flight out of Australia.

"Mr Bakhtiyari has just been taken from his compound at the Baxter detention centre, and he was told when authorities collected him, that all his children are waiting for him at the airport," group spokesman Jack Smit said.

Last night, a supporter reported that a charter flight, most likely with about 20 seats, was expected during the evening from Port Augusta, he said.

The supporter also expected this charter flight to directly fly outside Australia.

Justice for Refugees South Australia chairman Dr Don McMaster said the department's deportation of the Bakhtiyaris over the Christmas holiday period was a ploy to avoid media coverage.

"It's doubling distressing for them because one, they don't want to go to Pakistan, and the way it is being done is very cloak and dagger," he said.

"It's not a very good Christmas present for the Bakhtiyaris. They would be very distressed about it, they don't want to go to Pakistan."

He said their removal would have repercussions in the wider Adelaide community because the family had a large support group there.

Meanwhile, Catholic welfare agency Centacare director Dale West said security guards took Mr Bakhtiyari out of the Baxter detention centre at 1am (AEDT) today.

His wife and children were removed from their accommodation at the same time.

"They have been the public face of the way people are treated in our detention system and people don't realise that one o'clock in the morning is the standard approach," he said.

"My understanding is they were taken to the Port Augusta airport and they were flown out from there."

Mr West said supporters at the scene told him there were about 20 guards to remove Mr Bakhtiyari and "masses" of guards to take Mrs Bakhtiyari and the children.

- AAP

Link to the article in The Age

Bakhtiyari family moved from Port Augusta

ABC ONLINE NEWS
Thursday, December 30, 2004. 8:05am (AEDT)


A cloud of secrecy hangs over the whereabouts of Australia's highest-profile asylum seekers, the Bakhtiyari family, after they were flown out of Port Augusta last night in preparation for their deportation.

The Federal Government has confirmed the six children and their parents were moved from Port Augusta last night.

However, the Government has refused to say where they were flown to or whether they are still in Australia.

The family of six children and their mother had been living in a Port Augusta housing project, while their father, Ali Bakhtiyari, was being held at the Baxter detention centre.

They have been refused asylum in Australia, as the Government says they came from Pakistan, not Afghanistan as they claim.

Dale West from the Catholic welfare agency Centacare, which had been supporting the family while they were in Adelaide, was surprised when he was told the news this morning.

"Certainly, it's news to us," Mr West said. "We always thought that we would hear from media outlets or from people not associated with Government and I guess that's what's happened this morning.

"So whilst we're not surprised that this has happened, I suppose at any time that we get that news, it's a bit of a shock certainly."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200412/s1273833.htm

Deportation shame, shame, shame

Thursday 30th December 2004
Kate Reynolds, Australian Democrats
NEWS RELEASE
Australian Democrats


The Australian Democrats have condemned the Federal Government for its cloak and dagger treatment of the Bakhtiyari family as they were removed in the early hours of the morning from Australia to an unknown destination.

Australian Democrats SA Spokesperson for Refugees, Kate Reynolds MLC said "this family has been subjected to the most appalling punitive treatment over five long years by this government, and now the children have been taken from their beds and from the country they know of as home to an unknown and unpredictable future.

"If the Australian Government is so confident that its decision to refuse the family protection in this country can be justified, then it should have acted on the Democrats call for an independent Human Rights Monitor to accompany the family and report on their safety and welfare.

"Instead Alamdar, Montezar, and their four younger siblings, who had become the public face of children seeking protection in this country, were subjected to another terrifying experience at the hands of a government determined to punish children as harshly as it punishes adults seeking asylum.

"If the government's plans for the family were all above board, then the Minister should have announced the arrangements made with the Pakistan Government and it should have allowed the family to say goodbye to their friends and the communities who have supported them for so long.

"If the government's plans for the family were all above board, then it would not have secreted them out of the country under cover of darkness hoping we would all be distracted by the tragic events in South East Asia or the holiday season.

"If the government's plans for the family were all above board, then they would have been issued with travel documents and identity papers and would have a guarantee of safe and legal entry into Pakistan.

"But we know that 'open and transparent' are not words this government understands.

"It is no wonder that so many Australians brand the Howard government's refugee policies as inhumane and unjustifiable and then use the same words to describe the processes used to send traumatised men, women and children back to countries torn apart by religious and political conflict or devastated by decades of poverty.

"Earlier this year the government tried to remove a number of single men but failed in the attempt, and those men remain locked up in immigration detention waiting for the Minister to use the legal powers available to her to give them protection in this country.

"The Australian Government has rightly shown compassion and taken action to assist the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the earthquakes and floods in South East Asia, but those people whose futures are being destroyed after years of being locked away in immigration detention also deserve a compassionate response.

Deportation shame, shame, and yet more shame!

Thursday 30th December 2004
Kate Reynolds, Australian Democrats
NEWS RELEASE
Australian Democrats


Following their condemnation earlier today of the Federal Government for its cloak and dagger treatment of the Bakhtiyari family as they were removed in the early hours of the morning from Australia to Pakistan, the Australian Democrats have expressed outrage that the Minister for Immigration has announced the family will be billed for their years in detention.

Australian Democrats SA Spokesperson for Refugees, Kate Reynolds MLC said "this is a further example of the scathing disregard the Howard Government has for vulnerable families".

"Ali and Roqia Bakhtiyari and their six children have suffered enough at the hands of the Australian Government and the Minister for Immigration. This action cannot by any measure be justified.

"Announcing, before the family has even arrived in a strange and probably unwelcoming country, that the family will be billed for their time in detention is the ultimate indignity for parents who were afterall only trying to secure a safe future for their children.

"The Australian Government kept the family under lock and key, in separate prisons, subjected the children and their parents to all sorts of physical and psychological trauma, used them as political pawns, frightened the children in their beds during midnight raids, and now wants to charge them for five years of abuse.

"How much lower will this government stoop?

"The Minister cannot seriously expect Mr and Mrs Bakhtiyari to find the hundreds of thousands of dollars the Australian Government has spent keeping the family in detention, when they will be struggling in a dangerous country just to keep themselves and their family safe.

"Every Australian who believes that Australia has both moral and legal responsibilities to treat people with decency will be outraged at this latest cynical attempt to punish the Bakhtiyari family who, through no wish of their own, have become a household name in this country and a symbol for the government's inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.

"Our international reputation will be in tatters, and the Government will have no-one left to blame but themselves.

Kate Reynolds, Australian Democrats
Member of the Legislative Council
Democrats Spokesperson on Aboriginal Affairs, Ageing, Children's Services, Disability Services, Equal Opportunity, Education, Family & Youth Services, Further Education & Training, Gambling, Housing, Local Government, Recreation & Sport, Social Justice (including Refugees), Tourism, Youth & Volunteers.

Democrats condemn deportation

The Courier Mail
30dec04


THE Federal Government should be condemned for its secretive deportation of the Bakhtiari family, the Australian Democrats said today.

Ali and Roqia Bakhtiari and their six children were deported today, with immigration officials removing them from detention about 1am CST today.

The family's current whereabouts was unknown with the Government only saying their removal to Pakistan was underway.

The Bakhtiaris had claimed they were from Afghanistan but the Government maintained they were Pakistani.

Democrats refugee spokeswoman Kate Reynolds said the family had been subjected to "the most appalling punitive treatment" by the Government during a five-year bid for asylum in Australia.

Ms Reynolds said the Bakhtiari children were today "subjected to another terrifying experience" when removed from detention at Port Augusta in South Australia's north.

"If the Government's plans for the family were all above board, then it would not have secreted them out of the country under the cover of darkness hoping we would all be distracted by the tragic events in south east Asia or the holiday season," Ms Reynolds said.

"But we know that open and transparent are not words this Government understands.

"It is no wonder that so many Australians brand the Howard Government's refugee policies as inhumane and unjustifiable."

Link to the article in The Courier Mail

The Bakhtiari family saga

Sydney Morning Herald
December 30, 2004 - 11:43AM


Key dates in the case of high-profile asylum seekers, the Bakhtiari family:

October 1999 - Ali Bakhtiari seeks asylum in Australia, saying he is an Hazara from Afghanistan.

August 2000 - Ali Bakhtiari granted a temporary protection visa. He settles in Sydney to await the arrival of his family - wife Roqia and five children.

December 2000 - Roqia and children land at Ashmore Reef, and are subsequently placed in Woomera detention centre. Ali still free and living in Sydney.

February 2002 - Roqia's brother Mazhar throws himself onto razor wire at Woomera detention centre to draw attention to his family's plight.

June 27, 2002 - Two Bakhtiari boys - Alamdar and Muntazar - part of mass breakout from Woomera.

July 18, 2002 - The two Bakhtiari boys walk into British consulate in Melbourne. Britain takes less than seven hours to reject their bid for asylum.

July 19, 2002 - Ali flies from Sydney to Melbourne to visit his sons, but breaks down in tears after learning they had been flown back to Woomera less than an hour before he arrived in Melbourne.

July 22, 2002 - Federal government moves to cancel Ali Bakhtiari's visa, saying he is an electrical plumber from Pakistan and not a subsistence farmer from a small village in Afghanistan as he claims. He is later moved into immigration detention.

July 25, 2003 - Mrs Bakhtiari's brother Mazhar removed from Baxter detention centre and deported to Pakistan. He later made it to Afghanistan and voted in that country's October 2004 election.

August 26, 2003 - Five Bakhtiari children enjoy first day of freedom from detention, after moving into an Adelaide house in the care of Catholic welfare agency Centacare, following a Family Court order for their release.

October 15, 2003 - Sixth Bakhtiari child, Mazhar, born under guard in an Adelaide hospital as a non-citizen, in keeping with his parents' status. He was named after Roqia's brother.

April 29, 2004 - High Court overturns Family Court decision, ruling Bakhtiari children must be moved back into detention. But federal government allows the children to remain under Centacare's care, officially declaring the Adelaide house where they are living a place of detention.

May 28, 2004 - Alamdar and Muntazar win right to appeal to the British Court of Appeal over Britain's refusal to grant them asylum.

June 3, 2004 - Federal Court of Australia dismisses fresh application by five Bakhtiari children to be removed from detention.

June 8, 2004 - Roqia and baby Mazhar accept federal government offer to move into Adelaide house and be reunited with the five eldest children. Ali remains in Baxter detention centre.

July 20, 2004 - Hearing begins before Britain's Court of Appeal, which ultimately rejects Bakhtiari's bid for asylum.

Dec 18, 2004 - Roqia and her six children taken from Adelaide house and into the Port Augusta residential housing project, near the Baxter detention centre, in preparation for their deportation.

Dec 21, 2004 - New Zealand rejects appeal to take Bakhtiari family in as refugees.

Dec 30, 2004 - Entire family taken from detention by immigration officials and deported.

AAP

Link to the article in The Sydney Morning Herald

Bakhtiyaris given a 'fair go'

news.com.au
December 30, 2004


THE Bakhtyiari family has left Australia, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone confirmed today.

Senator Vanstone defended the 1am (CST) pick-up of the family who had been fighting to be declared asylum seekers since 1999.

Ali and Roqia Bakhtiyari and their six children were deported today, with immigration officials removing them from detention in Port Augusta in the early hours.

In a statement, Senator Vanstone said the family had been flown out of Australia after being declared medically fit by a doctor.

"The timing of the family's departure was determined by the availability of the charter aircraft and transfer arrangements en route," she said.

"The family had been advised last week that departure from Australia was their only option and arrangements were being made for them to return to Pakistan."

Senator Vanstone said the Bakhtiaris had been given more than a fair go: they'd gone through the Refugee Review Tribunal and 20 subsequent legal actions.

"At the end, the conclusive finding was that the family was not owed protection and, consequently, the removal process is now being followed," she said.

"The debate surrounding this family should not overshadow the fact that Australia has a generous refugee and humanitarian program, providing 13,000 places this year."

AAP

Link to the article at AAP

High-profile asylum-seekers deported from Australia to Pakistan

30 December 2004
AFP - Khaleej Times Online

ADELAIDE
- Australia's highest-profile family of asylum seekers were deported to Pakistan on Thursday, ending a four-year battle for sanctury, immigration officials said.

The deportation of Ali and Roqia Bakhtiari and their six children brings an end to a four-year fight to stay in Australia, which has made them a symbol of the country?s controversial treatment of asylum seekers.

Their deportation was carried out in near secrecy in the early hours and took many of their supporters by surprise although the government had made it clear it was imminent.

The family became a national cause celebre in 2002 when their two eldest sons Alamdar and Muntazar sought refuge in the British consulate in Melbourne after escaping from a detention centre at Woomera in South Australia state.

The Bakhtiaris claim they are ethnic Hazaras from Afghanistan, a Shiite minority oppressed by the former Taleban regime, but the Australian government insists they are from Pakistan.

"They have left Australia and they are on their way to Pakistan," an immigration spokeswoman said, declining to give further details.

Opposition politician Kate Reynolds joined the chorus of protests from supporters at the surreptitious deportation and said the family had suffered "most appalling punitive treatment.

"If the government's plans for the family were all above board, then it would not have secreted them out of the country under the cover of darkness hoping we would all be distracted by the tragic events in southeast Asia or the holiday season," said Reynolds, of the small Australian Democrats party.

An official with the Catholic welfare agency Centacare, which had been providing housing for the mother and children, said they had been flown out of an airport at Port Augusta, where the mother and children had been held for the past two weeks, under heavy guard.

The father had been brought separately from a separate detention centre.

"My understanding is they were taken to the Port Augusta airport and they were flown out from there," said Centacare director Dale West.

After they sought refuge at the British consulate in Melbourne, the two eldest boys took their case to the Court of Appeal in London, arguing British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw breached the European Convention on Human Rights to protect them from inhumane and degrading treatment by Australian immigration authorities.

However, they lost that and other legal bids to stay in Australia and the government announced their deportation despite recent suggestions from the Afghan embassy that Roqia Bakhtiari may have relatives in Afghanistan.

Australia's treatment of asylum-seekers has been widely criticised at home and abroad as inhumane but the conservative government's hardline stance proved an election winner in 2001.

Link to the article in The Khaleej Times

Dead of night swoop ends asylum saga

The Age
December 30, 2004 - 2:26PM


Under the cover of darkness, the final chapter of the Bakhtiari family's Australian saga was played out today.

In secretive operations, immigration officials swooped on a sleeping Roqia Bakhtiari and her six children at a residential detention house in Port Augusta in South Australia's north.

At the same time, 20 immigration guards reportedly removed a protesting Ali Bakhtiari from the Baxter detention centre on Port Augusta's outskirts.

The family had been asleep in the knowledge their deportation was looming, but the 1am (CDT) operation stunned and angered their supporters.

The Bakhtiaris were whisked, under guard, to the Port Augusta airport where, at about 3am (CDT), they were placed on a waiting plane and deported from Australia.

Just exactly where they were initially headed remained unknown, but their final destination is Pakistan.

In line with its long-standing policy of giving minimal information to the media and public about its operations, the immigration department would only say the Bakhtiaris' removal was underway.

The operation to remove the Bakhtiari family - Australia's highest profile asylum seekers - was greeted with indignation by some.

"If the government's plans for the family were all above board, then it would not have secreted them out of the country under the cover of darkness hoping we would all be distracted by the tragic events in South East Asia or the holiday season," Australian Democrats refugee spokeswoman Kate Reynolds said.

Her sentiments were echoed by refugee advocates.

Dale West, the director of welfare agency Centacare, had been hosting Roqia Bakhtiari and her six children at his Adelaide house for the past 16 months, until they were removed to Port Augusta on December 18.

Mr West said the 1am CDT operation was not unusual for the immigration department.

"They have been the public face of the way people are treated in our detention system and people don't realise that one o'clock in the morning is the standard approach," he said.

"With the tragedy of the tsunamis, it's good timing for a government who wants to do it as privately as possible."

The deportation ends a five-year saga for the Bakhtiari clan, who say they are from Afghanistan.

The government maintains they are Pakistani.

Ali Bakhtiari arrived in Australia in 1999 separately from the rest of his family, and sought asylum, saying he was a persecuted Hazara farmer from a small Afghan village.

Initially, he was granted asylum only for the government to rescind his visa because it said the document was gained under false pretences.

Mr Bakhtiari was not a subsistence farmer from the Afghan village of Charkh but an electrical plumber from Quetta in Pakistan, the government said.

He was returned to immigration detention, where his wife and children had been held since December 2000.

The change of Mr Bakhtiari's status was brought about after the Refugee Review Tribunal considered the asylum claims of Mrs Bakhtiari and her children in 2002.

During the hearing, Mrs Bakhtiari could not identify some Afghan coins, prompting the tribunal to find she was not Afghani.

Her supporters claim the money was Northern Alliance currency unknown in her township, and regardless, Mrs Bakhtiari was illiterate and bartered for goods.

The family was sent to the Woomera detention centre in South Australia's north, where their plight soon made international headlines.

In February 2002, Mrs Bakhtiari's brother, Mahzer Ali, was also in detention at Woomera, and threw himself onto razor wire at the now-defunct detention centre to draw attention to his family's situation.

Mahzer Ali was later deported to Pakistan but has since made his way back to Afghanistan.

In June 2002, Mrs Bakhtiari's eldest sons, Alamdar and Muntazar, escaped Woomera during a mass breakout of detainees.

Aided by refugee advocates, the teenage boys arrived in Melbourne and sought refuge at the British consulate in the Victorian capital, only to be later returned to Australian authorities and immigration detention.

Last month, the British Court of Appeal rejected legal action claiming the boys were unlawfully removed from the British consulate in Melbourne.

That court's ruling was the outcome of one of about 20 separate legal actions taken by the family and their lawyers to try to gain asylum in Australia.

During the legal proceedings, Mrs Bakhtiari and her children were moved into residential immigration detention, initially residing at an Adelaide hotel before moving in with Mr West and his family in east suburban Adelaide.

While in Adelaide, Mrs Bakhtiari gave birth to another son - whom the High Court ruled was not an Australian citizen because his parents were not genuine refugees.

Mr Bakhtiari remained at the Baxter detention centre throughout the legal battles.

With the family's legal avenues exhausted, the immigration department on December 18 removed Mrs Bakhtiari and her children from the Adelaide house and back into residential detention at Port Augusta.

The move was a precursor to today's deportation.

- AAP

Link to the article in The Age

Bakhtiari family deported under cover of darkness

Sydney Morning Herald
By Cynthia Banham and Penelope Debelle
December 31, 2004


The Bakhtiari family were deported to Pakistan yesterday, ending a very public four-year battle with the Government to be accepted as refugees.

At just after 2.30am yesterday, Alamdar Bakhtiari, 16, the oldest of the six children, was glimpsed at the window of the RAAF charter plane flown into Port Augusta by the Department of Immigration to remove the failed asylum seekers.

"He looked out and gave us a sad wave," said a refugee supporter who rushed to the airport after hearing around 11pm on Wednesday that a special flight to deport the family was flying in and would be leaving again some time before 3am.

The father of the family, Ali Bakhtiari, was brought to the airport first, after reportedly putting up some resistance when 20 guards forcibly removed him from the Baxter immigration detention centre, his home since mid-2002 when the temporary protection visa he received not long after his arrival in 1999 was cancelled.

An hour later, two minibuses turned up carrying his wife Roqia Bakhtiari and her six children - three boys and three girls aged from 16 to one year.

Within 12 hours they were out of Australia and on their way to Pakistan, from where, their supporters say, they will return home to Afghanistan.

The family lost the protection of the courts early this month after their final High Court appeal was rejected. The Government faced the choice of backing down from its public assertion that the family were fraudulent asylum seekers and quietly letting them stay, or forcing them to go back.

The Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, yesterday confirmed the Bakhtiaris were taken from their beds "quite early" yesterday and bundled onto a charter plane under guard.

The family were accompanied by 12 officials, including guards and a nurse, Senator Vanstone said. No restraints were used "on the flight out of Australia".

Senator Vanstone said the deportation took place in the middle of the night because aircraft availability was "limited" and because of transfer arrangements to connecting flights.

The family had been "given more than a fair go in testing their claims for protection", and had "plenty of advice they were about to be removed".

She would not disclose whether the family had been given any resettlement allowance for when they arrived in Pakistan, but said they had declined to speak to their lawyers before they were deported.

"I think the family finally accepted they had, and used, every opportunity in Australia for their case to be heard and it [had] come to an end," she said.

Asked whether the Government was relieved the family had left Australia, Senator Vanstone said: "I think when any anguish from either side of a discussion, argument, battle, call it whatever you want, comes to an end, there has to be a certain sense of relief, and I hope the Bakhtiari family are feeling that."

Dale West, head of the South Australian Catholic welfare agency that sponsored the family in the community after they were released by the Family Court, said their deportation was inevitable. "It was always going to end this way," Mr West said.

He said the Government was so embarrassed by the family's defiance, in particular the attempt by the two elder boys, Alamdar and Monty, to seek asylum from the British consulate in Melbourne after escaping from Woomera in 2002, that it was resolved to show no mercy.

The immigration department began the deportation process a fortnight ago. At 7am on December 18, guards arrived unannounced at the family's villa in the Adelaide suburb of Dulwich and took Roqia and the six children away in two cars.

They were returned to the Port Augusta Refugee project, guarded accommodation in Port Augusta that acts as an offshoot to the Baxter detention centre.

After Senator Vanstone gave an assurance that the family would not be deported before Christmas, Roqia was given bags and told to pack on Christmas Day.

Link to the article in the Sydney Morning Herald

Govt denies restraining Bakhtiyaris during deportation

ABC ONLINE NEWS
Thursday, December 30, 2004. 7:21pm (AEDT)


The Federal Government has denied that members of the asylum seeking Bakhtiyari family had to be restrained while they were being deported from Australia early this morning.

After being taken from the Baxter Detention Centre, Ali Bakhtiyari was seen struggling with guards as he was being put on a plane at Port Augusta.

But Senator Vanstone denies he or any other member of the family had to be restrained.

"That's not my advice... no family that wants to stay in Australia welcomes going, that's understandable," she said.

The Bakhtiyari's are heading for Pakistan, but Dale West, from welfare agency Centacare, is convinced they will not be there long.

"These children are certainly from Afghanistan and I believe that they'll be doing all they can to get back to Afghanistan in the next couple of weeks," he said.

Mr West says the Federal Government's actions have been unnecessary and inhumane.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200412/s1274292.htm

Flight ends long fight for Bakhtiyaris

The Australian
Andrew McGarry and Katharine Murphy
December 31, 2004


THE Bakhtiyaris were yesterday deported on a 2.45am charter flight to Pakistan, bringing to an end a five-year fight to remain in Australia which included 20 legal actions, an escape from detention and an appeal for political asylum in Britain.

The family of eight ethnic Hazaras, who claimed to be Afghan but were deemed to be Pakistani, had been under the threat of imminent deportation since their last appeal was dismissed by the High Court two weeks ago.

They will be billed for the costs of their incarceration in at least three immigration detention centres, but the Government will not seek to recoup the $500,000 it spent on legal fees fighting their cases.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the flight had left at 3am in order to meet connections en route and to fit in with the availability of the aircraft.

"It will be quite expensive but nothing like the cost of maintaining this family in detention over the next 12 months," she said. "I think when any anguish from either side of a discussion, argument, battle -- call it whatever you want -- comes to an end, there has to be a certain sense of relief, and I hope the Bakhtiyari family are feeling that." After losing a last legal appeal, Roqia Bakhtiyari and her children Alamdar, 16, Montazer, 14, Nagina, 12, Samina, 10, Amina, 7, and Mazhar, 14 months, were taken from their Adelaide home to Port Augusta. Roqia's husband, Ali, who arrived alone in 1999 and was granted refugee status before his wife arrived the following year and was deemed in 2002 a Pakistani, has been at the nearby Baxter Detention Centre for the past two years.

He was moved there after his visa was cancelled and Alamdar and Montazer's breakout from Woomera detention centre in July 2002 ended three weeks later in the British consulate in Melbourne. Their appeal for asylum was rejected. A supporter of the family said the first signal that their time in Australia was about to end came at 1.30am.

"We received a call from one of the detainees in Baxter saying that Ali Bakhtiyari had just been taken out kicking and screaming," the supporter said.

Mr Bakhtiyari was bundled into a van and driven to the Port Augusta housing project, where he was reunited with his wife and children.

Less than an hour later they were taken to the airport, where a National Jet chartered plane was on the tarmac, ready for the family's belongings to be loaded on board.

The Bakhtiyaris then joined another group of eight to 10 detainees from Port Augusta on board the plane. Ali Bakhtiyari appeared unsteady as he climbed the steps to the plane.

In the last minutes before take-off the blinds on some of the windows were raised and Montazer made a final wave to bystanders, while his sister Amina was seen crying.

Link to the article in the Australian

Dark end to saga

The Herald Sun
Editorial
31dec04


THE Federal Government's handling of the Bakhtiari family's deportation has needlessly cast a cloud over the whole affair.

After four years of legal battles, the family has been sent home after exhausting all avenues in their bid for refugee status.

The process has been fair, extensive and carried in the open forum of the courts.

Why then did immigration authorities need to act like thieves in the night as they transported the family from the Baxter Detention Centre in the early hours of yesterday morning?

The clandestine operation angered refugee advocates and raises unnecessary questions about the integrity of the process.

A Government that stands by its actions should feel comfortable having them scrutinised in the harsh glare of daylight.

Link to the article in The Herald Sun

Government expels Bakhtiyaris after four-year fight

The Advertiser
31dec04


AFTER four years of emotional struggles and legal wrangling, the Bakhtiyari family has been deported from the country they desperately wanted to call home.

At about 2.30am yesterday, Ali and Roqia Bakhtiyari and their six children left Port Augusta on a chartered jet for Pakistan, believed to go via Perth.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone defended the departure from Port Augusta, and said the Bakhtiyaris would be billed for their detention - the family's 20 legal bids to stay in Australia alone costing taxpayers $500,000 to defend.

She said the family had been checked by a doctor before travelling and had declined a final offer to speak to a lawyer before boarding a chartered jet.

Senator Vanstone said the family's removal was determined by the availability of the aircraft and transfer in Pakistan.

"(The flight) will be quite expensive but it will be nothing like the cost of maintaining this family in detention over 12 months," Senator Vanstone said.

Just hours before their departure, 14-year-old Montazer Bakhtiyari told The Advertiser he was thinking of writing a "letter to God" to discover his family's fate.

His father, Ali, was taken from Baxter Detention Centre, reportedly kicking and screaming, while his family were transported in vans to the airport.

Bewildered and scared, some of the children shed tears when they were ushered out of the housing complex.

The security surrounding the family was high, with about eight guards ushering the family into three white vans, flanked by other cars.

As they were leaving their temporary housing, one of the boys was heard saying something like "thanks Australia".

The vans then sped out of the complex - one driver hurling abuse at the waiting media.

Once arriving at the airport, heavy security and a strong police presence meant little could be seen of the family, except for the frightened faces of the children, including Amina who was crying, peering out of the plane's windows. It appeared the family were being encouraged to shut blinds, but they pushed them open to watch supporters wave them off.

All phone lines at the housing complex were disconnected in the early hours of yesterday morning, meaning supporters were unable to warn the family of their imminent departure.

Senator Vanstone conceded the family objected to leaving but rejected claims restraints had been used to force them onto the flight.

Yesterday, friends and supporters expressed their shock at the family's deportation.

Centacare director Dale West said finding out the family had been deported in the early hours was "surreal".

"I was half expecting it to happen but until it does, it doesn't really hit you," he said.

Despite an ongoing plea by the Bakhtiyari family that they had been forced out of Afghanistan by the Taliban, the Federal Government believed they were from Pakistan. Mr Bakhtiyari spent the past two years at Baxter, while his children and wife lived in Adelaide.

On December 18, Mrs Bakhtiyari and her children - Alamdar, 16, Montazer, 14, Nagina, 12, Samina, 10, Amina, 7, and 14-month-old Mazhar - were taken from their Dulwich accommodation following a dawn raid.

They spent the past 10 days under virtual house arrest at a Port Augusta housing complex, surrounded by fencing and watched by security guards.

Their only respite was visits to see their father at Baxter. The deportation distressed staff and students at Saint Ignatius College, where Alamdar, 16, and Montazer, 14, studied.

Headmaster Father Greg O'Kelly said the Federal Government had "stolen the childhood" of the six children.

"These children have known this type of experience, dislocation, forced separation, hostile treatment for four years - a large portion of their lives," he said. "In a time where there is so much human misery, with the tidal waves, we have chosen to add to the human misery."

Saint Ignatius students Sam Hooper, Anthony Kunda and Jeremy Khong, who were friends of the two boys, were in shock.

"It hit me straight away, it is shocking, we just don't know where they are," Sam, 15, said.

Link to the article in The Advertiser

Family to be charged for detention

The Advertiser
By Alexandra Economou, Laura Anderson and Craig Clarke
31dec04


AFTER four years of emotional struggles and legal wrangling, the Bakhtiari family has been deported from the country they desperately wanted to call home.

About 2.30am yesterday, Ali and Roqia Bakhtiari and their six children left Port Augusta airport on a chartered jet bound for Pakistan.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone defended the departure from Port Augusta, and said the Bakhtiaris would be billed for their detention - the family's 20 legal bids to stay in Australia alone costing taxpayers $500,000 to defend.

She said the family had been checked by a doctor before travelling and had declined a final offer to speak to a lawyer before boarding a chartered jet.

Senator Vanstone said the family's removal was determined by the availability of the charter and transfers in Pakistan.

"(The flight) will be quite expensive, but it will be nothing like the cost of maintaining this family in detention over the next 12 months," Senator Vanstone said.

Just hours before their departure, 14-year-old Montazer Bakhtiari said he was thinking of writing a "letter to God" to discover his family's fate.

His father, Ali, was taken from Baxter Detention Centre, reportedly kicking and screaming, while his family was taken in vans to the airport.

Looking scared, some of the children had tears in their eyes.

The security surrounding the family was high, with about eight guards ushering the family into three white vans, flanked by other cars.

On arrival at the airport, heavy security and a strong police presence meant little could be seen of the family, except for the frightened faces of the children, including weeping Amina, peering out of the plane's windows.

It appeared family members were encouraged to shut blinds, but they pushed them open again.

Phone lines at the housing complex were disconnected early yesterday, meaning supporters could not warn the family of their departure.

Senator Vanstone conceded the family objected to leaving, but rejected claims restraints had been used to force them on to the flight.

Friends and supporters expressed their shock at the family's deportation.

Centacare director Dale West said finding out the family had been deported was "surreal".

"I was half expecting it to happen, but until it does, it doesn't really hit you," he said.

Despite a plea by the Bakhtiari family that they had been forced out of Afghanistan by the Taliban, the Federal Government believed they were from Pakistan.

Mr Bakhtiari spent the past two years at Baxter, while his children and wife lived in Adelaide.

On December 18, Mrs Bakhtiari and her children - Alamdar, 16, Montazer, 14, Nagina, 12, Samina, 10, Amina, 7, and 14-month-old Mazhar - were taken from their accommodation following a dawn raid.

They spent the past 10 days at a Port Augusta residential housing complex, surrounded by fencing and watched by security guards.

Link to the article in The Advertiser

Inevitable end to immigration debate

The Advertiser
Editorial
31 Dec 2004


IT might have been done for all the right legal reasons, but ultimately what has happened to the Bakhtiyari children was a cruel lesson.

After experiencing a taste of freedom and the love, friendship and support of many South Australians, they are gone.

When these children awake in Pakistan today, their affection for Australia as a country of hope, promise and opportunity will surely have evaporated.

Instead, there will be bitterness, helplessness and despair - and no doubt anger that will scar their lives forever.

The treatment of the Bakhtiyaris - dragged from their beds in tears and deported under the cover of night - was brutal and totally without compassion.

Yet, in many ways, it was inevitable.

This family had exhausted every possible legal option that would have allowed them to stay here ahead of others.

They were unable to prove to any court - and the Immigration Department - that they originated from Afghanistan.

The Government argues the family has been given a "fair go" - almost 20 separate appearances before the highest courts in the land. Courts that have upheld the Immigration Department's position that Ali, Roqia and their six children were not refugees.

It was understandably cautious to avoid favouritism on the basis the Bakhtiyaris enjoy a high public profile. We have come to know their faces and share a snapshot of their life, their joy and their grief.

Don't let others suffer this way

FAMILY supporters believe, however, that same public profile is responsible for the Bakhtiyaris' final treatment - the Government was backed into a corner and had to prove a point.

Whatever the view, one truth remains. The six children, one born here, have endured a terrible ordeal from the moment they left their homeland with their mother in the hope of a new life in Australia.

For a fleeting moment, it seemed within their grasp.

But to want to settle in Australia is to accept the conditions and legal restrictions under which this country operates.

No doubt these children will be forever damaged by their tug-of-war experience in Australia. The treatment of this one family has served to highlight the barbaric practice of detaining innocent children behind bars and barbed wire.

Ultimately, the ruling of the courts was final and it was clear that despite their public protestations and support, the Bakhtiyaris would not be allowed any future in this country. We can only hope that no other children are forced to endure such treatment in the future.

Responsibility for all editorial comment is taken by The Editor, Melvin Mansell, 121 King William St, Adelaide 5000

Link to the article in The Advertiser

3 Comments:

  • At Monday, January 03, 2005 12:22:00 PM, Blogger blogger34 said…

    ......thanks g.. that this is finished and over with. All I know that these people were ILLEGAL entrants into this country...I am sorry, am I missing something?....Oh yes, the Adelaide school that is thinking of bringing some of the children back and giving them free education....please look around you, there are plenty of local children that would be more than gratefull to receive your generosity

     
  • At Monday, January 03, 2005 10:39:00 PM, Blogger Project_SafeCom said…

    Hello blooger34 ....

    I look forward to your message to us (click on the Contact Us) link, that lets me know how to reach you. I want to invite you to send Project SafeCom ALL the Australian law documents (you can buy them cheaply at the government bookshops in any capital city) where the laws state that it's "illegal" to come to Australia to seek asylum. Just send us the title of the Acts and law booklets, we'll pay them.

    And also, please send the part of International law confirming this "illegality".

    I don't think you'll send us anything, because ... there isn't. It has actually been admitted by Mr gordon Bennett QC, for the government, in one of the High Court cases of 2004, that there are no legal underpinnings to the notion of "unauthorised" or illegal, used by politicians.

    The only thing that says something about refugees coming uninvited to a country, is the International Declaration of Human Rights. Article 14 states that "everyone has a right to seek asylum in another country".

    Before Howard came to power, boatpeople were .... people who came to seek protection, and (very reluctantly) politicians allowed it.

    But since Howard came to power, and especially from 1998, it has been called "illegal". To me that's political spin. Political spin is something I regard as a form of lying.

    Jack

     
  • At Friday, September 01, 2006 6:54:00 PM, Blogger alexmiby said…

    "Oh yes, the Adelaide school that is thinking of bringing some of the children back and giving them free education....please look around you, there are plenty of local children that would be more than gratefull to receive your generosity"

    Look at the streets, how much of free time the local youth is skateboarding, and look at the univercities, how the migrant children are studying having no free time. Who of them do you think more deserves to be educated?

     

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