Ten Iranian families raided: ordered by Iranian government?

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130
Web: http://www.safecom.org.au/

Ten Iranian families raided: ordered by Iranian government?

Media Release
Tuesday 3 June 2003 - 21:00 WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

Today's raid on ten Iranian families in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne by AFP comes less than a week after the departure of a delegation of the Iranian government from Australia - presumably to consolidate a trade deal, where 'repatriation and forced deportation of hundreds of Iranians' is slipped into the deal, hitherto undisclosed.

The raid, although not directly targeting refugees or asylum seekers, has enraged members of NADA, Australia's National Anti-Deportation Alliance, formed a few weeks ago by church groups, refugee action collectives and asylum seeker resource centres from all states and territories around Australia.

Jack Smit of WA based refugee group Project SafeCom said: "First we have a government that denies that any of the Iranians, scheduled for deportation to Iran, have any valid asylum claim - while the majority - if not all - of them, came to seek asylum in Australia in the first place because open opposition to the Iranian government makes people liable for persecution with many forms of torture and imprisonment.

"Australia as a nation has enabled itself to do so under the "stitch-up" of the Australian Migration Act - under Ruddock's precise and cold-blooded surgical hands.

"Second, the Howard government, in particular the Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, stands accused of "contempt of the Senate" (quoting Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett in Estimates in April) when it refused to reveal any details of a secret MOU with the Iranian government after having been formally demanded to disclose its contents under the Senate's statutory powers to do so.

"And then today, against this backdrop - no doubt with the cooperation if not orchestration by Ruddock - the AFP moves in for its raid, hopefully affirming to unsuspecting Australians that the coming deportations are a good thing, and in that confirming Australia's links with Iran's harsh regime." "And with Howard's new powers and influence over the AFP's terrorist branch, now housed in the Department of Prime Minister and cabinet, questions abound about the motives for this ridiculous raid.

"Years ago, for political expediency by the USA government, Iran's opposition movement, the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), was listed as a terrorist organisation, so the USA could do lucrative trade with Iran.

"In March this year, for political expediency by the Australian government, Minister Ruddock signed a secret MOU with Iran, so it could justify whisking away hundreds of people in deep fear of persecution, if they get returned to Iran - many of them possibly sympathisers with PMOI.

"Last week, for political expediency, a delegation of the Iranian government walked hand-in-glove with Mark Vaile, Alexander Downer and Philip Ruddock, so Australia can establish lucrative trade deals with Iran - regarding hundreds of Iranian asylum seekers as 'collateral' in the trade deal.

"And today, for political expediency, decent people, who are members of a group that want injustices in Iran to be brought to a halt, get raided by AFP, housed since last week in the PM's own department.

"Very, very serious questions must be asked from this government, its accountability, its blurring of political morals, its trampling on clearly recognised identifiers of what are terrorist groups and what are legitimate people movements, and its views on Iran's torturous government.

Greens' Spokesperson for Refugees Ms Pamela Curr, who was present at one of the Melbourne raids, commented: "These are people, whose membership of Iran's opposition party is reason for them to become persecuted by the Iranian authorities, are not even interested in an overthrow of the Iranian regime", Ms Curr said. "They want - and this has been made clear at previous occasions - a UN sponsored referendum in Iran.

Ms Curr also reported that the search warrant issued to AFP included a clause, specifying membership of the Refugee Action Collective as one of the organisations, that warranted the raid.

Mr Smit concluded: "It makes one also wonder whether the Melbourne Refugee Action Collective, regardless of the failure of the ASIO Bill thus far, is already targeted as a "proscribed" organisation. "And," added former diplomat Mr Bruce Haigh of Rural Australians for Refugees, "was this raid ordered by the Iranian government as part of the MOU?"

For more information:

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
National Anti-Deportation Alliance
[phone number posted]

Pamela Curr
Greens Spokesperson for Refugees
National Anti-Deportation Alliance
[phone number posted]

Bruce Haigh
Rural Australians for Refugees
[phone number posted]

Online resource:

National Anti-Deportation Alliance resources page:

NEWS resources:

Federal police raid Iranian homes

June 3, 2003

AFP raids homes in three capitals

Tue, 3 Jun 2003 17:28 AEST

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