Friday July 6, 2012 11:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"Greens Immigration spokesperson Senator Hanson-Young is the first politician to have the courage to travel to Indonesia and look the circumstances of asylum seekers holed up in at times horrific circumstances straight in the eye, and report about their circumstances in openness and without spinning the facts - and the Greens are to be applauded for this," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"In visiting Indonesia to find out for herself about asylum seekers, Senator Hanson-Young has broken the "callous consensus of secrecy" that was first established by former Prime Minister John Howard and his immigration Minister Philip Ruddock in 1998-99, when they not just decided to let asylum seekers fleeing from Saddam Hussein and the Taliban rot in Indonesia, but also to actively prevent them from arriving in Australia by air to seek safe settlement away from persecution under the UN Charter for refugees," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"We may well talk about Australian detention centres as "hellholes", but the real hell is found in stinking and rat-infested prisons and detention centres in Indonesia - some of the atrocious facilities funded by Australian taxpayers - and in the growing meaninglessness and hopelessness amongst asylum seekers when they slowly discover that UNHCR is unable to assist them and that Australia is entirely unwilling to assist them."
"Senator Hanson-Young is hearing first-hand why people jump on boats following their discovery of Australia's non-action. All other politicians in our Parliament - Labor and Liberal, National or independent politicians - have had the opportunity to discover this on fact-finding missions since 1998 - but they failed to do so, instead keeping Howard and Ruddock's culture of Indonesian secrecy alive."
"How different their disinterest shows up in stark contrast against the many trips throughout the ASEAN region between 1975 and 1981 by Liberal politicians in the Fraser government or by members of the ALP opposition under Bill Hayden, where many travelled to see for themselves the refugee camps in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong to inform themselves of the circumstances of Vietnamese refugees in the camps set up by UNHCR in collaboration with those ASEAN countries."
"How lazy, how dysfunctional and how ridiculous have politicians been under the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments where they have the audacity to make judgments about people booking passage with people smugglers because Australia doesn't lift a finger to help them while they're being stuck in Indonesia."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]