Friday 18 April 2003 - 19:00 WST
For Immediate Release
Released Iraqi, Palestinian asylum seekers dumped in Port Augusta Gladstone Park
"Howard and Ruddock are both spending their no doubt comfortable Easter weekend ignorant of the trail of damage they leave behind: abandoning Iraqi citizens traumatised and injured, not just in Iraq, but now also on Australian streets", Project SafeCom has discovered today.
Through contacts with refugee advocates in Port Augusta, Project SafeCom received word of four refugees who, after the Federal Court yesterday demanded their immediate release from the Baxter detention centre following the 'Al Masri case', were found by refugee advocates - floundering around Port Augusta streets without any form of support.
The landmark Al Masri case had yesterday determined that the four, part of a group of six illegally detained asylum seekers at the Baxter detention centre, should be immediately released.
"The boundless shame of Ruddock's policies is showing once again, now that by chance they were found by a refugee advocate and a reporter of one of Australia's main newspapers, Mr Smit said.
The advocates successfully lobbied families in Port Augusta to offer shelter to the asylum seekers today.
Mr Smit spoke by phone to Port Augusta woman Ms Maureen Wauchope, who said: "I can't believe that this is happening in Australia".
Apparently the two Iraqis - in addition to two Palestinians, who have found shelter elsewhere in Port Augusta after intervention by refugee advocates - had simply been dumped on the streets of Port Augusta by Department of Immigration (DIMIA) staff yesterday.
Ms Wauchope said: "I also know that they have been doing this for years", speaking about the dumping of released asylum seekers, when ordered to do so by a court. I would first have contacted someone who is a bona fide supporter", Ms Wauchope said.
"This weekend the Howard government's atrocities are once again being uncovered", Mr Smit, who provides a supporting role for some refugee groups converging at the Baxter detention facility in Port Augusta.
"Refugee advocates have informed the world about Australia's Guantanamo Bay experiment since last year's Woomera convergence, and Australia's 'Ground Zero' this year is Baxter Hell" Mr Smit said.
"The dumping of those ordered by Australia's Courts on the streets without support - probably even without money, shows the degree of entrenched corruption and passive resistance within DIMIA, and the responsibility for this ethical crime and human rights atrocity goes all the way to Ruddock", Mr Smit said.
"This Good Friday, Ruddock and Howard are crucifying human beings on the streets of Port Augusta, citizens of the Iraq they claim to liberate, on the altar of their border protection policies. This is a shame which should be exposed for what it is, and it needs to be followed by appropriate court prosecutions of those responsible", Mr Smit concluded.
For more information call:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]