Saturday December 18 2004 13:30pm WST
For Immediate Release
"Refugee advocates Project SafeCom expresses shock and horror this morning about the "snatching in Gestapo style" of the Bakhtiyari children and their mother at dawn this morning from their home in Adelaide."
"Australia is not NAZI Germany, and the Australian public - if it were not manipulated by the Howard government, the previous immigration Minister Philip Ruddock and the current Minister Amanda Vanstone - would be likewise express their abhorrence with the way DIMIA Compliance runs its own Kingdom, void of accountability. DIMIA Compliance can well be compared to the Gestapo in Germany during World War Two."
"First, DIMIA has shown time and again that it does not have the qualifications for precise, accurate and non-biased language assessment of asylum seekers, in order to determine nationality beyond any doubt."
"The fact that in the end, DIMIA had to call on the expert help of Canberra-based Migration Agent Marion Le who determined that many who were named as "Pakistanis" by DIMIA, were in fact Afghanis, shows the lack of skill and the presence of politically driven bias in these assessments if they are left to DIMIA. The fact that Marion Le disproved DIMIA's claim that her Tasmanian clients, Mr Sarwari, was not at all Mr Bakhtiyari's brother. Recently, the Australian Financial Review has pointed to the fact that DIMIA used seriously biased agents, members of the Taliban, to assist them in nationality assessments of certain population groups from Afghanistan."
"Secondly, the Bakhtiyari family's case credibility has been actively undermined through the vilification of the former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, who built his case against the family in what could well be described as "collusion with the media" after journalists of various Australian media outlets went on a witch-hunt, not as independent investigative journalists, but as sensational evidence-hunters, spending tens of thousands of dollars on overseas trips to prove Mr Bakhtiyari was from Pakistan; this media feeding frenzy was intensified after two of the boys escaped from the Woomera detention centre a few years ago - the next week Minister Ruddock claimed that a multitude of asylum claimants from Afghanistan were in fact Pakistani."
"While the facts show that Ruddock engaged in sensationalist vilification, while the evidence could not verify his statements, Australians are yet to see an apology from the former immigration Minister."
"Project SafeCom finds itself horrified by this renewed human rights breach of locking up children, and also other groups such as the South Australian group Justice for Asylum Seekers has expressed its deep concern with this situation."
Project SafeCom wonders why this snatching in Gestapo style needs to take place so suddenly. "Did the nationality assessment of the Bakhtiyari family perhaps take place by one of the underlings of Osama Bin Laden, so DIMIA want them out of the country before this news leaks to the media?", spokesman Jack Smit commented this morning.
For more information:
Jack H Smit
[phone number posted]
Also available for comment:
Don McMaster, Chairman
Justice for Refugees
[phone number posted]