Saturday August 23 2003 12:30am WST
For Immediate Release
The letter below has just been received from ALL Iranians in the Baxter detention centre in Port Augusta. The detainees have affirmed that they are happy for this letter in full to be published in newspapers in Australia, and for the letter in full to be sent to all representatives of the Australian government.
It was written yesterday evening - 22 August - and phoned through to refugee advocates.
The person who received the call, Ms Regina Wagner, comments:
"The attached letter is the result of several phone calls, translations into 3 languages and lengthy discussions. [detainees] want the apology for property damage in there, and also the bit about Iraq, because they think that Australian may understand it after all the TV deluge about Iraq."
"I'm not sure about all the numbers, but the guys went around and rang every compound to collect numbers and assured me that everybody was happy to have their number on the letter."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Greens Spokesperson for Refugees
[phone number posted]
[phone number to be supplied]
Baxter Detention Centre, 22 August 2003
Dear Prime Minister and all Australian People,
This letter is from all us poor Iranians here at Baxter, which is our prison. I have told this letter to my friend on the telephone because now we have no time. It is Friday night and we are all very frightened because they tell us that tomorrow we will be deported by force to our country.
So tonight we cannot sleep. We pray that something will save us and we try to help each other. We are real human beings and fathers and sons and husbands. We did not leave our country and our family for getting rich or big adventure. We must leave because our government is a dictatorship that tortures and kills its own people like it was in Iraq and we see on television how they open the graves of the poor tortured people. All the governments and the United Nations know that the Iranian government has no respect for human rights.
We ask for help from the government in Australia. We ask that you see that we cannot go back to Iran because we are too afraid of the torture and prison we will have to go to. Many of us have already lost family or have brothers and fathers in prison in Iran. Because we have not always explained our situation in the best way for DIMIA officers to understand, they say that we have failed and are not real refugees and the court cannot help us.
In our country, we tried to have democracy and freedom but we have been put in prison for it. Then we came here because Australia is a democratic country, but they put us in prison, too. How can we show you that we are not bad people?
Sometimes, some of us have been too stressed and sometimes we broke something in detention. We are sorry for that. We are not violent people; only sometimes we cannot endure this prison hell here any more.
Now nobody is coming to Australia anymore and your government has fulfilled its wish. But we have suffered for almost 3 years for this policy and we have suffered enough. If it would be possible for us to go home, we would have gone a long time ago even before your government offered us money to go away. But we cannot. If you will not let us stay here, please send us to some other country. A poor country or any country. We will go anywhere but we cannot go back to Iran.
We need your help in this terrible situation. Please help us and stop this deportation of us. We beg you from our heart.
Signed by all the Iranians:
Baxter ID 13, 14, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 18, 20, 21, 24, 42, 43, 54, 63, 96, 55, 236, 237, 238, 132, 91, 123, 152, 168, 170, 269, 236, 369, 290, 291, 292, 154, 354, 370, 225, 131, 288, 362, 210, 345, 217, 214, 372, 220, 348, 230, 368, 322, 198, 224, 276, 349, 333, 334, 332, 201, 202, 213, 199, 167, 151, 172, 175, 205, 93, 166, 321, 343, 218, 197, 215, 94, 287, 388, 230, 373, 380, 211, 208, 204, 219, 282, 281, 363, 350, 364, 278, 351, 228, 357, 285, 279.