Saturday February 24, 2007 11:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"If reports from Fairfax media this morning that the 83 Sri Lankans intercepted by the NAVY supply vessell Success this week are to be believed, where the asylum seekers will be forcibly taken back to Indonesia with that nation's cooperation, and then sent back home to Sri Lanka, the Howard government would be committing itself to the most severe breach of the United Nations Refugee Convention in its history," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
Speaking from its Operations Centre in South Fremantle at a press conference, the group's spokesman Jack H Smit said, "if is is indeed true that secret negotiations between Indonesia took place yesterday to send the Sri Lankans straight home, it begs the question why Australia is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, and it begs the question from the Prime Minister whether he would have been happy to stand by and watch millions of Jews to be slaughtered by Adolf Hitler dsuring the Holocaust."
"Perhaps, to drive the point home, we should ask the Prime Minister whether or not he counts himself amongst those who are named as Holocaust denyers," Mr Smit said.
"We also have some words for Indonesia," Mr Smit said, referring to the recent UNHCR Report on the situation in Sri Lanka. From the concluding remarks in the report:
"Where states are not parties to the 1951 Convention and do not have refugee status determination systems, individuals originating from Sri Lanka and who are in need of international protection, as indicated above, either because of a wellfounded fear of persecution in the meaning of Article I(A)2 of the 1951 Convention, or because of a situation of generalized violence with no internal flight alternative, should be protected against forcible return, and be permitted lawful stay as well as possibilities to exercise their basic rights under relevant national laws until the situation in Sri Lanka improves substantially."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]