Thursday July 24 2003 1:30pm WST
For Immediate Release
THE UNTHROWN KIDS PHOTOS THAT WE WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE
On 23 July 2003, more than one-and-a-half year after the sinking of SIEV 4 - called The Olong, as we learnt from David Marr in the book 'Dark Victory' - and the rescue of its survivors by the crew of HMAS Adelaide on October 8 2001, we received (from someone who wishes to remain anonymous) a set of electronic photos taken on that fateful day.
The photos have just been uploaded to our website - most of them are photos we were not allowed to see, in keeping with the brief issued by Operation Relex' Canberra Command Centre - at The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's office - which stipulated explicitly to 'not humanise the asylum seekers'.
Here's the link: http://www.safecom.org/kids-overboard.htm
NOTE: if everyone we write clicks on this link at the same time, our "lazy" domain name server may not cope. If the above link does not bring you to the right page, use this link:
PASSENGERS GRATEFUL, LOVING
The photos show gratefulness. They show fathers who are tired, but moved. They show mothers who smile, in deep love for their children, and thankfulness for the rescue by HMS Adelaide. Forgotten are the rounds of machine gun fire, the cannon shots, aimed over the bow of the dilapidated boat. It's time for milk, for warm blankets, for NAVY issue bath towels, and for the boys - feeling good in NAVY overalls.
The pictures were presumably taken by a naval officer aboard HMS Adelaide. Once those pictures are downloaded on a computer, they have rather amorphous names, more like serial numbers. It is interesting to note the names (presumably also chosen by that naval officer) - so we printed them under the photos.
DESPITE CANBERRA ORDERS
If we go by the names of the pictures, we can even get a glimpse of the thoughts of that naval officer. I left the more 'telling' names of the images intact, even though they're cumbersome from a web designer's point of view.
There is a photo of one of the naval officer's colleagues, swimming towards HMS Adelaide, ahead of a few people. Our cameraman names the photo 'Dogs and his family', in typical RAN dry wit giving his colleague the nickname "Dogs" - indicating his dog paddle swimming style?
One of the earlier photos, still showing SIEV 4 half afloat, carries the title 'Don't try this at home'. Another one is called 'I left my bag behind'. But the names of the photos, taken of the families and the children, can hardly disguise that they were given by our naval cameraman with a sense of pride in a job well done, and almost a sense of relief - certainly not according to the commands given to 'not humanise the asylum seekers'.
TAXPAYER SPONSORED VILIFICATION LIES
The guilt of the Howard Government who used the policy of de-humanisation of asylum seekers, is also the collective guilt of Australia as a nation, where more than 70% of the population blindly followed its Prime Minister and his actions preceding the 2001 Federal election.
Our photos graphically show how Australians were lied to in a concerted effort by the then Defence Minister Peter Reith and PM John Howard - and others - when they embarked to implement a policy of xenophobia about refugees.
The expressions on the faces of the people rescued from The Olong say it all - and we at Project SafeCom urge Media outlets to publish all of the photos. The Australian public needs to know how severely the picture of the people attempting to arrive in Australia has been distorted by Howard around the 2001 election.
Yesterday Senator John Faulkner spoke at a meeting of the Fabian Society at Melbourne's New International Bookshop. In the speech Faulkner re-iterated his determination for a judicial inquiry into the CMI issues raised during the parliamentary inquiry last year.
The guilt remains. The distortion of the Australian mind continues as a result of the lies and vilification. The redress needs to start - and also a courageous media attitude, intent on reporting facts rather than government spin is an essential element of that process of redress. 'Unbiased Media coverage' in Australia must mean for the media to have the courage to always take a step back from government-issued statements and report that which is true.
The children and their parents still smiled uncompromisingly at the time of their rescue by HMS Adelaide, one year and nine months ago. Australia severely betrayed them, many of them are now psychologically scarred for life, and the many questions now need to be asked how Australia will start healing the lives of these people.
Perhaps the most glaring question staring us in the face from these photos is: How many of these children are still banished from Australia and from unfettered access to high standfard medical care and access to lawyers on Nauru - while their fathers are living in the Australian community on Temporary Protection Visas?
FOR USE BY MEDIA OUTLETS
You may use these photos - but please confirm the usage with a courtesy call to Project SafeCom on 0417 090 130 - and include the web address of the page - or a link in online versions, using the specific page address:
FAULKNER RETURNS TO CMI, SIEV X
The photos were forwarded to us just a few hours after Senator John Faulkner gave a speech for the Fabian Society in Melbourne. It was a speech about the "CMI Inquiry", a Senate Inquiry into 'a Certain Maritime Incident', more popularly known as the 'Children Overboard Inquiry', the Kids Overboard Inquiry, or the Unthrown Kids Inquiry.
That speech is here:
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]