Saturday July 24, 2010 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"Our all-time statistics for boat arrivals compiled from government sources show that we're currently just 12 asylum boats shy of the 500th boat arrival since April 1976, and the chances are good that Refugee Boat 500 arrives around the date Australians go to the polls for the 2010 Federal election," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
Project SafeCom's record of all boat arrivals is here:
"Going on trends built up since 1976, when the first small vessel from Vietnam, the Kein Giang - with Mr Lam Binh and five others on board - arrived in Darwin on 26 April, the boats have come to our shores to seek help and UN protection on average with a frequency of 14,7 boats per year - and so far they brought 24,400 passengers - an average of 735 per year - for processing and refugee claims assessment," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"With the 500th arrival, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has a unique chance to bring the debate back into perspective. While she has made a good start with her Lowe Institute speech by stating the fact that the number of boat arrivals constitutes just half a percent of Australia's new arrivals, acknowledging that the number is indeed minuscule, she has not brought to bear that these arrivals are not - and NEVER - "immigrants" but they are seeking protection from persecution under the UN Refugee Convention, and that their journey is supported by the passengers' international legal right to do so, unannounced, by boat, and in any country that has signed the Refugee Convention."
"Australia has a legal obligation to the passengers of these vessels, not as "immigrants", but to look at their refugee claims and scrutinise the validity of their claims. And going by the statistics from 1999 to the early months of 2010, more than 90-95% of their claims have been recognised as valid by Australian authorities."
"We will be celebrating and welcoming the arrival of Boat Number 500, we have set up a Facebook event for its arrival - supported by 430 people just during its first day. We will stress that there is nothing 'illegal' about such unauthorised arrival, and we will as always deeply despise the spin, misinformation, lies about the status of boat arrivals, and the ghastly lack of humanness coming from the Liberal party camp," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]