Monday February 27 2006 7:45am WST
For Immediate Release
"Refugees don't sink damned boats, Mr Howard!," says WA Rights group Project SafeCom this morning, after The Australian reported today that the Prime Minister John Howard in the book "The Howard factor", sponsored by The Australian, alleged that the refugees aboard 'The Olong' were responsible for sinking their boat - the boat slowly sank when under tow by HMAS Adelaide on October 6 2001.
Project SafeCom published dozens of official NAVY photographs of the sinking on its website 1½ years after the incident, when they were "leaked" to the group by an unnamed source - see http://www.safecom.org.au/kids-overboard.htm
"Refugees rarely sink their boats, Prime Minister," the group's spokesman Jack H Smit said, "usually it is the people smugglers who do the sinking, sometimes the sinking is due to physical sabotage by sting operators working from countries such as Indonesia, and sometimes these sting operators are contracted by countries such as Australia."
"Five years on, it seems that the Prime Minister has learnt nothing from the shameful massaging of the facts that were uncovered as lies spread initially by the then Defense Minister Peter Reith in the lead-up to the 2001 Federal Election."
"The Prime Minister remains one of the very few politicians in Australia who maintains the slandering descriptive word 'illegals' to denote boatpeople. He does that right up till today while most politicians have dropped this term, because there is no law in Australia making it "illegal" to enter Australia with or without papers in order claim asylum under the terms of the UN Convention," said Mr Smit.
The only thing we see confirmed about Howard, time and again, is that this is a Prime Minister who "has a conscience" only when it suits him politically."
"Just two weeks ago we learnt from the ABC Four Corners program that Howard has also silenced CSIRO scientists, and that those scientists who should warn the government and the Australian public about climate change and the impact on the millions of Climate Refugees this climate change is producing, are forbidden to mention the refugees."
John Howard's line is "don't mention the refugees, unless it's in a negative light", and he shows his conscience has not learnt anything from his shameful dealings with the truth when it concerns the world's most vulnerable citizens' groups."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]