Minister for Immigration further destroys spirit of UN Refugee Convention

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Narrogin
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130
Web: http://www.safecom.org.au/

Minister for Immigration further destroys spirit of UN Refugee Convention

Media Release
Friday August 29 2003 11:00am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

IN THIS RELEASE:

DEPORTED IRANIAN USED TO PROP UP DIPLOMACY
PLACING IRANIANS IN IMMEDIATE DANGER
CANCELLING PERMANENT REFUGEE VISAS
CHURCHES OFFER TO HIDE REFUGEES

"Deporting Iranians, using them as pawns to stitch up shaky international diplomacy, deliberate eradication of 'permanent protection of refugees' as one of the cornerstones of the UN Refugee Convention, and on Tampa Day touting his policies as a 'success' makes the Australian Minister more of a national disgrace than he has ever been", says WA Refugee group Project SafeCom's spokesman Jack Smit.

DEPORTED IRANIAN USED TO PROP UP DIPLOMACY

Refugee advocates, working under the umbrella of the 'National Anti-Deportation Alliance' have received word from one of the two Iranians forcibly deported to Iran last week - who was "instructed to tell an Australian representative from the Australian Embassy in Teheran that 'he had no problem with Intelligence and that he had been treated well.'

PLACING IRANIANS IN IMMEDIATE DANGER

Green's National spokesperson for Refugees Pamela Curr further reported that "the Iranian officers told him that they knew everything about him and showed him a two page list of names of Iranians in detention camps in Australia. They only wanted to know the exact date that he had left Iran."

"The cruelty of Australia's "information sharing agreement" with the Iranian authorities has leaked - and with Iranian authorities getting full identifying information of those who sought protection under the UN Convention in Australia, Ruddock has placed everyone targeted with his forcible deportation MOU with Iran in danger of imprisonment, torture and death. This clearly implies that trading relations have prevailed in the MOU over the sanctity of human life with Iran."

CANCELLING PERMANENT REFUGEE VISAS

"Yesterday's announcement by the Minister for Immigration Philip Ruddock of changes to the protection visa regulations implies that permanent protection as one of Australia's clauses in its refugee policy becomes eroded beyond acceptable levels."

"Ruddock's announcement is a deliberate ploy to deport the thousands of Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) holders living in the Australian community, and actively contributing to Australian economy."

"Many TPV holders - amongst them members of the Hazara religious minority group who are at risk of persecution in their home countries have just started to receive rejections to their applications for permanent Visas in Australia."

"Eligibility to apply for these permanent visas was part of the deal announced to all of them when they received their 3-year TPV's - and that eligibility is systematically cancelled and eroded by Ruddock."

"If this manipulation happened in business circles, Ruddock would be hauled over the coals by an Industrial Relations Tribunal, but again the dark ploy has been designed by Ruddock, because of Howard's determination that those "who have the temerity to seek asylum in Australia" will eventually face deportation - a term 'sanitized' by the Minister as 'repatriation'."

CHURCHES OFFER TO HIDE REFUGEES

"This week's determination by the combined heads of West Australian churches, in which they raised the possibility that many supporters in Western Australia may well offer 'sanctuary' to the TPV holders, clearly shows that the notion of 'hiding refugees' no longer is a privilege of the 'socialist left'."

"Australian people have come to respect and befriend those who, even under the cruel and trying context of the TPV's, sought and found asylum in Australia. The fact that church leaders suggest that the community may well consider starting to offer 'sanctuary' to TPV holders, shows the cruelty of the current immigration policies."

"No longer is the resistance movement of Australia's cruel and heartless refugee policies the domain of the left, or of refugee action collectives branded by the Howard government as potential terrorist groups - appearing on warrants when Iranian family homes were raided in April this year."

"It may now become more evident than ever before to the Minister that those who criticize his policies are reputable Australians, and not just those with different political platforms, but now also church leaders - and soon their vast flock of decent people, farmers, countryfolk and ordinary people - and they may well already start preparing to protect refugees from raids, arrest and imprisonment."

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For more information:

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
Narrogin/Fremantle WA
[phone number posted]

Pamela Curr
Greens Spokesperson for Refugees
Melbourne
[phone number posted]

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Online resources:

What awaits the Iranians on their return:
http://www.safecom.org/iranians.htm

National Anti-Deportation Alliance:
http://www.safecom.org/nada1.htm

Harbour deportees, say church leaders - The West Australian
By Ben O'Brien, 29 August 2003

http://www.thewest.com.au/20030828/news/state/tw-news-state-home-sto110490.html

Project SafeCom Newsletter 29 August 2003:
Item 11. (MEDIA RELEASE) WA Churches' "No Deportation Alliance"

http://lists.topica.com/lists/safecom/readmessage.html?mid=807157561

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