Thursday December 30 2004 10:20am WST
For Immediate Release
The high-profile Bakhtiari family was flown last night at about 3am local time from Port Augusta airport, the aircraft believed to be a BA-146A, a craft with STOL (short take-off and landing) capabilities.
The aircraft is believed to be a charter flight by National Jet Systems, a subsidiary of Qantas International.
At the moment it cannot be confirmed whether the family will make a stop-over at any Australian airports. The most likely places for a stop-over would be Cairns, Darwin or Perth airport, because they are all places of transit for international passengers.
Refugee advocates are monitoring several places and contacting allies in these cities in a last-ditch bid to prevent the government from deporting the family to Pakistan, because senior migration agents believe the family is at risk of abuse and persecution by members of population groups hostile to Hazara in Pakistan, from the Taliban or from authorities in Pakistan.
Project SafeCom insists that the Bakhtiaris are not Pakistani, and that the documents backing travel for the family are so flimsy that it is likely that Karachi immigration authorities will not accept the family into Pakistan, unless a large sum of money has been or will be supplied as a bribe by the Australian government.
For more information:
Jack H Smit
[phone number posted]