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Thursday 15 May 2003 12:30 WST
For Immediate Release
Australian refugee advocates have received reports this morning that representatives of Australia's Iranian Ambassador have entered the Baxter Detention Centre near Port Augusta to speak with detainees.
This new and unexpected step in increasing the pressure on Iranian detainees to voluntarily sign deportation papers comes less than two weeks after the Iranian ambassador in Australia denied any knowledge of a secretly negotiated repatriation deal between Iran and Australia.
The reported repatriation deal with the Iranian government has been kept secret by the Department of Immigration, even while recently the Federal Senate demanded the tabling of the documents, causing Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett to accuse Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock's representative in the senate at the time, Senator Helen Coonan, to be in contempt of the Senate, when Senator Coonan reported that it 'was not in the national interest' to produce the agreement's content.
"Mr Ruddock is enthusiastically killing off all aspects of the UN Refugee Convention, conform with the Liberal ethic, where the free market economy and free trade happily tramples human rights considerations", WA based refugee group Project SafeCom's Jack Smit said.
"If the secret deal would be unveiled, we're likely to see wheat deals and sheep exports as well as 'tax-free haven' deals for Australians residing the Iran", Mr Smit said.
"The RSPCA has a clear mandate with regards to cruelty to animals in the live sheep export. We may as well say the the Howard government has been extremely successful in its asylum seeker policy, where it has set out to depict asylum seekers as less than animals. I have no doubt that there is not one single clause pertaining to the protection of the returning Iranian asylum seekers in the 'secret agreement' ", Mr Smit said.
"The Iranians who are forced to return under this agreement will face imprisonment, over 170 forms of physical and psychological torture, such as stoning, hanging in public, eye gouging, amputation of fingers, hands and legs, beheading, and flogging in public carried out as "punishment".[ref.1]
And as the Australian Financial Review recently reported, The head of a UN working group on detention centres, Louis Joinet, recently 'told journalists in the United Kingdom that Iran was detaining dissidents and others without due process on a "large scale" and keeping them in solitary confinement'.
Under the Mullah's regime, 120,000 executions took place on political grounds; victims include pregnant women, elderly women and schoolchildren.[ref.1]
But also under the Mullah's regime - Iran is one of those labelled by the US Bush Administration as one of the countries in "the Axis of Evil" - there are 450 terrorist operations around the world, including bombings, hijacking, abductions and assassinations.[ref.1] Currently the USA is investigating any Iranian role in the recent bombings in Saudi Arabia.
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
National Spokesperson for the Greens
[phone number posted]
[Reference 1] National Council of Resistance in Iran:
Project SafeCom page on Iranians: