Wednesday January 19 2005 8:45am WST
For Immediate Release
"Iranian writer Ardeshir Gholipour, recognised by PEN International's Writers in Prison Committee, not only as a writer in prison, but as someone who needs Australia's protection from persecution, is scheduled to be deported by the Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone.
"Not only PEN International is convinced of Mr Gholipour's need to be protected, but he is also recognised by the United Nations as having been imprisoned in Iran's notorious "world's largest prison for journalists" - Evin Prison - as a prisoner 'for Convention reasons'.
"The highly acclaimed artist Ardeshir Gholipour should have been immediately gained asylum and protection when he arrived in Australia five years ago", Project SafeCom's spokesman Jack Smit argued today.
"Instead, and solely because he had "the audacity" to arrive on Australian shores, unannounced and uninvited, Australia detained him in the just as notorious Curtin detention centre."
"Now, through Departmental blindness and stupidity, the Minister for Immigration Amanda Vanstone has announced and informed him that he is to start packing his bags because she intends to deport him, either willingly or forcibly."
"In the planned deportation of Mr Gholipour, Australia's treatment of unannounced asylum claimants finds its culmination of ridiculousness and blind arrogance, where DIMIA seeks to make a point of sending people to their certain deaths while attempting to claim it is protecting its borders."
"Mr Gholipour, if deported, certainly awaits reprisals, if not immediate killing by the Mullahs for his eloquent work as a writer for the democracy movement in Iran, but this consideration has been "bureaucratically eliminated" in his assessment. Project SafeCom as well as hundreds of his friends and supporters fail to grasp the logic and reasoning for this astounding decision by the Immigration Minister."
"Mr Gholipour has established himself a highly respected status in Australia as an Award-winning visual artist, even while he was in detention centres, and he has been a guiding light for countless children in detention."
"In the Port Hedland detention centre, he was the driving force behind the painting of murals around the outside walls of the compounds, and he inspired and taught many children who he guided to take up painting and to start expressing himself."
"Australia's asylum policies are bankrupt and they have so far cost nine lives as a result of detention since Tampa. As the Edmund Rice Centre has reported, we have deported many people into danger zones and others have disappeared, but the case of Mr Gholipour certainly must be the most blatant example of how we trample on the UN Refugee Convention."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]