Monday April 20 2009, 6:00 EAST
For Immediate Release
"The remarks by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last Friday about people smugglers where he blasted them as the 'scum of the earth' who should 'rot in jail and rot in hell', are based on a very poor judgment of the complexity of the issues and they are politically manipulative as well as uninformed about the predicament of people's circumstances when their only option is to choose 'inferior and unregistered' forms of transport to reach asylum countries," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"Going by the Prime Minister's remarks, the priest who helped the Von Trapp family across the Alps, and the man who sold the donkey to Mary and Joseph so they could flee to Egypt, as well as Oskar Schindler who helped many Jews escape Nazi Germany, are all vile people smugglers who should rot in hell. His suggestion is preposterous, and offensive, especially as they are coming from someone who professes a deeply felt and actively carried Christianity. Kevin Rudd mistakes himself for God, and that's not OK at all."
"It will not be until the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, together with an organisation such as the International Organisation for Migration, in acknowledgement of the fact that many 'undocumented migrants' and asylum seekers have no other travel options available to them than the people smuggler or 'people mover' network, starts to regulate and support the international network of these 'people movers', that it can undermine and destroy the others, who work inside the nastiest people smuggler networks," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Kevin Rudd as well as all others in his government first need to openly and loudly announce that it's not illegal to arrive by boat at Australia to seek asylum, because even this basic tenet has been polluted through political opportunism in the last 15 years since Labor introduced mandatory detention, and then he should acknowledge that the poor Indonesian fishermen we keep locking up in Perth and Darwin jails are not the people smugglers, but victims of circumstances themselves."
"These broke Indonesian fisherman are impoverished and have lost their livelihoods as a result of Australia's failure to honour their age-old fishing grounds around Ashmore Reef in the hardline attitude of Australia's policy patrols against illegal fishing. If the government wants no Indonesian fishermen to do the bidding for people smuggling networks, it has to give them their lives back and fully honour the UN Indigenous Fishing Conventions," Mr Smit said.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]