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Action planned for longest detained asylum seeker

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Western Australia 6312

National action planned for longest detained asylum seeker

Media Release
Monday September 6 2004 07:00pm WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

National protest action under the theme of "National Day of Shame" in capital cities around Australia is to be expected this week on Thursday 9 September, when Kashmiri asylum seeker Peter Qasim will have been locked away in immigration detention for six years.

Actions have been planned in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney on the day that Mr Qasim, whose case was refused by the Refugee Review Tribunal in 2000, will have his 'dismal anniversary'.

(Details of all actions are accessible via the web link below)

In the light of this dramatic anniversary - an event made even starker after last month's Full High Court decision relating to ongoing detention of especially stateless asylum seekers, WA based Project SafeCom argues that the Howard government has a lot to answer for by what should now be called 'stealing the life of Peter Qasim':

"Since the Full High Court of Australia last month "approved" that 'stateless persons' such as Peter could effectively be held in an Australian detention centre until they die, Peter's situation is no longer in doubt: Australian politicians have successfully crafted their own sovereign right and legislated that sovereignty, to steal Peter's entire life, just because "he had the audacity" to seek asylum here, which is his right under the International Declaration of Human Rights."

"They have crafted this legislation, just so Mr Howard can make the political point of 'being strong on border protection' "

Spokesman Jack Smit states in the context of this week's events, that "Mr Howard not only steals the life of long-term detainees but also their psychological well-being as evidenced from multiple reports from health professionals and human rights bodies."

"And, in relation to for example TPV holders, the Howard government also steals the family lives of approved refugees, who are prevented to have their families reunited with them or travel to the countries where their spouses or families reside under the draconian regulations imposed on TPV holders."

"In relation to the way Mr Howard treats refugees, he should not be just called a liar, but also a thief," Mr Smit says.

Mr Qasim's close supporter Greg Egan, who is based in Perth, recently wrote a summary story for the Project SafeCom website, and in it he stated:

"Peter is admired by scores of detainees for the selfless assistance he's given them in their own battles with paperwork and bureaucracy, and valued by dozens of Australian friends for his extraordinary wit, intelligence and resilience. But nobody can face life imprisonment for no reason. As Peter once said, even Nelson Mandela in prison had the struggle for his nation's freedom to give him strength, but his own suffering serves no purpose for anyone. He is locked up, apparently forever, because of lost paperwork in India, and a file full of minor errors and misunderstandings in Australia."

Peter Qasim himself wrote: "Living without the freedoms that ordinary people take for granted is very difficult. The conditions of detention involve small humiliations every day, and at times we are subject to great injustice, but the worst thing is having no certainty about when my imprisonment will end. Even a criminal knows the length of his sentence but I have no such comfort."

Web Site resource:

Peter Qasim's 2191 stolen days:
(includes press release from Rural Australians for Refugees)

Close supporters of Mr Qasim:

Greg Egan
Perth WA
phone (08) 9344-8609

Ms Kris Latona
Byron Shire NSW
phone (02) 6680-7462


Project SafeCom
Jack H Smit
mobile: 0417 090 130

Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN)
Peter 0417 904 329
Phil 0405 101 362


Refugee Action Committee
Jane Keogh (02) 6249-8613 or mobile 0409 773 572

Marion Le OAM, Migration Agent
(02) 6258-1419 or mobile 0419 419 680


Pamela Curr
Campaign Coordinator
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
mobile: 0417 517 075


Dianne Hiles
ChilOut Coordinator
mobile: 0425 244 667


Mrs Fay Waddington
Phone (07) 3857-6055

© Scoop Media

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