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Amnesty, SafeCom to 'unlawfully detain' Aussies

Amnesty and Project SafeCom link to 'unlawfully detain' Australian citizens

Media Release
Wednesday June 15 2005 6:30am WST
For immediate Release
No Embargoes

Amnesty International Australia's WA Branch and refugee lobby group Project SafeCom will join forces for World Refugee Day events this Saturday in Fremantle, Western Australia, where they will lock up Australians and passers-by 'on request' in what is becoming an annual event for the two WA organisations, after Amnesty nationally adopted the citizens' created 'Daybreak in Detention' project two years ago.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES: Outside the usually packed weekend-only Fremantle markets, Amnesty and Project SafeCom, with support from the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN), will park a cage which will be a temporary detention centre for shoppers, locals and others, and at 11am visits by high-profile Australians such as Fremantle MHR Dr Carmen Lawrence, former Liberal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Fred Chaney and WA Arts patron Mrs Janet Holmes a Court are expected.

Apart from being detained, visitors can attend to the organisations' stalls, displays and meet willing volunteers with petitions and flyers, also Project SafeCom's nationally released Royal Commission petition. Amnesty's WA Branch will also have its national letter-writing project on offer.

"This year's World Refugee Day falls on 20 June - and the same date may well become known as the Prime Minister's 'D-Day', since it is also the deadline of the Georgiou Private Member's Bills, and an opportunity for Mr John Howard to show whether or not he is willing in the context of his backbenchers' revolt to reduce the tremendous harshness of mandatory detention," Project SafeCom spokesman Jack H Smit commented on the event.

"More than ever, detention of asylum seekers in Australia has this year become a central point of contention, and displeasure with the Howard government on this point has spread 'like wildfire' amongst the Australian population, who are becoming rapidly aware - also through the unlawful detentions and deportations of Australians - of mismanagement of the policies and the inherent cruelties of it."

"Since the Tampa affair Project SafeCom and many, many others, have worked to address the cruelty of these policies and lift the lid of the secrecy of what goes on in detention centres. More recently, we have started to lift the veil off the secrecy in the Department of Immigration (DIMIA), and time and again we helped uncover what seemed a network of seriously bungled asylum decisions."

"And this week, through the courageous and relentless reporting of the ABC's Lateline program, which brought out the first whistleblower from within DIMIA, we now can start naming what goes on in DIMIA as sheer corrupt decision-making particularly with regards to refugee assessment."

"As we always have done," said Mr Smit, "we will keep insisting on the maintenance of and return to the fine standards expected by countries that have ratified and signed the UN Refugee Convention, and this weekend again we will tell people about the fact that also 'boatpeople' should have privileged entry, access and treatment in Australia within the context of their refugee claims, no matter how many politicians tell Australians otherwise."

ENDS

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