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Shameful Decision on Border Asylum Bill

For immediate release: Thursday 1Ost August, 2006.

Shameful Decision on Border Asylum Bill

Campaigners today expressed sadness at the today's passing of the Howard Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill through the lower house of parliament, in an attempt to prevent all asylum seekers who arrive by boat from access to legal support and court processes.

If successful, the bill will ensure that refugees will remain locked up on Nauru indefinitely or other offshore locations, and will reverse hard won concessions (regarding the indefinite detention of children and women) made by the government under extraordinary pressure from church and community groups.

“We feel shame that today Parliament passed a legislation that if enacted, will result in people fleeing from extreme military violence being either turned straight back to their pursuers, or to be held incommunicado without access to legal support,” said Nick Chesterfield, spokesperson for the Free West Papua Campaign in Melbourne.

“We congratulate Petro Georgiou, Russell Broadbent and Judi Moylan for acting according to conscience today by crossing the floor to vote against this shameful act, although we are surprised at the decision by Bruce Baird to abstain from voting,”

“Furthermore, we cannot understand why Australia is wanting to expose itself to further international shame by drafting legislation designed to appease a brutal and criminal military regime in violation of Australian and international law,” said Chesterfield.

Chesterfield said that the government's stance would not stop people from resisting this unjust law, nor would it stop the reality of people fleeing from extreme violence the world over.

“However, we still call on the government and independent members of conscience in the upper house to take a stand consistent with humanity, and Australia's obligations under International Law, and block this legislation's passage through the Senate”

“People will continue to flee and attempt a crossing until the Indonesian military stops it genocidal reign of terror in West Papua. No amount of border protection smoke and mirrors will change this reality, and it is our duty as humans to help people achieve protection, not assist in their persecution. This bill cannot be allowed to pass.”


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