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Political Leaders Oppose Howard Govt On Siev X

Political Leaders Oppose Howard Government On Siev X

The sinking of SIEV X on 19 October 2001 was the decisive moment in Australia's ruthless border protection war against asylum-seekers in August-October 2001. The appalling number of deaths on SIEV X - 353, including 146 children and 142 women - ended the people-smuggling trade to Australia, and cemented John Howard's re-election three weeks later as Australia's Prime Minister.

But after the election Prime Minister Howard faced a new leader of the Labor Opposition. Simon Crean was prepared to ask tough questions which led to the CMI (Certain Maritime Incident) Senate Inquiry and the expansion of the inquiry to include the tragedy of SIEV X.

Earlier this year the leader of the Australian Labor Party posted an historic condolence message on the internet at JANNAH THE SIEV X MEMORIAL.

"The death of 353 people, mostly women and children, on the SIEV X was a shocking tragedy. The Labor Party joins with others in expressing our deepest sorrow and regret that this event occurred, particularly so close to Australia. It is a reminder that the evil trade in people smuggling is dangerous and unpredictable. Together we must work harder to put an end to people smuggling, and to hold those responsible for the SIEV X sinking accountable. This episode only strengthens our resolve to ensure that international human rights are respected and upheld". ~ Simon Crean, Leader of the Opposition

Crean's words are prescient now, as Quassey's trial - which should properly be seen as of major international human rights significance - gets underway in Cairo. The two other opposition party leaders in the Australian Senate, Senators Andrew Bartlett and Bob Brown, posted similarly sincere and thoughtful messages to "Jannah".

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"I extend my deepest sympathies and regrets to all the families and friends of the 353 SIEVX victims. But I reserve my gravest concerns for the 40 survivors; these people survived the ordeal at sea, and now have to live with the horrific memories. It is a reminder that we should never forget the human impact and the suffering that can occur as a consequence of our inactions". ~ Senator Andrew Bartlett, Leader of the Democrats.

"May such a gross tragedy never happen again. And may those seeking a peaceful life, like the life we love here in Australia, find the security and happiness that was so wrongfully denied to the SIEVX victims". ~ Senator Bob Brown, Leader of the Greens.

The SIEV X investigation is far from over. Hard questions continue to be asked by Opposition parties in Australian Senate investigative committees about possible Australian government agency implication in this still mysterious tragedy. The trial of Abu Quassey (Mootaz Muhammad Hasan) in Cairo is another step on the long and tortuous road to the full truth about the sinking of SIEV X.

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