Iranian 'mental health challenge' asylum seeker released to psych ward

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130

Iranian 'mental health challenge' asylum seeker released to psych ward

Media Release
Thursday April 7 2005 08:00am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

One of the two Iranian men, who are currently challenging their long-term detention in the Baxter detention centre in an Adelaide court on the grounds that their mental health is posing a serious risk to themselves, was released overnight from the Baxter detention centre and placed under care (and most likely and most ridiculously under guard) in a unit of the Glenside psychiatric hospital in Adelaide, their lawyer Claire O'Connor will be told in court today.

The man, known in the court challenge as 'S', is a 32-year old Iranian Christian man who worked in the building construction industry in Iran before fleeing to Australia, and he also has advanced martial arts skills as a Kung Fu master.

But Jack Smit, spokesman for the WA based refugee lobby group Project SafeCom, said the release did not mean today would be a happy day for asylum seekers in Australia or that this release signifies any change of heart from the Minister or from the Department of Immigration (DIMIA).

"This is not by any means a change of Australia's bankrupt asylum policy, and the man's sudden release into psychiatric care, halfway a week-long court case, should be seen more as a 'pre-emptive strike' by the Department, whose manager Kaye Kannis will be subject to a vigorous cross-examination by the lawyer for the two men Claire O'Connor," Mr Smit said.

"The ongoing, long-term and permanent detention of asylum seekers is an national and international disgrace and a dirty stain on Australia as a nation, and this playing with the lives and psychological well-being of human beings constitutes a crime against humanity as the Minister, Senator Amanda Vanstone well knows, as Australia's prime minister John Howard well knows, and as the 'once-wet' former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock well knows."

"It's time for all long-term asylum seekers to be released from Baxter. Maybe the Immigration Minister needs to be reminded of the horrific damage she inflicts on asylum seekers by being forced to be present at every doctor's visit, every psychologist's visit and every psychiatrist's consultation to Baxter: any visit at all by the Minister will be a first-ever visit from a minister who looks more like a slippery snake every day she is forced to defend this atrocious policy - as her slippery answers on television this week showed, when the ABC's Four Corners program revealed more evidence of abuse in the story of Cornelia Rau, who was held in Baxter 'by accident' for months."

For more information:

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

The men's lawyer, Claire O'Connor, can be reached on
[phone number posted]

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