Refugee advocates condemn ALP's Joe Ludwig's Senate motion

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

Refugee advocates condemn ALP's Joe Ludwig's Senate motion

Media Release
Tuesday December 7 2004 9:30am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

The fact that ALP Senator Joe Ludwig has scheduled a motion for today, condemning members of Refugee Action Coalition for allegedly assisting asylum seekers 'flee from Australia' even before any charges brought by the AFP have been proven, is not at all surprising given the mess the ALP is in since the November election. There is no leadership, and there clearly is not a whimper of a voice for human rights left within the ALP, and Senator Ludwig surely acts without consultation and consent from all factions within his party in disarray.

It is becoming clear that ALP has become part of Australia's one-party State to such an extend, that rather than condemning the Howard government's asylum policy that has attracted worldwide condemnation by human rights bodies as well as the wider international community, and exposing what has been named as leading to Crimes against Humanity by lawyers and QC's, Mr Ludwig seeks to undermine the voice of heroic Australians who expose the human rights abuses committed by the Howard government and who are prepared to act on it - even with acts of civil disobedience. Mr Ludwig also underestimates the broad array of people prepared to "help out" in similar situations - it extends to citizens and members of religious orders right around the country.

Retired diplomat and activist Bruce Haigh, a close alley of Project SafeCom, states that Australia can now be compared to South Africa in the days of Apartheid, and that the motion put by Senator Ludwig should unite decent Australians in their resolve to refer to the International community and international standards of human rights rather than expecting any condemnation about human rights abuses from the ALP.

The Howard government's policy as well as its treatment of asylum seekers has been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UNHCR. Labor is silent about this because it does not dare to be different, and today's motion only drives the ALP further into irrelevance.

Labor is also silent about the fact that DIMIA uses false passports when it seeks to deport asylum seekers, as the Edmund Rice Centre showed in its recent "Deported to Death" report. Labor is also silent about the fact that the Department of Immigration pays members of the Taliban for language assessment of the Afghani Harara minority group.

Project SafeCom coordinator Jack H Smit says, that now even more so than during the time of the Woomera escapes in 2002, asylum seekers in the Baxter detention centre are driven insane.

"If I were to have the resources, the assistance, and the opportunities, I'd take especially all the Iranians out from Baxter in the middle of the night, I'd give them false passports, and help them flee from the barbaric regime of being permanently locked up in Australian detention centres."

"If that would be possible, we would be able to free the Iranians from the endless inhumanity, inflicted by the Canberra gang of human rights criminals."

For more information:

Jack H Smit
[phone number posted]

Bruce Haigh
Retired diplomat
Mudgee NSW
[phone number posted]

Labor wrong: refugee activists are heroes not villains

Refugee Action Coalition of NSW
7 December 2004

The Refugee Action Coalition is appalled and feels betrayed by the motion the Labor Party intends to move in the Senate today against refugee supporters.

"Labor needs to get its priorities straight. The allegations made against members of the Refugee Action Coalition regarding false passport declarations are minor misdemeanours compared to the breaches of human rights and international law by the federal government against asylum seekers", said Anthea Vogl, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

"The Howard government's crimes against asylum seekers have been identified and condemned by The United Nations, Amnesty International, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and Human Rights Watch to name but a few. Where is the ALP motion condemning these crimes?

"Rather than political grandstanding with this motion, Senator Ludwig and the Labor Party should be asking why people who originally sought protection in Australia are forced to escape from persecution at the hands of our own government? "People seeking refuge in this country face indefinite detention in harsh conditions or deportation to danger or death. Assisting people to flee such a fate is not even a victimless crime, it is a heroic act.

"The Edmund Rice Centre released a report in October entitled /Deported to Death /which found that the Australian government deported people, often with false documents, into extreme danger in countries such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Angola.

"A man deported to Iran in October must now face an Iranian court on charges of converting to Christianity - a crime punishable by death. Why isn't the Labor Party condemning the Minister for deporting this man into such a deadly situation?

"The Labor Party's motion flies in the face of the overwhelming support from thousands of its members for a more compassionate refugee policy. Labor really has lost its way if it is attacking refugee activist heroes instead of Howard for his cruel abuse of asylum seekers.

Contact: Anthea Vogl [phone number posted]

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