Detained Christmas Island mother dies in Perth hospital

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

Detained Christmas Island mother dies in Perth hospital

Media Release
Wednesday 22 January 2003 - 06:00 WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

- Detained Christmas Island mother dies in Perth hospital

- Alexander Downer politicizes UNHCR

- 'Australia's Pacific Solution' with Andrew Bartlett and Carmen Lawrence

Detained Christmas Island mother dies in Perth hospital

"Once again a victim of Australia's criminal dealings with asylum seekers has paid the ultimate sacrifice on Howard and Ruddock's altar", the coordinator of WA Refugee group Project SafeCom, Jack H Smit said today.

Reliable sources confirmed to Project SafeCom yesterday that a young woman, reportedly from Iraqi origin, who leaves behind a husband and two children on Christmas Island, was flown to a West Australian hospital this week, where she died.

Initially it was thought that the woman had died from a brain tumor, but inquiries have revealed that the condition seemed to be more closely resembling a cerebral hemorrhage.

Project SafeCom's sources reported that the woman had been sick for weeks, complaining of headaches and vomiting in Christmas Island's detention centre, but just receiving treatment from Australian Correctional management in the form of Panadol and the advice to drink more water.

Living on birdshit

"We know, that even in the time that the phosphate mine was active on Christmas Island, farmers were worried about extremely high levels of cadmium, a heavy metal and a risk because it deposited into the kidneys of cattle grazing on the fertilizers harvested there", Mr Smit said.

"Farmers who at the time asked the Agriculture Department for more information about this danger, were advised to not raise this issue any further", a retired farmer in WA's Wheatbelt town of Narrogin, who is one of Project SafeCom's members, had reported today to Project SafeCom. "The whole thing was hushed up by the Ag Department", he said.

"In the eyes of the Howard government, asylum seekers are scum", Mr Smit said. "They're only just good enough to be dumped indefinitely on top of a pile of bird shit on a remote island", he said. "We do it on Nauru, we do the same on Christmas Island".

On Nauru fresh water is imported at an exorbitant cost, and detainees live on canned food, well past its due-by-date, and they live on top of the old phosphate mine, where no plants can grow. A young and seemingly healthy man died on Nauru last year, while in detention.

Mr Smit said: "The issue of children living near a waste dump in Perth, which recently showed high lead levels in the air, causes an uproar this month.

But nobody stirs when it concerns the ninth death in custody for asylum seekers. The Immigration Minister wants to keep all this stuff nicely hidden, only interested in selling propaganda - and therefore peddling lies - about the great success of his warped and sickening policies."

"And we now know", said Mr Smit, "about the fantasmic standard of care in Australia's detention centres: if you complain that your leg is broken, like a man in Baxter in November, Australasian Correctional Management applies the miracle cure of drinking water and prescribing Panadol."

"It took 16 days for this man to be believed, and instead of being victimised and vilified, receive the medical care he asked for."

Alexander Downer politicizes UNHCR

"Today Alexander Downer showed the same appalling audacity towards UNHCR", Mr Smit went on to say.

"Around the world it is known how Howard politicized the asylum seeker issue to win a third term of government in the Tampa election, and how this government keeps manipulating Australians, and it will be forever known as the start of a manipulative, propagandist, divisionist and Hansonite era in Australian politics", Mr Smit said. "Howard is guilty of degrading Australia through this election with its lies and manipulations, and more than 70% of the nation applauded at the time."

"I think Downer today showed to be another Howard agent helping to feed the mind-numbing of Australia, with the revolting audacity he shows in trying to paint UNHCR as too political. He is another example of the deep shame the Howard government brings over Australia, and his statement reviles me," Mr Smit said.

'Australia's Pacific Solution' with Andrew Bartlett and Carmen Lawrence

Meanwhile, Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett and ALP's Carmen Lawrence will join Project SafeCom over 'Australia's Pacific Solution' this Friday, 24 January.

Both Senior Federal politicians will be speakers at a fundraising Cinema screening organised by Project SafeCom in Fremantle's Film and Television Institute (FTI) in Western Australia.

At the opening of the 2003 working year of Project SafeCom, the refugee group will screen the BBC documentary "Australia's Pacific solution", a clandestinely shot film by BBC reporter Sarah MacDonald and Melbourne artist Kate Durham, who disguised as housewives filmed on Nauru with micro-cameras. The evening will also feature Award-winning short movie "The Cage House" by Angela van Boxtel.

During the event Mr Smit will outline some of Project SafeCom's 2003 planned activities, which includes research, together with 'senior refugee advocates' in Australia, into making representations to the European Parliament and into launching an International Prosecution against the Howard government for its human rights abuses.

Cinema screening details:


For more information:

Project SafeCom Inc.
Narrogin/South Fremantle

Jack H Smit
Phone: - 041 70 90 130

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