Saturday, February 24, 2007

Secret deals with Indonesia/Australia over Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers

From the newswire: February 24, 2007 - According to corporate media, a secret deal has been struck between the Australian and Indonesian government to return 85 'boatpeople' back to Indonesia and then to Sri Lanka - without processing their inernationally recognised human rights to claim asylum. Refugee advocacy groups call on Howard to bring the asylum seekers to mainland Australia.

The Federal government's secret plan for an even more offensive version of Howard's controversial Pacific Solution - amounts to a wholesale Refoulment program. Howard's new plan is to assist in the deportation the Sri Lankan asylum seekers home via Indonesia in an outright breach of international refugee conventions.

Greens Leader Bob Brown said: "To send asylum seekers back without assessing their refugee status is a bald-faced breach of Australia's international responsibilities..." Brown said the deal "breaches Australia's responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions and tramples on the human rights of the 85 Sri Lankan asylum seekers."

The asylum seekers were intercepted by the Australian navy near Christmas Island on Wednesday. Its is suspected that the recent escalations in "extra-judicial" killing and abductions by Sri Lankan armed forces has forced the 83 people to flee the country in fear. It has been reported by local and international human rights organisations that "a person is abducted every five hours. Kidnapping, abductions, killings have now become common incidents..." Read more at Tamil News...

Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett says: "The fact that the Government could even contemplate sending asylum seekers back without proper assessment is a complete and utter disgrace." Project SafeCom, a West Australian refugee advocacy group, today said the deal would see Prime Minister John Howard ride roughshod over Australia's international obligations. "Australia's secret deal... could well make John Howard into The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' Most Wanted Criminal, if breaches against the United Nations Refugee Convention had criminal charges attached to them," said Project Safecom's Jack Smit.

Sri Lanka's ambassador to Indonesia said Australian and Indonesian officials had told him the 83 men would be returned to Jakarta, then sent home. He said he expected the men to arrive in Sri Lanka within days.

The Federal Government says the 85 men have been transferred to Christmas Island...

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