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April 20, 2009

Government policy is creating the conditions for more tragedies

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release April 20

Refugee groups today warned that government polices of arresting asylum seekers in Indonesia and jailing Indonesia crew of refugee boats is creating the conditions for another SIEV X tragedy.

“The fatalities and injuries of the Afghan asylum seekers following the explosion and fire on their boat is a warning that should not be ignored,” said Ian Rintoul spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“If Indonesian or Australian forces have been intercepting boats and turning them back to Indonesia, the Australian government will be directly responsible for the deaths of the asylum seekers. The Rudd government needs end the use of Australian police to arrest asylum seekers in Indonesia and to make a clear statement that no refugee boats are being turned around.

“It was not people smugglers that caused the explosion. Government polices are driving asylum seekers to use more dangerous methods in their efforts to gain protection in Australia. The government has left some asylum seekers to rot in Indonesia for years.

“The Rudd government’s tough talk about people smugglers and border protection is only making the situation worse and letting the Liberals set an anti-refugee agenda in the media. Government ministers continue to refer to asylum seekers as illegals. The rhetoric is adding to the hysteria.

“It is a return to the refugee-bashing of the Howard years. Asylum seekers should be welcome at our borders,” said Ian Rintoul

“Australia has an obligation to those fleeing persecution. Indonesia is not a signatory to the refugee convention – Australia is. Asylum seekers are not properly processed or cared for in Indonesia. It is widely recognized that refugees are forced to use people smugglers. The government should be doing everything to allow asylum seekers to come safely to Australia.

“Too much of Howard’s policies remain in place. Christmas Island has become the new Nauru. It is unsuitable for asylum seekers and the government is routinely breaching its own polices for refugee processing leaving asylum seekers in the high security prison for longer and longer periods.”

“The government has correctly stated that it is the worsening situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka that is producing more asylum seekers. The number coming to Australia is tiny. A genuinely humanitarian policy would welcome those asylum seekers.
For more information contact Refugee Action Coalition: Ian Rintoul o417 275 713

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