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October 29, 2010


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release October 29, 2010

Despite a communication from the Geneva-based Special Rapporteur on Torture with the UN High Commission on Human Rights to the Department of Foreign Affairs, requesting a halt to any removal of members of a Chinese Christian family, the Minister for Immigration has refused to intervene to stop the deportation of the family to China.

The mother, who attempted suicide in the early hours of this morning is presently scheduled for removal later today, but the father, and his son, were removed on the schedule flight from Sydney at 10.50am.

Refugee advocates are calling on the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, to act urgently to prevent the deportation of the mother and to take measures to ensure the safety of the father and son.

Overnight, eight hundred signatures were collected on a petition supporting the family.

“On humanitarian grounds alone the Minister should have stopped the deportations this morning. It is a disgrace that the Minister would proceed with the removal of this family given the doubts that they will be safe in China and the mental distress they are experiencing.

“It is inconceivable that the mother is in any state to handle her deportation to China. The supposedly family friendly Minister has separated this vulnerable family to intimidate them even further,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Late yesterday afternoon, the Ministerial Intervention Unit rejected new information to the Minister documenting the danger that faces the underground Christian family if they are returned.

Included in that new information was a copy of a Chinese government summons for the father to appear in court.

His brother, who recently returned to China, was detained and questioned by Chinese authorities.

The family’s  older first son, resident in China, was only recently released after seven months in a re-education camp for holding an “unlawful assembly” of an underground Christian group.

“It is obvious that the family is under surveillance by authorities and that the man is wanted in China. This should rule out any question that the family can be safely sent back to China,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Australia has an obligation under the Refugee Convention and the Convention on Torture and not to refoule (return) an asylum seeker to danger.

“We are urging the Minister to act immediately. The human rights abuses by the Chinese government are well-documented. The Minister should stop playing with asylum seekers’ lives,” said Ian Rintoul.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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