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April 13, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

In response to the most recent announcements from East Timor president Ramos Horta that an East Timor regional processing centre “remains a possibility”, refugee advocates have announced a delegation of refugee advocates will visit Dili in the second week of May to lobby against the centre.

The delegation, invited by FONGTIL, the Timor Leste Forum of NGOs, and FMTL, the Student Front of Timor Leste will visit East Timor to talk to community groups, NGOs, unions and political parties and lobby against the Australian government’s proposal for a regional processing centre in Timor Leste.

The delegation includes Phil Glendenning of the Edmund Rice Centre, former Queensland Senator Andrew Bartlett, barrister Shane Prince and Mark Goudkamp and Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition.

The Refugee Action Coalition has initiated an “Open Letter to President Ramos Horta and the people of Timor Leste” (available here). Signatories to the open letter include the Mary Mackillop East Timor Mission; Sally McManus, NSW Secretary, Australian Services Union; Antony Loewenstein, journalist and author; Professor Noam Chomsky, author and academic; Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation; Stephen Langford, secretary Australia East Timor Association.

“East Timor civil society has taken a strong stand against Australia’s regional processing centre. We will be conveying to community groups, political parties and to President Ramos Horta the strong opposition that exists in Australia to the Federal government’s plan.

“We obviously hope to personally present President Ramos Horta with a copy of the letter and to discuss our concerns at the Australian government’s proposal. We would hope that our visit will finally bring the idea of a regional processing centre to a close,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Australia is trying to draw East Timor into a deal that would undermine the Refugee Convention, and Australia’s obligation to provide protection to those fleeing persecution.

“Australia is the obvious place for any processing centre in the region. It has the resources and capability to process and resettle asylum seekers in the region. Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, should address the fundamental flaws with off shore processing on Christmas Island rather than trying to foist a detention regime on East Timor or anywhere else.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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