[ETAN-key] signature request - NGO letter to Australia re. refugee
etanorganize at igc.org
Mon May 1 15:23:33 PDT 2006
Dear Friends -
Please consider adding your signature to the NGO statement below to
Australia's Prime Minister Howard -- protesting proposed draconian
refugee legislation. The proposed refugee policy, known as the "Pacific
Solution," has drawn expressions of "serious concern" from UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials and has been roundly
criticized by human rights groups within Australia and internationally.
Details about the proposed policy are contained in the NGO statement below.
Howard faces resistance to this policy, even within his own party,
indicating that strong public reaction could cause the government to
relent, at a minimum with regard to some of the more onerous provisions.
To sign on, please email your name, title, and organization by May 7.
While we appreciate individuals' support, the letter is open only to NGOs.
Thank you for your consideration and solidarity,
Dear Prime Minister Howard,
We, the undersigned organizations, protest in the strongest terms
possible your government’s announced plan to seek national legislation
extending the "Pacific Solution" to anyone intercepted attempting to
enter Australia without a visa. This discriminatory proposal is
especially aimed at denying refuge to those fleeing persecution in West
Papua and seeking asylum in Australia.
As described by officials of your government, all of the plan’s
components we believe are in violation of the 1951 Convention Relating
to The Status of Refuges, to which Australia is a party. Taken as a
whole, the plan constitutes an affront to the principles enshrined in
that document. As described by your government, the first tier of
'defense' against fleeing refugees would be military patrols by
Australian forces acting in collaboration with the very source of their
persecution -- the Indonesian military.
Any refugees that successfully navigate the perilous seas and joint
military patrols to land on Australian soil will be removed to Nauru or
Mannas Island, outside Australia's "migration zone," where conditions of
detention have been described by observers as “inhumane” and even
life-threatening. Children and the infirm would not be spared detention
under these bleak conditions, where the opportunity to appeal asylum
decisions would not exist and access to legal representation would be
limited or non-existent.
The Refugee Convention calls on parties not to penalize refugees
directly fleeing persecution and seeking asylum. UNHCR officials have
publicly expressed concern that the "Pacific Solution" would constitute
such a penalty.
The recent decision of Australian immigration officials to grant asylum
to 42 Papuan refugees after a harrowing five-day open sea voyage
demonstrates that persecution is a reality in West Papua. Threats
against Papuans by Indonesian military and other security officials are
We call upon your government to uphold its obligations under the Refugee
Convention, to recognize the plight of Papuans suffering brutalization
on your doorstep, and to adopt humane refugee policies in keeping with
the widely recognized principles of the Australian people.
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
202-544-6911 (t/f), www.etan.org
More information about the ETAN-Key