[ETAN-key] NGO signature request on Australia -- deadline extension
etanorganize at igc.org
Thu May 4 20:30:03 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 deadline for signatures has been extended to
Tuesday, May 9*_. 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 9.
While we appreciate individuals' support, the letter is open only to NGOs.
Signers so far: Human Rights Watch; WestPAN: Canada's West Papua Action
Network; fPcN interCultual; Pacific Peoples' Partnership; North
Carolina Peace Action; Australians for a Free West Papua; Seattle
International Human Rights Committee; Jews Against Genocide; Women
Against Military Madness; Agir pour Timor, France; Robert F. Kennedy
Memorial Center for Human Rights; Nicaragua Center for Community Action;
Wheaton Franciscans; Albert Schweitzer Institute; Sisters of the Holy
Cross Congregation Justice Committee, Notre Dame, Indiana; Indonesia
Human Rights Committee Auckland New Zealand; Indonesian, Chinese, and
American Network; Pax Christi USA; Global Exchange; American Kurdish
Information Network; Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition
International; Institute on Religion and Public Policy;
Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom
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 by boat without a visa. In 2001, the "Pacific Solution"
excised outlying islands from Australia's migration zone, thus denying
refugees arriving on those islands access to just proceedings under
Australian law. Your government's proposal would extend the "Pacific
Solution" to mainland Australia, thus excluding all refugees arriving by
boat without visas from fair consideration under Australian migration
law. 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, many of the plan's
components we believe are in violation of the 1951 Convention Relating
to the Status of Refugees, 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 off-shore
detention centers on Nauru, Manus Island, or Australia's Christmas
Island. Conditions of detention at these facilities have been described
by observers as "inhumane" and even life-threatening, yet under the
proposed plan, even children and the infirm would not be spared
detention under these bleak conditions. Instead, anyone seeking asylum
would remain in detention, with limited access to legal representation,
for the duration of their asylum proceedings. Without the protection of
Australian migration law, which does not apply in off-shore locations,
asylum seekers would have no opportunity to appeal asylum decisions, and
even those found to be legitimate refugees would have to remain
off-shore until resettlement to a third country could be arranged.
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
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the ETAN-Key