Letter reveals Pell concern for refugee children
A letter written to former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock by now Cardinal George Pell in support of the two children of Iranian asylum seeker Sammaki-Hassan-Kiadeh.
Former Governor-General Sir William Deane has just brought the case to renewed public attention, throwing his weight behind efforts to have the Sammaki children, whose mother died in the Bali bombing, reunited with their father in Australia.
Dr Pell said in the June letter that the parish priest of Whyalla had alerted him to two cases, including Mr Sammaki-Hassan-Kiadeh, "a widower with two children who I understand has . . . been determined for repatriation to Iran".
Dr Pell asked to be advised about the two men "and in particular the grounds on which the determining officers decided that neither of them would be put in danger by repatriation to Iran".
Mr Ruddock replied that he was constrained by privacy legislation from releasing personal information. In relation to monitoring Iranian nationals once they returned home, the Australian Government "respects the principles of state sovereignty and does not monitor non-citizens in foreign countries".
Sir William Deane said in his letter to Adelaide magistrate Brian Deegan that he and his wife have been "tremendously saddened" by the plight of the children and their Iranian father, Ebrahim Sammaki-Hassan-Kiadeh, who having failed to get refugee status is in Baxter detention centre.
The Government is re-examining the case after Prime Minister John Howard was pictured with the children during the Bali commemoration. He did not know at the time who they were.
Deane pledges support for Sammaki children (The Sunday Age)
Perth Archbishop urges Govt to free children from immigration detention (20/10/03)
Pope honours Sir William and Lady Deane (16/5/03)
Catholic publisher releases Deane speeches (31/7/02)
3 Nov 2003