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Mercy nun sounds alarm on deportation of Christian Iranian

A Mercy nun working at South Australia's Baxter immigration detention centre was with a man at a church service just before he was summoned to an Immigration Department office, from where he subsequently "disappeared".

The Age reported on Saturday that the man, an Iranian Christian, was deported to Iran, and that church groups feat that he has been placed at risk. It says the deportation is only the second involuntary deportation of a Christian to Iran where converting to Christianity is an offence.

A nun - referred to as "Sister Anne" - told the paper: "We're all in a state of shock."

An Immigration Department spokesman said there is no legal impediment to the removal of the man, who converted to Christianity in the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia.

He confirmed that a charter plane had flown the 36-year-old to Perth where he was placed on a commercial airline to be taken to Iran.

The spokesman said the department did not disclose the timing of deportation in advance for "operation reasons".

Cases were assessed on an individual basis "without sweeping generalisations on whether a particular country is safe", the spokesman said.

The Uniting Church's Christian justice consultant in WA, Rosemary Hudson-Miller, said Australia is the only country deporting people to Iran.

The US State Department listed Iran as a country where many people were at risk, particularly people of different religious persuasion, she said.

Deportation raises fears for Iranian man (The Age 16/10/04)

Edmund Rice Centre claims at least 35 refugees sent back to danger (CathNews 29/9/04)
No Liability - Investigation into the fare of deported asylum seekers (Edmund Rice Centre)
Deportees sent into danger: report (Sydney Morning Herald 29/9/04)

18 Oct 2004