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Students rally behind detained Bakhtiyari family

Students from Adelaide's St Ignatius College have begged the Federal Government to show compassion after two classmates were returned to immigration custody with their family at the weekend.

The Advertiser reports that the high-profile Bakhtiyari family of eight are now in detention in Port Augusta awaiting their fate.

Roqia Bakhtiyari and her six children were seized from their suburban Dulwich home of 16 months by immigration officials in a dawn raid on Saturday. Not given time to pack, yesterday tokens of their life in Adelaide remained in the house - pendants from sporting wins, Christmas decorations and a child's bike.

The family's return to detention came after they exhausted their last legal avenue in their bid to stay in Australia as refugees.

Friends of the two eldest children Alamdar, 16, and Montazer, 14 - who have been popular students at St Ignatius College - have appealed to the Government to release them.

Along with their siblings Nagina, 12, Samina, 10, Amina, 7, and 14-month-old Mazhar, the boys have been living with their mother in the community while their father Ali remained at the Baxter Detention Centre.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said putting the family into the residential housing facility in Port Augusta meant they could see their father and was a "better move for the family". She said if the family did not leave Australia voluntarily then deportation was an option that would be considered.

Centacare director Dale West said he had been negotiating for the family since Monday. Mr West, who spoke with the family after they were sent back to detention, said their greatest fear was being sent to Pakistan. The Department believes the family is from Pakistan not Afghanistan.

"It is a genuine fear they are at a very real risk," he said.

St Ignatius headmaster Fr Greg O'Kelly SJ saw the boys yesterday and said they had been "heartened by the news of the support".

However, he said the school community was "hurt, angry and very sad" about the move.

"It does worry you as an Australian citizen that these things can happen in such a deceitful and dishonest way," he said.

Lawyer Paul Boylan is still considering the family's options.

Meanwhile, Democrats senator Andrew Bartlett has started a hunger strike in support of about 15 Iranian asylum seekers who have refused food at Baxter for two weeks.

Students rally behind detained Bakhtiyari family (The Advertiser 20/12/04)

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
St Ignatius College
Centacare Adelaide
Baxter Watch

Headmaster optimistic over Bakhtiyari claims re-examination (CathNews 31/8/04)
Centacare director 'devastated' by Govt demands (CathNews 30/6/04)
Bishop's increased concern over Baxter situation (CathNews 13/12/04)

Asylum seeker family moved from their house in Adelaide (Radio Australia 18/12/04)
Labor backs Bakhtiyari verdict (The Australian 20/12/04)
Bakhtiari boys in good spirits, says lawyer (Sydney Morning Herald/Australian Associated Press 19/12/04)
Bakhtiaris ready to fight: lawyer (Sydney Morning Herald/Australian Associated Press 19/12/04)
Dawn raids on Bakhtiyaris (Sunday Mail 19/12/04)
Refugee family goes back into detention (The Age 19/12/04)
Bakhtiyaris: it's all over (The Age 18/12/04)
Bakhtiyaris 'deported soon' (The Age 20/12/04)
Detainee family back on tightrope (The Australian 18/12/04)

Baxter protest waning: Vanstone (ABC North & West SA 17/12/04)
Professionals Dealing with Baxter Protests (Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 14/12/04)
John O'Neill: Giving new arrivals a chance (Catholic Weekly 19/12/04)
New center in Rome aims to break down cultural barriers among youths (Catholic News Service 17/12/04)
Refugees: Jesuits: Always More Difficult to Assist Them in Their Rights in Italy (Vidimus Dominum 17/12/04)

20 Dec 2004