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Brigidine says Bakhtiyari family 'victims of cruel deed'

Sr Brigid Arthur, the nun who escorted Woomera detention centre escapees Alamdar and Muntazer Bakhtiyari to the British consulate in Collins Street to seek political asylum in 2002, has described the imminent deportation of the Bakhtiyari asylum seeker family as a tough pre-Christmas blow.

She told The Age thas she "feels a little deflated" after following the case closely since her unsuccessful attempt to assist the boys. Sr Brigid accused the Australian and New Zealand governments of harsh treatment and lack of compassion. The New Zealand Government has rejected the requests of Adelaide Centacare to accept the family when they are deported from Australia.

"I think it is quite cruel to let kids be integrated into the community only to whisk them back to a form of detention," she said.

Sr Brigid said she is not surprised the New Zealand Government would not consider taking the Bakhtiyaris.

"Every government gets very excited about 'family' as long as the 'family' is generic," she said. "But as soon as it comes down to one family - particularly one they are not fond of - it seems to me that it then, somehow, doesn't matter if that family suffers."

She said the Bakhtiyari family had been cruelly sacrificed in order to send a message.

Sr Brigid said the family's high profile may have harmed their plea but the profile was necessary to give refugees a human face.

"Anonymous people get treated in a bureaucratic way - which is moving people around the way you move furniture," she said.

A Brigidine for more than 40 years, Sr Brigid works with the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project, which provides housing and support to 15 refugees on bridging visas. She helped organise a Christmas party at Melbourne's Maribyrnong detention centre yesterday.

Family the victims of cruel deed, says nun (The Age 22/12/04)

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
St Ignatius College
Centacare Adelaide
Baxter Watch
Brigidine Sisters | Refugee Support Groups
Be like good Samaritan, says nun who helped refugee kids (Catholic Weekly 28/7/02)
Hamer's legacy of compassion for asylum seekers (The Age 31/3/04)

NZ refuses Bakhtiyari pleas (CathNews 21/12/04)
Headmaster blasts 'totalitarian' act on family (CathNews 21/12/04)
Students rally behind detained Bakhtiyari family (CathNews 20/12/04)
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)
Nun admits role in Afghani children's consulate bid (CathNews 22/7/02)

Supporters in plea to stop deportation (The Age 23/12/04)
Afghans reveal 'link' to Bakhtiyaris (Courier-Mail 23/12/04)
Afghan embassy making Bakhtiyari inquiries (ABC North & West SA 22/12/04)
Asylum seekers face deportation (BBC 22/12/04)

23 Dec 2004