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Fears for Bakhtiyaris' safety after deportation


As immigration officials last night confirmed the Bakhtiyari family will be deported after Christmas, Phil Glendinning of the Edmund Rice Centre said his organisation has evidence that other asylum seekers deported to Syria and Pakistan have been arrested.

The Sydney-based Christian Brothers' research and advocacy centre is responsible for a report on the treatment of Australia's rejected asylum seekers.

The Courier-Mail today reports Mr Glendinning's warning that deportation to Pakistan could put the Bakhtiyaris' lives at risk.

"We have got evidence that other people have been removed back to Syria and Pakistan and have been arrested," he said. "We don't deny the Government's right to remove people who are here illegally, but they have to guarantee their safety."

The deportation is believed to be imminent after federal minister Amanda Vanstone refused to consider a plea to reopen the asylum-seekers' case. Department officers said the minister would not consider the application as there was nothing new in it.

"The minister has asked me to reply on her behalf," a legal letter to the family's solicitor signed by senior immigration officer Robert Illingworth reads.

"The minister has indicated that if a case has previously been brought to the minister's attention she does not wish to consider subsequently whether to exercise her powers unless additional information is provided that brings the case within ... (her) guidelines.

"Your current intervention request has been assessed as not falling within these guidelines for referral to the minister. As your clients now have no matters before the minister or the department, removal arrangements are currently being developed."

The blow to the family came as details emerged of the family's forced removal to a detention facility at Port Augusta on Saturday.

"Uniformed men and women representing the Federal Government burst into our house at Dulwich and arrested six children and their mother," Dale West, director of the Catholic Centacare organisation, wrote in a public letter.

Mr West said the Bakhtiyari children experienced severe trauma as they were moved from the Centacare-owned suburban Adelaide house at 7:00 am on Saturday.

"No nappy change for a baby boy snatched from his cot by a stranger, to cry all the way to Port Augusta. No bottle for him either. No time to change the clothes of the youngest girl who wet her pants as a fear reaction to being awoken by strangers.

"No time to dress properly, no time to pack, no food, no access to toilet, and no explanation.

"Sixteen months of integration into schools, social networks, and building trust, destroyed in three frantic minutes."

Mr West said one of the children was forced to sit in her wet pants until the family arrived at the Baxter detention centre - "a very different day to the expectation of her St Aloysius teacher taking her to a birthday party".

It was "arrogance to do what we know has been happening behind razor wire, in a church-owned house in an Adelaide suburb," Mr West said.

"(It) should frighten every Australian, regardless of their position on people who have come to Australia by boat seeking asylum."

Signs of trauma which had vanished while the family were looked after by Centacare had returned after the "well-planned" operation, Mr West said.

SOURCE
Bakhtiyaris' final plea rejected (The Courier Mail 24/12/04)

LINKS
Edmund Rice Centre | Deported to Danger Report
Centacare Adelaide
Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs

ARCHIVE
Brigidine says Bakhtiyari family 'victims of cruel deed' (CathNews 23/12/04)
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)

MORE STORIES
Dale West Public Letter (Centacare SA)
In Rome, Sudanese refugees caught in frustrating waiting game (Catholic News Service 22/12/04)
Canberra moves migration to new stage (The Age 24/12/04)

24 Dec 2004