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Diocese lobbies local member on behalf of detainee

The Diocese of Toowoomba has written to the local MP to urge the Federal Government to release of Australia's longest held detainee, Indian asylum seeker Peter Qasim.

Qasim has been in South Australia's Baxter Detention Centre for six-and-half years because he has not provided authorities with appropriate identification.

ABC Southern Queensland reports that Director of the Diocesan Social Justice Commission Mark Copland wants the MP - Ian Macfarlane, Member for Groom - to support their campaign.

He says under current law, the Australian Government can detain Mr Qasim for the rest of his life.

"Six-and-a-half years is way, way too long," he said.

"There's no need for a man to be held like this and, you know, when you think of all the publicity at the moment and complaints about the lenient sentence for Abu Bakar Bashir, here's a man who's already done twice that time and he hasn't done any crime."

Minister's help sought in Baxter case (ABC News 7/3/05)

Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba | Social Justice Commission
Free Peter Qasim (Rural Australians for Refugees)
The Forgetting of Peter Qasim (Project SafeCom)
The Peter Qasim Appeal

Caritas tribute to victims of terrorism (CathNews 13/9/04)

Peter Qasim: Seven years in detention (Green Left Weekly 9/3/05)
Smith optimistic for detainee after meeting PM (ABC News 8/3/05)
US expert pans criticism of detainee (The Age 8/3/05)
Vanstone firm on longest detainee (The Age 7/3/05)

8 Mar 2005