Josephite accuses Govt on deportation timing

Josephite Sr Susan Connelly has told the Catholic Weekly that she believes last week's decision to deport 50 East Timorese refugees who have lived in Australia for a decade, was timed to deflect attention from Australia's negotiations with East Timor over oil and gas resources.

More than 1400 East Timorese asylum seekers who came to Australia in the early to mid 1990s have been given permanent residency. But 50 others were given $2000 repatriation money and 28 days to leave the country. Some of them have had children born here, who know no other home.

Catholic advocates for East Timorese asylum seekers are shocked and disappointed that some have had their residency applications rejected on unnamed "serious character grounds".

Sr Connelly is assistant director of the Mary MacKillop Institute for East Timorese Studies in Western Sydney.

She also repeated her earlier assertion that Government claims that the refugees are being deported because of "character issues" is false. She challenged the Government to take action in the courts rather than deport them without testing the accusations against their character.

"If they are so serious that these people should not be allowed to live among us, then why haven't they been charged?" she said, adding that they "are so upset and bewildered that these accusations are being made against their characters and they are not told what they are".

"One family; a mother, father and their four children have been told to go. All their family on both sides have been given permanent residency. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason about it.

"They do have a chance of appealing again to the Minister for Immigration. But if they do the decision won't be given within the 28-day period by which they must leave Australia.

"If they make the appeal, it's not guaranteed to succeed, and the government is not obligated to give them a bridging visa, so they are looking at possibly going into detention.

"So they are in a bind," she said. "There has to be a public uproar."

Shock over rejection of East Timor refugees (Catholic Weekly 8/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies

Catholics deplore Govt action to deport East Timorese (CathNews 28/4/05)

Goodbye to his 'friends and mothers', but no place to go (Catholic Weekly 8/5/05)

6 May 2005