Sending them back to Iran and Sudan

January 19, 2005

Sarah Stephen

Using the cover of the Christmas holiday season and the media focus on the tsunami disaster, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) ordered the forcible deportation of one Sudanese and two Iranian asylum seekers.

An Iranian Christian held in South Australia's Baxter detention centre was deported on January 3. On January 11, a 30-year-old Iranian man and a 36-year-old Sudanese man were taken from Villawood detention centre and sedated before they were flown to Perth for connecting flights on Emirates Airlines out of Australia. The government officially denied using chemical sedation.

This was the most recent in a series of attempts by DIMIA to deport the second Iranian man. Originally in Baxter detention centre, he was then taken to Maribyrnong detention centre after he resisted deportation attempts with acts of self-harm. After resisting further deportation efforts, he was taken by road to Villawood detention centre in Sydney.

Abdul Khogali fled to Australia from Sudan seven years ago. As a policeman, he refused to enforce Islamic sharia law. He was imprisoned in Villawood detention centre and was Australia's longest-serving asylum seeker until his deportation on January 12.

Khogali's refugee claim was rejected in October 1999 and DIMIA tried to deport him on three separate occasions, all of which failed after he fought off violent attempts to sedate him.

The Refugee Action Coalition organised a protest at Sydney airport on January 12, handing out leaflets and holding placards in an attempt to dissuade passengers from boarding the plane. Several passengers complained to airline staff, but the deportation proceeded. There are plans for a national boycott of Emirates, the airline most commonly used by the government for deportations. Pressure on Malaysian Airlines forced it to stop participation in the deportation of asylum seekers.

"We are saying to Emirates and to all other airlines that when you imperil lives by helping the government deport asylum seekers to unsafe countries, you will also imperil your bottom line", RAC Victoria spokesperson Tim Petterson declared.

"Expect your offices to be picketed, and T-shirts, badges and bumper stickers across Australia calling upon your customers to treat you with the contempt you deserve by no longer using your services."

To express your disgust at Emirates, phone 1300 307 777 or 1300 555 551 (toll free).

From Green Left Weekly, January 19, 2005.
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