Luta Hamutuk, a Dili-based non government organisation, released the following statement on July 7. It was translated from Tetum by Tomas Freitas.
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The July 7 Java Post said: “Prime Minister Julia Gillard has tightened Australia immigration law. Not wanting to be bothered by the economic and social problems caused by asylum seekers, the Australian leader plans to build a detention center for asylum seekers in Timor-Leste.”
The above statement shows how Australian foreign policy contains “racist characteristics” toward Timor-Leste and the region.
Luta Hamutuk, as a member of civil society in Timor-Leste, would like to declare our position.
The Luta Hamutuk Institute disagrees with and rejects this Australian foreign policy, which wants to use Timor-Leste as a place for detention of refugees looking for political asylum in Australia.
The truth is if the Australian government properly understood the international convention, it would take responsibility for these refugees, not throw the problem to another country.
Luta Hamutuk sees this policy as moving social and economic problems in Australia to Timor-Leste and the Pacific region. This policy will exploit small countries in the Pacific region.
This attitude of the Australian government also shows a racist attitude toward refugees, indirectly chasing the refugees away to another place that was not their original destination. It is seeking to send them to a country that has a lot of social and economic problems of its own.
Luta Hamutuk also disagrees with Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta’s statement published in the Java Post that he has given the “green light” to this Australian government policy. Luta Hamutuk wishes to remind the president to think carefully before taking a decision that could badly affect the national interest.
Luta Hamutuk asks the people of Timor-Leste and all Australians to reject this racist Australian government policy.