Timorese activists condemn Australian government's new 'racist' refugee policy

In a July 7, press conference in Dili, Luta Hamutuk a prominent civil society activist group in Timor Leste condemned the new Australian policy on refugees as "racist". The group also criticised Timor Leste Jose Ramos Horta for giving the proposal by Australian PM Julia Gillard for an offshore processing centre in Dili for asylum seekers coming to Australia.

"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 organisation said in a statement, translated from Tetum by Luta Hamutuk member Tomas Freitas.

"The truth is if the Australian government properly understood the international convention, the Australian government should 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 to the Pacific region. This policy will exploit small countries in the Pacific region.

"This attitude of Australian government also shows a racist attitude toward refugees, indirectly chasing the refugees away to another place, which was not their original destination. Especially sending to a country that has a lot of social and economic problems of its own.

"Luta Hamutuk also disagrees with President Jose Ramos Horta’s statement published in the Indonesian newspaper the Java Post, that he has given the 'green light' to this Australian government policy. Luta Hamutuk wishes to remind the President of the Republic to think carefully before taking a decision that could badly affect the national interest. "

Luta Hamutuk’ called on the people of Timor-Leste and all Australians to reject "this racist Australian government policy".

See also:

Indigenous leader slams major parties' 'race to the bottom'

Timor Solution 'another racist shame' says Indigenous candidate

Gillard's retreat to Howard's policy on asylum seekers met with protests