Asylum seeker sent back to Iran
April 08, 2004
AN IRANIAN would-be asylum seeker has been sent back to Iran, the Federal Government confirmed today.
The move was described as act of violence by the Uniting Church of Australia,
The Iranian man, who had been at South Australia's Baxter Detention Centre, was deported after he was found not to be a refugee.
The man arrived in Iran about 6pm (AEST) today, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said.
President of the Uniting Church, Reverend Dr Dean Drayton, condemned the move, saying the man could face persecution, torture and death.
"That the Government would return people to a country where persecution and torture are a fact of life is an abuse of the power that has been vested in them," Dr Drayton said in a statement.
"It is time for the Government to take its responsibility to refugees seriously. This is not an act of service. It is an act of violence."
Refugee group Project SafeCom said a 23-year-old Iranian man went missing from the detention centre last night.
It was not known whether he was the man sent back to Iran.
Project SafeCom spokesperson Jack Smit said the group held fears for the man's safety because he had recently converted to Christianity.
"Under the terms of the cultural Sharia laws of Iran, membership of a non-Muslim faith is regarded as an extremely serious offence, classified as a heresy," Mr Smit said.
The Federal Government could not confirm the age of the deported Iranian man.
UnitingJustice director Reverend Elenie Poulos said the Iranian government would not ensure the protection of returned asylum seekers.
"Iran is not safe. It is clear that the Iranian government cannot guarantee their willingness or ability to offer effective protection to people who are persecuted in their own country," Reverend Poulos said.
"The Government's system of processing refugee claims is flawed. The Government should halt all deportations of asylum seekers until they can prove that they are not in need of protection." http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,9229921%255E1702,00.html