Australia is acting in a profoundly cruel manner towards this family – it runs contrary to everything the rest of the world has come to expect from that country – a sense of fair play, an egalitarian spirit and kindness as a national value.

Although Australia is not alone it deserves mention at this time as a boat with over 400 refugees is currently barred from entering an Australian port and sits out at sea between Indonesia and Australia with not enough food, water and worsening sanitary conditions.

There are women and children and people who require medical attention on board the vessel. The majority of the refugees are apparently from Afghanistan.

I do not know of one Iranian – inside or outside Iran who would condemn an Afghani for fleeing the Taliban regime. The Australian government calls these people 'queue jumpers' but they are much more than that – these people are desperate.

They are in many cases fleeing outright persecution and while in our fat and stable lives in the West 'persecution' may seem a distant historical notion – for many of these people it has become a daily reality in their fight to survive. They deserve our compassion and a place among the rest of us who profess to live for freedom and justice.

BBC account of the stranded vessel >>> HERE


Earlier article

By Minou August 27, 2001

Several refugees at Villawood have tried to commit suicide. They have been detained sometimes for years. They do not know if their cases for asylum will be heard and if they are heard whether or not they will be sent back to the countries from which they have fled in fear. They are detained in prison-like conditions where sometimes there are not enough beds, no air conditioning, or heating, and one newspaper shared between several hundred people is the only way to pass the time.

The detention centers in Australia are managed by an American company called Wackenhut that runs a global security and correction center program. They are under contract by the Australian government.

Australian authorities have accused this Iranian man, Mohammad Bedraie, of preventing his child from taking food so that the family might gain sympathy. The outrage of this assumption goes directly to the discrimination that Iranian men (and Iranian women) suffer all over the world. Mohammad asks, “how could a human being possibly prevent his own child from eating?”

The family has recently learned that they are to be deported back to Iran and this could happen in a matter of days. Australia's action in this case is in defiance of Article 31 in the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees. Australia is signatory to the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees and the UN International Declaration of Human Rights.

Refugees rely on the humanity of the world to resolve their plight, please do not feel reticent in criticizing Australia for its actions. It is through diligent protest that we uphold the basic rights of people wherever they are in the world. As an Iranian and an Australian co-authoring this article we ask for your support.

If you would like to verify this story — the facts have been taken from the Australian Broadcast Corporation website and their program called Four Corners which produced 'The Inside Story' about the refugees. If you would like the transcript of the program go to:

The contact information for the Australian Minister of Immigration is listed below.

Sample letter

You can copy and send this in the body of your email (don't forget to sign), or print it out as a letter, or use it as a guide to express your own feelings about the treatment of refugees in Australian detention centers:

Dear Philip Ruddock,

I am appalled to learn of the conditions for refugees in your country. The program called “The Inside Story” produced by Four Corners, ABC, has highlighted Australia's disregard for basic human rights and its callous treatment of people who have fled their native countries in fear.

I believe that Australia should uphold its commitment to the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees and the UN International Declaration of Human Rights.


Your Name

Contact information

Philip Ruddock MP Minister of Immigration Suite MF 40 Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 Telephone: (02) 6277 7860 Fax: (02) 6273 4144 Web: Email:

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