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   refugees are non-persons

refugees are non-persons
article by Mark Forbes, Kerry Taylor, The Age, Australia, April 18 2002

Refugees East Timor
taking photographs that could "humanise or personalise" asylum seekers was banned by former defense minister Peter Reith's office, the Senate inquiry into children-overboard claims was told yesterday.

defense officials said Mr Reith's staff did not want to allow photographs to create sympathy for asylum seekers.

the director of defense communication strategies, Brian Humphreys, told the hearing that Mr Reith's media adviser, Ross Hampton, ordered last September that military photographers not take pictures of asylum seekers. the military was given guidelines to ensure "no personalising or humanising images" were taken.

later, defense media liaison director Tim Bloomfield described government restrictions preventing any military comment on last year's asylum seekers operation as a form of censorship.

Mr Prime Minister Howardnew evidence also revealed that the Prime Minister's department was told that claims that photographs purportedly showing children being thrown overboard were false the day after the pictures were released. Prime Minister John Howard has claimed he only heard of "some doubts" about the photographs a month later.

the navy director of operations, Commander Piers Chatterton, told the hearing that he told the Defense Force's prime ministerial liaison officer, Commander Stefan King, on October 11 that the photographs - released by Mr Reith as proof of the overboard allegations - were in fact taken during a rescue from a sinking ship. commander Chatterton said he passed on the details as "official information". he had expected the story to be corrected, but did not know what action Commander King took.

the inquiry is now certain to call Commander King to determine who he told of the error.

Mr Bloomfield said restrictions imposed by Mr Hampton preventing defense officials from answering questions on asylum seekers were "a form of censorship" preventing misinformation from being corrected. all questions on the asylum-seeker operation were to be referred to the minister's office, Mr Bloomfield said.

defense communication head Jenny McKenry said she told Mr Reith's senior adviser, Mike Scrafton, that the photographs his minister released last year were misrepresented. she sent him clear evidence of the misrepresentation on October 11, she told the hearing.

the former chairwoman of the Prime Minister's people-smuggling taskforce, Jane Halton, earlier denied she had been advised of doubts about the claims that children had been thrown overboard.

Ms Halton said she never saw a Defense Strategic Command report on the incident received by the Prime Minister's department on October 8 and that it might have been destroyed.

Ms Halton also said she had never seen a defense chronology of events that arrived at the Prime Minister's department in early October, despite ordering it. it included a footnote saying there was no indication that children had been thrown overboard.

meanwhile, RAAF chief Air Marshal Angus Houston denied that excessive force had been used against asylum seekers as claimed on ABC's Four Corners. he said cattle prods were not issued to officers and capsicum spray was used only once when a group of people tried to disable a boat's engine.

[original location of the above article]


Afghan Womenrefugees, emigrants, prisoners, slaves, disabled, enemies of war, old people, children and women share this threat of being expelled as non-persons.

legal and moral rights belong to persons, so if someone can be reduces to a non-person, then he or she has no rights.



Refugee| Australian Department of Immigration | ~ | Amnesty International Australia | ~ | Refugee Council of Australia | ~ | BBC: Australia's tough asylum policy | ~ | BBC: Woomera is the biggest and most isolated of Australia's six immigration centres |

| The 1951 Refugee Convention | ~ | UNHCR; The UN Refugee Agency | ~ | BBC Refugees Special | ~ | UNICEF: The ‘non-personhood’ of the youngest |

| BBC: Europe's asylum 'soft touch'? | ~ | BBC: New powers to expel refugees from Britain | ~ | The Guardian: Refugees in Britain | ~ | The Guardian: Europe's far right | ~ | The Guardian: Blair's secret plan to crack down on asylum seekers | ~ | The Guardian: Refugees face instant rejection | ~ | BBC: Danes 'to tighten' immigration curbs |


former featured nothings :

feature what is - and what is not? - a story about an encounter and about trying to differ between fact and non-fact ... (May-02)

feature the right not to be born - the French parliament has passed a bill that states that "nobody can claim to have been harmed simply by being born". the extraordinary bill was a response to a conviction by the French supreme court that is said to have established the right not to be born ... (April-02)

feature the 11,202,803 children - who were born out of nothing during the 31 days of Mars 2002 ... (Mars-02)

feature Nothing I Know / Something I Donít Know - by Graham Gussin ... (February-02)

feature the potent nothing of cyberspace - this virtual reality in which we now are taking part ... (January-02)

feature the active nothing of terror and response on terror; - the World Trade Center - Afghanistan and on ... (December-01)

feature Nothing at ROOSEUM, Malmö's Center for Contemporary Art, 3 November - 16 December, 2001. works by 35 artists exploring notions of invisibility, imagination and dematerialisation (November-01)

for every tent; the other!
- consisting of two Irish green, empty tents, one raised outside Atelier 35 in Bucharest, and one inside the gallery space (October-01)

the hyper-metaphor; UK, raising tents
- containing, among other things, a motorway, ten tents, a text discussion and an internet diary (September-01)


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