PERTH: IMMIGRATION / REFUGEES
Australian Immigration abducted local woman
06 Feb 2005 19:10 GMT
Following the release from Baxter Immigration Detention Centre, in the southern desert of Australia last week of Cornelia Rau, a mentally ill 39-year-old former Airline flight attendant, we can "see the ramifications of a cruel and inhumane policy" of mandatory detention...
As Australian Prime minister, John Howard promises an "Inquiry" into Ms Rau's case, the recent situation of an Australian woman caught up in the Department of Immigration's(DIMIA), scales of injustice, serves to highlight how the "government has no intention of respecting the human rights of even it's own citizens". Cornelia Rau spent 10 months in immigration detention, including extended periods in an isolation cell, after authorities failed to identify her as a "missing person".
Refugee Rights advocates say: "To force someone into detention, especially Immigration Detention, because of mental illness is deplorable and a stuff-up of monumental proportions. Human Rights groups are calling for The Minister to resign..."
The Refugee Action Coalition in New South Wales has called for Senator Amanda Vanstone to resign as Immigration Minister. They say this is the "inevitable result of constructing a system of detention under the Migration Act that is outside the norms of Australian law and that is deliberately kept away from media and public scrutiny," said Max Phillips, RAC spokesperson. "To lock a person who is obviously mentally ill in an isolation cell for months on end is the result of a crazy and cruel system that belongs to the 19th century, not modern day Australia..."
An activist from the Western Australia based Refugee Rights Action Network says: "Baxter represents and implements an ideology of oppression and state violence against anyone who is marginalized as "the other", as "not one of us". "These places, these policies, these ideas must be dismantled, overturned and discredited. It is about so much more than being nice to refugees because it's nice to be nice. It is about opposing an ugly and dark ideology which is being expressed in public policy and is destroying innocent lives", he said.
Ms Rau, was found by a group of Aborigines in Queensland on March 31 last year. Concerned about her psychotic state, they took her to police for her own safety. She did not identify herself to police and spoke only in German. The police then assumed she was an illegal immigrant and handed her over to immigration officials on April 5.
Ms Rau has been held in Baxter's Red One isolation compound, where her psychotic behaviour had distressed other detainees. Initially, asylum seekers had raised the alarm to refugee rights advocates, alerting them that a woman in the centre was very sick and needed help.
"The two groups who were kind to Cornelia in all this time were the two most downtrodden groups in society - the Aboriginal people in Cairns and the refugees in Baxter," said Cornelia's sister, "There's an irony in that".
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle has called for an inquiry into how a seriously mentally ill Australian permanent resident was locked up in an isolation cell in an immigration detention centre for over two months with no medical help.
"It's pretty dangerous if you have Alzheimer's disease or you speak a second language right now.", a Labor Spokesperson said.
Refugee advocate Pamela Curr, who spoke to Ms Rau at Baxter last month, said authorities should have been alerted earlier. "Her English was fine," Ms Curr said. She told me then she really wasn't in touch with reality, but there was a moment of clarity when she just wanted to get out of Baxter.
Links: (Feature at perth) http://perth.indymedia.org/?action=default&featureview=173
(Main newswire story. Good photos too) http://perth.indymedia.org/index.php?action=newswire&parentview=8582
(An earlier report of the "mystery girl" in baxter)
(More reports on baxter and the "mystery girl") http://www.safecom.org.au/baxter.htm