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Tampa: 3 years on and refugees still on Nauru.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/800 WEDNESDAY 25 AUGUST 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS & SPOKESPERSON ON IMMIGRATION Tampa - 3 Years on and Refugees Still on Nauru On the eve of the third anniversary of the Tampa incident, the Australian Democrats say that 22 refugees from the Tampa remain detained on Nauru, still suffering as a direct result of being denied protection in Australia by the Howard Government. Democrats Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, said "The only reason these refugees have spent the last 3 years in detention instead of being on the way to rebuilding their lives, is that the Federal Government has used them as political pawns." "Labor's approach to this issue has also been abysmal. Their claim to have a better solution doesn't stand up to the facts. Labor simply wants to replace one remote island detention centre - Nauru - with another - Christmas Island." Senator Bartlett, who has twice visited Nauru, and last met with the Tampa refugees in January this year, said the suffering endured by these people was enormous. "These are refugees who fled the Taliban, came within a few hours of drowning at sea, followed by weeks crowded on board a container ship and Navy vessels, only to be dumped on Nauru and left to rot by Australia. They have been deliberately denied access to legal processes and assistance, kept separated from their families and repeatedly pressured to return to a country where they could face serious persecution." "Were it not for the inhumane and unnecessary measures introduced by the Howard Government, these people could now all be Australian citizens, reunited with their families and contributing to our country. Instead, Australian taxpayers have paid millions to keep them locked up on Nauru in an isolated legal limbo." "The Government must no longer ignore the enormous human and financial cost of the Pacific Solution. For 3 years the Government has bent the truth and pretended this situation has nothing to do with Australia, relying on New Zealand to take care of our responsibilities by resettling the refugees. "This farce of imprisoning refugees in isolation on Nauru has to end. The Democrats repeat our call for the Immigration Minister to visit the Nauru camps and detainees, and bring an end to this costly tormenting of innocent people," concluded Senator Bartlett. Media contact - Daele Healy - 0419 867 649