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Government wimps out on human rights.

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Michael Organ, MP

Press Release 14 October 2003


The Howard government is betraying Australia's proud record of human rights advocacy by failing to agree to press the issue with the US and Chinese Presidents during their visits next week.

"Foreign Minister Alexander Downer brushed aside a question I asked him yesterday about whether the government will be calling for the immediate release of Australian citizens David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib from the illegal detention and torture chambers of Guantanamo Bay, and also for China to adhere to the numerous UN resolutions requiring it to cease all practices which deprive the six million Tibetan people of their fundamental rights and freedoms", Mr. Organ said.

"The International Committee of the Red Cross says detainees, including Mr. Hicks and Mr. Habib, at the US facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are suffering a worrying deterioration in their mental health, but the best that our Foreign Minister can say is that they have been detained as unlawful combatants in Afghanistan."

"Pious assurances from Mr. Downer that the 'range of issues that are of interest and concern between Australia and China will, of course, be discussed' will give little succour to the oppressed Tibetan people, who know only too well how little impact the government's bilateral human rights dialogue with China has had on their situation", Mr. Organ concluded.

More from: Michael Organ MP 02 6277 4366, 0439 442 550 Allen Clark (Media Adviser) 0439 464 439