Australian Refugee Group Urges Rudd to Act on Political Prisoners


source from abc news, 4 July 2011

A refugee advocacy group is urging Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to press for the release of Burmese refugees in Australian detention centres as a way of encouraging Burma’s government to free about 2,000 political prisoners.

Mr Rudd recently made a trip to Burma where he visited democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and urged president Thein Sein to free political prisoners.

Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, has supported Mr Rudd’s push to free Burmese prisoners of conscience but says Australia must apply the same principle in it is own backyard.

He says there are around 30 Burmese asylum seekers in Australian detention centres, including in Darwin, who have been classed as refugees but have been waiting up to 20 months for ASIO clearance so they can leave detention.

"Of course the Burmese regime should release the political prisoners," he said.

"But I think perhaps the Foreign Minister should look at his own backyard and human rights abuses that are being committed against Burmese political prisoners in Australia.

"The Australian Government could set an example to the Burmese government by freeing the Burmese refugees who are currently in detention awaiting visas."

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