Thursday, June 13, 2013

Australia closes door on Bahraini rights speaker

HOWEVER good the image of a country and its people for standing up for human rights and fair play to all, you can count on its Immigration officials to ruin it. Not that I would imagine these were acting without a word of advice from those above them in government..
A prominent Bahraini surgeon and human rights defender, Dr Ghassan Dhaif, has been barred from entering Australia for a speaking tour organised by Amnesty International Australia and the Bahrain Australia Youth Movement.

The Department of Immigration rejected Dr.Dhaif's visa application on the grounds that he may seek asylum even though he applied for a Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) Visa (Subclass 400) with the support of Amnesty International Australia, the Australia Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Nursing Federation and the Australian Education Union.

He was due to speak about the military crackdown and human rights crisis in Bahrain, in which he was arrested, incarcerated and tortured for over one year for the crime of treating injured protesters.

“It is disappointing that one week following a condemnation of Bahrain’s human rights crisis in the Federal Parliament of Australia, immigration has denied a Bahraini human rights defender from entering the country”, said Abdulelah al Hubaishi, Bahraini refugee and spokesperson for the Bahrain Australia Youth Movement.

Last Monday, resolutions were tabled in the Lower House of the Federal Parliament of Australia condemning the ongoing repression of Bahrain’s mass protest movement. During the parliamentary debate, Federal Members of Parliament highlighted the heavy repression of Bahraini medics.

Al Hubaishi continued, “It is clear that western countries are backing the Bahraini regime and continuing their standard practice of hypocrisy. The Australian government is only concerned with human rights on paper but in reality it is silencing the Bahraini people”.

The Refugee Action Coalition has condemned the decision of Australian immigration to reject Dr Dhaif’s visa application.

“Denying a visa to Dr Ghassan because he might claim asylum is another shameful example of the Australian government’s lack of humanitarian principles in relation to refugees. The government is more concerned about competing with the Coalition to maintain a hard line on refugees than taking a stand with those fighting for human rights in Bahrain,” said Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition.

The events organised as part of the speaking tour will proceed regardless.

“Attempts to silence Dr Ghassan Dhaif only cause us to raise the volume of our voices. We must stand in solidarity with the Bahraini people and continue to expose the daily human rights violations in Bahrain.

While health services continue to be militarised and thousands of political prisoners are behind bars, we will build the international solidarity movement and generate pressure on the Bahraini regime and its allies”, concluded Al Hubaishi.

Contact Bahrain Australian Youth Movement:

Information received via Middle East and North Africa Solidarity network 

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