INDEPENDENT NEWS

Green Xmas wish welcome asylum seekers free Zaoui

Published: Tue 23 Dec 2003 12:10 AM
Green MP's Xmas wish: welcome asylum seekers and free Zaoui
Green MP Keith Locke wants New Zealand to give two presents to asylum seekers this Christmas.
"Firstly, New Zealand should respond to the plight of the Afghan hunger-strikers on Nauru and invite some to settle here," said Mr Locke, the Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson. "We received international plaudits for taking some of the Tampa refugees from Nauru two years ago. It's about time we opened our hearts again.
"Such a humanitarian move might also help shame the Howard government into closing down this abominable detention camp and allowing the remainder of those living there into Australia.
"The hunger strikers are desperate. I have personally received an appeal from an 18-year-old Afghan, Hassan Ali, who has been detained on Nauru for two years. He says 'Our life is in danger. Please, you help us and take us out of this prison. I have a lot of hopes to you and I will be thankful to you.'
"We can't be deaf to such pleas. We can't turn our eyes away from this tragedy in our region. Several of the hunger strikers are now seriously ill in hospital on Nauru.
"Yesterday, the Afghan Ambassador in Australia, Mahmoud Saikal, said he didn't want the asylum seekers sent back to Afghanistan. We should heed his call and offer to take in some of them.
"Secondly, the government owes Ahmed Zaoui a Christmas present: his freedom. The former Algerian MP should not have to spend a second festive season in jail, just because the Immigration Service and the Security Intelligence Service have mishandled his case.
"It's absurd to think that Mr Zaoui is a danger to our national security, particularly after the determination of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority in his favour.
"I will be visiting Mr Zaoui in prison today, to convey my best Christmas wishes," said Mr Locke.
Keith Locke will be visiting Ahmed Zaoui at Auckland Central Remand Prison at 2:30pm today and will be available for comment.

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