Mufty to welcome young survivor of boat people drowning
Media Statement
Wednesday 19 December 2001

On Thursday the 20th of December 2001, his eminence the Mufty of Australia, Sh. Taj Aldin Elhilali will welcome Zaynab, the 12 year-old survivor of the boating tragedy where more than 360 asylum seekers drowned on the 20th of October 2001.

'The arrival of Zaynab, two months after the drowning tragedy, has two significant aspects for us, the first is that Australians can now have first hand access to information about the human tragedy that was the plight of the innocent destitute asylum seekers. This will give us the opportunity to hear first hand about the cruelty of humans towards other humans. The second significant aspect of this arrival is that we finally see a positive move by the Department of Immigration, that they finally agreed to give asylum to a destitute young girl, 12 years of age, out of more than 400 most of whom could only find asylum in the depths of the ocean.' Said his eminence Mufty ElHilali.

'The arrival of young Zaynab today is a glimmer of hope, that perhaps the Australian government finally recognises some of its human rights obligations under the United Nations Convention for Refugees and recognises the sentiments of all Australians who reject the present policy of exclusion and inhumanity. Three weeks ago, I heard very serious allegations made by survivors of the drowning tragedy, one spoke of two large ships, which he says came by the survivors after the capsize of the boat and did nothing to rescue them. If these allegations are proved to be true, they are of course extremely serious and I call on the Australian government to investigate them immediately.' Said Mr. Keysar Trad, Vice President, Lebanese Muslims Association.

'I hope, this visa will be the first of many, to end the plight of the destitute, those who are persecuted and those seeking safety and freedom. I also hope that the minister will take the opportunity of the festive season, the Christmas spirit, to speed up the processing of visas for other asylum seekers in detention centres around Australia, especially the hundreds of women and children, whose detention marks one of the greatest acts of cruelty in the history of our great nation, Australia. I welcome Zaynab and I pray that she will find safety, happiness and freedom in Australia.' Said Mr. Trad.

Please note that a media conference will be held at 2:00 PM at a venue to be advised.

Media Contact: Keysar Trad xxxx xx xx xx


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