Sydney, June 7: Nobel peace laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu has joined an international human rights campaign condemning Australia’s decision to deport a leading Iranian cleric later this month.

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei, a moderate Shia cleric, has been living peacefully with his family in Australia for 16 years. He has never been granted permanent residency due to two adverse security assessments made against him by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) several years ago.

Contrary to the right to a fair hearing in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Australia is a signatory, Australia has never informed Dr Leghaei of the nature of the allegations against him. A leading proponent of interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance in Sydney, Dr Leghaei strenuously denies he is a threat to Australia’s national security.

“In South Africa we used to have detention without trial. In Australia you have deportation without trial,”
said Bishop Tutu.

In April the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) formally requested Australia not to deport Dr Leghaei while it considered whether his human rights had been breached. On May 17 the Australian Immigration Minister, Senator Chris Evans, ignored the UN’s request and announced that Dr Leghaei had six weeks to leave.

“The impending deportation of Sheikh Mansour Leghaei is a travesty of justice. There is no doubt at all that his human rights have been violated,” said Dr Chandra Muzaffar, a leading Malaysian political scientist, Islamic reformist and activist.

A week after Amnesty International criticized the Australian Government for putting political self-interest ahead of human rights in its treatment of asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, international human rights advocates have rallied behind Dr Leghaei, including:

  • Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, retired Bishop of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
  • Máiread Corrigan-Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
  • Dr Chandra Muzaffar
  • Professor Hans Köchler, president of the International Progress Organization.
  • Dr Norman Finkelstein, American political scientist.
  • Bishop Desmond Tutu

Helen Signy +61 425 202 654
Father Dave Smith +61 409 620 009
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