Further Comment – Chen Inquiry - By Senator Bob Brown
The overall picture presented to this committee is one of largely
unchecked surveillance and, at times, harassment of Australian citizens in
Australia by agents of the Peoples Republic of China. The Australian government
is not responding to this unacceptable intrusion of a foreign government into
the domestic life and freedoms of our country.
A case in point is
Chen Yonglin’s defection. Like the two former police officials of China who
appeared before the committee, this courageous man expected safe harbour, if
not an open-arms welcome, in Australia. He, and they, did not get it.
While the Committee
is unable to prove who was responsible for the failure of the Department of
Immigration to ensure Mr Chen’s defection was not notified to Beijing, the
matter may have been resolved by requiring the two secretaries who dealt
directly with him on 26th May in Sydney, to appear. However, the
lackadaisical attitude of senior officer O’Callaghan to Mr Chen’s presence and
urgent entreaty in his premises is inexcusable.
failure of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to accept Mr Chen’s plea for
asylum, and to promptly notify Mr Chen, disregarded Mr Chen’s and the nation’s
best interests. This failure was compounded by Mr Downer’s breach of Australian
law when he spoke with China’s Ambassador Fu about Mr Chen on 2 June 2005.
The evidence before
the Committee leads to the conclusion that the Australian Government considers
that its political relationship with the Chinese government is more important
than the political, religious and human rights of individuals in both
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