Iraqi forced home ahead of violence

An Iraqi man on a bridging visa was forced back to Iraq by the Australian government two days before the violent clashes in the north of the country, documents show.

The man, who was living in Brisbane, was flown to Basra in southern Iraq on June 8 after being detained in detention for a week.

A document from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection shows the unnamed man was flown from Brisbane to Basra via Melbourne and Doha.

”You will not be permitted visitors at the airport,” the document says. ”You will be escorted on your departing flight.”

But two days later the city of Mosul, in the north of Iraq was seized by al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and, by June 12, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had condemned the sectarian violence engulfing the country. On June 16, Australians were told to leave Iraq immediately by Ms Bishop.

The Greens are now pushing a motion to place a moratorium on sending asylum seekers back to Iraq. Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the government’s actions were ”cruel and irresponsible”.

”The situation in Iraq is worsening every day and it is unconscionable that Australia is continuing to send asylum seekers back there.”

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Thursday that it was Iraqis’ free choice to leave Australia if they wanted to. ”If they choose to go back home that is a matter for them,” he said.

A spokesman for Mr Morrison said: ”People who have exhausted all outstanding avenues to remain in Australia and have no lawful basis to remain are expected to depart. Each case is carefully and thoroughly assessed and considered on its individual merits by trained decision-makers,” he said.

”Australia does not return failed asylum seekers who are found not to be refugees where this would contravene Australia’s non-refoulement obligations.”

Mr Morrison was joined by Prime Minster Tony Abbott to announce that six months had passed since a boat carrying asylum seekers had arrived on Australian shores. ”I’m not declaring victory,” Mr Abbott said. ”There’s no hint of mission accomplished … but we’ve had six months since the last successful people smuggling venture to Australia. By stopping the boats, the government will make savings of $2.5 billion, Mr Morrison told the press conference.

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