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Australian celebrities join campaign to end Qantas and Virgin Australia involvement in refugee deportations

A number of high profile Australian figures and entrepreneurs have joined human rights campaigners in calling for airlines Qantas and Virgin Australia to end deals with the Australian government to deport refugees.

Australian musicians, writers and artists as well as entrepreneurs have signed a statement by Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) which says,

“Under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights means taking measures to avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts. This applies regardless of the size or structure of the business, and over and above local laws.”

“To discharge their responsibility, airlines should not participate in deportations where there is evidence that the fundamental human rights to an adequate legal process have been denied, as well as where there is a real risk of serious, irreparable harm to an individual.”

The ACCR has met with Qantas and warned of potential shareholder action if the airline fails to distance itself from the Australian government’s deportations.

Signing on to the statement, Australian rock legend Mark Seymour said,

“As an Australian traveller, I would feel deeply compromised and disrespected if I knew that a Qantas flight I was on was engaged in the enforced deportation of refugees whose circumstances remained were the subject of contested legal process under the laws of my country.”

“My country’s treatment of Asylum seekers is not a neutral space. It has been deliberately politicized by successive federal governments through ever increasing systematic cruelty, forced indefinite detention, refoulement to countries of origin, and medical negligence in off-shore camps.”

“It is publically toxic and no place for corporate endorsement. The national carrier should never be used as an arm of government policy especially when that policy remains as toxic as it is now. The Australian travelling public deserve greater respect.”

Australia's asylum policy, which has seen Tamil refugees among others deported back to danger, has drawn wide criticism, including from the United Nations.

This year a Tamil refugee who was deported to Sri Lanka, despite direct criticism from the UN refugee agency, was arrested and charged by Sri Lankan authorities.