Thu, Feb 24, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Chinese centenarian faces detention in Australian center


A 104-year-old Chinese woman could live out her days behind razor wires in a notorious Austra-lian immigration detention center, her attorney said yesterday.

The Immigration Department has denied a visa to Hu Cuiyu, who came to Australia on a 12-month visitors visa in 1995 to see her adopted daughter Motoko Otani. Airlines denied her a ticket to return to her home in Xinjiang Province on the grounds that she was too old and frail for the rigors of airline travel.

Lawyer Julian Burnside said that after being declared an unlawful non-citizen, Hu could be taken into custody.

"If the department refused to issue her with a visa of any sort and it was not physically possible to take her out of the country, then presumably, the department would put her in a detention center and keep her there for the rest of her life," the prominent civil rights lawyer said.

Family friend Shep Chow told Australia's AAP news agency that Hu had adopted Otani during the Japanese occupation when she was a three-year-old orphan.

"She has got no children of her own, and her contemporaries and friends have all passed on, and the only family she has are in Australia," Chow said.

The case is another embarrassment for the Immigration Department, which revealed earlier this month that it had held a schizophrenic German woman in detention for 10 months, believing she was an asylum seeker.

Permanent resident Cornelia Rau, an air steward with the national airline Qantas until 2000, had lived in Australia for all but four of her 39 years and was listed as a missing person.

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