UK
22/07/2013 06:23 BST | Updated 22/07/2013 06:35 BST

Australian Government Tweets Shocking Pictures Of Distraught Asylum Seekers

The Australian Labour government has been accused of insensitivity after publishing gloating pictures showing asylum seekers looking distraught at being turned away from the country.

One press release, titled '81 Iranians get the new message' featured pictures of a woman sitting on the floor with her head in her hands.

It comes after Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that any asylum seekers arriving by boat would be turned away and sent to Papua New Guinea.

Rudd claimed the move was aimed at preventing the number of 'boat people' killed trying to sail to Australia.

australian asylum

Sensitively done: The government press release

The images provoked a backlash on Twitter, where the government's tactics were described as "creepy", the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The immigration department's communications manager, Sandi Hogan, tweeted the pictures.

The Australian Green party's immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young told the Sydney Morning Herald: “Today’s vulgar display from the Department of Immigration ... truly is a move dredged up from the bottom of the barrel.

“It is shameful that this government is exploiting people’s private despair for cheap political gain."