Commission Urges Andrews to Change Mind on Sri Lankan Refugees

Media Release

 Monday 17 September 2007

Commission Urges Andrews to Change Mind on Sri Lankan Refugees

Sri Lanka Refugees Nauru

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, to change his mind and allow the 72 Sri Lankans recently recognized as refugees on the Pacific island of Nauru to come to Australia.

The refugees were sent to Nauru by Australian authorities in February as part of the Federal Government’s “Pacific Solution” and the Australian Government now wants them to be taken by another country after the United Nations last week recognized them as refugees.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Federal Government’s policy is subjecting asylum seekers to much fear and anguish.

“People who flee persecution and violence in their own country do not need further psychological torment by being sent to Nauru for indefinite detention,” Mr Arndt said.

“The Sri Lankans on Nauru were already showing signs of suffering psychological damage because of Australia’s policy and they should be immediately brought to Australia where they can settle free of fear,” he said.

“It is cruel to make them wait even longer while another country is found to take them,” he said.

“Australia should accept its responsibilities to process people who seek asylum in our country and give them protection in our land if they are legitimate refugees,” he said.

In their 2007 Social Justice Sunday Statement released today, the Australian Catholic Bishops insist that the Government should abandon its Pacific Solution immediately.

“Our Commission believes that Mr Andrews should listen to our Bishops and end this cruel policy,” Mr Arndt said.

“Mr Andrews should stop the uncertainty for the 72 Sri Lankans and bring them here right now,” he said.

“It is horrible to realize that there are other asylum seekers who have been on Nauru for much longer and who could be there indefinitely,” he said.

“It is appalling cruelty which shows no respect whatsoever for the dignity of our fellow human beings,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

 Mission and Justice Article

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Charter, which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane

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