Monthly Archives: November 2009

Commission Urges Continued Pressure on Sri Lanka

Monday 30 November 2009

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission welcomed the recent announcement by the Sri Lankan Government of the lifting of restrictions on movement in the country, but urged continued pressure on the Sri Lankan Government in relation to the treatment of Tamils.

The Commission’s Executive officer, peter Arndt, said that some reports indicate that there is continuing harassment of Tamils despite the announcement.

“We understand that Tamils seeking to travel from the north of the country to Colombo must register at the local police station when they arrive,” Mr Arndt said.

“There are also police and military checks being carried out on Tamils as they travel through the country,” he said.

“It is one thing to announce that Tamils can move freely through the country, but it is another thing altogether for that to be happening on the ground,” he said.

“No-one should be rushing to close the book on Sri Lanka just yet,” he said.

“We have a lot of credible evidence of the complete disregard for the human rights of Tamil civilians by both the military and the Tigers during the recent conflict,” he said.

“Thousands of Tamil civilians were killed by appalling actions on both sides and there must be accountability for this,” he said.

“The homes and infrastructure of many Tamil communities was devastated by the Government’s military onslaught and we need to ensure that Tamils will be given all the help they need to re-build their communities,” he said.

“And we must never forget that the long-running conflict is linked to Tamil discontent at their treatment by the Government,” he said.

“Unless there is a genuine commitment by the Government to enter into a process of reconciliation, the bitterness will continue to simmer,” he said.

“Sustained pressure from the international community has pushed the Sri Lankan Government to this point today and it must continue to be applied if the Tamil minority is to be treated with dignity and fairness,” he said.

“The repeated criticism of many Governments and the UN and the threat of economic action by Europe have forced the Sri Lankan Government to improve the situation for Tamils,” he said.

“This pressure must continue so that the Tamils can live in Sri Lanka without discrimination and fear and so that all Sri Lankans can live in peace and security,” he said.

“Some dreadful things have been done to people on both sides in this conflict and efforts must be made to address the root causes if the country is to know peace,” he said.

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

Traveston Crossing Dam Decision Opportunity for Re-Think

Monday 16 November 2009

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission welcomed the decision by Federal Environment Minister,Peter Garret, to reject the Queensland Government’s plans to build a dam at Traveston Crossing on the Mary River.

In the wake of the decision, the Commission urged the Queensland Government to review its water security plans for South-East Queensland with a view to developing a genuinely sustainable plan.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the proposed dam was not environmentally viable.

“The large number of conditions which Queensland’s Coordinator-General imposed on the proposal gave a clear indication of how many problems there were with the dam plan,” Mr Arndt said.

“Apart from the environmental cost, there has been a significant human cost for those many people whose lives were turned upside down by Government preparations for the dam,” he said.

Mr Arndt said that the Federal decision provides the State Government with an excellent opportunity to review its water security plan.

“We are very concerned that Premier Anna Bligh has already announced that her Government will build more desalination plants to replace the water which was to be supplied by the Traveston Crossing Dam,” he said.

“Desalination plants seem to be unsustainable as they use so much energy and create other problems in the environments used to source the water to be desalinated,” he said.

“It is worth pointing out that the original water security plan assumes a much higher per capita water consumption rate than now applies in South-East Queensland,” he said.

“Despite our water supplies improving markedly in the last year or so and the easing of restrictions, people in the South East are now using much less water than before and this should be taken into account in future plans,” he said.

“Water recycling needs to be a much bigger contributor to our water supply,” he said.

“We also do not know why our Government is not prepared to invest more money into stormwater recycling and re-use,” he said.

“The Federal Government has just provided grants to thirteen stormwater projects, mostly in Victoria and South Australia,” he said.

“Only one Queensland project proposed by the Southbank Corporation has been given grants by the Federal Government,” he said.

“We would be interested to know if the State Government has done much work on stormwater harvesting as an option,” he said.

“The rejection of the dam should give Premier Bligh a great opportunity to explore smaller and much less damaging innovations such as stormwater harvesting to secure our water supply into the future,” he said.

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

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.

 

Supporting NATSICC Statement on Intervention

We, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council National Assembly 2009, express grave concern for our brothers and sisters living under the Northern Territory Emergency Response.
We draw the attention of the Minister to the following matters of urgency:

  • Failure to alleviate poverty and third-world conditions
  • Failure to respect the basic human rights of Aboriginal peoples and communities in contravention of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Failure to provide quality of life (e.g. delayed improvement to housing, overcrowding, risk of disease)
  • Failure to consult truthfully and transparently
  • Failure to educate and skill men and women for employment that can effectively address their own needs
  • Failure to respect culture and ceremonies (e.g. sharing money, preventing travel to town to apply for money, tenancy agreements)
  • Failure to honour the distinctive natures and cultures of communities. (Strategies need to be developed in consultation with each community and according to their needs.)
  • The targeted application of income management on Aboriginal people. And so discriminating on the basis of race and place of living.
  • The thoughtless erection of crude pornography signs in places where this problem does not exist
  • Failure to heed the strong protests of such policies by numerous Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and groups across Australia.
  • Failure to recognize the lasting and devastating effects of the Intervention on the human spirit and health of Aboriginal people.
  • Failure to recognise and implement the recommendations of the 2007 Little Children are sacred Report/ to respond to the Combined NT Aboriginal Organisations and their Traditional owners.
  • Failure to note that the creation of Hubs will only exacerbate problems (loss of connectedness, and loss of family ties and communal values of life…) Homelands and outstations must be provided funds…

These failures and limitations undermine the spirit of the Prime Minister’s Apology of 13 February 2008.

We recommend ongoing genuine consultations and formation of real partnerships with the relevant parties in the N.T. We would like Government to engage regularly with Aboriginal leaders, Traditional owners, Elders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Church Lead bodies and leaders.

 

We would like to see our cultures respected and acknowledged. Cultural integrity and self -determination are key imperatives for the way forward. We would ask that the Government be open to UN, Prof James Anaya’s statement of 27.08.09.
We would like to see the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act in the N.T. This must be in line with human rights principals and fulfil Australia’s International Conventions and treaties.
Media Contact : Craig Arthur 0402 019 536
For Immediate Release