Category Archives: community

Government Must Change Detention Policy

Monday 21 March 2011

Government Must Change Detention Policy

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission urged the Federal Government to abandon policies which detain asylum seekers and refugees in remote locations for prolonged periods.

The call was made following recent protests and violent incidents in a number of the Government’s immigration detention centres.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Government’s policies are adding to the suffering of deeply traumatised people and contributing to a grave injustice.

 

“The Government’s insistence on detaining asylum seekers in remote, overcrowded locations for prolonged periods is simply outrageous,” Mr Arndt said.

 

“These are people who have suffered much before they get here and, when they arrive here to seek protection, they are subjected to prolonged and harsh treatment which can only add to their stress and anxiety,” he said.

 

“The Government’s requirement that people who have been accepted as refugees must wait for long periods in these dreadful detention centres for ASIO security clearances is a totally unnecessary further impost,” he said.

 

“If we are happy to let tourists and students come into our country without locking them up awaiting a security clearance, why can’t we let these genuine refugees out into the community while these clearances are sought?” he said.

 

“Is it any wonder that people who are already mentally fragile and stressed react to this seriously unjust processing regime with protests and riots?” he said.

 

“Add to this the fact that there are still many children locked up in these centres exposed to all this anger and violence and you have an appalling state of affairs,” he said.

 

“The last thing we need is detention centre staff and police using force to respond to the frustration and anger of detained refugees,” he said.

 

“The people locked up in these centres have only exercised their right to seek protection from persecution and what they have been subjected to in return is a deplorable abuse of their human rights,” he said.

 

“The Government’s policies are to blame for what has happened on Christmas Island, at Curtin and Weipa, not the refugees,” he said.

 

“The Government is subjecting asylum seekers and refugees to the prolonged, mandatory detention which it said it would end even though it knows this causes more mental stress and anguish for asylum seekers,” he said.

 

“We urge the Government to stop using and building detention centres in remote areas, to stop detaining mentally fragile and traumatised people for prolonged periods, to stop the use of violence to deal with detainees’ frustrations and complaints and to stop detaining children in these centres,” he said.

 

“Justice demands that the claims of asylum seekers be processed speedily and in accordance with the provisions of all the international human rights conventions and that all claimants be treated with respect and dignity while their claims are processed,” he said.

 

“This is not happening in Australia now and it must stop,” 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 Mandate 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.

 

Politicians Must Stop Using Asylum Seekers as Political Football

Media Release

Monday 21 February 2011

 Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has called on both the Government and the Opposition to stop using asylum seekers as political footballs.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the behaviour of both sides of politics last week over the handling of asylum seekers attending funerals of family members was deplorable and insensitive.

“Both sides of politics are clearly shaping their decisions and comments to pander to mean-spirited attitudes towards asylum seekers within the community,” Mr Arndt said.

“It is high time that all our politicians gave leadership on this issue rather than giving in to the callous, negative attitudes of some in the community,” he said.

 “Raising questions about the Government flying twenty-two asylum seekers from Christmas Island to Sydney to attend the funerals of family members on the very day of the funerals is heartless and insensitive,” he said.

“Sending nine year old Iranian orphan, Seena, back to Christmas Island instead of to family in Sydney is an equally deplorable act,” he said.

“These actions seem to have no regard or respect for the Christmas Island asylum seekers as human beings who have gone through immense trauma,” he said.

“They seem to be no more than tools to score points or get a cheap headline,” he said.

“Seena and all the other asylum seekers on Christmas Island and elsewhere in Australia deserve not only compassion, but justice,” he said.

 “All human beings, especially those who have experienced great trauma, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect as a matter of justice,” he said.

“We should not be locking up traumatised people in overcrowded facilities in remote, isolated locations with inadequate support services for long periods, as the recent Ombudsman’s report says,” he said.

 “Australia should not have a thousand children like Seena in detention if it has any sense of decency and justice,” he said.

 “Our political leaders should know better,” he said.

 “How can they speak with any authority when they criticise other countries for abusing human rights if they do not respect human rights in the way they treat asylum seekers in our own country?” he said.

 “We as Christians should be making it clear to our politicians that we want them to treat asylum seekers with compassion and justice,” he said.

“We have a responsibility to speak up for our sisters and brothers in need,” he said.

 “We should all be making it clear to our leaders and our MPs that we will not tolerate the political games we have seen over the past week,” 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 Mandate 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.

Support our Letter Writing Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners in West Papua

The Brisbane  Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has recently written to Prime Minister Gillard asking her what her Government is doing to pressure the Indonesian Government to release political prisoners in West Papua and to stop violent military repression of peaceful political activists.

You can download a copy of the letter here or use the text below as a guide for your letter to the PM. You might like to us the comment box for this item to add your voice of concern and share your response to this campaign.

Contact Details for Prime Minister Gillard

 

An Appeal to the Prime Minister for Human Rights in West Papua

The Hon Julia Gillard MP

The Prime Minister

Parliament House

CANBERRA  ACT  2600

Date: …………

Dear Ms Gillard

Last November, you welcomed the release of Aung San Suu Kyi by the Burmese regime after a long period of detention. At the same time, you called for the Burmese leaders to release other political prisoners and to take other actions to promote democracy and peace.  Your comments were appropriate and welcome.

I am writing to urge you to adopt the same strong position with Indonesian authorities in relation to those Papuan political activists who have been jailed for expressing their political views peacefully.  Activists such as Filep Karma, should not be in jail for raising a flag or participating in a peaceful protest.

Your Government’s concerns about revelations of torture of a Papuan man by members of the Indonesian military are also very welcome.  There is much reliable evidence to suggest that this is not an isolated incident.  The brutal repression of Papuans is commonplace and long-running.  This appalling state of affairs is compounded by the failure to provide adequate social and economic opportunities to most indigenous Papuans.

You would be aware that special autonomy for West Papua has not operated effectively and has failed to overcome these serious problems.  You would also be aware that there is growing dissatisfaction among Papuans with this state of affairs.

Violent repression in West Papua must end.  While I am not campaigning for West Papuan independence, I passionately advocate that the political, civil, social and economic rights of the people of West Papua must be respected and promoted by Australia.  In line with your call for human rights and democracy in Burma, I urge you to also encourage the Indonesian Government to take swift and effective steps to end the abuse of military power in West Papua and to rectify the unsatisfactory political, economic and social situation in the province.

Please advise me what steps your Government is taking to secure the release of political prisoners in West Papua, to end the violent repression of Papuans and to bring about political arrangements which will ensure that they can exercise democratic freedom and live in dignity.

Yours sincerely

Signature: …………………………………………………

Name: ………………………………………………….

Address: ……………………………………………….


Statement on Aboriginal Rights by Leading Australians.

A Call to the People of Australia from Indigenous Elders

MEDIA RELEASE

Monday February 7 2011

Australia has faced questioning at the United Nations by member states and independent experts regarding its Indigenous policies.  The failure to restore the rights of Aboriginal people is currently being scrutinised under the Universal Periodic Review process of the UN Human Rights Council and was criticised in 2010 by both the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Such scrutiny can only reveal just how far Australia is lagging behind international standards on human rights policies. Changes are urgently needed.

In such a context, we have become increasingly concerned by the failure of the Federal Government, with the tacit support of the Opposition, to properly address problems facing Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. In particular, the Northern Territory Emergency Response (the Intervention) has been progressed without credible consultation with, or the approval of, Aboriginal people.

While there are some limited aspects of the Intervention that have been viewed positively in some Aboriginal communities, it is the compulsory nature of the policies which are of concern.

It is our belief that inequality cannot be addressed by the removal of control from affected peoples over their lives and land, as is current Government policy.  Positive change requires respect and genuine engagement with the people themselves at the local level, rather than an isolated policy development in Canberra.

Examples of the failure of policies include:

  • The delayed, incomplete and flawed reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act.
  • The entrenchment of discrimination against Aborigines in the criminal law of the NT by failing to repeal s. 91 of the NTER Act which ensures that no customary law or cultural practice, excuses, justifies, authorises, requires or lessens the seriousness of any criminal behaviour with which the Crimes Act is concerned.
  • The retention and widening of involuntary income management in order to give it a veneer of non discrimination.
  • The failure to provide proper housing exemplified by the slow pace of doing so and the fact that of new houses built by Government under the SIHIP1 programme to alleviate overcrowding, there is a failure to take into account the size or requirements of the average Aboriginal family
  • The failure to provide full time education to Aboriginal children, which is a right of all Australian children. Examples include:

The fact that the 46 Aboriginal Homeland Learning Centres for which the NT Department of Education and Training2 is responsible have never been allocated full-time qualified teachers and are reliant on fly-in fly-out teachers, often for only one or two days per week.

The failure of NTER measures such as the policy of removal of welfare entitlements where there is unsatisfactory school attendance, in that recent figures from the NT Department of Education2 show a steady fall in attendance at schools in very remote areas between 2006-7 and 2009-10.

  • Maintaining the intervention despite evidence such as:

The Health Impact Assessment3 launched in March 2010, which found that the Intervention could potentially lead to profound long-term damage to overall health and cultural integrity.

The 2010 Enquiry into NT Child Protection4 which links health problems to community disadvantage and poverty associated with overcrowding, unsafe and stressful environments, poor community infrastructure, poor nutrition and limited health care, all of which were supposed to have been addressed by the intervention.

The Government’s policy approach must move from one of bureaucratic control by Canberra to one of recognition of Aboriginal leadership, negotiation, capacity building and direct input by Aboriginal people to local government decision-making. Without the direct engagement with Aboriginal people, policy changes will fail. With Aboriginal leaders, Government must commit to a policy of support by developing economies, encouraging investment and creating jobs by improving transport and communication systems, and where appropriate, the use of taxation incentives.

Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory must have choice and must not be forced to abandon their lands and heritage in order to obtain services that are automatically provided to other Australians.  The vision that is created must be one that is shared by both black and white.

We accordingly call upon the Government to start afresh, to comply with our international obligations by bringing the Northern Territory Intervention to an end, including the termination of involuntary income management and securing Aboriginal rights in accordance with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Present flawed legislation including that purporting to re-instate the Racial Discrimination Act and s 91 of the NTER Act should be repealed and the Racial Discrimination Act reintroduced in an unqualified form.

Signed:

Diana Batzias                                                              Peter Norden AO

Professor Larissa Behrendt                                         Rev Alistair Macrae

Rev Shayne Blackman                                                 Hon Colleen Moore

The Hon Sally Brown AM                                            Hon Ron Merkel ­QC

Julian Burnside QC                                                      Graeme Mundine

Fred Chaney AO                                                          Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC

Patrick Dodson                                                            Dr Sarah Prichard

Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC                                               Professor Cheryl Saunders AO

Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH GCL PC Brother Paul Smith AM

The Most Reverend Philip Freier                                Professor Fiona Stanley AC

Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM                                 Rev Ken Sumner

Hon Paul Guest QC                                                     Assoc Professor John Tobin

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM                                       Bret Walker SC

Phil Lynch                                                                    Brian Walters SC

Professor Tim McCormack                                         Hon Ian Viner AO QC

Assoc Professor Sarah Maddision

Reference Notes:

1Information provided by FaHCSIA

2NT Department of Education and Training Annual Report 2008-09 Page 27     http://www.det.nt.gov.au/about-us/publications/annual-report-200809

3Medical Journal of Australia August 2010 http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/192_10_170510/oma10307_fm.html

4Growing Them Strong, Together Report page 17  http://www.childprotectioninquiry.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/49786/Executive_Summary.pdf

Commission Calls for Consistent Australian Position on Human Rights

Monday 22 November 2010

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged the Prime Minister to adopt a consistent approach to promoting human rights and democracy in the Asia/Pacific region.

The Commission’s call comes in response to Prime Minister Gillard’s comments on the release of Burmese political leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that Australia should seek to apply the same human rights standards to all its neighbours including Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

“The Prime Minister welcomed the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, but called on Burma’s authorities to release other political prisoners and work towards free and fair elections and political reconciliation,” Mr Arndt said.

“We support those calls as they are consistent with a respect for the human rights of the people of Burma,” he said.

“However, we are concerned that Australia is not as strong an advocate of these values when it comes to other countries in the region,” he said.

“Why isn’t the Prime Minister publicly calling on Indonesia to release people in West Papua who have been jailed for flying flags and peacefully protesting?” he said.

“Why is there no decisive intervention to put an end to the brutal repression of Papuans who are not happy with the way they have been treated since Indonesia took control of the province in the 1960s?” he said.

“It seems to us that the Australian Government is equally reluctant to challenge the Sri Lankan Government’s treatment of the Tamil minority and its political opponents,” he said.

“There are long-standing concerns, both from inside and outside Sri Lanka, about the Government’s level of respect for human rights and democracy, but Australia seems more concerned with maintaining the on-going cooperation of the Sri Lankan Government in relation to stopping boat people coming to Australia,” he said.

“The legitimate concerns of indigenous West Papuans and Tamils should not be ignored if we are genuinely committed to human rights,” he said.

“People who are locked up or mistreated because of their political views in Sri Lanka or West Papua deserve the same strong advocacy as is being given to Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese people,” he said.

“At the same time, we should always be looking at our own human rights record and seek to address those issues where we have failed to respect the dignity of vulnerable people in our own land,” he said.

Mr Arndt said the Commission would continue to speak to the Government and local MPs and Senators about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, West Papua and in our region.

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 Mandate 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.

Oldest Justice and Peace Commission Celebrates Milestone

cjpclogoAustralia’s oldest diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, celebrated twenty-five years of service to the Archdiocese of Brisbane this year.

The Commission was established by the late Archbishop Francis Rush in 1985 and held its first meeting in what was, then, the Indooroopilly Parish Education Centre in October of that year.

Its first Chair was the late Fr Morgan Howe who was Parish Priest of Indooroopilly Parish at the time.

With the opening by the Sisters of Mercy of Justice Place in Woolloongabba in 1992, the Commission established an office and moved its meetings there.

Former Deputy Director of the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, Mr Garry Everett, and Principal of St Agnes Primary School, Mt Gravatt, Mr Rick Sheehan, have followed Fr Howe in the role of Chair of the Commission.

The Commission has been served by three Executive Officers, Mr Brian O’Halloran, Sr Annette Arnold rsj and the current Executive Officer, Mr Peter Arndt.

Over seventy Catholic women and men, religious, priests and bishops have served as members of the Commission in its twenty-five years.  Among those who have served on the Commission are Bishop John Gerry and Bishop Joseph Oudeman, President of the Senate, Senator John Hogg, Member for Morayfield in the Queensland Parliament, Mr Mark Ryan, Aboriginal elder, Aunty Joan Hendriks an former Josephite Provincial Leader, Sr Margaret Robertson rsj.

The Commission’s current Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission had walked with many people who face injustice, violence and discrimination.

“The Commission has been there with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as they struggled for justice in relation to native title, the Stolen Generations, stolen wages, deaths in custody and the Northern Territory Intervention,” Mr Arndt said.

“We have tried to bring Catholics face to face with the indignities confronting refugees as they sought protection in Australia,” he said.

“The Commission has also tried to support the struggle of people for their human rights and for justice in places like East Timor, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and West Papua,” he said.

“Many Catholics around Brisbane joined with the Commission in challenging Australia’s participation in the Iraq War,” he said.

“In recent years, the Commission has also put more emphasis on caring for the Earth with our Cool Communities Project in 2003 and 2004, our collaboration with the Social Action Office in the holding of a Climate Change Conference in 2007, and our more recent collaboration with Catholic Earthcare Australia on the ASSISI Project,” he said.

The Commission  marked its silver anniversary with a Eucharist  led by Archbishop John Bathersby on Friday 5 November  at Holy Family Catholic Church, Indooroopilly.

Sr Annette Arnold rsj, the Commission’s second Executive Officer, delivered an address: Mary MacKillop and the challenge to the Australian Church after the Eucharist.  Sr Annette is now a member of the Provincial Leadership Team of the Sisters of St Joseph and was heavily involved in the recent celebrations surrounding the canonisation of Mary MacKillop in Rome.

For further infomation, 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 Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right when required.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Commission Welcomes Increased Protection for Queensland Clothing Outworkers

Media Release

Thursday 21 October 2010

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has welcomed the Queensland Government’s introduction of a mandatory code of practice for the protection of clothing outworkers.

The Commission has been involved in lobbying for the introduction of this code for the last two years.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the new code would help to protect the rights of vulnerable clothing outworkers and also support employers who treat their workers fairly.

“We have been very concerned for some years about the plight of some women who work at home to make clothing for unscrupulous employers,” Mr Arndt said.

“Many of these outworkers are being paid very low rates for their work and do not enjoy the protections and conditions that other clothing workers have,” he said.

“This new mandatory code provides them better protection by ensuring that employers who are exploiting outworkers can be identified and prosecuted,” he said.

“Employers who are doing the right thing and providing fair pay and conditions for their workers will also benefit because they will not have their clothing prices undercut by those who underpay their workers,” he said.

“The code will come into effect on 1 January next year and brings Queensland into line with New South Wales and South Australia where a mandatory code has been in force for some years,” he said.

“The only disappointment we have is that the Government has taken so long to complete its consultation process and introduce the code,” he said.

“We are very grateful to the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia and FairWear, a community organisation which promotes the rights of outworkers, for their tireless advocacy of this code,” he said.

“It has been wonderful to collaborate with organisations with such great expertise and a passion for justice for vulnerable workers,” he said.

“The Catholic Church has advocated the rights of workers as part of its social teaching for many years,” he said.

“Indeed, Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 social encyclical, Rerum Novarum, gave the highest priority to providing decent pay and conditions to vulnerable workers,” he said.

“There is no human dignity for women who are being underpaid for their work and who work under poor conditions,” he said.

“Our participation in efforts to get this better protection for outworkers is in line with the Gospel commitment to the fundamental dignity of every human being,” he said.

 

The Commission will collaborate with other organisations to monitor the introduction of the code and to continue promoting better protection for vulnerable workers.

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 Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right when required.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Commission to Support Parish Responses to Statement on Violence

Social Justice Sunday 2010

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission will seek to help parishes to respond to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s 2010 Social Justice Sunday Statement, Violence in Australia: A Message of Peace.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the violence which is becoming so common in communities across the country needs to be challenged with Christ’s radical message of peace.

“The Bishops’ Statement encourages us as Christians to focus on the many forms of violence in contemporary Australia, to understand the causes and to take action in the spirit of Jesus’ teaching,” Mr Arndt said.

“The Bishops’ Statement presents us with a whole series of questions to help us to consider how we might become messengers of peace in our families, our communities, our nation and our world,” he said.

Mr Arndt is currently holding meetings in the deaneries of the Archdiocese to help Catholics to explore the issues and insights contained in the Statement and to provide information on what resources are available to promote and use the Statement.

The Justice and Peace Commission is also currently discussing possible collaboration with the Franciscan organisation, Pace e Bene, in order to offer Catholics concrete opportunities to develop skills for living nonviolently.

“We are aware of the many faces of violence in Australia from bullying in schools, violent video games, domestic violence and road rage to the so-called structural violence of poverty and racism,” Mr Arndt said.

“The Bishops ask us to do more than shake our heads at the growing presence of violence in our country and to take up the challenge to be active in making peace in our hearts, our homes, our communities and our nation,” 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 Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right when required.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

2010 Social Justice Statement: Sample Editorial for Parish Use

2010 Social Justice Statement Summary

2010 Social Justice Sunday  Powerpoint Slide

2010 Social Justice Statement OHT

Supporting 101 Days of Prayer for a Peaceful Referendum

Logo From Sudan Catholic Bishops Web

Logo From Sudan Catholic Bishops Web

The Sudan Catholic Bishops have urged southern Sudanese to choose a life of freedom with justice and equal rights for all during the forthcoming referendum.

All the Bishops from all the states in Sudan gathered for an extraordinary plenary meeting in Juba to deliberate on the current situation in the country and delivered their message of hope.

The President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak told the press on Thursday in Juba that there are still worrying signs in Sudan that discourages integration of the north and the south. (See interview on Sudan Radio here)

SCBC Pastoral A future full of hope A Mesage of Hope and a Call to Action. Addressed to all the people of Sudan, the Sudanese leaders, and all people of good will

Sudanese Bishops Call for Peaceful Vote

101 Days Campaign Poster (pdf file)

Spanning the 101 days between the United Nation’s International Day of Peace on September 21, 2010, and the Church’s World Day of Peace, January 1, 2011, a campaign has been launched to help Catholics become advocates for peace. The campaign brings together the Sudan Catholic Bishops, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services, in an urgent call for peace.

Sudan is a nation with a long history of war, and finds itself at a historic crossroads. The country is bracing for a January 11 referendum, a crucial provision of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, on whether the South will secede from the North. If the referendum comes off peacefully, with an outcome that is respected by all, it could lead Sudan into a new era of peace and prosperity. If it does not, the result could be catastrophic violent conflict.

Sister Patricia Murray is the Executive Director of the initiative “Solidarity with Southern Sudan”, she tells Vatican Radio’s Festus Tarawalie more about it… “one of the challenges in a country that has suffered from long periods of war is – as one young man said to me – is: “I have to learn to make peace” – he said “I’ve learnt how to make war, but now teach me how to make peace (Source: Vatican Radio Web)

Solidarity with Southern Sudan trains teachers, nurses and pastoral personnel in several locations throughout Southern Sudan. This initiative was inspired by the 2004 Rome Congress on Consecrated Life, Passion for Christ Passion for Humanity.

Action: Print, pray and distribute the Prayer Text for 101 Days of Prayer for Sudan

Death Row Prayers Continue as Final Appeals Lodged

Monday 16 August 2010

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission is calling on Catholics to continue praying for the three members of the Bali Nine who have now all lodged their final appeals against their death sentences to Indonesia’s Supreme Court.

The Commission has held an annual Good Friday prayer vigil for those on death row around the world since 2008 and has started an additional monthly prayer vigil this year in the Brisbane Parish of Corinda-Graceville, the home parish of Scott Rush, one of the three Australians on death row in Bali.

Scott Rush lodged his final appeal against his death sentence in July and the other two Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, lodged their appeals last Friday.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, urged Catholics to pray for all three Australians and their families.

“Whatever their wrongdoing, they all have a right to life and should not face execution as punishment,” Mr Arndt said.

“All these men and their families are facing enormous stress and pain and need our prayers,” he said.

“One of the Indonesian lawyers lodging the appeals last week said that the death penalty on his client violated his right to life which is guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution,” he said.

“We strongly oppose these death sentences for the same reason,” he said.

Church Teaching effectively rejects the use of capital punishment as a violation of the right of every human being to God’s gift of life,” he said.

“Our Commission will also be urging our Federal politicians to do everything they can to support these three men and to encourage the Indonesian Government to abandon its use of the death penalty,” he said.

The Commission’s next prayer vigil will be held at Christ the King Catholic Church, Churchill Street, Graceville, next Tuesday 24 August at 7 p.m.  All are welcome to join with the Commission and the local Parish community in prayer for the three Australians and all those on death row around the world.

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 Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right when required.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.