Category Archives: justice

Advent Prayer Resources

Advent Prayer booklet 2013

Justice and Peace workers from Queensland dioceses have compiled a set of Advent prayer and liturgy resources which focus on issues raised by this year’s Social Justice Statement, “Lazarus at Our Gate”.

Justice and Peace Workers from the dioceses of Queensland have compiled some prayer and liturgy resources for the four Sundays of Advent. They focus on some of the issues raised in the 2013 – 2014 Social Justice Statement, Lazarus at Our Gate. Search “Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane” opn Facebook.

Sri Lanka Visit

The Executive Officer of the Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of Brisbane recently visited Sri Lanka as part of the 9th Justice and Peace Workers Network Gathering for Asia and the Pacific. What he encountered challenges efforts by the Australian Government to portray a rosy picture of the situation in post-war Sri Lanka. He urges Australia not to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in Sri Lanka as part of its obsession with stopping the boats.

Do Not Turn a Blind Eye In Sri Lanka

Press Statement – 9th JPW Meeting

Dr Eban Kirksey on West Papua

Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global PoweDr Eben Kirksey is a US academic and long-time advocate for human rights and justice in West Papua.

He will speak in Brisbane in October about West Papua and his new book on the situation in this troubled region of Indonesia. His major Brisbane talk will be held on Wednesday 17 October, 5.30 p.m. for 6 p.m. at the College Hall, St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill. Entry is free, but donations to support human rights work in West Papua will be gratefully accepted. Copies of Dr Kirksey’s book, Freedom in Entangled Worlds, will also be on sale. Coffee and tea will be available on arrival.

Other talks will be held at Cafe IRA, Tugun, on Thursday 18 October, 4 – 6 pm and at the University of Southern Queensland Toowoomba on Friday 19 October at 12.30 pm.

Download Eban Kirksey Brisbane Flyer (pdf)  here

Download Edan KirkseyTugan Flyer I(pdf) here

Download Eban Kirksey UQ Event Flyer (pdf) here

Download Eban Kirksey Toowoomba Event Flyer (doc) here

Eben Kirksey first went to West Papua, the Indonesian-controlled half of New Guinea, as an exchange student in 1998. His later study of West Papua’s resistance to the Indonesian occupiers and the forces of globalization morphed as he discovered that collaboration, rather than resistance, was the primary strategy of this dynamic social movement. Accompanying indigenous activists to Washington, London, and the offices of the oil giant BP, Kirksey saw the revolutionaries’ knack for getting inside institutions of power and building coalitions with unlikely allies, including many Indonesians. He discovered that the West Papuans’ pragmatic activism was based on visions of dramatic transformations on coming horizons, of a future in which they would give away their natural resources in grand humanitarian gestures, rather than watch their homeland be drained of timber, gold, copper, and natural gas. During a lengthy, brutal occupation, West Papuans have harbored a messianic spirit and channeled it in surprising directions. Kirksey studied West Papua’s movement for freedom while a broad-based popular uprising gained traction from 1998 until 2008. Blending ethnographic research with indigenous parables, historical accounts, and narratives of his own experiences, he argues that seeking freedom in entangled worlds requires negotiating complex interdependencies.

Freedom in Entangled Worlds from Eben Kirksey on Vimeo.

Appeal for West Papuan Political Prisoner

The Indonesian Government has put  many political activists in West Papua in prison for their activities.  Many reliable reports from human rights organisations in West Papua suggest that these political prisoners are mistreated while in jail.  Many are tortured.  Prison authorities also tend to withhold or delay appropriate medical treatment for such political prisoners when they fall ill.

Our community and Church contacts in West Papua have approached us for help with the provision of medical treatment for one such political prisoner who had a stroke in December 2011 and is paralysed on one side of his body.  He is a 28 year old farmer from Wamena in Papua and has a life sentence.  Prison authorities are not providing him with the medical assistance he needs to prevent further deterioration in his condition.  We have been provided with a detailed account and costing for his treatment for the rest of this year.  The cost is $1400 and will pay for medication, physiotherapy, a special diet and hospital transport.  His family and local human rights organisations do not have the money to pay for this treatment.  We appeal for donations which can help pay for his treatment and treatment for others in similar circumstances.

You can send a cheque to CJPC, GPO Box 282, Brisbane Q 4001.  Cheques should be made out to “CJPC Brisbane West Papua Fund.”  You can also make a deposit into the account online.  Account details are:

Account Name: CJPC Brisbane West Papua Fund

Bank Name: CBA, 240 Queen Street, Brisbane  Q 4000.

BSB: 064786

ACC No. 520846001

Thank you for any help you can give.  Please circulate this to people in your networks too.

Peter Arndt

West Papua Solidarity Group Brisbane &

Executive Officer

Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of Brisbane

P:  (07) 3336 9173

F: (07) 3336 9177

M:  0409 265 476

Respect and Understanding Needed on Tent Embassy


Thursday 28 June 2012

Aboriginal Tent Embassy Brisbane

Aboriginal Tent Embassy Brisbane

The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane, along with its Aboriginal partners and advisors, welcomes the recent dropping of police charges against a number of people who came to support local Aboriginal people and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in May.

 It is our hope that charges against others arrested by police will also be dropped.

We do not want to see the ugly confrontation between police, the Brisbane City Council, Aboriginal people and their supporters, which occurred on 16 May at Musgrave Park, repeated.

The sight of over 200 police officers surrounding Aboriginal people at the Tent Embassy at Musgrave Park was a sorry reminder to Aboriginal people of the troubled and difficult relations they have experienced with the police in this State over many years.

The indignity of being evicted by force by police at the request of Council authorities from land with which they have a long and deep connection was also a sorry reminder of their dispossession and all its negative consequences.

We welcome the conciliatory and respectful approaches and dialogue which have taken place between the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Brisbane City Council officers and elders and representatives of the local Aboriginal communities since the confrontation.  It is hoped that this constructive approach will achieve positive outcomes for both the first peoples of this land and for the municipal authorities.

We implore both the State Government and the Queensland Police to follow the Council’s lead so that respectful and productive relationships can be established and cooperative partnerships can be formed to address the problems that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples face across Queensland.

As we approachAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday on 1 July and NAIDOC Week (July 1 – 8), we acknowledge efforts by Church agencies, parishes and schools to develop relationships with local Aboriginal people.  We encourage them to maintain and increase such efforts.

In particular, we encourage Catholics and people in the wider community to learn more about the history of Aboriginal peoples’ connection with Musgrave Park in South Brisbane and with other significant sites around south-east Queensland.

We also urge Catholics to learn more about the significance of the first Aboriginal Tent Embassy which was established in Canberra forty years ago and to walk with them on their on-going struggle for justice.

Finally, we wish to acknowledge the significant contribution of Aboriginal church workers and Aboriginal Christians who have worked tirelessly to support their sisters and brothers in the Tent Embassy in Musgrave Park since its establishment and for their long standing efforts to ensure that their people are afforded dignity in many difficult situations over many years.  These humble and faithful people are extraordinary witnesses to God’s abundant mercy and love.  May God continue to bless their work and inspire others to join them in their efforts to build a civilisation of love in Jesus’ name.

For further information and comment, please contact Peter Arndt (Catholic Justice & Peace Commission) on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476 or Ravina Waldren (Murri Ministry) on (07) 3891 5911 or 0408 707 101.

 This statement is issued by the Commission under the provisions of its mandate which enable it to speak in its own right and has been authorised by the Commission’s Executive and its Aboriginal advisors before release. 

Commission to Screen Queensland Documentary on World Environment Day


Friday 1 June 2012

 

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission will host a World Environment Day screening of a documentary film depicting the struggle of Central Queensland communities against coal and gas extraction in their region.

Directed by US-based filmmaker Michael O’Connell, the film, Bimblebox, follows the story of Paola Cassoni, a resident of Alpha, Queensland, and co-owner of the Bimblebox Nature Refuge.

Bimblebox Nature Refuge is an 8000 ha property north of Alpha and directly in the path of the proposed ‘China First’ coal mine, an operation that, if given the go ahead, will be the world’s largest coal mine.

The documentary features interviews with leading academics, scientists, and former miners, as well as members of the communities impacted by mining. , It builds a picture of the broader implications of Australia’s mining boom, while focussing on one woman’s fight to protect the land she loves.

“This documentary was born out of the necessity” Ms Cassoni said, “to let the broader public know that our bush, our communities, our farms and our waters are going through a radical transformation.”

“It shows the daily battles and frustrations of ordinary people in dealing with both mining corporations and indifferent Governments,” she said.

It’s more than a hint that we need a new direction in energy consumption both at home and globally,” she added.

Mr O’Connell is an experienced environmental documentary film maker, having previously made Mountain Top Removal, a documentary which focussed on the issue of coal mining in the US region of Appalachia and received numerous awards including the ‘Reel Current’ award, presented by Al Gore, at the Nashville Film Festival.

“After making my film Mountain Top Removal I wanted to look at the global issue of mining and also explore the alternatives to fossil fuels.  Australia was a perfect place to do that,” Mr O’Connell said.

The Justice and Peace Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission was keen to promote the broadest possible discussion of the issues surrounding coal mining and gas extraction in Queensland.

“This film gives us the chance to hear the views and feelings of people living in the central west of Queensland whose lives and lands will be directly affected by very large mining developments,” Mr Arndt said.

“Christians have a responsibility to care for the earth and to defend the human dignity of all people now and in the future,” he said.

“It is not only the very powerful voices of Government Ministers and mining company executives which must be heard, but also those of graziers, workers and families living in areas affected by the decisions and actions of government and business,” he said.

Bimblebox will screen at the Aspinall Centre, St Bernard’s Parish, Klumpp Road, Upper Mt Gravatt, at 7 p.m. on World Environment Day, Tuesday 5 June.

A panel of speakers will discuss the film after its screening and light refreshments will be served.

Donations to help cover costs will be gratefully accepted.  Bookings to help with catering may be made by e-mailing em.fl@bne.catholic.net.au or by phoning Sandi on 3336 9174.

Commission Calls for Carr to Change Tack on West Papua


Tuesday 13 March 2012

 

West Papua Solidarity Group Brisbane.

West Papua Solidarity Group Brisbane.

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has called on the new Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, to change the direction of Australia’s approach to conflict in the Indonesian provinces of West Papua.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the militarisation of West Papua had led to great problems in the region which is situated on the western half of the island of New Guinea.

“The indigenous Melanesian people of West Papua have never accepted the Indonesian takeover of West Papua in the 1960s,” Mr Arndt said.

“While there has been a small armed independence group in West Papua, nonviolent, peaceful groups challenging Indonesian rule and the abuses of security forces have grown in recent years,” he said.

“Despite their commitment to peaceful action, Indonesian security forces respond with brutal tactics to keep a lid on their activities,” he said.

“The Indonesian Minister for Law and Human Rights recently said there were no political prisoners in Indonesia, but many Papuans are in prison for peaceful political actions like raising the Papuan flag,” he said.

“There are five Papuan leaders currently on trial for treason after they made a declaration of independence at a large Papuan gathering last October,” he said.

“The brutal attack on that gathering of unarmed, peaceful people is unfortunately all too common in West Papua,” he said.

“We hope that the appointment of Mr Carr as Foreign Affairs Minister will give our country a chance to take a stronger stand on military brutality and intimidation in the region,” he said.

“We also hope Mr Carr can encourage the Indonesian Government to sit down with all political groups in West Papua and find a way to end a conflict which has lasted fifty years,” he said.

“Australia cannot continue to hope this problem will go away,” he said.

“Ordinary citizens, human rights defenders and peaceful political activists have been subjected to many human rights violations and Australia must do its part to help end this concerning situation,” he said.

“There needs to be a new way found to end the violence and bring about peace in West Papua,” he said.

“This problem on our doorstep will continue to simmer and worsen unless we can encourage Indonesia to take Papuan hopes and concerns seriously,” he said.

The Commission helps to facilitate a local solidarity group, the West Papua Solidarity Group Brisbane.  On this Friday 16 March at Anzac Square, 4.30 – 5.30 p.m., the Group will hold a public demonstration in support of the five Papuans on trial and of human rights in West Papua.

The group will also send a message of support to the five Papuans before the end of this week when, it is believed, their trial will conclude.  It is currently collecting signatures from supporters before sending the message.

Mr Arndt said the Commission will continue to support the group’s efforts to lobby the Australian Government on human rights in West Papua.

Australia Should Challenge Military Violence in West Papua

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission urged the Australian Government to take a stronger stand on killings and violence by Indonesian security forces in West Papua.

This follows a number of recent incidents in which Indonesian soldiers killed, injured and arrested Papuans who were engaged in peaceful political demonstrations and industrial action.

On October 10, around 8000 workers from the Freeport Mine were at a public meeting in the town of Timika. This was part of their continuing industrial action seeking a pay increase from US$1.50 to $12.50 an hour.

Security forces fired on a group of workers while they were listening to speeches and, as a result, one of the workers, Petrus Ayamsemba was killed and several others were injured and taken to hospital.

It is also alleged that security violence at the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Abepura on 19 October led to the deaths of at least six people and injury to many others.

It is believed that, during the Congress, a declaration of independence was made and Forkorus Yaboisembut was named as President and Edison Waromi as Prime Minister of the Federated State of West Papua.

Indonesian authorities have seen the actions taken by Papuan people at the Congress as an act of subversion and a number of people have been arrested.

The Justice and Peace Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the use of violence and lethal force by Indonesian security forces to deal with peaceful protesters is a matter of grave concern.

“It is our understanding that both the Freeport workers’ industrial action and the Congress were conducted in a peaceful, nonviolent manner,” Mr Arndt said.

“It is immensely disturbing that workers who peacefully demonstrate about their poor wages should be shot at and killed or injured,” he said.

“While the Indonesian Government may have seen the aims of the political protest at Abepura and participants’ actions as provocative, it is appalling that peaceful protesters should be killed, injured and beaten,” he said.

“We work with people who are in regular contact with Papuans who tell them that violence against citizens in West Papua is a frequent occurrence,” he said.

“I have written to the Australian Government on several occasions this year and to each Queensland Senator and Federal MP in South-East Queensland to express concerns about on-going military violence in West Papua,” he said.

“I have pointed out that there is military cooperation between Australia and Indonesia and that, as a military partner, we should be taking a stronger stand on reports of frequent abuses by Indonesian security forces,” he said.

“While the Australian Government appears to have challenged Indonesian authorities over one specific incident of torture by Indonesian soldiers caught on video last year, it does not appear that it is vigorously and substantially challenging the widespread and prolonged violent abuse of the human rights of citizens in West Papua,” he said.

“Australia and Indonesia are good friends,” he said.

“As a friend and military partner, Australia should be able to express our concerns much more strongly about the way Indonesia’s army and police treat people in West Papua,” he said.

“The Commission will continue to press the Government, local MPs and Senators on this atrocious behaviour,” 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

Deaths in Custody Campaign Launched

Sunday 2 October 2011

Memorial Candle at Launch of Campaign

Memorial Candle at Launch of Campaign

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission and the Archdiocesan Murri Ministry Team joined together to launch a campaign to get Government action to address on-going Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody.

The campaign was launched last Wednesday evening at Musgrave Park, South Brisbane, on the anniversary of the death in custody of a 16 year old Aboriginal youth, John Pat, in 1983.

John Pat was punched and kicked by off-duty police officers when he tried to help another Aboriginal man who was involved in a fight with the police officers outside a hotel in Roeburn, Western Australia.

Pat died as a result of his injuries.  Charges were laid against the police involved, but none was convicted.

John Pat’s death was one of 99 Aboriginal deaths in custody investigated by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody which delivered its final report to the Federal Government twenty years ago this April.

The event was chaired by the Director of Brisbane Murri Watch, Mr Ken Georgetown, and prominent elders, Aunty Alex Gater and Aunty Jean Phillips, led prayers during the launch.

Candles were lit to remember John Pat and all the other Indigenous people who have died in paddy wagons, watch houses and jails throughout Australia.

The Coordinator of the Murri Ministry Team, Ms Ravina Waldren, said she had a heavy heart as she remembered the many Aboriginal people who have died in custody over the years.

“I feel deep pain knowing that my people keep dying in custody,” Ms Waldren said.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that Governments must take action to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission if Aboriginal deaths in custody are to stop.

“The Royal Commission made 339 recommendations, but most of them have not been implemented,” Mr Arndt said.

“Since the Royal Commission handed down its report, there have been almost four hundred more black deaths in custody,” he said.

“The fact that the rate of Indigenous imprisonment continues to rise is a major contributing factor,” he said.

The campaign is supported by many Indigenous and community organisations.

Its objectives include:

A full audit of the implemantation of the Royal Commision’s recommendations and all deaths in custody in the last twenty years

  • Inclusion of justice as one of the key indicators which are targeted for improvement by the Council of Australian Governments;
  • The establishment of a fully funded national Deaths in Custody Watch Committee;
  • The establishment of a Royal Commission into the death in custody of Mulrunje on Palm Island in 2004 and all subsequent actions by the Queensland Government, police and other authorities involved in dealing with the case.

The campaign organisers are arranging a number of other events this year including a prayer vigil on 7 November, the anniversary of the death of young Brisbane Aboriginal man, Daniel Yock, and a rally and march on 19 November, the anniversary of the death of Mulrunje on Palm Island.

“It is high time that things changed for the better and we will keep going with our campaign to ensure that Governments listen and take action,” Ms Waldren said.

An initial information sheet has been produced and will be available on the Commission’s blog at http://cjpcbrisbane.wordpress.com/ Queensland Churches Together Indigenous Peoples Partnership will also distribute it to congregations and parishes in all member churches throughout the State.

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.
Media Release Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Campaign 2011

Deaths in Custody launch fact sheet