Tag Archives: Aslyum

World Refugee Week 2010

World Refugee Week 2010 k theme was  Freedom from Fear.  The Refugee Council of Australia produced a series of resources for the Week including a poster, facts and figures about refugees, an event planning guide and teacher materials.
Fr Pan Jordan op and Sr Wendy Flannery rsm at World Refugee Rally , Brisbane June 20 2010

Fr Pan Jordan op and Sr Wendy Flannery rsm at World Refugee Rally , Brisbane June 20 2010

Among the more than 200 people who gathered in Reddacliff Square, Brisbane  on World Refugee Day, June 20, were representatives from parishes, religious communities and  the Brisbane Catholic  Justice and Peace Commission.

Fr Pan Jordan OP was one of the speakers and spoke of  the plight of Tamil refugees.Fr Jordan quoted the report from the International Crisis Group which has gathered evidence of the ongoing human rights abuses among Tamils. He also called on the Federal Government to lift the suspension of processing of refugee claims by people from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

In a recent statement the Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace Commission noted that many significant international organisations and some major Sri Lankan bodies such as the Superiors of Major Religious Congregations have expressed serious concerns about the Sri Lankan Government’s lack of commitment to the rule of law, democracy, proper governance, human rights and freedom of the media.They also have doubts about the Sri Lankan Government’s commitment to political reconciliation which will see minorities such as the Tamils freed from discrimination and oppression.

Commission Criticises Asylum Seeker Decision

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has expressed its concerns about the Federal Government’s decision to suspend processing of protection claims from Sri Lankan and Afghani asylum seekers.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the decision shows no respect or compassion for Sri Lankan and Afghani asylum seekers.

“This blanket suspension of processing claims from Sri Lankans and Afghanis does not treat people as human beings with personal stories and experiences but as bureaucratic categories devoid of any human dignity,” Mr Arndt said.

“Our fundamental concern in relation to the refugee policies of both the Government and the Opposition is whether they prioritise the dignity of individual human beings who seek asylum,” he said.

“We are concerned to see that compassion and respect for human dignity underpin their policies and decisions,” he said.

“For us, these ‘strangers’ who come to our shores seeking protection must be treated in the same way as we would treat Jesus himself if he arrived in a boat,” he said.

“Jesus told us that we must welcome strangers and, when we do so, we are welcoming him,” he said.

“These asylum seekers challenge us to be signs of God’s love in the midst of much fear and mean-spirited attitudes,” he said.

“The Government’s decision, besides being heartless and inhuman, simply makes no sense,” he said.

“It is unbelievable that the Government needs time to assess what it says are changing circumstances in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan,” he said.

“It is the job of Foreign Affairs staff in Canberra and embassy staff in these countries to keep abreast of developments in those countries and to keep the Government informed,” he said.

“There should be no need for us to wait for three to six months to conduct an assessment which should be available to the Government and constantly updated as a matter of course,” he said.

“In fact, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Smith, made a statement to Parliament about conditions in Sri Lanka only a couple of weeks ago,” he said.

“We do not need to wait for months for a re-assessment when he has detailed a long list of human rights concerns in Sri Lanka which the Australian Government is monitoring,” he said.

“It is incredible that the Government thinks things have improved in Sri Lanka when there are on-going reports of human rights abuses including ones which suggest that journalists and newspaper editors were arrested or intimidated during this month’s Parliamentary elections,” he said.

“It is just as extraordinary to hear that the Government thinks things may be better in Afghanistan when fighting is still going on there,” he said.

“The Opposition’s policies are just as concerning because they want harsher, tougher and more inhuman treatment of asylum seekers,” he said.

“We, once again, urge Christians to adopt attitudes to asylum seekers which show the same love and generous compassion which Christ showed,” 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.

Commission Urges Fairness and Compassion for Asylum Seekers

 

Wednesday 31 March 2010

 Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged Catholics to be voices for fairness and compassion for asylum seekers in the current debate over the treatment of asylum seekers arriving by boat.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that comments by politicians in both the Government and the Opposition and a recent front page article in the Sunday Mail have the effect of de-humanising asylum seekers and robbing them of their God-given dignity.

“We appeal to Catholics to defend the right of people to seek asylum in our country and to be treated as human beings and not as demons to be feared or as objects to be used for political or commercial benefit,” Mr Arndt said.

 “Both major parties are trying to show that they are tough with boat arrivals and they are causing a lot of suffering and unfairness for people seeking asylum,” he said.

 “All our politicians need to remember that Australia is a signatory to the international convention which recognises the right of people fleeing persecution and violence to seek asylum,” he said.

“We, as a  nation which says it respects and defends human rights, should not be trying to turn asylum seekers away or get other countries to hold them in unsatisfactory conditions,” he said.

“Whipping up fears that we are being over-run by asylum seekers is simply dishonest and leads to mis-treatment of people,” he said.

“We should remember that less than 25000 people have come by boat seeking asylum in Australia in more than 30 years,” he said.

“That is no flood and no reason to propose harsh and inhuman treatment of asylum seekers nor to create fear about boat arrivals,” he said.

 “We should also expect that the media should be responsible in covering the current asylum seeker debate,” he said.

 “The Sunday Mail’s recent front page story on asylum seekers being taken on a supervised shopping trip in Brisbane was regrettable,” he said.

 “The headline ‘They’re Here’ gives you the impression that the paper thinks we have something to fear,” he said.

 “People who seek asylum should have their claims for protection assessed and, if they prove to be legitimate, be recognised as refugees,” he said.

 “We should reject the attempts by fearmongers in politics and the media to foster resentment towards our fellow human beings,” he said.

 “As Christians, we see asylum seekers as our sisters and brothers,” he said.

 “It is our responsibility to defend their human dignity and to encourage our politicians and the community to treat them with compassion and fairness,” 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.