Tag Archives: Detention

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 Calls on Australia to Back Sri Lankan War Crimes Report

Monday 24 May 2010

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has called on the Australian Government to support the recommendations of the International Crisis Group’s (ICG) report on possible war crimes in the last year of the Sri Lankan civil war which ended a year ago.

The ICG report says there is compelling evidence to suggest the Sri Lankan military intentionally shelled civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations and that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) intentionally shot civilians and caused them suffering.

It says that it has collected a compelling case to warrant an international inquiry into possible war crimes on both sides of the conflict.

The ICG has put together its report with the help of eyewitness reports, photographs, videos, satellite images, electronic communications and documentary evidence.

Apart from calling on the United Nations to undertake an international inquiry into possible war crimes during the last year of the conflict, the report makes recommendations for action to a number of countries including Australia.

Among these recommendations, the report calls for targeted sanctions such as the imposition of travel restrictions on Sri Lankan officials and their families.

The Justice and Peace Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the ICG report criticizes countries like Australia for turning a blind eye to the evidence of human rights violations during the conflict.

“It is important that those responsible for human rights violations be held accountable for their actions,” Mr Arndt said.

“Many governments like the Australian Government want to forget all about the dreadful things which were done both by the Sri Lankan military and the Tamil Tigers, but this is a grave injustice to the thousands of Tamil civilians who were killed and maimed in the conflict,” he said.

“There is no hope for political reconciliation and peace in Sri Lanka if those responsible for these injustices are not held accountable for them,” he said.

“Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II often said there is ‘no peace without justice’,” he said.

“In a petition with over two thousand signatures which we submitted to the Senate last year, we called for a credible investigation into human rights violations in Sri Lanka and we continue to urge the Australian Government to support this,” he said.

”If we believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we must believe that the lives of the individual Tamil civilians who suffered at the hands of the Sri Lankan military and the Tamil Tigers mean something,” he said.

“They are the mothers and fathers and sons and daughters of human beings just like us and they deserve justice,” he said.

“We hope Catholics will read the ICG report and tell their local MP that they want Australia to take strong action for the sake of all those who have suffered in Sri Lanka,” 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.

Asylum Seekers’ Plight Demands Action on Human Rights of Tamil Detainees

Monday 19 October 2009

Freedom for Detainees in Sri Lanka

Freedom for Detainees in Sri Lanka

In the wake of the current controversy over the treatment of Sri Lankan asylum seekers, Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has called on the Prime Minister to take action to end the detention of Tamil civilians in camps run by the military in Sri Lanka.

The Commission’s Executive officer, Peter Arndt, said that the silence and inaction of the Prime Minister on the plight of Tamils in camps in the north and east of Sri Lanka was unacceptable.

“Attempts by our Government to outsource the processing of the refugee claims of Sri Lankan asylum seekers to Indonesia heaps further suffering and inhumanity on those who are already suffering greatly because of the actions of the Sri Lankan Government,” Mr Arndt said.

“Why is Mr Rudd so blistering in his attacks on people smugglers while he remains silent about the appalling conditions faced by hundreds of thousands of Tamils locked up in camps in Sri Lanka?” he said.

“Why is Mr Rudd so keen to stop Sri Lankan asylum seekers from finding refuge from the horrors they have faced at home, yet  is so reluctant to take action to challenge the legality of Sri Lanka’s detention of its own citizens?” he said.

“Representatives of the United Nations and many reputable international organisations such as Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists have spoken out repeatedly about the outrageous conditions and human rights abuses in the Sri lankan detention camps, but Mr Rudd’s Government says nothing but that he will stop Sri Lankans and other asylum seekers from getting to our shores,” he said.

“Other Governments such as Great Britain, France and Sweden are sending senior Ministers to Sri Lanka and preparing to impose sanctions on that country, but all Mr Rudd’s Government is doing is trying to keep suffering Sri Lankans out of Australia,” he said.

Mr Arndt said that the Federal Government should be responding to the plight of asylum seekers with great compassion.

“We should be prepared to accept more refugees from Sri Lanka and should also be part of a much broader international push to find safe homes quickly for the world’s forty million refugees,” Mr Arndt said.

“Mr Rudd promised to be more active in promoting human rights internationally,” he said.

“Why isn’t he urging the British Commonwealth to take strong action against Sri Lanka for its human rights abuses as the Commonwealth did in relation to the coup in Fiji?” he said.

“As Christians, we seek to stand with the Tamil asylum seekers and detainees because Jesus told us that we must respond compassionately to the needs of the hungry, the sick, the stranger who comes to our door and those who are held in prison,” he said.

“We urge Catholics to support those seeking asylum and those in camps in Sri Lanka by continuing to tell their local MPs and Senators that the Government must act to end the suffering of Tamils in Sri Lanka,” he said.

“We must have strong action to address the root cause of this dreadful situation, the Sri Lankan Government’s unacceptable treatment of Tamils,” he said.

Sri Lanka Petition Handed Over

Prayer and Presentation of Tamil Petition October 8 2009

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.

Sri Lanka Petition Handed Over

Media Release

Friday 9 October 2009

Sri Lanka Petition Handover October 8 2009

Sri Lanka Petition Handover October 8 2009


A petition calling on the Federal Government to pressure the Sri Lankan Government to release Tamil civilians detained in camps in the north of the country was handed over to Queensland Senator Claire Moore on Thursday evening during a prayer service.

The petition was organised by Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission and attracted over 2400 signatures.

Over 50 people, including a number of Tamils living in Brisbane, attended the service which was held at St Oliver Plunkett Catholic Church at Cannon Hill.

The Chair of the Commission, Mr Rick Sheehan, presented the petition to Senator Moore who said that the petition would be lodged in the Senate at its next sitting at the end of October.

Mr Sheehan said that, despite claims to the contrary by the Sri Lankan Government, conditions for those detained in the camps were still very por.

Senator Moore said that it was clear that the human rights of people detained in the camps were not being respected.

“I cannot promise you that we will be able to change the situation in Sri Lanka,” Senator Moore said.

“However, if our Government is to continue to act on this dreadful situation, it is vital that people continue to let their local Members of Parliament and Senators know that they are concerned,” she said.

The Commission’s Executive officer, Peter Arndt, said that United Nations officials continue to express grave concerns about conditions in the camps.

“With the onset of the monsoon season, things are likely to get even worse,” Mr Arndt said.

“These people should be released quickly and we hope that Catholics will continue to pray for them and to also tell their MPs that things must change in Sri Lanka,” he said.

The Commission is committed to continuing action on the issue until Tamil detainees are released and a genuine reconciliation process is in place.

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.

Prayer and Presentation of Tamil Petition October 8 2009

CJPC Logo

CJPC Logo

Support for Tamils
Hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians are still detained in camps in Sri Lanka almost 5 months after the bloody conflict between the Sri Lankan military and the Tamil Tigers. The United Nations has repeatedly expressed concerns about the camp conditions and the arrival of the monsoon season is likely to make those conditions much worse.The Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace  Commission will hold a special service to pray for those still detained in the camps and for justice and peace in Sri Lanka.

During the service, the petitions calling for Australian Government action on the Sri Lankan situation will be handed over to Senator Claire Moore for lodgement in the Senate at its next sitting.

The service will be held this Thursday 8 October at 6.30 pm. At St Oliver Plunkett Church, 21 Beauvardia Street, Cannon Hill. All are welcome.