Tag Archives: Refugees

Commission Urges Catholics to Prioritise Human Dignity in Refugee Debate

Monday 20 April 2009

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission urged Catholics to put a priority on the human dignity of those recently seeking asylum in Australia.

This follows the new debate about Australia’s refugee policy which has emerged since a boat carrying asylum seekers headed for Australia exploded causing death and serious injury to many on board.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission is concerned by a range of comments which are critical of asylum seekers and which also seek a return to harsher refugee policies.

“The Commission is concerned that some Australians are already expressing very negative sentiments towards those seeking asylum in Australia,” Mr Arndt said.

“It is also worried by those who accuse the Federal Government of encouraging greater numbers of asylum seekers to come to Australia by ‘softening’ our refugee policy,” he said.

“The most important thing we must keep in mind in this current situation is that asylum seekers coming to Australia are human beings who are fleeing from dreadful situations,” he said.

“We cannot return to policies which clearly caused enormous harm to people who were already traumatized by their experiences in their homeland,” he said.

“Subjecting people to the psychological distress caused by indefinite detention in Australia, by letting them stay indefinitely on Nauru and by putting them on temporary protection visas is inhuman,” he said.

“If we believe that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, we cannot support actions which degrade and harm our fellow human beings,” he said.

“We ask Catholics to stand up for the human dignity of people seeking asylum,” he said.

“We cannot stand silent and allow cruel and inhuman treatment of those seeking refuge in Australia to be proposed again,” he said.

“We must all try to find out more about the horrible things that people are experiencing in places like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and in refugee camps around the world so that we can understand why people are so desperate to come to places like Australia,” he said.

“As Christians, we must promote compassion and love, not cruelty and hate,” 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.

American Refugee Film Has Australian Parallels

American Refugee Film Has Australian Parallels

Three Afghan Australians who came to this country as refugees saw parallels between their own experiences and the stories of young Mexicans who sought asylum in the USA.

Reza Jaffari, Shah Hussein Hassani and Hussein Ali Nadiri joined another fifty people who watched the screening of a documentary which tells the stories of young unaccompanied Mexicans seeking asylum in the USA and the work of Christian groups in America who support asylum seekers and refugees.

The award-winning film, Posada, was introduced by its producer, US Jesuit Fr Mark McGregor. He also led a discussion following the screening.

The screening was co-hosted by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane and the Archdiocesan Centre for Multicultural Pastoral Care.

Both the refugees and refugee supporters who attended agreed that the comparisons between the Australian and American situations were strong.

“Just like in the film, we were treated badly by the Government but were supported by people in the community,” Mr Hassani said.

Fr Mcgregor said that his film encouraged Christians to go beyond offering hospitality and encouraged them to walk in solidarity with those who seek asylum.

The Justice and Peace Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that this is what many Catholics had done here in Brisbane over the last seven years.

“Many Catholics have gone beyond offering food and clothing to asylum seekers and become advocates of compassionate and just treatment of those who come to our shores,” Mr Arndt said.

“We continue to be inspired by the courage of asylum seekers and the good people who walk in solidarity with them, whether it is in America or in our own land,” he said.

“We strongly encourage parishes and schools to get a copy of the film and to use it as a powerful tool to educate people about the meaning of Christian solidarity,” he added.

Copies of the DVD can be ordered on-line .

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.