This continuing action by the Federal Government ,and seemingly supported by the Opposition, is fundamentally immoral. It is cruel, it is hard-hearted, small-minded and short-sighted. It is immoral to punish one group of people to target another group. This cruel, unnecessary and harsh treatment of people escaping the violence and conflict in Sri Lanka will only add to their trauma. The criticism that they paid a significant amount of money to escape Sri Lanka says more about us - would we pool our money etc to help people from our family or community to escape a situation of violence? Can the politicians not see or understand that some people have a greater sense of community than their small sminds and hearts can comprehend. This email is also going to Kevin Andrews and to Kevin Rudd.
Silence is not to be neutral but taking taking sides with the 'oppressor'.
Claude Mostowik msc
Pax Christi Australia NSW
Sri Lankans face 'limbo' on Nauru
Jewel Topsfield, CanberraThe Age March 16, 2007
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A GROUP of Sri Lankan asylum seekers face being left in limbo on Nauru after the Government signalled they would not be resettled in Australia even if found to be genuine refugees.
Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews yesterday said 82 "illegal arrivals", intercepted by the Australian navy near Christmas Island last month, would be transferred to Nauru to "send a strong message to those considering any attempt to enter Australia illegally".
When asked if the men, who are Tamils, could settle in Australia if they were found to be refugees, Mr Andrews said: "Our efforts will be aimed at settling them elsewhere. Once again we don't want to give a green light to people indirectly getting to Australia by this method."
But immigration lawyers and refugee advocates have warned the Sri Lankans could be cast into indefinite exile on Nauru.
A spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the men could face a "prolonged stay on Nauru in a limbo-like situation waiting for a solution to their plight".
"Our experience in the past was that other resettlement states generally felt people intercepted by Australia were its responsibility, but there may be particular circumstances with this caseload that would warrant other countries taking them," she said.
Under the so-called Pacific solution, asylum seekers who do not reach the Australian mainland are processed in offshore centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, without access to the Australian legal system.
Of the first group of more than 1200 asylum seekers to be processed on Nauru, more than 480 were resettled in Australia and another 274 were mostly resettled in New Zealand.
The UNHCR said only about 4 per cent of those processed on Nauru and Manus Island had been accepted by countries including Canada, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
"In our experience they largely only took those cases that already had family links in their respective territories," the spokeswoman said. More than 50 asylum seekers spent more than 3½ years on Nauru. Twenty five were resettled in Australia in 2005 after a mental health team warned that several were suicidal.
Mr Andrews yesterday told the ABC it was "hypothetical" whether Australia would accept any asylum seekers if they could not find other homes.
"I don't need to address that at this stage except to say we will work with the UN as we have in the past to settle any genuine refugee claimants somewhere else in the world."
Since 1983, there has been sporadic civil war in Sri Lanka, predominantly between the Government and the Tamil Tigers, which is estimated to have claimed the lives of more than 68,000 people.
The asylum seekers, who reputedly paid people smugglers between $US5000 ($A6390) and $US10,000 each to make the boat journey, will be flown to Nauru at the weekend after having health checks on Christmas Island.