Wednesday, February 17, 2016

New Zealand offers to take 267 asylum seekers, including 37 babies, from Australia

The country’s prime minister, John Key, says the ‘sensible and compassionate’ offer still stands despite Australia ‘historically rejecting it’

Asylum seekers facing deportation to Nauru and Manus Island by the Australian government could go to New Zealand if they are found to be refugees, the country’s prime minister has said.

On Monday John Key indicated his country could provide a solution to the standoff over the 267 people slated to be returned to offshore processing centres.
Thousands rally Australia-wide against offshore detention of asylum seekers
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In 2013 agreement was brokered between his and the then prime minister Julia Gillard’s government. The agreement allows for New Zealand to take 150 refugees a year from Australia’s immigration system as part of its annual intake of 750 people.

Key reiterated the “sensible and compassionate” offer still stood, if Australia asked, Fairfax reported.

“Historically the Australians have said no but it is part of the 750 allocation that we have and if they wanted us to take people then – subject to them meeting the criteria – the New Zealand government would be obliged to do that because we’ve given that commitment that we’d do so,” Key said ahead of a meeting with the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

In January Guardian Australia reported that Australia had never taken up the offer but it remained open, despite the former prime minister, Tony Abbott, effectively shelving when he took office.

Among those facing deportation are 37 babies born in Australia to asylum seeker parents, and another 54 children, some of whom are attending school. A high court decision this month ruled Australia’s offshore processing regime legal. The government had introduced retrospective legislation after the case had begun.

Key said it was “potentially possible” the 37 babies could be accepted by New Zealand but “it would need to fit within the criteria that they are refugees as defined by the broader category that we take”.

Should it go ahead, a transfer would probably have to happen after July. A spokeswoman for New Zealand’s immigration minister, Michael Woodhouse, told Guardian Australia this year’s 150 places had been absorbed into the total 750 and used to accommodate Syrian refugees.

Key’s suggestion is likely to fuel community pressure on the Australian government over its plans to return the asylum seekers to Manus and Nauru, where abuses against asylum seekers have been documented. Mass protests have called for an amnesty allowing the asylum seekers – and particularly the Australian-born babies and their families – to be allowed to stay.
Churches offer sanctuary to asylum seekers facing deportation to Nauru
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State leaders on both sides of politics have offered to take the asylum seekers, and a number of churches have offered sanctuary – an ancient biblical concept that is not legally recognised in Australian law.

A Brisbane hospital has refused to discharge a baby, known as Asha, because it believes Nauru is not a safe environment for a child. Other medical workers have also spoken out in defiance of the Border Force Act which criminalises the discussion of detention conditions by “entrusted persons”.

This week the leading medical journal the Lancet described Australia’s offshore detention policies as “scandalously objectionable”.

Turnbull and Australia’s immigration minister, Peter Dutton, have said the government must continue its hard-line stance to prevent a resurgence in people smuggling.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Statement from Pax Christi Australia - 4 February 2016

Pax Christi Australia is a branch of the International Ecumenical Peace movement, Pax Christi International. Pax Christi is heartened and encouraged by the actions of some churches in this country in their response to the recent High Court 6-1 decision to support the deportation of people back to Nauru. These churches have decided to offer sanctuary to refugees facing deportation to renewed violence and violations of their human rights. Pax Christi Australia is calling on more churches, parishes and cathedrals to stand together in reviving an ancient Christian tradition in providing sanctuary inside a church where people fleeing unjust civil authorities can reside. We acknowledge that it is not recognised in common law now, but the action of the churches is a challenge to a policy that has been and continues to harm innocent people who have not committed a crime.

This solidarity is not about politics but very much related to humanity and morality. Many commentators outside the church have stated that though the High Court has decreed the legality of Government legislation this does not mean it is moral or humane. We have recently condemned legal actions in Saudi Arabia in the knowledge that legality does not equal morality or humanity.

Pax Christi Australia is calling on the wider church in Australia in join together in this movement. This is a time to show courage and leadership where many people despair at the inhumanity that is perpetrated again innocent people. This leadership will also offer people who think that all laws must be followed irrespective of the harm they do that there is another way… the way of the gospel and Christ’s example.

To remain inactive and silent in the face of injustice, to not stand in solidarity with those who have the courage to resist injustice would leave a great stain on our humanity as well as violating the humanity of people who are victims of all kinds of abuse under these laws.

Along with the churches who have offered sanctuary, Pax Christi Australia cannot ignore the consequences of the High Court ruling which many recognise will inflict further trauma on already traumatised people. People have suffered and been traumatised. We will not say yes to further trauma being caused.

Fr Claude Mostowik msc
Pax Christi Australia
February 4, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

ICAN Australia Black Mist White Rain Speaking Tour 2016

“We heard it here, loud and clear, and felt the ground shake. We seen the radiation fall out over our camp. It was moving very quietly and very deadly.” – Yami Lester, South Australia.

“People were playing with the fallout as it fell from the sky… We put it in our hair as if it was soap or shampoo. But later I lost all my hair from it.” – Rinok Riklon, Republic of the Marshall Islands.

This coming April, ICAN Australia is hitting the road for a special speaking tour. Over four days in four cities, we'll explore the ongoing impacts of nuclear testing in our region and the inspiring triumph of cultural survival.

Join the Tour in your city to hear from Sue Coleman-Haseldine, Kokatha-Mula woman from Ceduna, Abacca Anjain-Maddison, from the Marshall Islands, and more inspiring people who will share their stories from the frontlines of nuclear testing; stories that bring home the urgent necessity of a treaty to outlaw the nuclear bomb.

Monday 4th April in Adelaide
Tuesday 5th April in Melbourne
Wednesday 6th April in Sydney
Thursday 7th April in Brisbane