Treatment of asylum seekers hits all-time low as public debate sinks even lower

Treatment of asylum seekers hits all-time low as public debate sinks even lower

The Uniting Church in Australia has condemned the Federal Government for the disgraceful treatment of asylum seekers on Nauru outlined in the November 23 report by Amnesty International.

“Amnesty’s report on the conditions on Nauru should turn the stomach of all compassionate Australians,” said National Director of UnitingJustice, the Rev. Elenie Poulos.

“The cruel and degrading conditions which Amnesty describes are totally unacceptable and unbefitting a rich country such as ours.

“The Uniting Church joins with Amnesty in calling for the closure of the centre at Nauru and  the immediate return of all asylum seekers. The report confirms our worst fears that the current policies do nothing more than punish and abuse these vulnerable people for seeking asylum.”

Ms Poulos also criticised both major political parties for what she called their abject moral failure to show compassion to those in need.

“Opposition Leader Tony Abbott continues to call asylum seekers ‘illegal’ despite the fact that that he knows that it is not illegal to seek asylum in Australia.

“He is deliberately demonising asylum seekers for base political gain. His rhetoric is offensive and immoral, and his threat to cut the increased humanitarian intake as a cost-cutting measure is disgraceful.

“The Government’s response is little better with the inhumane application of its ‘No Advantage test’ that will consign people to living in destitution and legal limbo for years.

“As we approach Christmas, let us not forget that Mary and Joseph were themselves fleeing persecution when they sought safety in Bethlehem!

“The refugee baby they raised went on to shape the world with his message of care and compassion.

“Today, Australia’s borders are not under threat from asylum seekers. What is most under threat is our humanity and compassion,” said Ms Poulos.

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