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Asylum Seekers must be treated humanely

Asylum seekers must be treated humanely - from Jesuit Social Services, 26 July 2013

In recent weeks, we have seen the Australian Government and Opposition introduce new policies with regard to asylum seekers. Jesuit Social Services has been concerned for some time at the way asylum seekers are being treated and our concerns have only been strengthened by these recent announcements. A range of reasons has been posited for these policies, including continuing numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat, tragic accidents at sea in which lives have been lost, and the desire of political parties to present a response to this issue that can be taken to the upcoming federal election. In our view, much of this misses the point.

Jesuit Social Services insists that at the heart of our thinking and debate on this issue must be an understanding of all asylum seekers as human beings and a commitment to treating them with respect for their human dignity no matter what the circumstances of their arrival in this country. Our treatment of asylum seekers must stem from a recognition of their inherent human dignity and be consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees. To use them as political pawns is a desperate failure of vision and policy.

Jesuit Social Services does not believe that pushing boats back or sending asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea are actions consistent with their human dignity. Papua New Guinea is not capable of coping with such influxes in an acceptable humanitarian way. Nor do we believe that it would be ethical to treat one group of people in this way in order to save the lives of others.

View this song below by hip hop artist and tutor from the Artful Dodgers Studios (part of Jesuit Community College) Pataphysics, as a contemporary way to understand the issues. It reminds us of the need to remember that fundamentally this issue is about human beings fleeing conflict and persecution. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7c4RkLv5zA&feature=player_embedded

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