Archbishop calls on Ruddock to let the East Timorese stay
Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference president Archbishop Francis Carroll has written to Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock with an urgent plea to allow a group of East Timorese asylum seekers to stay in Australia.
It is the second time Archbishop Carroll (pictured) has written to the minister on behalf of the group of about 1800 asylum seekers.
The first letter, followed by a brief meeting with Mr Ruddock, produced no concession from the government.
The government expects the East Timorese, many of whom are children and have lived their whole lives in Australia to return to their impoverished and unstable homeland.
Archbishop Carroll urged Mr Ruddock to give "sympathetic attention" to their plight.
"The Catholic Church has many agencies and individuals who are in constant communication with East Timor," he wrote. "Their reports indicate that the country is very poor, unemployment is high and there is still inadequate housing for the current population.
"These people are mainly Catholic and have become respected and valued members of our Church community."
The level of support within the Catholic community was demonstrated with 40,000 signatures on a national petition, which Archbishop Carroll presented personally to the Minister during their brief meeting in December.
In his letter Archbishop Carroll restated his request that the government create a special visa category to acknowledge the special circumstances of the East Timorese people in question.
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Plea to allow E Timor asylum seekers in NT to stay (ABC)
Let the East Timorese Stay!
Vinnies works with NT Govt to help Timorese appeals (27/11/02)
Church agencies repeat call to let Timorese stay (18/11/02)
Ultimatum to East Timorese: why should you stay? (The Sun-Herald)
Timorese asylum claims blocked by secret freeze (Sydney Morning Herald)
Church lobbies Ruddock to keep East Timorese in Australia (30/10/02)
Grant Residency to East Timorese in Australia (ACLRI, 29/10/02)
Australian Catholic Migration and Refugee Office Council
No Longer in Exile?: Shifting experiences of Home, Homeland & Identity for the East Timorese refugee diaspora in Australia following East Timor's independence (Amanda Wise, Institute for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney)
Timorese asylum claims blocked by secret freeze (SMH 18/11/02)
20 Feb 2003