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Jesuit group backs Iraqi assertion on Australian treatment of Iraqis

The Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre has said that liberation of Iraqis should "begin at home" in Australia's detention centres.

Director Sr Patty Fawkner sayd that Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Sayed Jamaluddin was correct to criticise the discrepancy between Australia's purported mission in Iraq and its treatment of Iraqi asylum seekers at home.

The sheik told Australian officials in Iraq on Tuesday at a meeting to map out Iraq's future that: "If you come here and tell us that we need to build an Iraq that is democratic and respects human rights, you should respect the rights of the Iraqis who happen to be in your prisons."

Commenting on the speech, Sr Fawkner said that Australia continues to violate the human rights of Iraqi and other asylum seekers as many of them have lingered for months and now years in detention centres in Australia and on the Nauru and Manus islands.

"Many Iraqis have fled Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship but did not find understanding, compassion or justice from the Australian government," she said. "They found mistrust and a cruel and unfair system of detention."

"Australia went to Iraq on a purported mission to liberate the people of Iraq. Liberation, like charity, begins at home.

"Liberation could be at hand for the 152 Iraqi children, women and men who are still being detained and for those who struggle to survive in the limbo of temporary protection. Liberation could come for these Iraqi citizens if the federal government matched the war-justifying rhetoric of concern for the people of Iraq with quick, practical, decisive and compassionate action closer to home."


Ruddock: cleric misleading (Sydney Morning Herald)
Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre

17 Apr 2003