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Jesuit Centre condemns detention centre climate of violence

An international report's condemnation of Australia as the only western nation in its list of 65 countries where religious violence is a concern, is disturbing, according to the Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre.

Uniya Director Sr Patty Fawkner was responding to annual Violence against Christians report of the German-based international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

The Report, available for download from the charity's Australian website, includes two separate incidences of violence which is claims were induced by religious persecution against Christian asylum seekers in the Baxter and Woomera detention centres.

The Baxter incident, in which a Christian woman claims to have been raped by two Muslim men, was dismissed by Federal Police as a 'false accusation'.

Sr Fawkner said that while any report documenting violence triggered by religious belief is disturbing, it's more disturbing still that Australia is the only Western nation on the list of 65 countries named in the report.

She said: "Even though the centres at Woomera and Curtin are now closed, it cannot be denied that the fundamental conditions that have underpinned abuse and persecution are still in place at Australia's remaining detention centres."

Various independent reports have shown that detention centres are toxic environments. They are particularly dangerous, perhaps the most dangerous places in Australia for children and certain minorities.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's report on the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention, A Last Resort? (May 2004), found evidence of 'cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment'.

Sr Fawkner is speaking at Friday's opening of the North Sydney MacKillop Centre touring exhibition depicting expressions of trauma in the art of children living in Australian immigration detention centres.

Many of the images depict violence witnessed by children, which "vividly express everyday life, conditions and experiences".

Patty Fawkner SGS, Director of Uniya, comments on the report on Violence Against Christians in the Year 2003 (Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre 9/8/04)

Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre
MacKillop Museum showing detainee children's trauma in art (CathNews 20/7/04)
Aid to The Church in Need: Violence Against Christians 2003

10 Aug 2004