Catholics deplore Govt action to deport East Timorese

A number of Catholic advocates for East Timorese living in Australia moved quickly to condemn yesterday's announcement that 50 refugees who have lived in Australia for more than ten years have been given 28 days to leave the country.

Sr Susan Connelly (pictured) of the Mary MacKillop Institute for East Timorese Studies told ABC TV's Lateline last night that she was shocked that the Government would use so-called "character issues" as grounds for the deportations.

Mentioning one exception that she said had been dealt with, she stressed the the East Timorese being deported are overwhelmingly of good character, and condemned the Federal Government for "blackening" their names, accusing it of being untruthful.

"I have absolutely no evidence that would assure me that if I were to put my trust in anything that any member of this Government says. I just - I just have no trust in it at all," she told interviewer Tony Jones.

"I would need independent confirmation of the truth of a statement, and I say that after coming in here tonight, Tony, not knowing before I came in tonight that the accusation, the unsubstantiated accusation, of serious character deficiencies has been made against 50 people, some of whom I know quite well. Now, I would respectfully suggest that the Government put up or shut up."

Meanwhile Phil Glendenning, Director of the Christian Brothers' Edmund Rice Centre for Social Justice, issued a statement saying that ten years is an "appalling length of time to take to deal with people's claims for asylum".

"East Timor is one of the poorest countries in the world where people live on less that $1 a day. Xanana Gusmao has appealed that Australia allow the East Timorese to stay at least until his country is on its feet economically, which is clearly not today," he said.

"In a week when Australia paused to observe the sacrifices made by previous generations in war, we must not forget that thousands of East Timorese people died in World War II protecting this nation. They are now seeking our protection."

East Timorese to be removed from Australia as Australia removes oil from East Timor (Edmund Rice Centre 27/4/05)
Deportation news shocks East Timor advocate (ABC TV Lateline 27/4/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies
Edmund Rice Centre for Awareness, Avocacy, Action

Migrant and Refugee Office urges Senate to let East Timorese stay (CathNews 7/3/03)
Archbishop calls on Ruddock to let the East Timorese stay (CathNews 20/2/03)
Vinnies works with NT Govt to help Timorese appeals (27/11/02)
Church agencies repeat call to let Timorese stay (18/11/02)

Fifty long-time East Timorese refugees to be expelled (Sydney Morning Herald 28/4/05)
East Timorese families face deportation (ABC TV Lateline 27/4/05)
E Timor may reconsider religious education ban (ABC/AFP 27/4/05)
East Timorese asylum seekers to be deported (ABC Radio PM 27/4/05)
East Timor PM may move to end to religious row (ABC Radio Australia 27/4/05)

28 Apr 2005