Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd has sailed into murky waters with a leaky policy agreement with the Government of Papua New Guinea The decision to force settlement in Papua New Guinea for Asylum Seekers and Refugees who attempt to arrive on our shores by boats from Indonesia is cause for concern in this election year.
What most media and observers have failed to see in the concerns about this proposal is the very real threat Refugees from non-Christian religions may find in PNG.
The PNG Post-Courier published a story on July 15 in which it reported that the Parliament of Papua New Guinea has passed a motion to carry out a nationwide consultation on the question of religious freedom and whether to ban faiths that are not Christian.
This is an alarming and disturbing prospect in a country preparing to accept Refugees from divers religious backgrounds as permanent residents.
To their credit the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea have released a statement calling the proposed ban"absurd". The Bishops go on to say:
The simple discussion of banning other faiths from any town in the twenty-first century contradicts decades a human rights progress and civil liberties. It infringes in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. Moreover it discriminates among citizens on a ground that should never be reason for discrimination: personal faith.
If you share my concerns about this latest "solution" to our failure to address the issue of refugees in our region you can send an email to your Federal MP using the GetUp Campaign.
Some background reading I suggest you share:
Julian Burnside remains one of the few consistent and informed commentators on this complex and challenging issue. His observation about the general public "being mislead about boat people" is both accurate and factual.
Frank Brennan has provided a great analysis of this decision by Kevin Rudd.
Lenore Taylor The Guardian (UK)
Mark Bahnisch Lavartus Prodeo
Kevin Rudd published "Faith in Politics" in 2006. I wonder if he remembers saying :
Another great challenge of our age is asylum seekers. The biblical injunction to care for the stranger in our midst is clear. The parable of the Good Samaritan is but one of many which deal with the matter of how we should respond to a vulnerable stranger in our midst. That is why the government's proposal to excise the Australian mainland from the entire Australian migration zone and to rely almost exclusively on the so-called Pacific Solution should be the cause of great ethical concern to all the Christian churches. We should never forget that the reason we have a UN convention on the protection of refugees is in large part because of the horror of the Holocaust, when the West (including Australia) turned its back on the Jewish people of Germany and the other occupied countries of Europe who sought asylum during the '30s.