People Before Politics: Asylum Bids Provoked by Horrendous Violence

“Asylum seekers do not come to Australia because they think that the government has ´softened on border protection´. Asylum seekers come to Australia because of horrendous violence and conflict in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.¨

¨It is not a deficiency in government policy that is the problem with asylum seekers attempting to enter Australia. The problem is a deficit in understanding and compassion on the part of members of the Federal Opposition,¨ says Fr Claude Mostowik msc, of the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education.

"We need to use caution here, People should wait for the full facts of the recent events to come to light before making any judgements.¨ Fr Mostowik said

¨Australia’s reputation had been harmed in the past by hasty judgements about the motives and actions of asylum seekers, notably in the ´children overboard incident´.

¨The term ´border protection´ is too often used as a weapon against extremely vulnerable people escaping life-threatening situations,¨ Fr Mostowik said. ¨These can and have been used by Australian governments to create scare campaigns. Human lives should be beyond short term political capital”, he emphasised.

Above all, notes Fr Mostowik, “It is important to separate people smugglers, who profit from human misery; from those in vulnerable positions who see using people smugglers as the only option for their safety and the safety of their families.”

Fr Mostowik applauded the Rudd government’s measured and sensible attitude in maintaining this distinction.

“ Asylum seekers do not come to Australia because they think that the government has ´softened on border protection´. Asylum seekers come to Australia because of horrendous violence and conflict in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.¨

¨Australia, as a responsible member of the international community, cannot separate itself from global responses to these humanitarian crises, Fr Mostowik added. ¨As Liberal backbencher, Russell Broadbent, said in The Age, ´It is not my view that the Government has gone soft. The Government has continued with the Howard government's program of border protection. There are more movements of refugees throughout the world and Australia is getting a tiny proportion of what is happening.´”

Contact: Father Claude Mostowik 0411 450 953

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