I’ve been reflecting on the abuse and misuse of power including the danger of becoming so fixed on a particular purpose that an intentional blindness creeps in, and becomes, in the end, both hubristic and a deliberately chosen ignorance.
These reflections have been triggered by the continuing inhumane treatment of those seeking refuge and asylum in Australia and our response as a country to the recently released report from the UK’s Bar Human Rights Committee on Sri Lanka’s treatment of Tamils after the end of the 2009 civil war. This report includes testimony from returned asylum seekers deported from Australia. The release of the report coincides with the resistance by the Australian government to join in the calls for a war crimes investigation into the 2009 civil war in which tens of thousands of civilians were casualties. Questions continue to be asked about our relationship with Sri Lanka as we continue to return Sri Lankan asylum seekers into conditions that place them at increased risk.
Our Government’s deliberate averting of its gaze to ensure it achieves its other goal, of keeping the ‘boat people’ out of Australia which is currently being celebrated, is overriding its commitment to human rights; and, flies in the face of the comfortable view we have of ourselves as a decent, humane, fair and just society. The two just don’t add up.
When our Governments are finally held to account for these and other decisions about the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, their pride in the claim that they’ve kept the ‘boat people’ out, will be greatly outweighed by the judgement that they have seriously committed many breaches of human rights; and the scales will weigh heavily against them. Is that what we want?
Rev’d Dr Lucy Morris, CEO