The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to intervene directly to prevent the return of more than 250 asylum seekers, including children and babies, to offshore detention.
“Mr Turnbull, I appeal to your sense of compassion. Please step in and make the moral decision to protect these vulnerable people,” Mr McMillan said.
“Returning families and babies to Nauru and Manus may be legal, but it is not humane. To send people, especially children and Australian-born babies, back to the place that has caused them such harm would be an outrage against human dignity.”
Mr McMillan’s call follows the decision by the High Court of Australia to uphold the government’s right to detain people in the immigration detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, PNG.
National Director of UnitingJustice Australia Rev Elenie Poulos believes the government’s response is a potential turning point in the Australian national identity.
“What the government does now will define who we are in relation to refugee protection. Are we a nation that would send women and children who have been sexually abused back to the site of their abuse?” Ms Poulos said.
“Are we a nation that sends babies born in this country to a deliberately harsh and damaging environment in another country just to make a political point?
“Our reputation as a country of fairness and decency is on the line right here and now.
“We are calling on Mr Turnbull to make a decision that reflects favourably on all of us. It is for the benefit of all Australians that as a nation we choose to protect and not harm all people under our care.”
Mr McMillan and Ms Poulos encouraged Uniting Church members to contact their local members of parliament to let them know their feelings and to make their views known to Mr Turnbull and his government by supporting the petition at http://getup.org.au/the267
People all over Australia are going to be attending snap rallies in the next few days demanding that the Prime Minister to #LetThemStay. We would also like to encourage you to attend the Melbourne-based rally on Thursday 4 February at the State Library of Victoria on 5:30pm.
If you cannot attend the rally, please make the most of social media using the #LetThemStay hashtag if you have an online presence on Twitter or Facebook, and by sending letters and emails.