Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Lindsey Paris-Lopez March 2, 2018
Recent developments in the gun control debate make me cautiously hopeful that our nation may be on its way toward curbing and maybe even transforming our violence. But that means there is a special urgency in this moment that we must channel toward understanding, compassion, and repentance.
A New Hope
First, the hope: The amazing students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School of Parkland, Florida, have made more progress on the issue of sensible gun restrictions in the past two and a half weeks than I have ever seen in my lifetime. Their indefatigable spirit has ignited the nation’s conscience and stirred our passion…………….
The Mimetic Elements of the Gun Debate
…..I would not characterize the gun control debate as a strict mimetic rivalry, because there is a spectrum of ideas concerning gun rights and restrictions, not just two opposing sides. However, the national conversation on gun control tends to polarize people on different sides of the spectrum, and there are mimetic elements to this conflict. Though parties on either side of the gun debate want different policies enacted, they share a desire to shape the narrative on guns and the role they play in the vulnerability and security of society. And parties on either side of the gun debate characterize the other side as ignorant, naïve, or even dangerous. The call to arm teachers has polarized those who believe that such a measure would be the ultimate protection against those who see it as an invitation to disaster, with both sides accusing the other of failing to do what is necessary to protect children…………
As long as fear and enmity fuel the gun debate, guns will win.
Changing the Narrative
It may seem naïve to bring compassion to a gun fight, but compassion, empathy and understanding are essential for disarming our fears and transforming our culture of violence………
There is a deeper truth, the truth that life is grounded in Love and humans are made in the image of Love. While this is not a universally acknowledged truth, those who believe it because of their faith in God, humanity, or both, have a responsibility to live according to that faith………..
Steps for Transforming Our Violence
1. Recognize the history of racism, xenophobia and fear behind both gun rights and gun control. ……
2. Understand the mimetic nature of guns themselves.
3. Curb our militarism.
4. Love our enemies.
These steps will take time. In the meantime, there may be quicker elements of gun control that can be implemented, and they can make a difference, but they will still be enforced by a violent government with a history of disarming the marginalized and therefore subject to skepticism, and they will most likely be offset by counter-movements by gun rights activists. The most meaningful changes will not occur until we change the nature of fear and enmity that drive our nation to war and to arms. It is time to disarm fear with love.
Read more https://www.ravenfoundation.org/guns-mimetic-theory-disarming-fear-love/
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Open letter from ex-detainee and torture survivor condemning Wheelers Centre for their questionable decision to invite Human rights violator Phillip Ruddock to speak Today on “Human Rights”
Event details – Today (Tuesday, 12th July 2016) 6.15pm 7.15pm http://www.wheelercentre.com/events/human-rights-with-philip-ruddock
I am writing to complain about your forthcoming event featuring Phillip Ruddock. My name is Abdul Baig. I am a former refugee, now Australian citizen, and I was detained in immigration detention for three years during Philip Ruddock’s time as immigration minister.
The decision by the Wheeler Centre to invite Phillip Ruddock lends undue credibility to him as a human rights spokesperson. By inviting him to speak on human rights, you downplay his reprehensible human rights record, and add to the continued trauma and suffering of refugees like myself.
In the biography of Phillip Ruddock on your website, you distort by omission and through the use of euphemism, his human rights legacy. The words you use to describe his time as immigration minister are ‘turbulent’, ‘controversial’ and even ‘transformative’. I would like these words to be placed in their true context.
Woomera detention centre
I would like to remind the Wheeler Centre of the chaotic scenes that occurred at Woomera detention centre between 2001 and 2002 when the department was under Ruddock’s control.
Events at that centre included:
Mass suicide attempts involving the swallowing of detergent
Mass hunger strikes (the worst lasting 16 days)
People sewing up their lips
People digging their own graves
The centre being set on fire (this also occurred at Port Hedland and Baxter in November 2002).
Ruddock argued that the ‘behaviour’ of detained people in these centres was due to ‘alien cultural practices’ and that their acts were done with the intention of blackmailing the government into making positive visa decisions.
Up to 50 people were involved in a shocking 16-day hunger strike at Woomera in mid-2002. It was only when Ruddock feared that these people might die, that an emergency special advisory group was established to negotiate. The refugees at this centre asked for improved living conditions, better treatment and an open, transparent processing system.
Between July 1999 and June 2003, 3,125 children were imprisoned in immigration detention. Shayan Baidrie was one such child, detained at Woomera. Having witnessed some of the sights I’ve mentioned above, he became unresponsive, paralytic and would not feed.
Over a three month period Shayan was hospitalised seven times in order to be rehydrated. Ruddock’s response to Shayan was to blame the child’s parents for ‘coaching’ the boy. He also said that the child had not witnessed a suicide, as had been claimed, because the trees at Woomera were too short to hang from.
Ruddock’s position on the necessity of detaining children remained fixed throughout his tenure.
Deaths in immigration detention
In a three year period from 2000 to 2003, 17 people died in immigration detention; these deaths were from suicide and medical neglect.
A further 730 people died in this period at sea, 353 in one day alone in the SIEV X disaster. A Senate Committee report into this incident held that it was “extraordinary that a major human disaster could occur in the vicinity of a theatre of intensive Australian operations and remain undetected until three days after the event without any concern being raised within intelligence and decision-making circles.”
Deportation of refugees
A report by the Edmund Rice Centre, a catholic organisation, tracked the fate of refugees deported during Phillip Ruddock’s tenure, in contravention of Australia’s non-refoulement obligations. In 2004 they released a report on 40 deported asylum seekers.
They found that 35 were living in conditions of acute danger. The report also argued that the payment of money and falsification of documentation by the Commonwealth government in the deportation process ‘invited accusations of corruption’.
The report noted that deportation practices under the period in which Ruddock was minister showed disrespect ‘for the standards of civilised behaviour and disregard for the human rights obligations imposed on Australia by various international treaties and declarations’.
The imprisonment of Australian residents and citizens
Under Ruddock’s leadership up to 200 cases emerged of Australian residents and citizens being falsely imprisoned in immigration detention, the most famous cases being the detention of mentally ill woman Cornelia Rau who was imprisoned for 10 months, and the detention and deportation of Australian citizen Vivien Alvarez Solon, who had been seriously injured in a car accident before she was picked up by immigration.
Architect of the Pacific Solution
Ruddock is the architect of the Pacific Solution. For three days, 438 shipwrecked asylum seekers were left aboard the Tampa, without adequate food, water or medical care as the government refused to allow the vessel into Australian waters. Up to 1,615 people were detained on Manus Island and Nauru between 2001 and 2008.
The Children Overboard affair
Ruddock was at the centre of the children overboard affair; he stated that parents had thrown their own children overboard when this had never occurred. Reports suggest that Ruddock was aware that this was not the truth.
Legislating to deny people asylum
Under Ruddock’s watch legislation was introduced to prevent people from seeking asylum. This was done though excising Australian territory from the Migration Act, interdicting boats on route to Australia and pushing them back into Indonesian waters, freezing refugee application claims and introducing temporary protection visas. Making conditions unbearable in detention centres through the systematic abuse of detained people was another well-known strategy.
Human rights organisations criticise Phillip Ruddock’s record
Australia’s detention centre policy has been resoundingly criticised throughout Ruddock’s tenure by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The United Nations Advisory Group on Immigration Detention, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Working Group on Immigration Detention, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the Australian Ombudsman.
I struggle to understand how a person with this legacy could be invited by your esteemed organisation to speak on the topic of human rights.
The Wheeler Centre suggests its programs are politically neutral; it argues on its website that views which are presumably abhorrent to one section of the community can be ‘balanced’ at a later time, by events featuring people with different views. Yet this fails to recognise the profound harm and injustice caused to the victims of human rights abuses, when perpetrators are invited to speak on human rights topics.
Abdul Baig – RISE member and ex-detainee
Link to the post : http://riserefugee.org/open-letter-from-ex-detainee-and-torture-survivor-to-the-wheelers-centre-on-their-questionable-decision-to-invite-human-rights-violator-phillip-ruddock-to-speak-today-on-human-rights/
Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees
level 1, Ross House 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
T:(03)9639 8623|M:0430 007 586|F:(03)9650 3689|web:www.riserefugee.org/
RISE acknowledges that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the original owners and custodians of the land that we live and work on.
RISE is a unique organisation governed by refugees, asylum seekers, and ex-detainees to enable refugees to build new lives by providing advice, engaging in community development, enhancing opportunity, and campaigning for refugee rights.
Monday, May 9, 2016
Who was with the Mother of Moses as she suffered the loss of her missing child,
Who was with the Mother of Jesus as they fled together through the desert,
And who loves the mothers of the young men who have been treated so cruelly on Manus,
See the fears they carry in their bodies,
See them tossing in their sleep.
Creator of Justice and Mercy,
Who inspires in the heart of every person a desire to be good,
Who weeps about the violence of our collective sins,
And who loves our politicians who are responsible for those young men.
See the fears they carry in their bodies,
See them tossing in their sleep.
Creator of Community,
Who is the embodiment of perfect community,
Who challenges everyone to love their neighbour and their enemy.
And who invites everyone to eat together at the table,
Grant us the vision to see all those mothers who are not in front of us today,
Grant us with courage to welcome the stranger.
(Prayer from the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce) #MothersDay #refugees #Manus
From Catholic Religious Australia website)
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
PNG's Supreme Court rules detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal By PNG correspondent Eric Tlozek and political reporter Stephanie Anderson
Updated earlier today at 4:58am
Asylum seekers stare at media from behind a fence
Photo: The court ordered PNG and Australia immediately take steps to end the detention of asylum seekers in PNG. (AAP: Eoin Blackwell, file photo)
Related Story: PNG Government says refugee assessments on Manus Island completed
Related Story: Iranian refugee on Manus hopes PNG will reconsider his case after tree protest
Related Story: Manus detainees say they will be allowed to leave centre during the day
Map: Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has ruled Australia's detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal.
Judges say detention on PNG breached asylum seekers' fundamental human rights
Lawyer says PNG ignored it own laws when taking in Australia's refugees
Dutton says no refugees will be resettled in Australia
Greens pushing for detainees to be brought to Australia
The five-man bench of the court ruled the detention breached the right to personal liberty in the PNG constitution.
There are 850 men in the detention centre on Manus Island, about half of whom have been found to be refugees.
The Supreme Court has ordered the PNG and Australian Governments to immediately take steps to end the detention of asylum seekers in PNG.
"Both the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments shall forthwith take all steps necessary to cease and prevent the continued unconstitutional and illegal detention of the asylum seekers or transferees at the relocation centre on Manus Island and the continued breach of the asylum seekers or transferees constitutional and human rights," the judges ordered.
In one of two lead judgments, Justice Terence Higgins said the detention also breached asylum seekers' fundamental human rights guaranteed by various conventions on human rights at international law and under the PNG constitution.
"Treating those required to remain in the relocation centre as prisoners irrespective of their circumstances or status … is to offend against their rights and freedoms," Judge Higgins said.
'Disgraceful' decision to take in Australia's refugees
Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
Video: Julian Burnside on PNG Supreme Court finding Manus detention is illegal (The World)
Loani Henao, the lawyer for former PNG opposition leader Belden Namah, said the decision showed the PNG Government had ignored its own laws when it accepted Australia's asylum seekers.
"The gist of the ruling is the arrangement between the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia is unconstitutional from day one," he said.
Mr Henao said PNG was influenced by Australia in amending its constitution, to the benefit of Australia.
"That is disgraceful," he said.
The centre operators and PNG's immigration authorities have recently been trying to move refugees out of detention and into a so-called transit centre.
They are also offering them the chance to leave detention during the day under certain conditions.
The asylum seekers whose applications have not succeeded are unable to leave detention and are being told they must go back to their country of origin.
The Supreme Court decision means both groups — refugees and asylum seekers — are being illegally detained, because their freedom of movement is curtailed.
Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
Video: Explainer: What does the ruling mean? (ABC News)
Refugees won't be resettled in Australia: Dutton
But Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said no detainees would be resettled in Australia.
In a statement, Mr Dutton said the ruling would not alter Australia's border protection policies.
The Government has no other option but to bring the people left there to Australia and allow them to apply for an Australian visa
Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young
"No one who attempts to travel to Australia illegally by boat will settle in Australia," he said.
"Those in the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre found to be refugees are able to resettle in Papua New Guinea. Those found not to be refugees should return to their country of origin.
"People who have attempted to come illegally by boat and are now in the Manus facility will not be settled in Australia."
Mr Dutton said the agreement with PNG to establish the Manus Island centre was negotiated by the Gillard Labor government, but Labor's immigration spokesman Richard Marles told the ABC the former government had only signed a 12-month contract.
Fact check: Australia's responsibility
Is Australia responsible for asylum seekers detained on Manus Island? ABC's FactCheck investigates
Mr Marles said Mr Dutton needed to travel to PNG to sort out the issue as soon as tomorrow.
"We negotiated a 12-month agreement with Papua New Guinea for the use of Manus Island as an offshore processing facility in the expectation that the vast bulk of people would be processed and settled in that period of time," he said.
"Instead, we've seen a complete failure on the part of the Turnbull Government."
Mr Marles would not be drawn on whether remaining detainees should be transferred to Australia, saying instead it was important the people smuggler trade did not restart.
Greens say the 'game is up'
Greens immigration spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young has called for all remaining detainees to be brought to Australia.
Senator Hanson-Young told the ABC "the game was up" and Mr Turnbull has to listen to legal and humanitarian experts.
Australia must … promptly shut the centre down and transport all of the detainees to Australia for processing of their claims for asylum
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie
"Really the Government now has no other option but to bring the people left there to Australia and allow them to apply for an Australian visa," she said.
"They've seen two of their colleagues in the detention centre die, one at the hands of guards and another because he had an infected foot which became septic. These are people who have already suffered."
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has backed her calls, describing offshore processing as "a gaping hole in Australia's soul".
"Australia must immediately respect the court ruling, promptly shut the centre down and transport all of the detainees to Australia for processing of their claims for asylum," Mr Wilkie said.
PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill last month told the National Press Club in Canberra that he wanted the regional processing centre to close.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Stained glass window depicting Jesus and the apostles at the Last Supper in the cathedral of Brussels. by jorisvo / Shutterstock.com
By Lindsey Paris-Lopez Sojourners March 24, 2016
I am this broken and bleeding world.
I am Brussels, blown apart, the strewn limbs, the piercing wail of a mother for her baby.
I am Yemen, at the marketplace, charred bodies of children face-down in the dust.
I am Syria, families cramming into boats as guns and missiles chase them from the shore.
I am Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, pockmarked by bomb blasts, orphaned children hiding away from clear blue skies.
I am the growling of empty bellies drowned by the sound of gold pouring into the bottomless coffers of the war machines as they devour their sustenance and spit out death in return.
I am generation upon generation of silenced and vanished victim buried in the ground and trampled.
I am slain from the foundation of the world.
Absorbing the fear and hate of thousands of years,
I clothed myself in flesh and vulnerability
And came back to my plundered home.
I walked among those whose pain I had shouldered from the beginning of time,
The cast off and thrown away.
I took the leper into my arms.
In my eyes the used and exploited found their humanity reflected back to them.
I opened the eyes of the blind.
I fed the starving with bread and wisdom.
I took the children on my knee.
As I walked, I scattered the Love in which I was born before time began.
A sick and aching world takes time to heal.
And in that time, fear moves fast.
The Powers that build their empires by exploiting divisions –
Only to reign in the sprawling chaos by uniting the deceived people against someone –
Have named me the enemy.
So now I come to you, my friends,
As we gather around this table.
And you quarrel about who among you is the greatest.
Don’t you see, it is this me-against-you attitude
That has brought me here, to the brink of my destruction?
For one evening, let us put aside the bitter bickering
And enjoy one last feast, one final fellowship.
If you want to be great, cast off the shackles of self-doubt that choke out your love for each other,
If you want glory, make it manifest in acts of service.
I come among you, I come below you, washing your feet,
To show you love you’ve never known.
You will never know how blessed and beloved you are,
Until you let the love within you pour out to others.
From the beginning of time, I have seen brother set against brother,
Nation set against nation,
Selfishness erupt in violence, converging upon victim after victim
All sprung from the same seed of desire for greatness against someone else.
If you want to be great, be for others,
Even as I am for you.
I am this broken and bleeding world.
This bread is my broken body.
This cup is my spilled blood.
As it has been done to victims from the beginning of time,
So it is done to me.
I give my broken self to you.
Take in my life.
Let me nourish you with my love
Until the spirit of compassion bursts the old wineskins of your brittle hearts …
Until you become a new creation.
Let the body of my work become the work of your body.
Embrace the outcasts,
Feed my sheep.
Unite in me, with me in you.
I give my broken self to you –
Only in coming together can the fullness of my life be manifest again.
Let this bread bind you together,
Let this wine wash away your divisions.
I am broken for a broken world
A world that needs your love
To be made whole again.
Take me into you and become my body.
Eat this bread.
Drink this wine.
Do this in re-membrance of me.
Lindsey Paris-Lopez is editor-in-chief at the Raven Foundation, where she uses mimetic theory to provide social commentary on religion, politics, and pop culture.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.
Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has penned an essay in Quadrant defending his government’s stance on national security. It betrays an extraordinarily open contempt for international human rights law.
Abbott starts by saying that he is proud that his government was committed to “uphold[ing] our values around the world”, then immediately repudiates “the moral posturing of the Rudd years”. Hence, he seems to quickly divorce Australian values from notions of morality. He then goes on to confirm that, as explained below.
Abbott and gross human rights abuses by Sri Lanka
Notoriously, Abbott was very forgiving of Sri Lanka’s human rights record when he attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in that country in 2013.
His stance contrasted sharply with those of the leaders of Canada, India and Mauritius (who all boycotted CHOGM that year due to Sri Lanka’s human rights record), and that of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who raised the issue of war crimes while attending the meeting.
Sri Lanka finished a decades-long civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the Tamil Tigers) in 2009, with tens of thousands of civilians killed in the final weeks of the conflict. Since then, Sri Lanka has faced credible allegations of gross war crimes at the end of that war, and the UN continues to call for an independent investigation. While Sri Lanka’s new government has promised to comply, it currently seems a faint prospect.
In his Quadrant essay, Abbott defends his Sri Lanka stance. He is proud that Sri Lanka’s president at the time, Mahinda Rajapaksa:
… was pleased that Australia didn’t join the human rights lobby against the tough but probably unavoidable actions taken to end one of the world’s most vicious civil wars.
Rajapaksa has since lost power. It is not clear whether Sri Lanka’s current government is happy with Abbott’s craven stance at CHOGM towards its political opponent. It is clear that victims were appalled by it.
Abbott excused war crimes, and continues to do so, trivialising the killings of thousands of civilians as “tough actions” which were “probably unavoidable”. Presumably, Australia’s “values” for Abbott exclude support for the international law of armed conflict.
Abbott has topical company here, if one compares the statements of US presidential candidate Donald Trump, who recently describe the core war law treaties, the Geneva Conventions, as a “problem” given their prohibition on torture.
Stopping the boats
Abbott’s Sri Lanka position was a means to an end, as he freely admits in his Quadrant essay. Australia needed Sri Lanka’s help in “stopping the boats”.
That may be so, but it is likely that many of those that were stopped with Australian help from fleeing Sri Lanka were genuine refugees fleeing persecution. After all, Sri Lanka remains accused of ongoing human rights violations, both under Rajapaksa after the civil war and under its new government, including torture. Hence, Australian values according to Abbott include a repudiation of the right to seek asylum from persecution.
Furthermore, Abbott is incautious with the truth here, in referring to the arrival of 50,000 people and 1200 drownings under the Rudd-Gillard governments as justification for Australia’s close co-operation with Sri Lanka. The vast majority of boats came from Indonesia, and the vast majority of drownings occurred on that route.
Abbott goes on to assert that the boat arrivals were a “national security” issue, as:
… a country that can’t control its borders sooner or later loses control of its future.
This is a bold assertion with no evidence. All boats that arrived in Australia were apprehended, and there is no evidence that those who have arrived by boat have threatened Australia’s national security.
Abbott later acknowledges the importance of Indonesia’s role in “stopping the boats”, so he admits to “a very early sign of good faith” towards its government. West Papuan asylum seekers were “quietly returned to Papua New Guinea”, which may constitute refoulement depending on the circumstances.
The right of non-refoulement, that is the return of a person to a place where they legitimately fear persecution, or to a country which will send them on to such a place, is the major plank of international refugee law. International refugee law is however clearly not a plank of Australia’s values, according to our former prime minister.
While Abbott was happy to show good faith to Indonesia in possibly refouling West Papuan activists, he makes no explicit mention of Indonesia’s continued protests at Australia’s insistence on returning asylum boats to its shores.
Abbott’s concerns over Indonesia’s sovereignty, so apparent in preventing a protest by (some other) West Papuan activists sailing from Australia to Indonesia, seem selective. So too do his concerns over sovereignty generally, given his eagerness, confirmed later in the essay, to send Australian troops to Ukraine to secure the site of the downed MH17.
Abbott’s open contempt for the international rule of law is perhaps matched by a cavalier attitude to Australian law. He admits that Operation Sovereign Borders was felt by “some government lawyers” to be “beyond power”. Such concerns are brushed off by the assertion that “the government simply had to stop the boats”, rather than with any assurance that the policy in fact complied with the rule of law.
A refreshing candour?
Perhaps Abbott should be applauded for displaying a refreshing candour regarding the true motivations of government, with his realpolitik rejection of international law.
Other Western governments, including Australian ones, have hypocritically proclaimed a commitment to international human rights law while effectively turning blind eyes to major human rights abuses by allies such as Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. US President Barack Obama can condemn torture but still authorise unprecedented numbers of drone strikes with little transparency and little likelihood of compliance with international law.
And successive Australian governments tolerated crimes against humanity by Indonesia in Timor Leste. Do words matter if betrayed by deeds? At least Abbott can perhaps be said to be doing what he said and what he meant (to paraphrase his Quadrant essay).
Except he isn’t. Confusingly, in relation to Russia’s role on MH17, Abbott says that:
… the trampling of justice and decency in the pursuit of national aggrandisement, and reckless indifference to human life should have no place in our world.
In relation to Australia’s role combating Islamic State, he says that:
We can never abandon civilised values.
In relation to the rise of China, he says that all countries in our region have a “stake in rules-based global order”. Yet, in relation to Sri Lanka and possible refoulement of West Papuan activists, Abbott brazenly abandoned “civilised values”, endorsed the “trampling of justice and decency”, and jettisoned some of the most fundamental rules of the current global order.
Furthermore, words do matter. Certainly, the international rule of law, including international human rights law, is under constant strain from the self-interested realpolitik of probably all countries (to different extents). And yet it survives as some sort of constraint on state behaviour.
Seven years after the end of its civil war, Sri Lanka remains under significant pressure to provide redress, and a judicial net within Sri Lanka may now be closing in on the previously “untouchable” Rajapaksa.
Abbott’s open and proud rejection of international human rights law is a manifestation of a dangerous phenomenon, apparently shared by Trump. While governments may often fail to stick to the values that they say they uphold, the international rule of law has little hope at all if those values are simply discarded altogether.
Tony Abbott’s open contempt for international human rights law March 31, 2016 4.15pm AEDT