Australian churches have used the Easter long-weekend to appeal for the government to show compassion for asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru as a result of Australia’s boat-arrival policies.
Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce chairman Reverend Dr Peter Catt issued a statement on behalf of the taskforce saying “the context of our offshore processing can be ignored no more”.
“The darkness of betrayal and abandonment that we are familiar with, in the Jesus story, is being felt keenly by those on Manus Island this weekend,” he said.
The call came as reports emerged of local soldiers going on a ‘drunken rampage’ through the Manus island facility.
Local police said they were aware of military personnel “firing several shots into the air and indiscriminately assaulting policemen, PNG immigration officers, other service providers and asylum-seekers”.
The taskforce has called for the government to empty the camps on both Manus and Nauru as soon as possible, ahead of an uncertain resettlement arrangement negotiated with the United States.
“Even if the arrangement with the United States continues, we must act to create safety and security for those who have languished in offshore detention for too long,” Reverend Catt said.
“By bringing people to Australia, the US deal may continue. More importantly, the healing of those who have been damaged by our nation’s policy can begin.”
The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce is made up of representatives from a multitude of Christian denominations and is supported by the National Council of Churches in Australia.