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#ShameAlanTudge - Why indefinite detention is morally repugnant.

Alan Tudge is the latest in a line of men who claim to be ethical Christians, and who, by their actions as Ministers for Immigration, have shown that they have completely lost their legal, moral and ethical compass.

Holding innocent people in detention for over seven years is indefensible. It is against every legal and moral principal that I believe most Australians hold dear.

A legal failing

Australia is a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Refugee Convention) [1], which we actually helped write [2], and our treatment of refugees contravenes almost every article of our responsibility. This convention is legally binding, but complaints must be referred to the International Court of Justice, and because this has never happened, our government has decided it can ignore its legal obligations. Please read the Convention, especially the section on rights and responsibilities [3] to see just how egregiously we have broken the rules we agreed to keep.

If I were to be arrested in Queensland I cannot be held for more than 8 hours without the permission of a court. Therefore, how can it in anyway be reasonable to hold a person who has committed no crime for more than 7 years?

By the way, for those now shouting that these refugees entered the country illegally, the government’s own law describes them as “unauthorised maritime arrivals” (UMA) [4]. The term “illegal refugees” is a purely political term and has no basis in law. If these refugees were “illegal”, then why have they not had their day in court?

This strategy is just another aspect of the illegal actions of Alan Tudge and his predecessors.

Signing of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Source UNHCR Archives.

A moral failing

I believe the greatest failing of Alan Tudge, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison is their claim to be Christians and that the tenets for their faith are important to them. Nothing, I say again, nothing, about how these men have treated refugees conforms to the doctrines in the Bible that they claim to follow. The Bible is full of instructions on how to treat others. Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, invite in the stranger, clothe the needy and look after the sick.

But everything our government has done to innocent refugees is the exact opposite of these instructions. The policies of indefinite detention are designed to destroy people, especially mentally, and this is offensive to the faith these men claim to follow. They have ignored their moral compass in the same way they have ignored the law.

A financial failing

Alan Tudge continues the practice of squandering our national funds. The cost of running offshore detention and holding people in indefinite detention in Australia is obscene. It is even more obscene when the Minister has been offered alternatives that would be far more just, and much less costly.

People have offered their homes [5] to those held in detention, which would dramatically lower the cost, but the current government refuses to accept this generous alternative. Why? It would seem that destroying people is their real goal.

A desire to injure

If you doubt that our government intends to cause injury, then please ponder why the government wants to remove mobile phones [6] from refugees. For many refugees a mobile phone is their only contact with reality. It is the only contact they have with family, friends, lawyers and supporters.

Removing phones can only have one goal, the destruction of the mental health of already tormented people.

Not surprisingly removing mobile phones is in contravention of several of our obligations to refugees under the Refugee Convention, but we sadly already know this government does not care about that.

Most of you will be reading this on a phone and I ask you to consider how would you have fared in the last few months without a phone? I am certain you would have struggled in lockdown for a few weeks if you had no ability to communicate with family and friends. How much more destructive would it be to be locked up for seven years and then refused any contact with the outside world? Phones must not be removed from refugees.

Please change

Alan Tudge, I implore you to prove me wrong and show true Christian compassion by:

· Not removing mobile phones from refugees

· Allowing Nades and Priya and their two daughters to go home to Biloela [7]

· Releasing the refugees in hotel detention to people’s homes.

Alan Tudge, your actions to date have earned the #ShameAlanTudge hashtag.

Please let your future actions compel us to withdraw it.


2. Convention and protocol relating to the status of refugees p.6 UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency. December 2010.


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