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Statement Regarding Asylum Seekers

The Jewish Labour Bund Inc. is appalled and alarmed by the cruelty and brutality of the Abbott Government's asylum seeker policies. They constitute a chilling abuse of human rights and are robbing asylum seekers of all hope and dignity.

We are appalled at reports of men, women and children living in tents on Nauru in sweltering tropical heat, appalled at the conditions of the single man's camp, where 350 inmates with access to just four toilets, have reportedly been hit with an outbreak of gastroenteritis, having to wait for long periods in line for a two minute shower to wash away their indignity.

We are appalled at reports of the breakdown of family morale, of children running amok, unsupported parents powerless to look after them, and at reports of a four-year-old child who has become catatonic and is refusing to eat.

We are appalled at the conditions of the 1128 inmates on Manus Island, who, according to Age reports are living in tents, in shipping containers, or World War Two bunkers, without mosquito nets, subject to malaria and a lack of malaria tablets, subject to inedible food, a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables, and a lack of enough medical staff to treat the rising number of illnesses. Appalled at the living conditions of the 100 men crammed in bunks lined up against each other, with little room to move. We are appalled at the cases of family separation, men being divided from woman and children, appalled at the treatment of the Iranian asylum seeker who has been told he will not be allowed to accompany his pregnant wife from Nauru to Darwin to be present at her birth.

We are alarmed at the regime of secrecy introduced by Scott Morrison, the Minister of Immigration, hidden under the guise of the Coalition's military style Operation Sovereign Borders. We are dismayed by the Minister's directive that the asylum seekers be called illegals, despite the fact that we are signatories to UN conventions that explicitly state that seeking asylum is a basic human right.

We are appalled that up to 30,000 asylum seekers on mainland Australia, are destitute and without hope, denied work rights, and forced to rely on charity, their anxiety and depression increased by the imminent introduction of Temporary Protection Visas and the prospect of being returned to detention.

We are appalled at a government that has completely lost its moral compass having resorted to punitive measures taken against people who have already experienced enough repression and trauma in their homelands.

We have forgotten that we too were once immigrants and refugees in search of a better life, that except for indigenous people, we are, give or take a few generations, a nation of boat people. We have conveniently forgotten that asylum seekers are only doing what our own forebears did.

We are ashamed at the irreparable emotional and psychological damage the Coalition Government is inflicting, alarmed at what is being done in our name.


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