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Christians cannot accept Malaysia solution

A group of happy Afghan children

The first group of asylum seekers to be deported from Australia to Malaysia has arrived on Christmas Island, awaiting the next leg of their journey in search of safety and security.

The federal government’s so-called “Malaysia solution” looks like decisive action, but it’s abhorrent from a human rights perspective, and at odds with a balanced Christian view of justice and compassion.

The policy will send a message to prospective asylum seekers and people traffickers, but it is simply the wrong thing to do. Malaysia has not signed the UN Refugee Convention; there are significant new financial and other costs for Australia; and Malaysia’s status as an Islamic Republic raises questions about our commitment to assist those fleeing religious persecution in their homeland.

But the worst aspect of the Malaysia solution is that we are now responsible for sending 19 children, 14 of them unaccompanied minors, to Malaysia – not to a detention facility, but apparently out in the community where an uncertain fate awaits them.

This is not an action of a civilized, progressive democracy. Immigration policy is always a challenge, but Immigration Minister Chris Bowen must find a better alternative to the Malaysia solution before the worst happens.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 7 August 2011.

Categories: asylum seekers immigration religious freedom

Rod Benson

8 replies

    1. I guess I’m in the wrong place to say this, but it has nothing to do with being Christian, and it has nothing to do with the dominant religion of the country to which the asylum seekers are being sent – nor with its dual legal system. Rather, it has everything to do with compassion and understanding of the reality of the world beyond our borders.

      For a short time there was an ad on TV, in which a “white” woman sat on her son’s bed with a photo of him and talked about how she feared for him, how she didn’t think he had any future where his family lived. Towards the end of the ad she changed to a woman with different skin colour, wearing a hijab, who said, “so I had no choice but to put him on a boat”.

      What people don’t get is that most of us would do the same. But most of us have absolutely no idea what it is to be persecuted, nor any idea of what the word “torture” really means.

      1. Ok so I’m replying to my own comment but unfortunately couldn’t reply to the animated discussion on facebook so this is my only outlet.

        Andrew, I hope you don’t think I was attacking you personally (nor your beliefs). I was, however, attacking the notion that “Malaysia’s status as an Islamic Republic raises questions about our commitment to assist those fleeing religious persecution in their homeland.” I consider this comment to be extremely short-sighted. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country (as you know, my sister in law is Malaysian but not Muslim; she and her family have never lived under shar’ia law). To me this comment very closely links religious persecution with Islam and, having lived in a predominantly Muslim country for two and a half years, I am yet to see or experience evidence of this connection.

        People confuse religion with fundamentalism. Christianity is equally susceptible. Making sweeping statements that link other religions with persecution makes it more so.

      2. Hi Jo,

        I won’t defend Rod’s statement, which you’ve taken issue with – my concern is that Australia is sending refugees anywhere – and as I point out in my own piece, from a Christian perspective we ought to be welcoming and caring for refugees.

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