Multifaith leaders and faith communities in Australia have recognised the plight of those in long term detention – particularly those who have endured many years of enforced containment in detention centres and hotels. A plea for a merciful solution is raised for those who are held for more than 8 years in detention.
Hospitality to vulnerable strangers is deeply civilised behaviour. It is kind and it is a shared value of our faith traditions. Hence, we urge again that our Prime Minister and Federal Government complete the release of those still in Australian detention centres, including hotel detention.
Several of us have been to Canberra times past to make this request.
We make it again now, in the aftermath of publicity surrounding Novak Djokovic. His stay in the now notorious Park Hotel has been fewer days than the number of years those detained refugees and asylum seekers have been locked away.
Some have been detained for more than 8 years! For them, under current Government legislation, there is still no end in sight. There is no legislated end to the anguish caused by indefinite detention.
The sadness of those detained has been vivid in the unexpected publicity given by the brief presence of a celebrity in the same bleak hotel.
We are again grateful for the relative freedom of Australian media just as we are again grateful for the “separation of powers” between the legal and political system. Both these features of a free society have helped Novak Djokovic.
But it is because there is no legal remedy under Australian law for those indefinitely detained, that our plea for mercy is directed to the Prime Minister and his Government. Likewise, ruefully aware of the politics that has surrounded this matter times past, we urge the Leader of the Opposition to meet privately with the Prime Minister and reach a common agreement on freeing those still held in Australian detention centres and hotels.
Life is short. Political power is ephemeral. Every opportunity to do what is decent and kind should be taken. The pandemic has amplified our awareness of such realities and required us to adjust many other policies in changed circumstances.
It would be uplifting if the release of those still detained could be accomplished very soon so we can sing with greater integrity that we are “one and free!”
Bishop Philip Huggins (Anglican Church)
Imam Alaa Elzokm (Elsedeaq Heidelberg Mosque)
Rabbi Shamir Caplan (Beit Aharon Synagogue)
Harold Zwier (Jewish Christian Muslim Association)
Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann (ARK Centre)
Jasbir Singh Suropada (Chairperson – Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria)
Makarand Bhagwat (President – Hindu Council of Australia)
Rev. Bhakta Dasa (Vaisnava Hindu Community)
Rev. Ian Smith (Jewish Christian Muslim Association)
Rev. Tim Costello (Director – Micah Australia)
Rev. Chris Parnell (Interfaith Minister)
DR. Graeme Blackman (President – Victorian Council of Churches)
Bishop Paul Barker (Angelican Church )
Dr. June Factor (Founder – Befriend Children in Detention)
Faith and Multifaith Organisations signing
- Islamic Council of Victoria
- Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria
- Australian National Imams Council
- Jewish Community Council of Victoria
- Elsedeaq Islamic Society – Heidelberg Mosque
- Hindu Council of Australia
- Australian Islamic Centre – Newport Mosque
- International Society for Krishna Consciousness
- Vaisnava Hindu Community
- Council of Christians and Jews
- Islamic Society of Victoria – Preston Mosque
- Beit Aharon Synagogue
- Bendigo Islamic Community Centre – Bendigo Mosque
- Religions for Peace Australia
- Al-Wasat Newspaper
- Islamic Society of Geelong
- Islamic Association of Monash Mosque
- Shepparton interfaith Network
- Melbourne Muslimahs
- Melbourne Multicultural Centre Mosque
- Muslim Professionals Association
- Indonesian Muslim Community of Victoria
- Somali Australian Council of Victoria Australian Bosnian Islamic Centre Deer Park
- Albanian Australian Islamic Society- Carlton Mosque
- Muslim Health Professionals
- Muslim Mental Health Professionals
- Hallam Mosque
- Darusalam Islamic Society Mosque
- Bosnia-Herzegovina Islamic Society, Noble Park
- Afghan Islamic Centre – Omar Farooq Mosque
- Green Crescent Australia
- Australian Turkish Institute
For any further information, please contact Imam Alaa Elzokm on 042 043 5456.