Statement on the Syrian refugee crisis

The Australian Jewish Democratic Society condemns the Coalition government’s decision to join the bombing campaign against Syria. This military intervention will do nothing to bring down Assad or ISIS, but rather will contribute to the daily toll of human life in that region of the world. The power tensions in the region cannot be resolved through the current war in Syria, but require constructive diplomatic engagement in international forums.
However, we welcome the Government’s announcement that it will accept 12,000 Syrian refugees into Australia, but urge that consideration be given to a substantial increase in this number. The Government would benefit from bearing in mind the more sizable numbers of Syrian refugees who have been taken in by countries such as Jordan and Germany. The Australian government should bring pressure onto all other capable states to also take in refugees, given that the conflict is a world-wide issue for which we should all take responsibility, and given that refugees should never been seen as a burden to be managed, but rather as people to be welcomed, assisted, and learned from.
We further urge that refugees be selected without discrimination on the basis of religion.  In light of the current refugee crisis we draw attention to Indigenous Australians, who continue to be displaced from their lands and are forced to become refugees in their own countries.  Any resettlement and welcoming of refugees should also address the displacement and ongoing colonisation occurring here and be cognizant of Indigenous sovereignty and entitlement to welcome.
We also argue that the Government must now recognize the harm and inconsistency of detaining asylum seekers in the enormously expensive and torturous offshore detention centres of Nauru and Manus Island. These people escaped to Australia by the only means available to them, just as the Syrian refugees escaped by the only means available to them.  In both cases there is documented evidence of the use of people smugglers. This should not be used as an excuse to refuse entry.
Bearing in mind the documented abuses which have occurred to refugees on Nauru and Manus Island, the new Turnbull-led Government should therefore close these offshore detention centres as a matter of urgency and bring all asylum seekers and refugees imprisoned there to Australia for processing in the case of asylum seekers and resettlement in the case of refugees. Asylum seekers in detention on Christmas Island and throughout Australia should be released, and their claims processed in the community immediately. Mandatory detention of asylum seekers must end.
What you can do:

  • Write a letter to your local member of parliament.
  • Go the Stand up for Refugees Rally on October 11th.
  • Donate money to Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees (RISE) to get a bigger space and increase their resource capacity.

This statement was issued by the AJDS 17 September, 2015

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