AVOWEDLY Christian Liberal Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja has once again had his office occupied by Christian leaders over his Government’s treatment of children in immigration detention.
Today’s protest is part of a national action with sit-ins inside the electoral offices of 7 Government politicians in 6 cities.
The action of more than 50 church-goers is in response to reports that the Government is planning to send 25 babies, who were born on Australia soil to families seeking safety, to the Nauru detention centre. The Christian leaders come from the full breadth of the Australian church (including Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican and others).
The Christian leaders are committed to remaining in the MPs’ offices until the Government publicly promises that no children will be detained offshore, and that all asylum-seeker children will be released into the Australian community with their families. Sit-ins are occurring in the Sydney office of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, as well as 6 other Government representatives in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane.
Sister Jane Keogh is a 70 year old Catholic Nun who was arrested after the first Canberra Love Makes a Way action in November, “One month ago I came to Senator Seslja’s Office and prayed for compassion. I prayed that hearts would be unhardened.”
“When we were here last month we left our contact details with his office staff. I later wrote seeking a meeting. To date, he has not responded. So I have returned today in mourning. In mourning for the 25 babies and their families poised to be sent to Nauru. In mourning for the children still in detention. In mourning that Australia has turned its back on human rights and decency, ” said Sister Jane, who has been joined by 5 other faith leaders from different Christian denominations who are praying inside Senator Seselja’s Civic office.
Local Catholic Bishop, Pat Power, released a statement supporting the Love Makes a Way movement, “I fully support those committed people who peacefully demonstrate to show that decent Australians want much better from their parliamentary leaders in relation to some of the world’s neediest and most vulnerable people.”
“As Christians prepare to welcome the Christ-child at Christmas, we are dismayed that the Australian Government is hell-bent on pursuing its harsh and inhumane practices towards refugee children and their parents,” Power said.
Senator Seselja has been approached for comment.
UPDATE: Senator Seselja’s has made this statement:
“The government will continue to reduce the number of children in detention as we have been doing since the day we were elected.
“This government acknowledged the need for border protection policies that work and has restored them. Labor had to be dragged kicking and screaming to offshore processing in the face of electoral oblivion before the last election.
“The policies of offshore processing, temporary protection visas, and turning boats back where it is safe to do so are very effective at stopping the boats and stopping the deaths at sea. This government has proved that.
“These policies were supported by the Australian people at the last election.
“The matter regarding the group of children born in Australia is still currently before the courts and the undertakings that the Government has given to the plaintiffs are being extended.”
UPDATE: Police arrived around 1.30pm and began making arrests. The protest was dispersed.