Church Condemns Forced Deportations

08 April 2004

On the eve of Good Friday - the day when we recall how those in authority put an innocent man to death on a cross - the Uniting Church has learnt that the Australian Government is about to use powers again to forcibly send asylum seekers back to Iran, where they face their own persecution and 'crucifixion'.

The life of Jesus teaches that those in positions of power must use their privilege in the service of the vulnerable.

Instead, the Australian Government is again deporting asylum seekers to Iran where they could face persecution, torture, death. It happened just last night and is set to occur again in the near future.

The Rev. Dr Dean Drayton, President of the Uniting Church says, "That the Government would return people to a country where persecution and torture are a fact of life is an abuse of the power that has been vested in them. It is time for the Government to take its responsibility to refugees seriously. This is not an act of service. It is an act of violence.

The Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director, UnitingJustice says, "The Uniting Church has condemned the Australian Government for its forcible deportation of people to Iran. Alongside others in the community, we have given the Government information about the dangers faced by those returned to Iran. The evidence of danger is clear, but the Government does not care."

"Iran is not safe. It is clear that the Iranian Government cannot guarantee their willingness or ability to offer effective protection to people who are persecuted in their own country."

"The Government's system of processing refugee claims is flawed. The Government should halt all deportations of asylum seekers until they can prove that they are not in need of protection."

The Uniting Church in Australia calls on the Government to halt forced deportations and make alternative arrangements for every Iranian currently held in immigration detention.