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Australia: protests at refugee’s death

28 February 2014


Remembered: candles are lit at the vigil for Reza Berati, held on Sunday

Remembered: candles are lit at the vigil for Reza Berati, held on Sunday

THE Anglican Church of Australia's migrant and refugee working group has added its voice to protests that have erupted since the death of an Iranian asylum-seeker, Reza Berati, in Australian detention on Manus Island. Mr Berati, who was 23, died in a riot at the centre last week. Detainees were also injured.

The Rt Revd Philip Huggins, a regional bishop in the diocese of Melbourne, who chairs the working group, has called for a review of government policies.

Acknowledging that the federal government had a mandate to "stop the boats", Bishop Huggins said that the implementation of government policies was "causing great harm" and was a matter of "moral distress to many Australians".

These policies now meant that children were being held in detention centres, and "off-shore processing" meant little more than "holding asylum-seekers in crowded, sub-standard conditions without processing towards any kind of futures". Asylum-seekers on shore were being driven into poverty and depression without access to education or employment, he said.

"A civilised government must be able to control its refugee intake without resort to measures of intentional cruelty. Conscience cries out for a review of current implementation measures."

Thousands attended candlelit vigils held around the country on Sunday night in response to Mr Berati's death.


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