Refugee activists ask Bowen and Morrison, where is the harmony?

February 19, 2011
RAC activists Paul Benedek and Mark Goudkamp confronted Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and opposition Immigration spokesperson

Activists from the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) confronted Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and opposition Immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison at a Harmony Day event in Sydney on February 17.

"You've forgotten to tell us what you did this morning," RAC's Paul Benedek called out to Bowen after his speech.

That morning, Bowen had overseen the forced return of 22 survivors of the Christmas Island tragedy (including Seena, a nine-year-old boy orphaned in the incident) back to detention on the island after a short stay in Sydney to bury their dead relatives.

That same day, leaks revealed that Morrison had urged the Coalition shadow cabinet to tap into anti-Muslim prejudice. In inflammatory remarks several days before, Morrison questioned the "expense" of flying Christmas Island survivors to the funerals to farewell their loved ones.

RAC activist Mark Goudkamp confronted Morrison.

“What sort of harmony are you sowing in the community?" Goudkamp asked. "You sow racist lies, and I want to see you removed from the shadow front bench.”

On February 16, family members and supporters of the survivors protested at Villawood detention centre, calling for them to be allowed to stay. A letter signed by 16 of the 22 asylum seekers brought to Sydney was handed to Bowen.

"We are overcome with grief," the letter said. "Some have attempted suicide. Our suffering has been too much. Please allow us to stay in Sydney where there are families and community support to help put our lives back together."

The survivors told visitors they would resist being sent back to Christmas Island and refugee advocates organised a protest the next morning outside Villawood. However, Bowen organised for a bus to "smuggle" the survivors out in the dead of night — denying family members the final farewell they were promised.

Protests and calls from a wide range of commentators finally forced Bowen to give assurances on February 18 that Seena and his family would be released within a week into the community in Sydney.


Let's bury Morrison on christmas island ...
Ah yes, another privileged, middle-aged man in a suit lording over the fate of the defenseless and the desperate. How dreadfully predictable it is that a man of apparent christian convictions (Morrison is a Hillsong devotee), hailing from the so-called 'Liberal' party has acted with such barbaric brutality. How is it possible that a man such as Morrison, someone who clearly finds poor people from other countries repugnant and expendable, has risen to be the opposition spokesman for immigration? As those classic bumper stickers ask: "Who would Jesus lock up in a detention centre?" Yes indeed, who? By questioning the value of the unimaginable grief of those courageous refugees, Morrison not only parted company with ordinary standards of human decency, he also casually dismissed those basic christian virtues that he professes to hold so dear. What happened to 'blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth'? Or what about 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'? Ho Ho Ho, not for our Scotty. No, the opposition Minister is a professional politician. He can read an IPCC report one day then turn around and vote for coal industry subsides the next. It's nothing personal, its just how the money flows. Some reports seem to think the opposition minister simply told his big toe to wiggle, but instead slapped himself in the face with his left hand. But, given Liberal party policies it's more likely he was simply caught in front of a microphone suffering from a moment of plain honesty. Speaking of honesty, it was truly a heart-warming moment when Liberal leader, Tony Abbot, described Morrison as being a 'real man' for admitting he'd gone a tad too far with his comments. Yes, what a man, what a moment and what a shame Australia puts up with such shameful blithering.
So depressing to know that Morrison is a Christian devotee but his acts were very opposite. A Millionaire Mind Intensive friend often see him in Christian gathering but he was disappointed of the brutality act that he has showed. I hope he could show a little consideration for those poor people.

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