Inaction on China human rights abuses "reprehensible": Deakin

Outgoing Melbourne auxiliary Bishop Hilton Deakin has slammed inaction by Australians over extensive human rights abuses in China, appealing for a "sense of purpose" in standing up for freedom of belief.

Bishop Deakin was addressing a Human Rights Torch Relay Friday in Federation Square, Melbourne, the Epoch Times reports.

He spoke of Catholic bishops, Protestant bishops, nuns and many more Christians who were suffering for their spiritual beliefs in China.

"Lay people leaders who are imprisoned because they want to express their freedom of belief in practice and in word," he said. "All of them have nothing but sad stories to tell...a very sad list indeed".

Bishop Deakin said there were many people in Australia who did not know the extent of human rights abuses occurring in China but there were also many that did. They were however, not doing anything about it.

"And that's reprehensible," he said, "I think that we need to develop a sense of purpose about it".

"Let us start to believe in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," he said, "believe in that...and we can do something about it."

Wurunjeri Aboriginal Elder, Annette Xiberas, welcomed the Torch to Melbourne on behalf of the traditional custodians saying she hoped the Torch would be: "a stepping stone so we will not have to worry about our children's rights and their freedoms tomorrow."

Justice Kirby defends religious freedom

Meanwhile, High Court Justice Michael Kirby has encouraged Australians to embrace religious freedom as a basic human right, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Speaking at Griffith University, Justice Kirby addressed the issue of human rights and religious apostasy, mainly using the example of Islam.

He told the audience about a Malaysian Muslim woman who unsuccessfully tried to change legally her religion from Islam to Christianity through the court system.

He said the case showed that Malaysian judges had a restricted scope of freedom of religion.

"How can there be true freedom of religion if leaving one religion to join another is fraught with great difficulty or effectively impossible?" he said.

"In Australia, at least, we must be truly committed to the principle of mutual respect and acceptance that lies at the heart of the world-wide movement for the protection of fundamental, universal human rights," he said.

Justice Kirby also applauded the creation of the world's first professional chair in Muslim-Catholic relations at the Australian Catholic University's Melbourne campus.

Australian Communities Come Out to Support the Human Rights Torch Relay (Epoch Times, 18/11/07)
Justice Kirby pushes religious freedom (Sydney Morning Herald, 16/11/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bishop Hilton Deakin (Archdiocese of Melbourne)
Justice Michael Kirby (High Court of Australia)
Human Rights Torch Relay

Melbourne's Bishop Hilton Deakin retires (CathNews, 14/11/07)

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