Refugees treated like pawns on chessboard, Canberra rally told

Emotions run high

Pat Power, retired Auxilliary Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, questioned the mandate behind the asylum seeker policy of the Abbott government at a pro-refugee rally of several thousand people in Canberra on Sunday, reports The Canberra Times.

'During the last federal election campaign we witnessed an obscene contest where the Labor and Coalition parties were seemingly trying to outdo each other with tough and cynical rhetoric aimed at frightening the electorate away from a compassionate, fair and humane approach to the plight of some of the world's most needy people,' he said.

'Voters had Hobson's choice in trying to separate ALP and Coalition policies in this whole question. In such a scenario I dispute that the Abbott government has a mandate to continue enacting its current harsh and inhumane policies.

'My heart almost freezes every time the Prime Minister or his Minister for Immigration appear on television with more of their heartless language in relation to desperate people searching for hope and for a future.'

Bishop Power said Pope Francis had said refugees were not 'pawns on the chessboard of humanity.'

'Isn't this precisely how they are being treated by Tony Abbott's government?' he said.

FULL STORY Canberra voices raised, emotions high in Garema place pro-refugee demonstration (The Canberra Times)

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